Governors Ball 2023: New York City’s favourite festival highlights the true meaning of unity

Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY, June 9-11: The fest features a new location and packed lineup of this year’s hottest acts

This year’s Governors Ball has a makeover. Leaving behind the parking lot of Citi Field where the festival took place for the past two years, New York City’s biggest music event made the move to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York from June 9 to June 11. With the new location, attendees are treated to a scenic landscape in the middle of one of the city’s most sprawling Burroughs. Now, there’s plenty of space to roam around, get lost in the sponsored exhibits and fresh grass to lie down in a while watching the weekend’s hottest acts give it their all in the city that never sleeps.

On Friday, Haim plays Cher’s ‘Believe’ from the loudspeakers to prepare the audience as they patiently wait for them to arrive on stage. The sister trio comes out to perform a set of fresh hits, including ‘Now I’m In It’ and ‘Gasoline’ but also takes it back to their start with fan favourites like ‘Don’t Save Me’, ‘The Wire’ and ‘Forever’.

At the gopuff stage across the park, Bronx’s own Ice Spice treats the audience to multiple viral tracks. She starts with ‘Princess Diana’ and the crowd goes wild. At one point, the audience runs into the photo pit, ready to scream along with Spice as she performs her verse from ‘Boys A Liar Pt. 2’ along with ‘Bikini Bottom’, ‘Munch (Feelin’ U)’, and in ‘In Ha Mood’.

Ice Spice
Ice Spice CREDIT: Emilio Herce


As night rolls in, everyone’s buzzing with excitement and excited to see Lil Uzi Vert and headliner Lizzo. The crowd at Uzi’s set is hot with energy. He brings the jumping and bouncing to a halt towards the beginning of his set, however, in order to help out fans that have fallen in the pit. Later, Lizzo baptizes Gov Ball from the main stage with beautiful vocals and flawless choreography.

Saturday sees the effortlessly cool Suki Waterhouse serenading the crowd with her heartfelt songs, king of pop-punk KennyHoopla showing why he’s earned that title and the ethereal Rina Sawayama, with dramatic dance moves and outfit changes, take the stage. The evening kicks off with Kenny Beats turning Gov Ball into New York’s most banging summertime club and inviting fans to let loose with him onstage.

In a chat with NME backstage, Oliver Tree says that the best thing about his show is when it’s over, but we beg to differ. His set is filled with life as he opens with ‘Miss You’. The crowd is a sea of chants in unison, jumping along with him as bubbles litter the sky. As the sun sets, Odesza take the stage drawing the audience in with laser beams, pyro and bass-heavy EDM tracks. It’s the perfect way to wrap up night two.

Oliver Tree
Oliver Tree CREDIT: Emilio Herce

The final day sees PinkPantheress take on the main stage in the afternoon. Handbag on her shoulder and hits ready, Pink owns the crowd as she sings her hit ‘Boys A Liar’ to one of the biggest audiences of the weekend. Elsewhere, Central Cee brings his UK drill flare to the crowd, while Pusha T gets the crowd’s attention by bringing a snow globe full of cash on stage.

Duo Sofi Tukker start their set with their groovy festival anthem ‘Drinkee’ which gets everyone up and dancing. The catchy guitar riffs have the crowd fist-bumping under the warm sun. They follow up with the perfectly titled ‘Summer In New York’ with everyone screaming the lyrics back to them.

Though attendees seem to be embracing every aspect of the fest from the music to the food, things go a bit wonky. Multiple sets have technical difficulties. Lil Nas X has to restart his performance due to his in-ears not working. Weather also dampens the mood for a bit, as a quick storm made up of a slurry of heavy rain and hail strikes as night falls on day one. On top of that, NYC was engulfed in a smoke storm just two days before the festival took place due to wildfires in Canada. Up until the festival’s first day, many attendees were wondering if it would even take place.

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar CREDIT: Emilio Herce


But in true New Yorker fashion, Governors Ball prevails, and the fest is packed with attendees ready to take on any challenge together. As the sun goes down on the final day, there’s anticipation in the air. The night’s headliner is Kendrick Lamar and the mainstage is swarmed with fans ready to see the rap legend in the flesh. He comes out and performs a mix of his biggest tracks, including ‘Humble’ ‘, DNA’ and ‘Swimming Pools’. It’s one of the most lively performances of the weekend. Fans from all over the city come together for the set, dancing on shoulders and singing in unison as if this was the moment they’ve been waiting for all their life. With Kendrick’s performance, the audience of New Yorkers, a demographic known for keeping to themselves, morphs into one entity made of thousands of festival-goers, all united by music.


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