Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

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Governor’s Ball in New York City: Music and Too Many People

I tried to get tickets to see Bastille at The 20th Century Theater here, in Cincinnati. That show sold out the day it went on sale. I missed out.

In the meantime, friends of ours suggested that we attend Friday of Governor’s Ball. Frontier was running a deal on a flight to Trenton, New Jersey. Once in Trenton, it’s a 90 minute train ride to Penn Station. The tickets were 150 bucks a seat, and the train ride was 30 bucks. Net, with a little extra time and hassle, you get to New York for under two hundred bucks. Since we had a place to crash, we only needed to find the cash to pony up for the Governor’s Ball ticket. In hindsight, leaving town after three days at home after eight days in Europe was a bit much. But off we went.

The bands┬áthat most interested me at Governor’s Ball were Phoenix and TV on the Radio. Both of which haven’t been to Cincinnati in recent memory. I’m pretty sure Phoenix has never been here. Bastille, Jenny Lewis, and Neko Case were just side benefits. I know I should have been exited about Outkast, but I’m not that passionate about their music. Sorry to everyone who feels indignant at that.

Here’s what I saw.
Little Daylight
Jason Isbell
Kurt Vile and the Violators
The 1975
Jenny Lewis
Neko Case
TV on the Radio

What I liked: Jenny Lewis is a spectacular performer. She sounded great. She looked great. I will see her again, no question.


Check out Jenny Lewis' awesome threads.

I have an abusive relationship with Neko Case. She’s cantankerous. She’s grumpy, and her stage presence is a mess. But I really love her. I had every intention of leaving her show early to catch “Bulletproof” by La Roux. La Roux has one hit, and there’s no way she closes with anything other than that. Just as I was about to tear myself away from Neko, she started playing “Man” and there was no way I was leaving during that song. I love it. I heard “Bulletproof” from the far off stage and was still sucked into the inexplicable Neko Case vortex.


Neko Case wearing skeleton pants.

Little Daylight was a surprise find. I fully intended to walk by them, but got sucked into their fun sound. I will be listening to them.

Everything else: Here’s what you need to know about me. I don’t like experiencing music in enormous venues. Governor’s Ball had a reasonable crowd until sometime between Bastille and Phoenix. When I made my way to Phoenix, I realized that movement from stage to stage had become full on warfare. Lines to the bathroom went from ten people to 100. Food became inaccessible due to the lines. In short, shit got real. While Bastille, Phoenix, TV on the Radio and Outkast all sounded great, I was a little too distracted by the masses to fully engage with their performances. I really wanted to be into Phoenix and TV on the Radio. I’ve listened to those bands for years now. I just couldn’t get there. They did nothing wrong; I just had some barriers to my enjoyment.

Haerts and The 1975 were fine, but there was nothing in their performance to grab me. I’m pretty sure the singer for The 1975 was high. I was busy watching his sloppy movement on stage rather than listening to their music. They sounded fine, but his careening was distracting. Jason Isbell sounded good, but I’m not into country. I got to see Kurt Vile and the Violators up close at Midpoint Music Festival last year, so although he sounded good, I preferred my more intimate experience with that band.

Would I go to Governor’s Ball again? No, I wouldn’t make it a priority. Like I said, I like more intimate settings for music. Governor’s Ball just isn’t the place for that. If you dig rocking arenas then this event is for you. Governor’s Ball, like Lollapalooza attracts swarms of people. That’s cool, but it’s just not my thing.