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This weekend is the annual Governors Ball music festival on Randall’s Island in New York City.
Throughout the three-day festival, over 60 musicians will perform, with headliners like Kanye West, The Strokes, The Killers, and Beck leading the weekend.
While those names might be recognizable to any casual music fan, we decided to pick out some lesser-known acts performing that are worth checking out.
Years & Years
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For a lot of attendees, festivals are a time to dance your heart out. There’s probably no better act on the Governors Ball bill to provide that soundtrack than dance-pop trio Years & Years, whose anthemic music locates the sweet spot that Passion Pit has been riding for nearly a decade.
If you’re looking for a reason to skip out on work early on Friday, Years & Years is it.
Friday June 3 – Honda Stage – 3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
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Jamie XX burst out of the shadow of his popular indie outfit The XX last year with the catchy and emotional dance/electronic album “In Colour.”
Friday June 3 – Bacardi House Stage – 8:00 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.
Jon Bellion is multitalented. The musician writes, produces, and sings all of his own music, which brings a hip-hop swagger to a unique blend of R&B and indie-pop.
He cites influences as disparate as Kanye West, John Mayer, and Andre 3000. Amazingly, the mix works.
Saturday June 4 – Big Apple Stage – 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Catfish and the Bottlemen
- REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
If you’re hankering for anthemic, no-frills British rock, Catfish and the Bottlemen are your ticket.
While the four-piece band has yet to break out of the Oasis-shaped shadow they’ve found themselves in, their music is upbeat, energetic, and catchy. Perfect for rocking out on a hot summer afternoon.
Saturday June 4 – GOVBALLANYC Stage – 3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
- REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Wondering who’s behind the soundscape of Kendrick Lamar’s groundbreaking 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly”? Look no further than bassist Thundercat, who, along with saxophonist Kamasi Washington and producer/saxophonist Terrace Martin, has established Los Angeles as the living, breathing center of a jazz renaissance.
Thundercat’s solo work is just as inspired. His 2015 EP “The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam” creates more magic in six tracks than most musicians conjure in a career.
Saturday June 4 – Bacardi House Stage – 3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Every couple of years, Governors Ball adds some hip-hop up-and-comers who then blow the crowd away.
This year, keep an eye out for Vince Staples, whose 2015 major-label debut “Summertime ’06” showed that Staples has the lyrical virtuosity and insight to give fellow California native Kendrick Lamar a run for his money.
Sunday June 5 – Honda Stage – 2:40 p.m. – 3:25 p.m.
- REUTERS/Mark Makela
Roc Nation hip-hop artist Vic Mensa may have yet to release his long-awaited debut album, but he’s kept the rap crowd salivating with collaborations with Kanye West on “Wolves” and Skrillex on “No Chill.”
With word on the street that the rapper is due to release a new mixtape on Friday, Mensa is sure to be amped to show off the material this weekend.
Sunday June 5 – Bacardi House Stage – 3:25 p.m. – 4:25 p.m.
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It’s Chvrches, not Churches – a savvy spelling that the trio used to differentiate themselves in internet searches (though yes, it’s pronounced just the same). It should come as no surprise, then, how hook-laden and meticulous Chvrches’ brand of electro-pop is.
With a mega-hit, 2013’s “The Mother We Share”, and a critically acclaimed sophomore album under their belt, it’s only a matter of time before Chvrches jumps to headliner status on the festival circuit.
Sunday June 5 – GOVBALLANYC Stage – 4:25 p.m. – 5:25 p.m.
Gary Clark Jr.
- Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
If you haven’t heard of Gary Clark Jr. yet, you are missing out. The singer/guitarist fuses equal parts blues, jazz, garage rock, soul, and even hip-hop to concoct a sound that is the musical equivalent of the ???? emoji. Though Clark’s studio albums are excellent, it’s clear from his 2014 live album that it’s on the stage where the bluesman shines.
Sunday June 5 – Honda Stage – 6:50 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Excited for this year’s festival yet?
- Robert Altman/Invision/AP