Festival lineup announcements are kind of bullsh*t. You see that poster, with all those artists, and it’s impossible not to get excited. I mean, just look at the sheer number of quality acts! There are 70 acts to take in over multiple days — do you know how many Pitchfork Best New Music honorees that is?
Of course, it’s hard to fit all of those acts on one stage in a linear fashion across a weekend, and thus multiple stages were born. And of course, science is not at the point (yet) where humans can be in more than one place in one time. So, those 70 acts you were excited about? Unless you plan on spending your weekend running from one stage to another, taking in 10 or 15 minutes of an artist at a time (which is no way to live), you’ll only be able to catch about 20 of them. Suddenly, you have tough choices. And at Governors Ball 2015, the organizers didn’t make it easy on festival-goers, arranging the daily schedules in such a brutal way that some serious sacrifices will have to be made.
Don’t worry. If you’re headed for Randall’s Island this weekend and unsure about which of two acts playing at the same time you should see, we’ve got you covered.
Death From Above 1979 vs. ODESZA
When: Friday, 5:45 – 6:45
Both of these acts put out excellent albums in 2014 (DFA1979’s The Physical World, and ODESZA’s In Return), and both are perfect for festivals, even though they are positioned at far ends of the musical spectrum. DFA1979 are a pummeling assault of drums and fuzzy bass that will have you spasming violently with a fist in the air, ODESZA’s sexy, sunset electronic coos will have you dreaming of white sand and fruity alcoholic drinks. And the time slot is perfect for both, too — whether you’re moshing or dancing, the heat will have subsided enough by 5:45 to not be a miserably sweaty mess. Because this is on Friday evening, when most festival-goers will first be arriving, I’d recommend seeing Death From Above 1979. It’s the perfect set to burn off some of the energy and anticipation that’s been building. If this were Sunday, when fatigue rules, ODESZA would probably be the wiser choice.
The pick: Death From Above 1979
Drake vs. My Morning Jacket
When: Friday, 9:15 – 11 (My Morning Jacket); 9:30 – 11 (Drake)
Ugh, this conflict has been driving me mad since the daily schedules were announced. If I had to guess, My Morning Jacket will have the better set. They’re festival pros (including, arguably, one of the best festival sets of all time at Bonnaroo 2008) and just a great live band in general. That being said, even if he underwhelmed at Coachella, Drake is going to be the event of the weekend everyone’s talking about. And given that it’s New York (you know, where hip hop was born), there’s a good chance he’s got a special surprise or guest planned for his set. Given that I personally have already seen My Morning Jacket live five times, and have never seen Drake, I’m probably going to catch MMJ’s first 15 minutes before the start of Champagne Papi’s set, and then head over for that. But you? You really can’t go wrong either way.
The pick: Drake if you’re there for the experience, My Morning Jacket if you’re there for the music.
Flume vs. SBTRKT
When: Saturday, 8 – 9:15 (Flume); 8:15 – 9:30 (SBTRKT)
At least, when creating festival schedules, organizers tend to create conflicts along vastly different genre lines like in the two examples above, making it easy for fans of one particular sound or another to choose. This one, though, is especially difficult because the Venn diagram of Flume fans and SBTRKT fans runs pretty close to just being one flat circle (we are not accepting True Detective jokes at this time, sorry). SBTRKT flirted with being The Next Huge Producer a couple years ago, before disappointing many with last year’s Wonder Where We Land. Now, Flume is ready to take that title and run with it toward the mainstream after a steady rise in the ranks that’s seen him remix some high-profile work in addition to releasing his excellent self-titled album. We’re going with the ascending talent just before the entire music world knows his name.
The pick: Flume
The War On Drugs vs. “Weird Al” Yankovic
When: Sunday, 5:45 – 6:45
This one is a no-brainer to me: I’m going to see the band behind one of the best rock albums of the last 10 years. Still, I’ve had enough people tell me I’m insane for dismissing “Weird Al” that I have to acknowledge it’s a closer call in the court of public opinion. This oddly kind of ties into the Drake vs. My Morning Jacket dilemma: What are you looking for, the music or the experience? The War On Drugs stunned Coachella attendees with their sunset set, the perfect environment for the band’s hazy, emotive anthems, and guess what? The sun will begin to fall during their Gov Ball set, too. But “Weird Al” is a cultural force who will tap into the nostalgia factor — many of the festival’s attendees are the perfect age to remember watching videos like “Amish Paradise” after school, and his set will obviously be much looser and more fun. Again, I know who I’m going to be seeing, but…
The pick: The War On Drugs
Hot Chip vs. Flying Lotus
When: Sunday, 8 – 9:15
Another one along similar genre lines, though these two acts aren’t as stylistically similar as Flume and SBTRKT. Both sets will be bangers, though your pick here will vary depending on whether you like to experience your beats with your feet (Hot Chip) or your brain (Flying Lotus). Hot Chip will be the more fun set, but Flying Lotus’ live shows are known for being multimedia spectacles, and this is the type of setting where he can really complement his heady acid jazz freakouts with special visuals. It’s a shame that FlyLo is performing at this time, because Kendrick Lamar will be not too far away getting ready to perform his headlining set at Hot 97’s Summer Jam. A different slot for Flying Lotus, and the possibility that Kendrick could stop by for a surprise appearance with his frequent collaborator would officially seal the deal. We’re still going with FlyLo, but the guaranteed lack of Kendrick makes it a tougher call.
The pick: Flying Lotus