Celebrating its 11th anniversary, Governors Ball Music Festival took over Flushing, Queens for the weekend of June 10-12, 2022. Returning to Citi Field for a second year, the lineup featured headliners Kid Cudi, Halsey, and J. Cole, as well as a slew of other talented acts across three stages. NYS Music contributors David Reichmann and Joseph Buscarello were on the grounds covering the three day event. Full festival coverage and photo gallery below.
Governors Ball in a Nutshell – Iconic Festival Returns to Citi Field
Each year fans are treated to performances by some of the biggest names in music. The 2021 Festival was headlined by Billie Eilish, A$AP Rocky, and Post Malone while other notable acts from included, Rüfüs Du Sol, Future Islands, J Balvin, Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, and Carly Rae Jepsen. Before the pandemic, Governors Ball was always held on Randall’s Island. It was moved to Citi Field for the first time last year, following 2020’s pandemic-related cancellation. The new festival location offers fans easier accessibility via mass transit; a welcome change for those familiar with traveling to and from the old location.
This year’s production boasted a three-stage setup in the parking lot of Citi Field, dozens of local food and drink vendors, smaller experiential booths, lounge areas, and a space for intimate acoustic sets from artists on the bill. Governors Ball has always highlighted diverse local food vendors that represent the melting pot of New York City. NYC born and family-owned Doughnuttery was at the festival this year serving their iconic, coarsely sugared mini doughnuts and cold brew coffee.
Performances encompassed a wide range of genres across the festival’s three stages, some highlights including: Black Pumas, Jack Harlow, Channel Tres, Flume, Joji, Chelsea Cutler, Playboi Carti, Clairo, Japanese Breakfast and 100 Gecs.
Friday – A Diverse Day Punctuated by Kid Cudi
This year’s festival started strong, with a warm and sunny Friday leading up to Grammy Award-winning headliner Kid Cudi’s main stage performance. Fans traveled from both near and far to come to the festival, with one fan telling staff contributor David Reichmann, “I came in from Chicago for the weekend today! I asked around, ‘What’s there to do for a weekend in New York City?’ I saw a post about the festival and bought my ticket!” Other fans came from throughout the Tristate Area and beyond, representing the typical “melting pot” experience New York is known for. The first day ran smoothly, and fans enjoyed dozens of their favorite artists during this action packed weekend event.
Earlier in the day on Friday, the mainstage was dominated by indie rock. Plastic Picnic opened the day, followed by Julia Wolf, New York City native Samia, and Beabadoobee with her indie pop stylings. Over on the GoPuff Stage, punk bands Ultra Q and Aly & AJ kicked off the day before the stage transitioned over to hip-hop and EDM with Channel Tres, Skepta, and Louis The Child. Experimental rap dominated the Bacardí Stage with Coi Leray, Paris Texas and JPEGMAFIA.
About a week before the festival began, Migos announced they would no longer perform and were replaced by Lil’ Wayne. Only a few hours before his set, the festival announced that Weezy would not make it due to “flight delays” and would be replaced by Harlem native A$AP Ferg. Joking with the crowd during his set, A$AP Ferg said he was on his couch when Governors Ball called, asking him to save the day. He did not miss a beat, delivering a fiery performance to a packed crowd eagerly awaiting Kid Cudi.
Black Pumas Jump Into Action
Black Pumas are a soul and psychedelic rock band from Austin, Texas. The group found immediate, worldwide success with their self-titled debut EP released back in 2019. The band has since won three Grammys, including ‘Best New Artist’ in 2020, and ‘Best Rock Album’ in 2022. Only a couple days after their mainstage set at Governors Ball, the group are heading out on a lengthy European tour. Barely a minute into their show, frontman Eric Burton leapt from the very tall stage into the pit, posed for the cameras, and walked the center aisle while singing and greeting fans from the front all the way to the back of the crowd. The future is extremely bright for Black Pumas, whose sophomore record will be one of the most highly anticipated rock albums when it comes to be.
The Bacardi Stage hosted Between Friends, Paris Texas, and Coi Leray before JPEGMAFIA went on to deliver a powerful set. The crowd went wild for each track in his set, and he interacted with them frequently. He joked before playing his song, “BALD!” that he sees “lots of beautiful heads of hair,” but “this one is for the bald” people in the audience. New York founded electronic duo The Knocks delivered the next hour of music before Jack Harlow closed out that day for the stage with massive pyrotechnics.
Channel Tres Continues Meteoric Rise
Hip-hop and house music have a long history of coming together to create dance floor anthems spanning different generations. Channel Tres leverages that relationship and creates a hard-hitting yet cool and laid back sound. Thunderous bass and house beats provide the backdrop for his equable vocal delivery, all while dancing flanked by a crew of backup dancers. Channel Tres has collaborated on songs with the likes of JPEGMAFIA, Tyler, The Creator, Tinashe, and Robyn all while climbing the ranks and becoming more and more popular with each new song he releases.
As the daylight began to fade leading up Kid Cudi’s mainstage set, fans at the Gopuff Stage were treated to a special sunset. The sky glowed red, pink, and orange over the festival as Louis the Child played and fans reveled in both the increasing prominence of the light show and the gorgeous sunset. Fans still enjoyed a few more hours of music even after night fell, but this picturesque sunset came as the perfect way to punctuate a great first day of Governors Ball Music Festival 2022.
Kid Cudi Plays Classic Hits, A New Single, And A Live Debut
Although there were plenty of great acts spread across the three stages, diehard Kid Cudi fans waited by the mainstage for nearly the entire day, to secure a spot as close to the front as possible. With frequent hydration reminders displayed between sets on the stage screens, security and paramedics onsite worked constantly to distribute free water throughout the festival grounds, focusing on fans who were stuck waiting at the very front of the crowds. Kid Cudi closed out the first night with a powerhouse performance of tracks spanning his expansive Grammy Award Winning, seven-album catalog. His set featured a number of hit singles, deep cuts, pyrotechnic fireballs, and waves of emotion from his devoted fans in attendance.
Kid Cudi has just announced the premiere date for his new Netflix animated series Entergalactic. The show follows the story of a young artist (voiced by Cudi) as he finds love and success in New York City. He also played the new single “Do What I Want,” which saw its official release earlier that day and serves as the lead single for the album accompanying the series. Entergalactic premieres on Netflix later this year on September 30th; no official release date for the album has been set.
His setlist included fan favorite tracks, “Memories (David Guetta cover),” “Mr. Rager,” and “Surfin’.” Cudi brought out King Chip (a.k.a. Chip Tha Rapper) mid-set to join him for a performance of their track, “Just What I Am.” Cudi also treated fans to the live debut of his Travis Scott collaboration “THE SCOTTS.” Kid Cudi closed out the first night of the festival by playing, “Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare) – Steve Aoki Remix.” You can Listen to his latest single here.
Kid Cudi walked off-stage to a thunderous applause and a fully-satiated fanbase. Now that Governors Ball takes place in the heart of Flushing, fans were able to exit the grounds and hop on the subways, buses and ride shares that awaited them. Local food trucks and vendors were eagerly awaiting the departing crowd, offering an authentic array of the rich Latin food from the neighborhood.
Saturday – Halsey Can’t Resist Playing “Running Up That Hill,” Debuts New Single
The second day of the festival started strong, with another sunny day and some weather reports of minor scattered showers and thunderstorms. Festival staff were on alert in the event of a sudden storm, to maintain crowd safety and all costs, but thankfully only a few light raindrops dared to rain on the festival goers. And the second day went off without a hitch, with numerous excellent acts leading up to Halsey’s incredible and jaw-dropping headlining performance.
The Mainstage featured standout acts, Benee, Tove Lo, and Still Woozy. Tove Lo wished the audience a happy Pride Month during her set, and played a number of her hit tracks, including “Bikini Porn” and “Habits (Stay High)”
DJ Diesel (Shaq) Dunks On The Bacardí Stage
There is little NBA legend Shaquille O’Neil is not involved in after retiring from basketball. The CEO of Papa John’s and ubiquitous spokesperson has cultivated a second life and a cult following as a dubstep producer and DJ. DJ Diesel just released “Welcome To The Playhouse,” a collaboration with EDM giant Steve Aoiki, and is curating (and headlining) two weekends of Shaq’s Bass All Stars which features surging names in the underground bass music scene.
It’s hard for a 7 foot NBA hall of famer not to cast a big presence in everyday life, but behind the decks at Governors Ball, DJ Diesel took on an even larger persona with his hard hitting musical style and frequent cries of “where’s my mosh pit” into the microphone. Drawing one of the largest crowds of the weekend on the second stage, DJ Diesel dropped a wide palate of crowd pleasing favorites and underground bangers. Jerseys from the Lakers, Heat, and Magic littered the crowd, and many were brought onto stage for Shaq to sign and return to his fans.
Roddy Ricch had been scheduled to perform on Saturday, but apparently was forced to cancel at the last minute. A few minutes before he was scheduled to begin his set, a message displayed on the screens alerting the crowd of the cancellation. There was a momentary upset among the crowd, but they picked up from their spots and went on to enjoy the other upcoming sets, Joji, Ashnikko, and Flume. Flume put on an amazing set, with stunning visuals and lighting as the sun went down. Towards the latter half of his set, he brought Tove Lo onstage to join him for a song. The crowd loved it.
Halsey Reminisces About Signing Her Label Deal
Halsey took the stage to a packed crowd of fans who had waited for hours to get the best possible spot. During her set, she mentioned having attended Governors Ball 8 years ago, on the day she signed her record label deal. She told the audience how much of an impact that moment had on her life, signing the deal with her Governors Ball wristband on.
Halsey made waves in recent months, speaking up against her record label’s insistence on creating “fake” viral moments on TikTok before releasing new music. Her post on TikTok about the issue had ironically gone viral, with many fans taking her side against the label. Although the label responded in their own defense, fans seem to have sided with the artist on this issue. She briefly took a shot at TikTok on stage, joking about it. The crowd recognized what she was talking about, and cheered even louder than usual, showing their support.
Halsey debuted a new single, “So Good” towards the end of her set. As she began to wrap up, she thanked the crowd again and began a cover of the trending Kate Bush song, “Running Up That Hill.” The song recently made it to the top of the charts for the first time in decades thanks to its inclusion in Netflix’s fourth season of Stranger Things. At the end of the song, she laughed and said, “I couldn’t resist.”
She ended the set with her powerhouse single, “I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God.” Fans once again exited the festival in an excited buzz, talking with friends about the long and full day of performances. With the second festival day over, only one more day remained. And fans would have to savor it. Weather reports looked mixed, and there was no telling whether New York would have clear skies or daylong thunderstorms for Sunday. Fans would just have to wait until the morning to find out.
Sunday – J. Cole and Playboi Carti Close Out Governors Ball with a Bang
Despite some ominous weather reports and a passing storm overnight, fans enjoyed mostly sunny weather and moderate heat for the festival’s final day. J. Cole and Playboi Carti were set to close out the festival, with fans in eager anticipation of what was to come on the last day of 2022’s Governors Ball Music Festival. Although many fans complained of sore feet, lack of sleep, or responsibilities they had been shirking all weekend, they all did so with gleeful smiles and laughs.
Clairo – “Can You Guys Hear Me?”
Clairo’s mainstage set featured some technical issues with her microphone, but she played it off very well with her charming laugh and smile, to huge applause from the audience. The rest of her set went off smoothly, with fans packed to the front of the barricades, singing along for every song. She apologized to fans for the technical difficulties as she exited the stage, but the audience didn’t seem to mind, cheering and thanking her for the moving set.
JID Takes One for the Team, Breaks Wrist Onstage
Atlanta-born rapper JID filled a mid-day slot on the main stage on Sunday. At this point in the day, fans were packing into the main stage grounds to claim their spot for J. Cole. JID is a relative newcomer to the scene, releasing his debut LP The Never Story back in 2017, but the fans who were there to see him were quite familiar with his music and rapped along with him throughout his set. Towards the end of his set, he brought out Kenny Mason for an energetic performance of fan-favorite “Stick.” Unfortunately, JID fell and fractured his wrist while moshing onstage during his performance, but continued on despite the minor injury. It wasn’t made clear the extent of the injury until he was brought onstage for a guest spot during J. Cole’s performance where he admitted he “went too hard, don’t be like me!”
JID also treated the Governors Ball crowd to the live debut of his just released new single, “29 Freestyle.” JID’s flow is as cohesive and vibrant as ever on the new song, which is being teased as a lead up to a new album, The Forever Story. The single and music video were officially released Friday, June 17th.
Japanese Breakfast Returns to Citi Field – the “Scene of the Crime”
Twice-Grammy-Nominated artist and New York Times Bestselling author of Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner and her band performed to a dedicated audience of her most hardcore fans. Japanese Breakfast had played Governors Ball once before, and a huge crowd of adoring fans came to their set to cheer and sing along through nearly every song. “I didn’t know if you would all come today,” Michelle told the crowd, “but you came through, New York. As you always do.”
Michelle threw out the first pitch at Citi Field just a few weeks prior. She joked, “We’re from Philly […] I know I am returning to the scene of the crime, where I threw out the first pitch here for the Mets.” Japanese breakfast recently featured on SNL as the final music guest of the year for season 47. They also released a two-song EP for Spotify Singles this year, featuring a cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” and an acoustic rendition of Japanese Breakfasts’ hit single, “Be Sweet.” During their set, a newly-turned fan was overheard saying, “Wow, they’re amazing. This is amazing, I have to check them out later.”
Playboi Carti Moves the Earth
Playing opposite J. Cole on the GoPuff Stage, Playboi Carti brought his signature staging and rap style and offered a fiery closing to the weekend. Some fans lamented having to choose between the J. Cole and Playboi Carti, but both acts drew impressively large crowds. Playboi Carti spent a good portion of the show rapping from atop a tall pyramid while a singular guitar player patrolled the stage. Featuring constant pyrotechnics and a rabid, near heavy metal-like performance, the set was one of the most chaotic and in-your-face moments of the weekend. Carti’s fans were raging, causing a noticeable bounce in the parking lot of Citi Field while screaming along to the lyrics.
J. Cole Waxes Nostalgic Over Queens
J. Cole took the mainstage for the final performance of the festival’s 2022 year. He came out swinging, starting the opening track, “95 South” from his latest LP, “The Off Season” without wasting a second to introduce himself or greet the crowd, which he only took the time to do before moving into his next song, “Amari.” The crowd let out massive cheers and their dancing literally shook the ground beneath their feet throughout the set. He also included classic tracks “G.O.M.D.,” “Wet Dreamz,” and “No Role Modelz” in his expansive setlist.
J. Cole took on a more wistful tone between songs, pausing for a moment to listen to the sound of a nearby passing 7 train. He then talked about living in Queens writing songs “just down the street from here,” listening to the sounds of the trains while looking out his window. He thanked the audience and said, “New York is like a second home to me.”
JID and Kenny Mason joined J. Cole on stage to perform “Stick.” Before they started, JID told the crowd, “I want you to be safe out there.” He held up his hand, wrapped in bandages, and said, “I broke my hand earlier during my set because I was raging too hard. Don’t be like me.” He asked the crowd if they felt comfortable with some mosh pits, and told any fans who weren’t comfortable or interested to move back from the pits before they began. “I see fun. I see mosh pits. I see safety.” He held up his hand one more time, “Listen, I’m serious, don’t be like me. Have fun.” The crowd obliged, and a massive wave of movement took over the excited crowd. The three artists flew around the stage.
J. Cole played a few more songs before walking off to an instrumental version of “Hunger on Hillside.” He thanked the audience once more as he walked off. As the fun of the weekend came to a close, fans shuffled off from Citi Field in a happy daze of exhaustion and excitement. They told stories of their day to each other as they found their way to the buses, cars, trains, and bikes that would see them home. Although each fan had their own unique experience, with their own mix of artists and activities, they all shared in this singular one moment that was Governors Ball Music Festival 2022.
See You Next Year, Governors Ball!
Another year of the Governors Ball music Festival has come and gone. Fans were treated to dozens of massive acts who may not typically share a stage together, and were – hopefully – exposed to plenty of new styles, genres, and artists as a result. Governors Ball has and always will be a definitive New York experience, and although New York concert-goers may have to wait another year for the upcoming 12th installment of the festival in 2023, music fans in the Tristate area will have plenty of great options until then. Summer concerts and festivals continue strong in New York City, with Rolling Loud Music Festival, Central Park’s Summerstage Concert Series, and Celebrate Brooklyn’s Summer Concert Series just to name a few.