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Governors Ball 2015 – Day 1 Picks – Friday, June 5

Yes, this is a three-day festival. Yes, it’s the funnest, most enjoyable way to lead one to exhaustion, far better than working 12-hour days under fluorescent lights. While you may think that preserving your energy in a ‘marathon, not a sprint’ fashion is the way to go, getting to a festival soon after the gates open offers many advantages: you get in a lot quicker, get to see all the wonders of the grounds in their pristine shape before the swarms of people invade, and best of all, get to listen and support the bands that arrive early to kick off each day.


The Districts – 12:15 PM – Honda Stage

The Districts four-piece from PA – Rob Grote (guitar, vocals), Connor Jacobus (bass), Pat Cassidy (lead guitar), and Braden Lawrence (drums) – sing with their heart and soul, being known to throw thrash sessions to rally festival crowds. Their performances at SXSW last year catapulted the band even further into international waters, as seen in the live session captured by the infamous La Blogothèque.

The video gives credence to Grote’s effortless vocal melodies, the raw and bare beauty. Being a bit sick of that “Suburban Smell,” he strums and sings, “And all the kids with money laugh / Cheering for the retard bands / Cheering for a touchdown they laugh / But I am not like them / I am not like them.” Soon after his bandmates join him for “4th and Roebling,” busking their way through bricked streets and under bridges as the sun begins to draw down another day.

Both tracks came out on The Districts’ second album on Fat Possum, “A Flourish and a Spoil,” this past February.

DIIV – 1:30 PM on Honda Stage

It was 2012, when DIIV debuted with ‘Oshin’, that I saw the band so many times, in various cities and in various continents, I was beginning to think I had a problem, albeit, a good problem to have. Those hook-filled tracks on Oshin got under everyone’s skin and I was not immune to the glorious infection.

After DIIV’s performance at Larimer Lounge in Denver, I chatted with the guys about their Shacklewell gig, performing on BBC, and jumping buses in Dalston. Quite a lot has happened since 2012. Some of it good…and some of it not so good.

“I feel like I’m a completely different person to what I was three years ago; I’m coming from a different point of view,” said DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith in his recent interview in DIY Magazine. Beyond the drama and tribulations comes maturity, retrospection, and the opportunity for self expression that’s been (legally) suppressed. “Now I have a chance to talk about everything that I’ve wanted to say and I get to make a statement musically about what I think the world needs,” Cole revealed to DIY writer, Liam McNeilly, of what’s expected on the new DIIV album, ‘Is The Is Are,’ due out towards the end of 2015 on Captured Tracks.

While Smith is still handing the majority of the songwriting, the other evolution from 2012 is the collaborative effort of all band members in bringing those songs to fruition, which enables a more seamless flow of live performing from the studio to the stage. DIIV began introducing these new tracks live last year, and most recently at Levitation Fest. From the sounds of it, we’re in for treat this weekend, and they’re off to East London again, playing Field Day in London’s Victoria Park (Sunday, 3:30pm EYEO stage).

Death From Above 1979 – 5:45 PM on Big Apple Stage

Death From Above 1979 is one of those band reunions that gives indie dance geeks who may not have see them live the first time around, who yearn for that chance as much as CSS, for another opportunity dust off their moves. This Friday is the day.

Given the two person Toronto-based act, consisting of Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler, where only together for five years, they still caused quite a stir. After reuniting in 2011 and Death From Above were “coming to share new material, and to work out the kinks,” releasing the band’s second full-length, ‘The Physical World’, once again on Last Gang and produced by Dave Sardy (LCD Soundsystem, Nine Inch Nails, Oasis).

Along with the more groove-laden tracks like “Trainwreck 1979” and “Cheap Talk”, as expected, furiously driven guitars punch the gut from “Gemini” and “Government Trash” to the title track. So all you man-bun wearing dudes, it’s time to drop that mane and do the windmill. You may need a neck brace tomorrow, but it will be worth it.

Death From Above 1979 has had some starts, stops, and starts again since 2011, including a Gov Ball cancellation two years ago, but with the release of ‘The Physical World’ last year and subsequent tour dates, the duo are firmly back in the saddle. If you’re so inclined after the dust has settled on Randall Island, check out the documentary directed by Grainger’s wife, Eva Michon, “Life After Death From Above 1979.”

As the day moves into the night, the effervescent St. Vincent comes onto the Big Apple stage at 8pm, and then it’s back to the trash and wonderful, rhythmic mayhem with Ratatat in the Gotham tent at 8:30pm, where we may expect to hear some tracks from their fifth album, Magnifique, set to be released on July 17, 2015.

Friday’s Governors Ball schedule


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