By Milend Kolbet
Following a one-year hiatus, last week Gov Ball NYC announced that the festival is returning from September 24-26, 2021. This festival marks ten years since the inaugural event in 2011, yet includes some firsts, aside from a change in its normal summer dates. Additionally for the first time, the festival will be held on Citi Field in Queens instead of Randall’s island, likely in an effort to provide more opportunities for distanced viewing.
This year’s headliners include Billie Eilish, Asap Rocky, J Balvin, and Post Malone. Other prominent names include Dababy, Megan Thee Stallion, Portugal the Man, Young Thug, Ellie Goulding, 21 Savage, and Burna Boy.
While last year’s event was cancelled due to COVID-19, the 2020 lineup along with rule changes marked a significant shift in the culture of the event. That lineup pivoted from featuring big name rap artists to presenting barely any at all. Traditionally the festival featured many prominent rap artists in at least one, if not more, of its headline spots. Artists such as Kanye West (twice), Outkast, Drake, Travis Scott, Eminem, and Lil Wayne have all been featured. However the 2020 lineup only listed one, Missy Elliot, in the ten biggest names on the advertisements. While her music is still undoubtedly popular, the combination of an older generation rapper with headlining bands such as Tame Impala and Vampire Weekend, made clear who the target audience was.
This lineup, combined with a new rule in 2020 that any attendees under 18 must be accompanied by someone older than 21, showed how the festival was attempting to shift its culture. In the past Gov Ball had always been a place where people of all ages gathered to enjoy music, including a significant number of high school and college students on summer break. Gov Ball had always been a festival where different genres of music were catered to — sets of similar genres did not overlap, so at all times there were usually three stages featuring different styles of music.
However with the proposed lineup of exciting artists, 2021 marks a return to the festival’s roots. These performers mark a return to a festival that caters to youth. Perhaps because younger people are more willing to go to big events following COVID-19 combined with the lack of hype surrounding the 2020 lineup, Gov Ball 2021 is back.
While those of us who have made the trek to Randall’s Island via the East Harlem bridge may feel nostalgic for the old location, the change in venue will likely have a good effect on the overcrowding of past events. Especially for the bigger artists Gov Ball concerts are often hard to stand through — although it can certainly be fun to mosh. With the pandemic in mind Citi Field is a wonderful choice to carry out this year’s event in a safer fashion.
Whether distanced, or up close and personal, Gov Ball 2021 is likely going to be a fun return to live events. Check out more details on the festival’s website, and show up at Citi Field from Sept 24-26 for the return of one of NYCs favorite live music events.