Due to a whirlwind of weather-induced scheduling changes, only 11 of the planned 27 acts in Governors Ball’s Sunday lineup ended up being able to perform. Co-Headliners the Strokes and SZA were among the many anticipated acts forced to cancel on either the front or back ends of the concert.
One of the lucky artists to just make the cut was up and coming pop singer Chelsea Cutler, who hails from Westport, Connecticut. Opening things up at her rescheduled evening set, Chelsea walked on stage looking like a character out of Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me music video. Wearing cut-out cowgirl pants and a soccer jersey — a nod to the college team she quit just last year to play music full time — she opened with her new single “You’re Not Missing Me.” The audience was on the smaller size, though not terrible for an artist who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page yet. It was clear; however, that Chelsea has a particularly strong bond with these fans. They chanted her name even before she walked on stage, and she wandered to the front of the stage like she was trying to get as up-close and personal as possible. She cycled through a few more of her hits, a blend of EDM and off-brand pop, with a looping pedal to pull off longer instrumental sections. It’s not quite clear what her brand is, perhaps soccer player turned pop star girl next door? It’s unfortunate her singing voice is a bit slurred, because her lyrics — especially on tracks like “Your Shirt” and “Not OK” are often unexpectedly clever and thought-provoking. According to her twitter page, Chelsea’s got “soooooo much new music” in the near future; here’s hoping it’s just as earnest, and a little less bland.
Following Chelsea, old-school British pop queen Lily Allen set out to prove that, ten years and three kids later, she’s still got it. Allen’s Sunday afternoon performance seemed engineered as an extended answer to the question: What if her hit “Fuck You” was a 40 minute live set? From cynical satire like “Who’d Have Known” to the outright diss track “Not Fair,” Allen proved her fiery streak hasn’t gone anywhere. No stranger to talking to a crowd, the pop veteran drew laughs when she quipped about her uncomfortable shoes, her sweaty pink suit jacket, and Americans being wimps about rainy weather. A new song called “Party Line” — which Allen claimed will likely “never be released,” also ended up being an unexpected highlight. With a sing-song, reggae-style rhythm, it showed Allen letting her guard down and being a little more honest than unusual as she crooned the chorus “Every single time / I cross my line.” With her girlish smile, tongue-in-cheek hair clips, and penchant for wise-cracking, Allen proved she’s just as much fun as she’s always been. At the end of the set, she got a few extra cheers after yelling “Donald Trump no one wants your fucking opinion!” before pulling out a fitting closer — “Fuck You.”
The last of the night before an emergency weather evacuation, Nas’s performance was one of the day’s standouts. To an audience a bit older and more male than the fest’s average crowds, Nas ran through a victory lap of his biggest hits, to a surprising amount of fans who could sing every word. Nas didn’t waste any time complaining about his shortened set, but dove straight into a performance that was fast-paced and high-intensity from start to finish. He stole the show with an effortlessly self-assured showcase of classic lyrical rap. Highlights of the night were the instantly catchy “Got Ur Self a Gun,” the infectious confidence of “I Can,” and his signature swagger in “If I Ruled the World.” However, arguably the most memorable moment was near the end of the night, when he pulled out his ultimate diss track “Hate Me Now.” Right in the middle of the song, the weather went from a light drizzle to a near-downpour, and surprisingly enthusiastic audience members let loose, undid their hair to whip it around, and just generally went crazy. Sauntering off stage, Nas closed out his set with a classy “Governors ball, this was a fucking blast!”— and he was right.
—Staff writer Joy C. Ashford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.