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Governors Ball 2016: Who to See and Who to Skip

Governors Ball 2016: Who to See and Who to Skip

Governors Ball has a star-studded lineup this year. But with almost 70 artists slated to perform it can be hard to keep track of everyone. Most people don't have time to research every last artist and learn which sets will give them the most bang for their buck—which is why we've done it for you.


Friday, June 3

12:15 - The London Souls vs Transviolet

  • Who To See: The London Souls
  • Why: They're a killer blues rock band, and are sure to be more exciting than Transviolet's catchy-yet-generic pop music. Start the festival right and go see their set.
  • Click here to watch a clip of The London Souls performing live.

12:45 - Black Pistol Fire vs Public Access TV

  • Who To See: Black Pistol Fire
  • Why: They might be Black Keys wannabes, but the duo's live shows are undeniably energetic and worth your time.
  • Watch Black Pistol Fire's drummer perform in his underwear here.

1:30 - Elle King vs Meg Mac

  • Who To See: Meg Mac
  • Why: Don't be tricked into seeing Elle King just because you like "Ex's & Oh's;" Meg Mac is your best bet here. Realistically though this might be the most convenient time on Friday to grab some food. You're not missing much. 
  • Unfamiliar with Meg Mac? Watch one of her music videos here.

2:15 - Boogie vs Bully

  • Who to See: Bully
  • This one's a bit of a tossup, but Boogie's rap set is likely to be repetitive. Both will be fun, but neither is a must-see unless you're already a fan. 
  • See Bully record "I Remember" here.

3:00 - Christine and the Queens vs Years & Years

  • Who To See: Christine and the Queens
  • Why: Years & Years is the safe choice, but Christine and the Queens might be the most unique set of the weekend. How often do you get to see one of France's biggest pop stars perform live? (Don't worry, she's been releasing music with English lyrics lately, so there won't be much of a language barrier.) 
  • Watch her play at Coachella here, flanked by her band of off-duty drag queens.

3:45 - Action Bronson vs Bob Moses

  • Who To See: Action Bronson
  • Why: Everyone's favorite chef-turned-rapper is bound to be a spectacle. If you want a memorable performance, this is the set to see.
  • Click here to see Action Bronson ditch the stage and perform in the middle of the crowd during a live television performance.

4:45 - Big Grams vs Of Monsters And Men

  • Who To See: Big Grams
  • Why: This is a tough one, but when you're given a chance to see one of the members of Outkast and Phantogram at the same time, you don't pass it up.
  • Check out the music video for Big Grams' single "Fell In the Sun" here.

5:45 - Duke Dumont vs Father John Misty

  • Who To See: Father John Misty
  • Why: He had one of the best albums of last year, he's entertaining, and his performance will be the perfect opportunity to take a break from the adrenaline rush of the last couple sets while still enjoying some quality music.
  • Watch Father John Misty and his band absolutely crush their performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live here.

6:45/7:00 - Beck vs Matt and Kim

  • Who To See: Beck
  • Why: Beck is just as good live as he is on his recordings—which is saying something. There's also something for everyone in his repertoire, so seeing his set is a no brainer.
  • Listen to "Dreams," the danceable followup to Beck's Grammy-winning folk album Morning Phase, here.

8:00 - Bloc Party vs Jamie XX

  • Who To See: Jamie XX
  • Why: As much as it hurts to pass over Bloc Party, Jamie XX is the clear pick here. Not only was his album In Colour one of the best of the past couple years, but he's been known to DJ some fantastic live sets. Plus, who knows when he'll rejoin his band The XX and stop playing solo sets. Best to catch him while you still can.
  • Watch the music video for Jamie XX's gorgeous "Loud Places" here, featuring his fellow XX bandmate Romy.

9:15 - Robyn vs The Strokes

  • Who To See: The Strokes
  • Why: They're one of the best rock bands of the past twenty years. 'Nuff said.
  • Watch them perform live here.


Saturday, June 4

12:15 - Eliot Sumner vs Holly Miranda

  • Who To See: Eliot Sumner
  • Why: When Sting is your father it's probably pretty easy to get a gig at Governors Ball. Nonetheless, Sumner's new wave music is catchy, different, and easily the best opening act on any of the festival's three days.
  • Watch Eliot Sumner perform "After Dark" on Jimmy Kimmel Live here.

12:45 - Louis the Child vs Nothing

  • Who To See: Louis the Child
  • Why: Start your dancing early on Saturday and check out Louis the Child. They won't have you fist bumping until your arm falls off but their tropical EDM is definitely your best bet for this particular set.
  • Click here to watch the music video for their single "It's Strange" featuring K.Flay.

1:30 - Marian Hill vs Torres

  • Who To See: Marian Hill
  • Why: This one's a bit tough. Torres probably makes better music, but Marian Hill's groovy live set will frankly be a lot more fun.
  • Watch their saxy live performance for Rolling Stone here.

2:15 - Jon Bellion vs The Knocks

  • Who To See: Jon Bellion
  • Why: Jon Bellion is already a Grammy-winning songwriter (penning hits for artists like Eminem, Rihanna, Zedd, and Jason Derulo), but he's poised to blow up once his major label debut drops this summer. This might be the last time to see the singer perform his unique blend of indie-pop and hip-hop before he becomes a massive star.
  • Check out the debut music video for Jon's upcoming album here.

3:00 - Albert Hammond Jr vs Catfish and the Bottlemen

  • Who To See: Catfish and the Bottlemen
  • Why: If you plan on catching The Strokes on Friday (which you should), then you'll already be seeing their guitar player Albert Hammond Jr. live. Catfish and the Bottlemen are an exceptional young rock band in their own right and are more than worthy of some of your time.
  • Watch them brave the rain at Glastonbury here.

3:45 - Misterwives vs Thundercat

  • Who To See: Thundercat
  • Why: He's a near-virtuosic bass player and one of the most interesting musicians around nowadays.
  • Click here to check out one of Thundercat's sillier music videos.

4:45 - Lord Huron vs Mac Miller

  • Who To See: Lord Huron
  • Why: If you're not already a Mac Miller fan, stop by Lord Huron's set for a breath of folky fresh air. Unless you're dying to see them, however, just use this time to get some food before the final sets of the night.
  • Check out Lord Huron playing their hit "Meet Me In The Woods" live at Electric Lady Studios here.

5:45 - Against Me! vs De La Soul

  • Who To See: De La Soul
  • Why: Alongside A Tribe Called Quest, these guys were one of the most important hip-hop acts of the 1990s; there's a good chance they're your favorite rapper's favorite rap group.
  • Watch the music video for their 1988 hit "Me Myself and I" here.

6:45 - HAIM vs Miguel

  • Who To See: HAIM
  • Why: Ever since their retro debut in 2013 the Haim sisters have been one of the best bands on the scene. Raised as musicians from a young age, they're all talented instrumentalists who are known to put on impressive live shows.
  • Click here to see HAIM cover Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" live.

8:00/8:15 - Miike Snow vs Purity Ring

  • Who To See: Miike Snow
  • Why: Miike Snow have a staggering amount of of good songs under their belt for having released only three albums. They also don't release albums often, so you might not be able to see them live again for years.
  • Click here to see Miike Snow perform their hit "Animal" in the middle of the woods somewhere, for some reason.

9:15 - M83 vs The Killers

  • Who To See: The Killers
  • Why: Honestly neither of these acts make sense as headliners in 2016, but M83 feel way more out of place than The Killers. At least The Killers have a large repertoire of hits and put on consistently solid live shows.
  • See The Killers close out their set at the Royal Albert Hall here.


Sunday, June 5

11:55/12:15 - Tor Miller vs Blank Range

  • Who To See: Tor Miller
  • Why: This is Sunday's token "just go get food" set. But if you want to start your day off with some music and don't mind watching a bunch of Abercrombie models play pop songs, Tor Miller's set is the place to be.
  • Watch him play his single "Carter & Cash" here.

12:25 - Day Wave vs Whitney

  • Who To See: Whitney
  • Why: His voice is compelling and their music is surprisingly mature, considering how new the band is.
  • Watch the music video for Whitney's "No Woman" here.

1:10 - Betty Who vs Whilk & Misky

  • Who To See: Whilk & Misky
  • Why: If you're a pop junkie then you'll want to make sure you're at Betty Who's set, but otherwise Whilk & Misky is the clear choice here.
  • Cool guys perform in candlelit caves.

1:55 - Bat For Lashes vs FIDLAR

  • Who To See: FIDLAR
  • Why: FIDLAR wins here solely because their live set is bound to be one of the craziest moments of the weekend.
  • Watch a compilation of live footage in this music video.

2:40 - Cold War Kids vs Vince Staples

  • Who To See: Vince Staples
  • Why: Coming off his critically acclaimed major label debut, Vince Staples is known to put on some of the liveliest shows in the industry. This could turn out to be the best hip-hop set of the weekend. 
  • Click here to see Vince Staples defy gravity in the video for his single "Lift Me Up."

3:25 - Eagles Of Death Metal vs Vic Mensa

  • Who To See: Eagles Of Death Metal
  • Why: This one's so close it could've come down to a coin flip. The deciding factor is simply that Eagles Of Death Metal don't take themselves so seriously when they perform live.
  • Check out an old performance of theirs from Conan here.

4:25 - CHVRCHES vs Joey Bada$$

  • Who To See: CHVRCHES
  • Why: Joey Bada$$ is great but he's still trying to find his voice as an artist, something CHVRCHES figured out years ago. They're currently one of the best synthpop bands in the world. You won't want to miss them.
  • Watch a highlight from CHVRCHES' 2016 set at South by Southwest here.

5:25 - Courtney Barnett vs Galantis

  • Who To See: Courtney Barnett
  • Why: This is another hard choice. Galantis will have arguably the best dance set of the weekend, so their set is definitely worth checking out. The only problem is it coincides with Courtney Barnett, who's one of the most talented new musicians of the last five years.
  • Update: watch Barnett play a rocking rendition of "Pedestrian at Best" during the 2016 Saturday Night Live season finale here.


  • Play it safe and stop by to see who the special guest is. You don't want to be the person who goes to Governors Ball and misses the Biggie hologram.
  • Here's hoping the special guest is this guy.

6:50/7:00 - Gary Clark Jr. vs Two Door Cinema Club

  • Who To See: Gary Clark Jr.
  • Why: Gary Clark Jr. is a real life guitar hero. His music exists somewhere between Jimi Hendrix and B.B. King, and his live shows can hold their own against performances from both of those greats.
  • Watch him shred at the Crossroads Guitar Festival here.

8:00/8:05 - Chet Faker vs Thomas Jack

  • Who To See: Chet Faker
  • Why: Chet Faker is one of the best artists of the entire weekend. It almost doesn't matter who's playing at the same time. He's worth seeing.
  • Watch him cover Blackstreet's "No Diggity" here.

9:15 - Death Cab For Cutie vs Kanye West

  • Who To See: Kanye West
  • Why: There's not a huge overlap between their fanbases, but if you find yourself in that gray area this is easily the toughest decision you'll make all weekend. Kanye's live performances are widely varied depending on which album he's promoting, and because this will be his first show since releasing The Life of Pablo you can bet you'll get a Kanye set unlike one anybody has seen thus far. For that reason alone, he gets the edge here.
  • Can't we have both?
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