recap: Governors Ball 2023 New Location More Excitement and Energy From New York’s Iconic Music Festival


For its 12th year, the Governors Ball Music Festival returned in a big way on June 9th- 11th, 2023.

Taking over Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, the Founders Entertainment-backed festival had plenty to offer all music lovers with a variety of Pop, Rap, R&B, Alternative, and Dance acts to choose from. While the looming air quality from Canadian wildfires the week before might have threatened the weekend, the weather cleared up just in time to kick things off. Over 150,000 people were in attendance. We’ve got a full recap of the festival from our contributor Ben Leahy.

The Festival’s stacked lineup kicked off Friday (6/9) with  New Orleans’s own PJ Morton bringing the soul early, running through R&B classics like “So Lonely,” “Say So,” and “How Deep Is Your Love” before ending with the BJ the Chicago Kid assisted “Everything’s Gonna be Alright”. With a team of backup singers and a full band, PJ’s vibes set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

Bronx native Ice Spice came ready to party. Despite only having a 30-minute set, the emerging rapper gave fans all the hits, including “Princess Diana”, “Munch”, “In Ha Mood” and “Bikini Bottom”, which were all met with rowdy approval from the crowd including Diplo as he was seen moshing with fans.

 Lil Uzi Vert, the Philly-born rapper with a reputation for his passionate stage presence and a deep catalog of chart-topping songs, was a hot ticket at the Gopuff stage Friday evening. Sprinting out on stage sporting his classic purple dreadlocks, fans were treated to plenty of throwbacks including “Do What I Want”, “Money Got Longer”, and “20 Mins” before enthusiastically bringing out Destroy Lonely and Ken Carson. Closing with crowd pleaser “Just Wanna Rock”, Uzi’s infectious energy could be felt throughout the crowd, leaving fans with a set no one would forget.

With the Festival’s first day coming to a close, Lizzo delivered an unforgettable performance that captivated both long-time supporters and new fans alike. Arriving with a team of backup dancers, vocalists, a full-piece band, and more than a few outfit changes, Lizzo’s powerful vocals could be heard around the entirety of the park, encouraging fans at several points during the performance to “spread love and positive vibes to those around them as well as themselves.” Belting out crowd pleasers “Juice”, “Truth Hurts”, and “Good as Hell” among others, the feel-good vibes were the perfect closer for Friday night.


Saturday’s day 2 (6/10) lineup was equally as hard-hitting, with headliners Lil Baby and EDM powerhouse ODESZA supported by additional sets from the likes of Suki Waterhouse, Syd, Amber Mark, Rina Sawayama, and Koffee among others. Kicking off the day with R&B, Syd brought fans an intimate set that was filled with hits ranging from her time with the Steve Lacy-backed group The Internet as well as her solo work, even performing her collaboration with Kaytranada “You’re the One”. Rising star Amber Mark delivered an equally soulful performance, with a stripped-back set that gave fans a moment to catch their breath and savor the pristine vocal runs that the singer is known for. 

Later on, Koffee brought the reggae vibes in full force to the Bacardi Stage, with a killer live band to match. The Grammy award-winning songwriter gave fans plenty to dance to, with songs like “Rapture”, “West Indies”, “Pull Up”, and “Toast” in rotation. Atlanta rap heavyweight Lil Baby ensured that Day 2 ended on a high note, opening with “Wants and Needs” before diving into fan favorites “Baby”, “Drip Too Hard”, and “Emotionally Scarred”. The hip-hop superstar showed love to the crowd and the city of New York several times during his performance, telling fans how grateful he was to perform in Queens before closing with “Freestyle”.

In anticipation of  Kendrick Lamar’s highly anticipated set on Sunday, the venue was considerably more crowded. Day 3’s (6/11)  offerings truly had something for everyone, from rising electropop acts like Haiku Hands to R&B staples Pink Pantheress, Sabrina Claudio, and Ari Lennox before closing the weekend with Industry titans like Pusha T, Giveon, and Kendrick. 

Britsh singer/songwriter Pinkpantheress, who shot to the top of the charts around the world over the last year, stepped on stage with a purse in hand before launching into favorites “Pain”, “I Must Apologise”, “Break It Off”, and the Ice Spice assisted “Boy’s a liar Pt. 2”.  The crowd couldn’t get enough, singing along to every word.  Dreamville’s-backed singer Ari Lennox graced the stage with a powerful performance delivering incredible vocals as she serenaded both veterans and new fans alike. Powering through newer cuts from her 2022 album age/sex/location including “POF”, “Waste My Time”, “Stop By,” and fan favorite “Shea Butter Baby”.

R&B crooner Giveon took center stage at 6:30 wearing an all-white ensemble, flanked by an impressive band with a decorated stage to match. The set felt like an intimate look into the Los Angeles singers’ heart, with incredibly emotional performances of “The Beach”, “Like I Want You”, and “Tryna Be” among others. With an hour-long set that felt like it was over in an instant, Giveon captivated fans in every way, closing with “Heartbreak Anniversary” as a swan song for an already successful festival weekend.

Thousands of fans showed up to see Kendrick Lamar, with many festival goers seen walking around all weekend with Mr. Morale tour merch and lining up early to get a good view of the prolific Compton Rapper before taking the stage Sunday night. The day 3 headliner shattered expectations, with a set design that included multiple backup dancers and colorful murals as well as a setlist that pleased fans of all ages, with cuts ranging from “m.A.A.d city”, “Money Trees”, and “Alright” to newer tracks from his Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers album including “N95”, “Count Me Out”, and “Purple Hearts”. Of course, Kendrick had to bring protégé Baby Keem out to perform one of the biggest hits in recent memory “Family Ties”, which was met with tremendous uproar from the packed crowd. As always, Kendrick left it all on the stage, and fans couldn’t have asked for a better performance.

The Governors Ball 2023 has found a home in Flushing Meadows Corona Park this year, and it exceeded expectations in every way. With sponsor activations from Verizon, Coke, M&M’s, and more, keeping fans comfortable, to the huge variety of New York-based food pop-ups the festival brought together a taste of New York culture that satisfied both locals and out-of-towners giving everyone a sense of what New York and Queens has to offer. The lush greenery of the Meadows was a refreshing change from last year’s parking lot location, with an immersive and inviting atmosphere, almost ensures festival goers will return to see what Queens County offers next year. 


*Photo Credit: Ben Leahy


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