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© Forest Woodward
© Forest Woodward
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12 Must-See Acts At Gov Ball NYC 2016

Picture of Regina Mullen
Updated: 7 December 2016
From June 3rd to June 5th, The Governors Ball Music Festival, quite possibly the East Coast’s premier indie music festival, will be presenting a whopping 66 artists at its annual weekend-long extravaganza, hosted by New York City’s Randall’s Island. We’ve scoured the Gov Ball lineup to highlight 12 of the most interesting and intriguing acts scheduled to perform, with a special eye toward including some of the festival’s lesser-known artists.

Years and Years

With its upbeat synth pop rhythms and bright, airy vocals, it would be next to impossible to place Years and Years anywhere other than at the top of our list of must-see acts. The British trio, boasting a broad palette of musical influences, has been splashing its way across the dance music landscape since releasing their first single, ‘I Wish I Knew, back in 2012. Trust us, these guys will definitely get everyone up on their feet and dancing right away — guaranteed. Catch their Gov Ball performance on Friday, June 3rd.

Gary Clark, Jr.

Hailing from Austin, Texas, the blues-inspired powerhouse guitarist and sensuously confident vocalist Gary Clark, Jr. draws from the best of blues roots, rock, R&B, contemporary soul, and hip-hop. His live performances crisscross genres in a seamless seduction, with his sets often starting out soulful and bluesy, building relentlessly to a fever pitch, exploiting the full breadth of Clark’s considerable expertise. When listening to Clark play, there arises an inevitable compulsion to draw comparisons with Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan, or any number of other deified guitar legends. Don’t miss him on Sunday, June 5th.

Elle King

The career of Brooklyn-based artist Elle King has run the full gamut, from struggling teenage street busker all the way up to the top of the ladder, receiving two Grammy Award nominations for her Billboard Top 100 single, ‘Ex’s and Oh’s.’ Her gritty vocals and irreverent lyrics lend her Indie pop sound a riveting quality that never drifts too far afield of its rock, blues, and R&B roots. Add to the mix her sultry ‘I could care less what you think’ attitude, plus an affinity for the banjo, and it’s no wonder that King finds herself rising to the top of both the alternative and rock charts. King is set to perform on Friday, June 3rd.

Chet Faker

When he’s at work in the studio, electronic jazzman Chet Faker serves as a one-man show, but on tour he tends to carry along a handful of backing musicians plus a killer lightshow, which flawlessly combine to augment the signature groove that infuses Faker’s mesmerizing mixtapes. This skillful showman definitely knows how to entertain his audiences. The Brooklyn transplant has already conquered his birth country, Australia, and is now setting his sights on the U.S. on Sunday, June 5th.

Meg Mac

On Friday, June 3rd, catch neo-soul phenomenon Meg Mac pack a captivating voice that harkens back to the days of the Motown-era ‘girl groups,’ rivaling both the emotional fervor and vocal chops of the likes of Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, or Amy Winehouse. The Australian singer pens most of her own material, lending a deeply emotional credibility to her music and lyrics. But her commanding cover version of Bill Withers’ ‘Grandma’s Hands’ proves that Mac can also bring the same smoky passion to other songwriters’ material.

Black Pistol Fire

Make no mistake, these guys play rock music. And they serve it up hard and classic, with an occasional salty, Southern-flavored riff thrown in for good measure. Oh, and did we mention — this band is also a duo. That’s right. Although it seems incredible to imagine, considering the sheer magnitude of the Black Pistol Fire sound, there are, indeed, only two guys grinding out those staggering rock-and-roll riffs. Currently based out of Austin, Texas but originally hailing from Toronto, the Black Pistol Fire team will redefine your concept of what a rock band should ‘look’ like. Our advice is to simply hang on tight and enjoy the incredible ride on June 3rd.

Whilk and Misky

London-based indie duo Whilk and Misky straddles the worlds of both folk & pop, with an appealing combination of innovative acoustic guitar, fresh vocals, and catchy rhythms, rounded out with just enough synth to spice things up. Their sound is complex, but never cluttered. With one half of the duo (Charlie) from Kent, England and the other half (Nima) from Iran, it is no wonder the team’s artistic merger has produced such a unique and infectious sound. This is one performance you won’t want to miss on Sunday, June 5th.

Eliot Sumner

With their distinctive vocal sound and unmistakable reggae influences, does the music of Eliot Sumner perhaps remind you of the legendary musical icon, Sting? Chalk it up to DNA and to the apple not falling very far from the tree, as the English superstar’s second youngest child sets out to make their own mark on the music landscape. Sumner released a previous album, The Constant, back in 2010 under the name Coco, but the newest recording, Information, reverts back to their birth name, Eliot. This is definitely an up-and-coming artist to follow closely, and you can catch them right here in NYC on Sunday, June 5th.

Jon Bellion

Pinning down the music of singer, songwriter, producer, rapper John Bellion requires the use of numerous monikers — a good start might include: contemporary pop mingled with heavy doses of R&B, hip-hop, and bright indie rock. ‘Genre-bending’ might be another way to describe Bellion’s sound, or simply ‘indescribable’ also works. The Long Island soundsmith’s infectious mixtapes are frequently distinguished by their playfulness and catchy sense of humor. Listening to Bellion’s music is flat out fun. But then, there’s also his chart-topping song, ‘The Monster,’ recorded as a duet by rapper Eminem and pop queen Rihanna, which is decidedly not a funny song. Jon Bellion, in other words, should not be taken lightly. Catch his Gov Ball performance on Saturday, June 4th.


Transviolet materialized out of the blue this past summer with a mysterious mass mailer containing an amateurish-looking audiocassette labeled with a handwritten note, stating simply, ‘Just press play,’ and no return address. The tape, to say the least, generated quite a buzz. Around the same time, Katy Perry and Harry Styles sent out introductory tweets, and just like that, the two artists’ combined 100 million followers suddenly knew all about this brand new electronic pop band called Transviolet. Our advice? Just press play, and immerse yourself in the music’s catchy melodies and dreamy rhythms. Catch them live on Friday, June 3rd.


Black vanguard artist Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat, never let anyone tell him that his electric bass guitar could not be played as a lead instrument. The resulting magic merges rhythm-driven funk with electronic jazz fusion. Bass-master Thundercat, also called ‘Bass God’ by his ardent fans, distinguishes himself by playing an unusual, custom-crafted six-string bass guitar. He is also known for sometimes donning a striking Native American headdress while performing, reportedly in honor of his partial Comanche heritage. Catch him on Saturday, June 4th in NYC.

Against Me!

Against Me! is a kick-rump punk band that has never shied away from tackling every manner of controversial social or political issue head on. The band’s lyrics, always jam packed with searingly blunt commentary, are biting, aggressive — and always unapologetically blunt. The group’s 2013 album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, released in the wake of lead vocalist Laura Jane Grace’s coming out as a transgender woman, tackles the issue of gender dysphoria with the band’s same signature brand of in-your-face honesty. Don’t miss their Gov Ball performance on Saturday, June 4th.