Prancing and screeching across the stage in a neon green suit and his new blond, bowl-cut wig, Tyler, the Creator stole the show on Gov Ball 2019’s inaugural night. Without special guests or a backing band, the ever-eccentric rapper captivated the crowd with songs from his just-released new album, “IGOR,” as well as fan favorites from his deep catalog. Although “IGOR” has only been out for a couple of weeks, the audience knew many of the lyrics and shouted along fervently — to the heartfelt appreciation of the seemingly surprised Tyler, who also served as his own hype man.
Opening his set with the ominous buzzy synth and syncopated breakbeat of “Igor’s Theme,” Tyler powered through several songs from the new album at a feverish pace, which jolted the crowd even without the album’s long list of celebrity collaborators: “I Think” (not featuring Solange, as it does on the album) and “New Magic Wand” (ditto Santigold). “Who would’ve thought that an album about your heart being broke would be this f—in’ turnt up?” he asked the crowd. “This the No. 1 album in the world right now!”
He slowed down the pace for the heartfelt “Puppet,” which he delivered sitting down, before changing into his usual outfit of shorts, a short-sleeved button-down shirt and a cap to perform some “Flower Boy” and “Wolf” — then it was back to “IGOR.” “Can we wild out for a bit?” he asked rhetorically before plunging into “What’s Good” and eventually the hit “Earfquake.”
“I’m really excited,” he said, introducing the latter track. “I wrote this song, and I’m like ‘I’m gonna write my version of a goddamn pop hit.’ And it’s getting there, slowly but surely — so every person in here that sing along, just know you are f—in’ appreciated.”
Earlier in the evening, Lil Wayne — dripping in Gucci and wearing a large-brimmed white hat that could’ve easily been mistaken for a sombrero — took the predominantly teenage Gov Ball audience back to the late aughts and early 2010s. But the crowd knew his catalog and responded with a frenzy to “Tha Carter III” and “IV” tracks like “Mr. Carter,” “6 Foot 7 Foot,” “A Milli,” “Mrs. Officer,” and crowd-favorite “Lollipop.” “I used to do these things called mixtapes, you heard of ’em?” he joked, before performing “Rollin’” from 2011’s “Sorry 4 the Wait.”
The set also included some more contemporary material, like his verses from Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem” and French Montana’s “Pop That,” as well as “Tha Carter V” cuts like “Uproar” and “Don’t Cry” — his tribute to the late XXXTentacion, who posthumously provided its hook. Featuring both a live band and his DJ, the combination worked exceedingly well on some songs but fell flat on others, occasionally drowning out the rapper’s ever-intricate wordplay.
Brockhampton brought the biggest production of the day, beginning their set with a flight suit-clad, brooding Bearface singing “Summer” on a moving platform extended above the audience by a crane. A tarped structure on stage was then revealed to be a golden airplane, held up by a massive blue hand, containing Kevin Abstract and the other crew members — who all busted out rapping “Boogie.” “You are now watching the greatest boy band in the mother—in’ world!” Kevin reminded fans more than once throughout the show.
Other standout sets from day one of Governors Ball included a laid-back, soulful display from in-the-pocket contemporary funk kingpins The Internet as well as the outspoken and charismatic Jessie Reyez, who touched on issues like immigration and the #MeToo movement between songs. “Something like over five, six years ago, when I was singing for people and begging people to hear my sh–, I met this producer,” she shared before performing her #MeToo anthem, “Gatekeeper.” “I was so f—in’ happy, man, I prayed in the bathroom… and I came back out and I was like, ‘alright, I’ma sing for this dude,’ and I sang for him — and I was lit! And then he looks at me and he goes, ‘Yeah Jessie, you can sing, but if you want to succeed, you need to suck d— for a deal.’” Her response to him and all doubters? “I like to tell ’em to suck my d—.”
Gov Ball continues on Saturday and Sunday with Florence and the Machine, Major Lazer, the 1975, Kacey Musgraves, the Strokes, Nas, SZA and many more.