New York City festivals are always tricky. Not only is there a general lack of large, open fields ripe for thousands of festival goers, it’s difficult to compile a music festival that aligns with the city’s fusion of cultural identities. Governors Ball has been adamant about offering both components in their 10+ year history, and their 2023 lineup, announced on Tuesday, January 17th, is a testament to that mission.
With Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, and ODESZA topping the bill this year, Governors Ball is taking after their older festival siblings by prioritizing unique, global, and must-see artists. Though you can catch an act like ODESZA at virtually any other North American festival and Lizzo’s been making the headlining rounds for a while, there is a global twist that stands out this year. Notably, South Korean girl group aespa is set to be Governors Ball’s first-ever K-pop act, while Nigerian star Tems — who also made our 2023 15 Rising Artists to Watch list — also appears on the lineup.
However, the biggest change to Governors Ball is not in its lineup, but in its location: This year, the festival will be moving down the street from the Citi Field parking lot in Queens to Corona Park in the neighboring Flushing Meadows. Though Citi Field was a logistical upgrade from Randall’s Island (which had some wonderful grass fields, but led to a few instances of being stranded on the island during a ridiculous summer rainstorm), multi-day festivals that take place in parking lots have a pretty gnarly impact on your feet, especially by the end of the weekend. Hopefully, moving the event to fields in Corona Park will lead to a more comfortable festival experience.
With so many exciting, breakout artists to choose from this year, Governors Ball 2023 — and the overall future of the festival — is looking pretty solid. Check out the lineup poster and see for our full breakdown of this year’s Governors Ball lineup below.
Tickets to Governors Ball 2023 — including general admission and VIP passes — go on sale starting Thursday, January 19th at 10:00 a.m. ET via the festival’s website. Fans are encouraged to sign up via Governors Ball’s website for early access to tickets.
The Best Bookings:
King Kendrick has been very selective about which festivals he’s taking his Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers show to. After debuting his updated festival set at Glastonbury in 2022, he’s been named as a headliner for Bonnaroo, Osheaga, and now, Governors Ball. Needless to say, Kendrick Lamar is at the very top of his game, and this headlining set is sure to be one of the most memorable in the festival’s history.
The trio of superstar sisters took the radiant songs of their most recent album, 2020’s Women in Music: Part III, on tour for much of last year. However, they were relatively light on North American festival dates. Having them at Governors Ball, with the potential of new music, is a major win for the festival. Not only that, they’ve never been better live — as evidenced by their phenomenal performance at Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival last year.
After appearing on last year’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack with a stunning rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” Tems is in store for her biggest 2023 yet. Outside of Governors Ball, she only has a solo date at an Orlando “Spring Break” festival in March, so it’s a great booking on Governors Ball’s part to nab the Nigerian star for an exclusive show in New York.
The Forgettable Bookings:
While Oliver Tree has successfully garnered a devoted fanbase, it’s still too easy to write off the songwriter and producer. He’s become a festival staple in recent years, but we’re still waiting for his music to move beyond the meme or for his vocals to evolve beyond a pop-punk whine. While his music might be forgettable, his persona certainly isn’t — so perhaps his set will be more of a visual spectacle than an auditory one.
With ODESZA nabbing the top spot on Saturday, Governors Ball organizers certainly had to grab some more high profile EDM names for this year’s lineup. Diplo is pretty much the sole compliment to ODESZA (besides Sunday’s SOFI TUKKER), which isn’t really saying much — there are so many more interesting EDM-adjacent acts that could be in this spot. Even one of Diplo’s many collaborative projects would have a rarity factor, but a solo set has a much higher chance of falling a bit flat.
It’s taken a few years, but K-pop is finally starting to have a more dominant place at North American festivals. Coachella arguably started it all, but last year, Lollapalooza made a significant addition to its lineup by having BTS member J-Hope headline one of its main stages on Sunday night, as well as inviting burgeoning K-pop act TOMORROW X TOGETHER to perform on Saturday. Governors Ball is making some similar great decisions this year with the fast-rising aespa (who also made our list of 10 K-pop tours we’re dying to see in 2023).
This one is only half surprising: Back when Governors Ball released their ill-fated 2020 lineup, black midi was booked along with several other rock bands that wouldn’t appear back on the festival’s following lineups. While it makes sense to have the experimental British trio back to play the set they were originally offered, it is surprising giving the lack of rock acts — or any kind of experimental, hard-edged music — that appear on the 2023 lineup.
Before it was cancelled, Charli XCX was also one of the artists set to play Governors Ball 2020. She was all over the globe touring her album Crash in 2022, so it makes sense that they couldn’t nab her last year — but she’s been announced already for Coachella 2023, so it would have been perfect to have her finally appear this year. With several collaborators and genre-adjacent players on the lineup already (namely, Rina Sawayama and Kim Petras), it’s a shame they missed out on Charli XCX this time around.
No other festivals have successfully booked Miley Cyrus for 2023 (yet), and Governors Ball seems like it’d be the perfect fit. Also scheduled to play in 2020, she’s a more exciting draw than headliners ODESZA, and with new music in tow, it’d be a memorable showcase for her lengthy career. Alas, we may just have to wait a couple more years for Miley at Governors Ball.
Anyone With A Guitar
Look, there are some great rock acts this year, as there are every year: Snail Mail, HAIM, black midi, girl in red, and The Amazons are undoubtedly exciting draws. But there are dozens of intriguing rock acts that deserve a slot here — Alvvays, Wet Leg, Wunderhorse, Alex G, or even larger draws like Paramore or The 1975 would make this lineup just a bit more balanced. It’s hard to believe this is the same festival that booked Tool to headline only six years ago. But of course, times change, and riding on the hype train for rock acts isn’t as high of a priority for Governors Ball as it once was.
From a larger standpoint, there is an interesting trend for Governors Ball’s lineup this year and the two prior post-pandemic editions. They’re prioritizing acts that live in a grey area between R&B, pop, and hip-hop. While they have certainly booked straightforward artists in these genres like Giveon, Kim Petras, and Lil Baby, there are a great deal more that fall into these cracks stylistically. Omar Apollo, Lil Nas X, Tai Verdes, Lizzo, 070 Shake, Syd, Phony Ppl, and Amber Mark are all similar kinds of “hybrid” artists when it comes to genre and performance, and it’s a more direct acknowledgment of our genreless consumption as an audience than ever before.
While Governors Ball’s previous two lineups targeted a much younger demographic than, say, 2020, this year doesn’t seem to skew quite as young. (Side note: Remember when they briefly announced the festival would be 18+, then backpeddled on that promise?) Sure, most folks over 30 aren’t as interested in Diplo and Lil Baby, but with well-rounded artists like Pusha-T, Joey Bada$$, HAIM, Rina Sawayama, Snail Mail, and Suki Waterhouse, it’s clear that this festival is not intended just for high schoolers.
Shockingly, even with ODESZA headlining, there’s a significant lack of electronic music on this lineup. Coachella and Bonnaroo have actively embraced electronic acts on all sides of the spectrum, but Governors Ball this year seems less concerned with some of the types of acts they booked in previous years like Jamie xx, Louis the Child, A-Trak, and The Knocks.
But overall, it’s an exciting lineup for an event that continues to dominate New York’s festival market, and the prospect of a new location brings even more hype to Governors Ball 2023. Catch us grooving along to Kendrick’s headlining set this summer — it’s one that we wouldn’t want to miss.