As the Governors Ball Music Festival turns 10, we’re taking a look back at the inaugural 2011 event. You can check out everything we’ve published around the anniversary here.
Ten years ago, on June 18th, 2011, a few twenty-somethings threw a one-day music festival on a tiny island near Manhattan.
“It was mostly people joking with us, saying, ‘Good luck, haha. No one’s ever been able to do this,’” Governors Ball co-founder Jordan Wolowitz remembers of those early planning stages. “[But] we were 26 and somehow had the foresight that we had nothing to lose.”
They pulled it off, and one decade later, Governors Ball has become New York City’s biggest music event, holding its own against festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. When the festival returns on Friday, September 24th after a year off due to the pandemic, artists like Billie Eilish, J Balvin and Megan Thee Stallion will usher in its new home of Citi Field in Queens, NY.
“It takes bold people to keep a festival running and growing,” says Luke Steele, whose band Empire of the Sun was a highlight on the inaugural bill. “Looking at the lineup now, it’s like wow, it’s out of control.”
So how did Gov Ball make it in one of the country’s toughest entertainment landscapes — not merely surviving, but thriving — for 10 years and counting?
To find out, watch Consequence’s mini-documentary (which accompanies our massive oral history of the first-ever Governors Ball, and brings the founders’, staff’s, and artists’ verbal accounts to life) above.