Governor’s Ball 2021

Ariella Frommer and Heidi Li

This past weekend, the annual Governors Ball Music Festival (Gov Ball) took place in the parking lot of Citi Field in Queens, NY.  The festival was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 but resumed this year, requiring attendees to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, according to the Gov Ball website.

While some students were uneasy about attending a public event, others trusted the COVID-19 protocols and went to the festival. Benjamin Rothman (12) wore a mask most of the time to be cautious, he said. “It didn’t feel any less safe than in past years.”

Gov Ball was the first large event Ariela Weber (10) attended since the start of COVID, she said. “This past year we’ve been deprived of large events, and I thought this would be a good way to still be safe by being outside and vaccinated, but start to return to them.” 

Lynn Egan (10) also felt comfortable with the COVID-19 precautions put in place at the festival. “Because it was an outdoor concert, there was a vaccine mandate, and I wore my mask when it was crowded, it felt safe,” she said.

However, Maya Westra (11), who decided to sell her Gov Ball ticket a few weeks before the event, did not believe the precautions were enough. As the number of COVID cases increased leading up to Gov Ball, Westra felt uneasy about going. She was also not sure of the school’s stance on the festival and did not want to quarantine, she said. “After seeing Gov Ball on social media, it didn’t look the most COVID-safe, so I’m not mad about selling my ticket.” 

Meanwhile, many students returned to the event after attending in 2019. This year, in an effort to make the festival more accessible, Gov Ball moved from its traditional location on Randall’s Island to Citi Field. Rothman, who went to Gov Ball both in 2019 and 2021, said the new location made the event different from previous years. “There weren’t huge grassy areas for people to sit on, and it was a bit smaller,” he said. “But that didn’t affect the quality of the performances.”

Weber’s favorite moment was watching Megan Thee Stallion’s performance and trying to get to the front of the crowd. “Megan’s music is one that most of my friends and I know really well because of how popular she is, so we were all singing and jumping together,” Weber said. “The crowd was very alive and just very excited and almost grateful to be there because it had been so long since we have had events like these.” 

Sofia Kim’s (10) favorite moment was also the performance by Megan Thee Stallion, who sang her new hits. “She was a great performer and singer, and really knew how to hype up the crowd,” she said.

For Maddie Kim (10), who went to Gov Ball on both Saturday and Sunday, the most memorable part of the event was seeing her friends around the festival, she said. Because a lot of her friends went to the event this year, she was constantly running into them — even people she hadn’t seen in years.

Rothman said the energy of the crowd made performances more enjoyable. “There were audio issues during Billie Eilish’s performance and people couldn’t really hear her well, but the crowd’s energy was still great.”

Meanwhile, this year was also some students’ first time at Gov Ball. “I wanted to go to Gov Ball in 2019 but didn’t really know it was happening, so I didn’t buy tickets in time,” Maddie Kim (10) said. Now that she is two years older and knows more about music, Kim made a bigger effort to track ticket availability and bought them the day they came out, she said. 

Egan also bought her Gov Ball tickets last spring, hoping that the event would happen this year, she said. “It was one of the first concert tickets that I bought that [the concert] wasn’t canceled.”

Sofia is excited that big events like Gov Ball are now able to happen, she said. “I thought it was really fun because it was a good balance of music and food and you could just say ‘hi’ to people you haven’t seen in a while.”

Egan enjoyed the familiarity of being at a music festival, she said. “It felt good to be back to old ways for a day.”