Editor’s note: Start here for more festival style posts.
Outside of writing about men’s style for a number of Web sites and working my day job in fashion PR, there’s maybe nothing I love more than checking out live music and hanging out with lifetime friends– anywhere, anytime. So when this year’s Governors Ball lineup dropped, I knew from the get-go I had to be there — we’re talking tons of bucket-list bands, great food and great times with very special friends. Now, I’ve traveled as far as San Francisco for the Outside Lands music festival, but Governors Ball holds a special place in my heart. It’s not all that far via subway and ferry from my Brooklyn apartment, and it brings the best of the best in so many genres to NYC’s backyard. It was a treat to attend last year to check out everyone from Tame Impala to Lana Del Rey, and that made it essential that I convince my great college friends Lauren Gibbons and Summer Ballentine to trek across the country for this year’s festival. It was a considerably easier trek for us to meet up with another lifetime friend and former State News journo, Kyle Campbell, who’s based in NYC. Even though day three was cancelled due to the threat of severe weather, I’d consider it a mission accomplished! And as with lots of my recent weekend excursions, it was essential to meet the affair in style. The next time you head to a summer music festival, I recommend you do the same — that’s even more important if you’re dealing with up-and-down weather. Keep in mind that it’s about the music, but dress for the occasion nonetheless — that’s why we’re here, ehh?
To kick off day one of the festival, I grabbed some trusty, rugged style essentials to combat the threat of thunderstorms. The great team at CAT Footwear was kind enough to provide me with not one, but two rugged pairs of boots to stomp around the festival grounds with. The Abe Canvas Boot is rugged, durable, festival-appropriate and yet still quite comfortable. The canvas side inserts and twill lining added an extra dimension of tough style, as did the rich Bossa Nova (dark brown) color. And my reliable Mott & Bow Skinny Mosco was a very solid pair of denim to rock alongside those, made with a hint of stretch and featuring that classic dark blue denim color. The boots did just as well at the festival as they’ll do at your next summer bar crawl, and they helped out tremendously given the threat of rain. Up top, I went lightweight and casual with an essential JACHS NY Striped Chambray Short-Sleeve Shirt. And since fighting inclement weather comes down to outerwear, and my friends at JackThreads were kind enough to hook me up with the JackThreads Trucker Jacket, a seriously cool update to a retro style, especially in the Seeded Natural color. It’s a downright bargain at just under $80, too.
Luckily, the rain held off, and we jammed to the essential NYC rock of The Strokes Friday night — they packed their set list with a long run of classics and some new material, and scorched their way through epic renditions of “Someday,” “Last Nite,” “Reptilia” and “You Only Live Once.” It was a once-in-a-lifetime performance! I couldn’t have been happier to be there. There also was plenty of action before that, with jams from Of Monsters & Men, Father John Misty, an epic set from Bloc Party and the endlessly fun Matt & Kim during the day. Remember Bloc Party? I sure as heck do. And Matt & Kim are definitely workhorses in the music festival season, and they put on a heck of a fun show — if you get the chance to see ’em, please do! Friday certainly didn’t disappoint when it came to the tunes on stage, even if the beer prices were a tad high for my taste.
On the other hand, Saturday presented a positively gorgeous first half of the day — the second half, not so much. However, the day still provided a wall-to-wall schedule jam-packed with even more must-see shows. From a personal standpoint, that meant kicking off the afternoon with the upbeat, fun vibes of MisterWives, followed by a really stellar late afternoon show from Michigan natives Lord Huron, who seem to be everywhere with their own take on folk rock — and some excellent tailored gear as part of their on-stage apparel. They sound great, and dress sharply to match. Of course, those afternoon shows coupled with the NYC heat meant two things — a few critical refreshments and some critical warm-weather gear. I kept it simple and paired my JACHS NY Indigo Linen Blend Montauk Shorts with a slim-fitting Old Navy short-sleeve henley (a new favorite piece for hot temps) and my trusty American Apparel denim jacket. The shorts were comfortable and lightweight yet still had a nicely tailored fit, and the color played nicely off the SWIMS Luca Sneaker, an incredibly comfortable pair of footwear that’s also breathable and machine-washable (crucial for navigating the muddy fields).
The whole combo was topped off by my Maximus Sunglasses from Sunday Somewhere. All good things must come to an end, and that meant the great music continued even as the sunny weather ran out. The lovely ladies of HAIM shredded their way through two new songs and an insane live set despite insane rain; they’ve got a tight rhythm, great vocals and a distinct sound that’s second to none. We proceeded to dance our way through a rainy set by the incomparable Miike Snow, and things thankfully cleared up seemingly just in time for once-in-a-lifetime show from a band I’ve waited about 12 years to see, The Killers. Words simply aren’t enough. You talk about the power of music to transcend and connect people, and that’s about as close as it gets. It could not have been more epic. Hopefully, it’s not another 12 years before I get to see them again!
Now, the real kicker came on Sunday — as we headed to the festival, we found out day three was cancelled due to weather concerns! Talk about a major bummer. That did give us more time to explore NYC, including a delicious brunch at Brooklyn’s Aita, some time in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and a trek across the Brooklyn Bridge. For those activities, the Slim Ludlow Denim in Light/Medium Blue via Mott & Bow worked quite well, as did the Alaric Boot from CAT Footwear. It’s a dependable, rugged hiker with colorful laces, a sturdy, jagged sole and a microfiber lining for comfort and function. They’ll definitely do quite well if you find yourself traveling to any other festivals this summer, and they did very well walking all around NYC. I’d also recommend a comfortable Mack Weldon Pima Crewneck and my reliable Bridge and Burn Flat Wool Cap to top off any travel gear.
The adventures didn’t stop after brunch — far from it, in fact! Irish indie rockers Two Door Cinema Club took us completely by surprise when they announced a secret show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, a personal favorite venue in NYC, to make up for the Governors Ball cancellation. That left us battling about 3,000 other eager fans to see them — in a venue with a capacity of about 550, the numbers don’t quite work! In spite of that, we had a nice evening checking out some of Williamsburg’s finer establishments, and were in bed well before the announcement of the surprise Kanye West show at Webster Hall. Now, I’m still bummed I missed Cold War Kids and CHVRCHES, on Sunday (along with Death Cab for Cutie), but I feel very sure I’ll see them again soon.
The music (and #menswear) were small parts of the weekend, though — it was truly so great to catch up with outstanding lifetime friends, and I’m really fortunate I was able to rock some great gear from a few terrific brands at the festival, too. More importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed taking in some amazing, awe-inspiring music. I might be a little tired today, but there’s perhaps nothing more fulfilling as a music fan than seeing a band you love deliver on a great show at an outstanding festival. When you get the chance to sing along to songs you’ve known half your life, it’s all the better. Add in lifetime friends and the equation’s complete. Governors Ball is totally worth it, bad weather and all. I can’t say enough about the weekend, but for now, I know I’ll be back next year!
See you in the front row and stay stylish,
P.S. For more menswear, check back here tomorrow for a summer-friendly #OOTD.