Emerson’s students flocked across the states to attend this year’s Governors Ball music festival last weekend – a unique experience for students deprived of concerts for months in the midst of the pandemic.
The event, affectionately known as the “Gov Ball,” took place at Citi Field in New York City, welcoming approximately 50,000 people over three days. For many students, it marked the return of live music for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic canceled most large in-person gatherings, but for the festival it was celebrating its tenth anniversary during the festivities.
Hosted by Founders Entertainment, a subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment, Governors Ball debuted in 2011. Today, ten years later, the festival has brought together a larger audience, lineup and talent. This year Billie Eilish, A $ AP ROCKY, J Balvin and Post Malone were the headliners of the event.
Freshman CJ Hoekenge said Gov Ball was the first music festival he had ever attended.
“I was definitely exhausted at the end of each day,” Hoekenge said. “But looking back, it was a really great experience.”
Belle Fortebuono, a first-year creative enterprise company, said the festival was its first time in a large crowd since the start of the pandemic. Even though it was overwhelming at times, she said, it was a lot of fun.
“It was a really great experience.” said Fortebuono. “I’m a great musician, so seeing people live was amazing. “
Despite some performances recognized as disappointing, including rappers 21 Savage and Young Thug, audiences were delighted to see performers such as Billie Eillish, A $ AP Rocky, Post Malone, Megan Thee Stallion and Phoebe Bridgers.
“I was so impressed,” said Brynne Norquist, a first year visual and media arts major, of Bridgers’ performance. “It was so cool to see her actually.”
Norquist, a New York native who has attended Governors Ball since 2017, said the festival has a series of COVID-19 protocols in place to keep festival goers safe, including requiring proof of vaccination for attendees.
Event organizers have also swapped Randall’s Island, the venue for the festival in the past, for Citi Field in Queens. The programmers opted for a more mixed program, simultaneously programming popular artists of various genres.
“They teamed up popular performers to limit the crowds, to make sure there was an even distribution [of people]”Said Enorquist.” The two performers would have huge crowds, but very different crowds. “
Despite the precautions, other members of the Emerson community criticized the event, noting that the atmosphere did not appear safe for COVID on social media.
“The crowd at the event looked huge and not a single person was wearing a mask,” said Eden Ornstein, a first-year communication science and disorders student.
While acknowledging that vaccinations help individuals fight infections, Ornstein stressed that they don’t necessarily stop the spread of COVID within a community. Ornstein felt that the students who attended should have been more careful.
“Emerson has worked so hard to create a safe bubble against COVID,” she said. “It’s like a slap in the face to see these students running around without a mask.”
CJHoekenga said he and his friends who attended the festival took precautions to avoid transmitting the virus. The group was tested immediately after returning from New York and quarantined together until they tested negative, he said.
“I want to respect that not everyone is comfortable enough to come back to this scene yet,” Hoekenga said. “I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable with me.”
He also added that he felt safe going to a music festival after reading about Lollapalooza, a Chicago music festival in August that health officials determined was not a large-scale event.
Only 203 of the estimated 385,000 attendees at Lollapalooza, or less than a tenth of a percent of festival-goers, tested positive for COVID-19, according to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr Allison Arwady.
However, health officials also recognize that even a single case could lead to an outbreak of groundbreaking infections and is particularly dangerous for immunocompromised students or students who cannot be vaccinated.
Emerson student Jax Gross has expressed concern about students attending music festivals, saying it’s “a little selfish” for students to attend events with large crowds.
“I don’t think the people who went there were one hundred percent wrong, but I think going to the Gov Ball wasn’t really necessary,” Gross said. “There were people in my class who went and saw on Monday, which was kind of shocking.”