We are only days away from New York’s premier music festival. We are of course talking about The Governors Ball, which is set to take over Randall’s Island Park in New York from Friday, May 31 to Monday, June 3. Featuring multiple stages hosting some of the best names in music, from The Strokes, Tyler, the Creator, to The 1975, there is no shortage of must-catch acts at this year’s festival.
So, while we are all obviously going to be shouting out every lyric to IGOR before cry-dancing to A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, the question is who are the hidden gems yet to be discovered on 2019’s Governors Ball lineup? Well, we have your list of future stars right here, as well as a helpful playlist to familiarize yourself with each and every one of them.
“I’m trying to lock doors with these musical keys,” is a standout line on Easy Life’s “Pockets” and in many ways defines the band’s musical manifesto. The project of five of the finest lads from Leicester, England, Easy Life exists in an era where genres have given way to innovation and fluidity. Jumping between the vintage vibes of J Dilla, the lackadaisical indie rock of Rex Orange County, and the top-of-the-head storytelling of Arctic Monkeys, Easy Life’s blend of a myriad of genres, influences, and sounds are nothing short of intoxicating.
The fact that the name NJOMZA translates to “fresh” in Albanian makes perfect sense given a single passing glance at this R&B star on the rise. With a series of ever-changing neon hair, a Kill Bill aesthetic, and an otherworldly blend of R&B and soul, NJOMZA is not just another artist coasting in on a renewed interested in the timeless genre; she is positioning herself to constantly be a step ahead. Her futuristic and constantly evolving sound comes through in spades, whether it be in her own solo work or electrifying collaborations with Party Favor and FKi 1st.
Elohim is the very definition of a commanding one-woman show. The electronic singer, songwriter, producer, and musician entered the music scene a few short years ago, and, in that timespan, has grown to be one of its greatest innovators. Nowhere is this notion more realized than with the recent release of her lauded EP Braindead. Released in support of Mental Health Awareness month, with 100% of the May proceeds going to charities focusing on providing outreach and supporting for those living with mental health issues, Braindead further cemented Elohim as an artist to watch and most certainly catch.
“Ever since I started playing music, it was always about the feel,” shares New York–based artist Cautious Clay. It is this intangible, perfectly indescribable feel that begins to explain the wonder of Cautious Clay’s music. Blending experimental indie with R&B and hip-hop, the New York artist crafts utterly mesmerizing works that are often rooted in deeply personal introspection. The end result plays out like an artist vulnerable enough to wear both his heart on his sleeve and let his mind unfurl like loosely-tied-together poetry.
Like the best of modern-day artists, Chelsea Cutler got her start with a series of self-produced work on SoundCloud before realizing she had a hit on her hands with “Your Shirt.” The single, which has been streamed over 65 million times on Spotify alone, is only one of many impeccably heartfelt electronic pop gems the artist currently holds in her repertoire. Then there is the fact that Cutler recently dropped a joint EP with Jeremey Zucker earlier this year, the same Zucker who is also on this year’s Governors Ball lineup. Special guest surprise anyone?
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever finds themselves in the unique position of both having the longest name of any artist playing Governors Ball this year and being one of this year’s best-kept-secrets. Self-described as a “tough pop/soft punk” outfit, the Australian band delivers dynamic rock and roll that is underscored by a penchant for dry wit and sprawling lyrical tangents. It is the sort of music perfectly fit for losing yourself in, whether that be in an island off New York or in the band’s fondness for expansive instrumentation that calls to mind the heyday of the art punk movement.
If you were to ask Ric Wilson to describe his music, chances are you would find yourself on the receiving end of a list of genres that are as expansive as the music the Chicago artist creates. Nouveau disco rap, electrified motivational funk hip-hop poet, gospel rapper, and more may begin to explain the colorful world of Wilson, but it feels like we are still only scratching the surface of one of Chicago’s future stars. So why should you go see Wilson? Well, if the above did not make it apparent enough, no one else is quite making music like he is.
Injury Reserve is an alternative rap trio whose music traces a line from the golden era of hip-hop, á la A Tribe Called Quest and Black Sheep, to the daily and political struggles of modern day living. Championed as the next wave of underground rap, the Arizona-based trio will be hitting Governors Ball hot off the heels of their acclaimed self-titled album, which features everything from Elon Musk references to features from Freddie Gibbs, Rico Nasty, DRAM, and Aminé. Plus, as anyone who has been to an Injury Reserve show can attest, there is no shortage of energy to be found in that mosh pit.
In many ways, Calpurnia reads as act one of a yet-to-be-conceived nostalgia-laden indie film. The project of four teenagers and close friends who all found a shared bond in the classic music of the Beatles, Nirvana, and David Bowie, it felt like destiny that they would come together in the hopes of creating a generation-defining rock band. And with the release of their debut EP, Scout, Calpurnia proved they were well on their way to do so. A phenomenal collection of emotionally-driven garage rock with lyrics that touched upon subject matter well beyond their years, Calpurnia is undoubtedly here to stay.
There is a pervasive effervescence to the music of Tobi Lou. Hailing from Chicago by way of Nigeria, the rising rapper crafts music that is as lively as the animated cover art and visuals that often accompany his idyllic sonics. Yet, this is no mere child’s play. Behind the buoyancy of Tobi Lou’s work is an undeniable gift for spirited hip-hop that is equal parts infectious and brimming with lyrical depth. If you do not want to be kicking yourself come Monday, do not miss out on catching Tobi Lou at Governor’s Ball.