Things That Surprised Me as a Brit at an American Festival

Governors Ball was great, but where were all the midday K-holers?
Jamie Clifton
London, GB
governors ball festival 2023

Governors Ball 2023 had basically everything you’d want from a New York music festival: easy access from the subway, an Ice Spice set, Roberta’s pizza, Kendrick Lamar headlining, and ample shade for my delicate British skin.

I’d never been to Gov Ball before, but I heard from various people there that the festival’s new location, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, levelled it up from previous years – in part because of the abundance of trees and all the beautiful, dappled shade they provide.


Either way, this year was a lot of fun. Day one was very much Ice Spice’s day; almost everyone I spoke to said they were there for the Bronx native, with varying levels of giddiness.

The flag guy in the video above was incredibly sweet about finally seeing his crush in the flesh; the five shirtless creatine creatures with “ICE SPICE” written on their chests, who were running straight into people and screaming “MUNCH!” in their faces, less so.

Other Friday highlights: Joey Bada$$ breaking up a scuffle in the crowd by claiming one of the participants was his cousin, Michelle’s dance routines, Lizzo’s extended flute solo.

As previously mentioned, I am – for my sins – British. For this reason, I’m used to seeing people at music festivals drinking by roughly 9AM, K-holing by lunch, and feeding their laps a mess of coagulated noodles by sunset.

This kind of behaviour didn’t seem to be on the cards at Gov Ball. In fact, most of the party people I vox-popped stressed how important it is to stay hydrated at all times.

I Went on a Blind Date at a Music Festival

This is definitely true, of course – but it left me with an odd mix of shame and pride to consider that American 19-year-olds are broadly more responsible than the majority of British adults who enjoy watching live music in a field. More of those valuable insights in the video above.

Saturday highlights: KennyHoopla’s energy, Kenny Beats blasting Flowdan in the afternoon sun, Snail Mail’s mid-song banter, and Rina Sawayama’s set from start to finish.


As I was covering the festival, I spent a lot of time hurtling between areas to speak to artists and attendees, and occasionally topping up with $18 beers from one of the various bars. Until Saturday afternoon, that is, when I realised the bar in the artists’ area was free, and so decided to base myself there for the remainder of the weekend.

Conveniently, it was also easier to get around the site from the backstage area, which served me well on the Sunday, given the fact I still had a lot of hurtling to do.

Coast Contra played early doors to a still relatively sleepy crowd, but for me were one of the best acts of the weekend. Other Sunday highlights: the group of guys wearing balaclavas for Central Cee in 25 degree heat, spotting PinkPantheress without her trademark handbag, everyone around me losing their entire minds to Kendrick Lamar.

Governors Ball: 10/10, would go again.