I honestly can’t remember where I was the first time I saw this. I do remember being bombarded with links of this same announcement on different blogs from everyone who knows me and knows I love them.
I remember running to my coworkers, who I knew had went to Governor’s Ball last year and asking them multiple questions, mostly about if I could buy a single day ticket. I literally had NO other reason to go to Governor’s Ball unless it was to see Outkast, so I didn’t really want to pay for a 3-day ticket and go to one day.
After confirming that I could, I settled down and waited for them to go on sale. I followed @govballnyc on twitter and set notifications so that EVERY tweet could come to my phone. I waited for them to announce one day tickets for I think 3 months, getting notified at least once or twice today that they tweeted something I didn’t give a shit about.
I was going to get a one day ticket. i was going to be front row. I called this Operation Not-A-Fucking-Game.
OPERATION NOT-A-FUCKING-GAME PT. 1: THE TICKET
Finally, GovballNYC tweeted when single day tickets would go on sale. There were two dates. One early presale date for Citi Card holders, and one regular date that was a whole fucking two days later. I started asking my coworkers which one of them had a Citi Card and got my friend Kate to buy my ticket on her card and I’d pay her back.
On the day the tickets went on sale, I came to work with my game face on. I had gotten a withdrawal before I got to the office and gave her the money 2 hours before tickets went on sale. at 9:55am, 5 minutes before the tickets went on sale, I looked over at her desk and I couldn’t find her.
She had went to a meeting.
I died. I could see her in the meeting room through the glass. She was meeting with someone pretty high up, so I didn’t want to just press my face on the glass. I just had to wait until the meeting was over and feel a little part of me die for every minute that passed that tickets were on sale and I didn’t have one.
At 10:02, she emailed me a copy of my ticket to Governors Ball. She had taken her laptop in and bought my ticket during the meeting. I could have cried.
OPERATION NOT-A-FUCKING-GAME PT. 2: THE PLAN
The first people I talked to were Amber and Chris. My coworkers and festival experts (They were going to Coachella, and Governor’s Ball, and Lolla that year). I tried to get as much info from then on the Gov Ball crowd as possible.
Then I searched the internet for any detailed blog posts on someone Gov Ball experience. I wanted to know how the crowd was, how last year was, how the ferry service was, etc. I needed info so that I could cater my plan and figure out the best way to get front row.
I downloaded the Governors Ball app and stayed subscribed to their twitter notifications so I could know when they would release the festival map so that I could plan my steps. I checked the site every day for the same reason. Gov Ball had added a little feature, allowing you to like an artist and make your own schedule, since there were multiple stages and staggered times. I didn’t need a schedule. I had one place to be. But I checked because I could see how many people scheduled Outkast. I wanted to get some sort of feel on how crowded their set would be relative to other artists. Each of the 3 days had tons of different acts and one main headliner. Friday was Outkast, Saturday was….idk. And Sunday was Jack White. I expected Friday to sell out first, but it actually sold out last. I was surprised and actually…a little disappointed. It was a sign of things to come.
Finally, everything was released. Set times. Ferry times. And festival map. I planned everything to the T, went over it every few days or so, and counted down to June 6.
OPERATION NOT-A-FUCKING-GAME PT. 2: OPERATION
The night before, my friend, my love, Rebecca, flew up from Miami for Governors Ball. She stayed at my apartment, as well as Justin, and we all talked about life, jobs [I had just lost mine] and art, as well as smoking and eating.
I cut the party short though. I was waking up early. I told them they could come with me if they wanted, but that I wasn’t waiting on anyone at any second. They understood, but I knew they wouldn’t come with me, and that was fine. Gov Ball was about me and Outkast.
I woke up at 8am and put on my clothes that I had laid out the night before [My black ATLien shirt + some cutoff shorts + chucks]. Everyone was still sleeping when I left. I wasnt going to eat but i got hungry before I even got to the train and stopped at a Dunkin Donuts, afraid that even that small detour would make me late and have me standing in the back behind thousands of pseudo-fans. I got off the train and walked about 4 long blocks to the ferry dock. There were about 10 people there. Security wasnt even ready. I felt good.
There was a group of women next to me, each of them had to be in their 40s or 50s, but wearing clothes from like..Hot Topic. They were talking about this guy, I assumed it was who they were going to see. I had no idea who else was performing for the day except Outkast so I couldn’t guess who they were talking about from the snippets of conversation I heard. One woman talked about flying out to LA to see him and seeing him all over the country. They all tried to one-up one another about who was the biggest fan. The main woman, we’ll call her Old Dusty, OD for short, lamented about how she couldn’t wear her band shirt because she had mistakenly ordered a medium and she wanted a small (she emailed the seller to get a small and they said they were sold out and she was just sooooo disappointed in them and she emailed them multiple times talking about how she was sooo disappointed, and she DMed them on twitter about who disappointed she was).
I wanted OD to stop talking, but she wouldn’t. And I couldn’t move lest I lose my space in line.
Finally, the line started moving. We were patted down at 3 different locations before being allowed to get on the ferry to go to Randall’s Island. Since we were so early and this was the first ferry, it wasnt even half filled. Just a straggle of crazies who wanted to be at the island 2 hours before gates even opened. OD and crew sat first, in the first row of chairs. There was one chair left beside them. So I had to make a decision. Spare myself from listening to OD gobble on and on about nothing, or be the first off the boat. I sat next to OD and crew and did any and everything to distract myself.
We got to the island and OD does some weird power ranger leap to the door and she’s first off the boat. Theres a tunnel, the entrance is decorated with a Governors Ball sign. We don’t make it all the way through the tunnel. We are stopped halfway by a festival coordinator that explains that they’re not ready yet, they haven’t set up the ticketing system and the arm bands and all that. Im in the first row of people in the small mob. OD and crew are still beside me, cawking away about their mystery man.
Finally, were let throw, I go to the ticketing tent and immediately get my one day bracelet, then I walk to the doors. There are already people there. People who decided not to take the ferry and just to take the train or walk (I didn’t want to take my chances with those methods). I was behind about 10 people. I hated it. OD and crew had finally disappeared somewhere.
We were all in one long line when staff came out and asked us to form 8 lines. Some people didn’t move, but I did. And I became first in my particular line. We still had about an hour and a half before doors opened, so I went over my plan again.
I knew Outkast was getting on at 9:15 and I knew what stage they were playing. Since it was the largest stage, I had even seen it when we were on the ferry coming to the island. I sorta guessed where it was relative to the doors, and looked last the ticketing and security stands as far as I could to try to make out my path and match it to the one I had made by staring at the map.
While I was being pat down for the 4th time, I kept my eyes on the prize, staring straight ahead, so that I could take off
running speed walking. I finished my pat down and booked it across the field to the main stage, past other stages, food vendors, whatever.
I stopped. I had to.
I had to buy a popsicle from King of Pops, an Atlanta based popsicle stand. They were one teeny tiny white cart in an empty field of green. It was almost beautiful. I bought a Georgia Peach popsicle, keeping up with the theme of the night. Then I ran, popsicle in hand. I also a couple of other people running. But I saw my spot. The front row was empty except 3 or 4 people who I have no idea how they got there before me but I heard they let VIP in early. I got to the front row, it was so close to the stage that it was nice and shaded. I grabbed the rail and settled in, knowing I would be there until the end of the night at 11pm. It was noon. I sat.
The girl next to me was wearing a tee that said “Julian Casablancas” on it. I had no idea who he was and she seemed shocked and amused. She explained that he was the lead singer of The Strokes (I just had to look that up because I didn’t remember). and also had his own band.
I gathered that he was her Outkast. She told me about how she saw him in LA and it clicked that this Casablancas guy was the mystery guy that all the old ladies were fawning over. And as I looked around, there were ALOT of people wearing Casablancas shirts. They were there for him. I started to realize I was the only Outkast fan around at the time. Julian was getting on at around 430 and I prayed that all his fans would leave after him, letting all the Outkast fans come to the front. I really didn’t want to be around a bunch of white girls singing Hey Ya and texting during the rest of their set.
So, the first act of the day goes on, and then the second, and so on, and the routine is sort of set in place. An act will go on, we stand, we watch, and then in between acts, we sit and talk to people. We’re so close to the stage that we can actually sit in the shade. This helps me ALOT because I know Ill be there for hours. But as the day goes on and the acts get more and more famous, soon there is no room to sit, and by Janelle Monae at 3pm, I am squished. Between sets I have to stand and lean over the railing, thats really when hell begins. The original plan was for me to actually save spots for Justin and Rebecca since they were coming later, but I knew that since they weren’t there by then, that they’re weren’t getting anywhere near the front.
Julian Casablancas is after Janelle Monae (I think) and the crowd gets very very very dense. People are squeezing behind me so tight, and I get really annoyed. I know its not their fault, but the front bar is pushing against my stomach, and Julian hasn’t even gotten on yet. I do this thing where I grab the bar, and push my body back as hard as I can to get people off of me. I have to do this about a thousand times before the night is over.
Julian gets on, the girls go crazy, and I felt *kinda* bad *sorta* for the people behind me who love Julian as much as I love Outkast. I thought for like .38 seconds about giving my spot up for someone and switching back afterwards, but i laughed it off.
After Julian was Phoenix. The girl next to me was there for them. She had a big sign with the words “FUNKY SQUAREDANCE” written on it, and during the down time before Phoenix went on, I asked her what they meant. Her story was incredible.
Basically, she’s a huge huge Phoenix fan. She goes to all of their shows on the east coast. She’s always there early and its to the point where certain members of the band and road crew know her.
Once they realized she had been to a ton of their shows, their manager contacted her and invited her to one of their shows in NYC for free. Funky Squaredance was a random track off their first album that they never perform live, but they sometimes did for her if they saw her holding up that sign.
She was shaking, jumping up and down before they even got on stage. There was this strange twinkle in her eye that I recognized as the stan twinkle. That twinkle you only get when you’ve been standing in the same spot for 6 hours, waiting for your favorite band to come on. I was so happy for her. And when Phoenix got on, I spent most of the time feeding off her happiness.
She jumped, and cried when one of the band members recognized her. Everyone around her saw her passion and we all respected it and gave her space. At the end, the lead singer broke the head off his mic and gave it to her, and she sobbed and sobbed. Once the band left the stage, we begged the security guard to give her the setlist, and she left. To give some perspective on how dense the crowd was, when she left, 3 people filled her tiny space.
Next up was Outkast.
It was finally starting to get a little dark and cooler out, and I was getting excited. I get a tap on my shoulder from a girl, shorter than me, indian. She asks if Im there for Kast. I say yes, and she gets excited because Im the ONLY other person she’s found thats there for them. We hit it of immediately, joking about Andre and Big Boi seeing us in the crowd and inviting us backstage, and I even find out that she’s originally from Georgia and is set to go back there for grad school once summer is over. Her name is Shub, and I turn my phone on for the first time in hours so that we can change Facebooks.
I have a ton of texts, some from Justin and Rebecca asking where I am, some from another friend, and one from Sean that says “I don’t know how to say this, but Ryan died, they think from a heart attack”. I respond back “what?!” and he explains that he just found out. I am in shock. Its a weird feeling, standing there at the front of a huge dense crowd, as the sun is going down, waiting for your first time to see your favorite musicians ever, and hearing that your friend has died.
I dwell on it, then store it away for when I have more time to think about it. I friend Shub on Facebook, then turn my phone off again, we have a whole 30 more minutes until Kast gets on.
30 turns to 45. The music starts about 3 times, we all cheer, but then nothing happens.
My heart can’t take all the false starts, but Im still excited. I cannot feel a thing, no pain, no sadness, and no grief. Finally, the cube appears. THE CUBE. The CUBE that has been the center piece of their show for the entire tour thus far. A red veil is lowered over the cube. Its dark out. I start to scream. My heart feels ready to burst. Theres no music. Just a track of thunder claps.
Im screaming and screaming, my camera is recording, the red veil is lifted, and my babies are suddenly inside. Big Boi reclined on a chair, and Andre, my Andre, standing, facing
the crowd me.
My camera starts to shake and I start to cry a little. I put down my camera and enjoy the show, only recording little clips for my enjoyment later. Im jumping up and down, the crowd is tight, and I am not a small person. I also have long, butt-length braids but I don’t care whose getting smacked, whose getting stepped on, I make my own space and I jump and scream and rap and wave and scream at Shub and rock and wind through their whole set. I take some time to look over at the crowd and see some other fan on the other side waving a big huge Stankonia flag, the cameras scan the faces in the crowd, and later on my friends in the back tell me they all saw me. I have the most fun I could possibly have I get my entire life. I stay until the bitter end. One of the first to get to the crowd, and I wait past the end of the show to see if I can get a setlist, but some BITCH walks up and takes them all, so Im unsuccessful. I wait a little longer to be totally sure that Kast isn’t going to come back. Shub leaves and we promise to talk on Facebook. I take my first actual step since standing for 9 hours, and my legs are weak, I almost fall.
My battery is low. My thighs are numb. My feet feel swollen. My head hurts. Im extremely thirsty and hungry, and I have to pee.
I do my best to levitate above the seat in the disgusting porta-potty, then run to the concessions before they close and buy a coke and a water. I manage to meet up with my friend Zaria near the front before my phone officially dies, and we get in line for the ferry back to Manhattan.
Zaria and I end up meeting the guy who was waving the giant Stankonia Flag. He’s a black dude who lived in Boston and is another Outkast stan. He had even flown to Coachella to see their first show together. We get into a long conversation about Outkast that lasts our entire wait in line, then we all get on the ferry together talking and rapping. We split up on the Manhattan dock, get FB info, and promise to link up again.
As Zaria and I walk back to the train station, I stop and get another drink, Im so thirsty. My feet and thighs are hurting so bad and Im so tired that I sit down on the nasty subway floor with my back leaned against a stone pillar, carrying on a conversation with Zaria with my eyes half closed. Its about 3am by now, and I am out of energy.
I take two trains back home. My phone is beyond dead. I am beyond dead. The 4 short blocks back to my apartment feel like an eternity, but i finally make it back in.
I never met up with Justin and Rebecca, and when I see them again, they are asleep on the couch, as if they never left. Mike is up though, he waited on me. He had even made chicken. I eat and go straight to bed. I plug my phone up and watch some videos I recorded of Outkast, before I finally fall asleep. Hard.
I dont wake up the next day until after noon. Im still buzzing, and happy. I know I dont have a job, but I know I have a couple thousand coming in a severance check. I feel kinda…free. I push away the nagging “get a job” voice to the back back back of my skull, I tell Justin and Rebecca my Governors Ball story, and we laugh. I decide to just work on my portfolio and dont get all crazy about it. And just see what the summer has in store and hope I land on my feet.