Lana Del Rey Returns To New York At Governors Ball 2015: Live Review
I sent this tweet from the middle of the Lana Del Rey crowd 10 minutes before she was set to take the stage at Governors Ball Sunday night (June 7). It was inside this smothering phalanx waiting for LDR that I witnessed my first fistfight of the festival — between two dudes presumably duking it out over whether she would perform “Serial Killer” — and it was the only time all weekend I was offered drugs. It was too packed in for me to even reach into my pocket and get my phone, so that tweet was my final transmission. Basically, it’s what I imagine it must’ve been like to see *NSYNC at a mall in 1998 or something.
Once LDR took the stage, the constant friction of strangers was much less bothersome. Her opening streak of songs was pretty unimpeachable, balancing stan faves with hits. She opened with the shambling “Cruel World,” which set the dusty noir scene as Lana emerged in a New York Yankees dress amidst guitar squalls and an art deco skyline. She followed with the cocksure “Cola,” a “Blue Jeans” that has come so far since SNL and the endlessly cool “West Coast.”
But soon after that opening run, the (body) electric atmosphere had dissipated, along with the crowd. This wasn’t entirely Lana’s fault, but she has to take some of the blame for the rapidly dwindling numbers. Her entire performance seemed to be tailored to a sit-down concert at Carnegie Hall and not a messy field of young stans, intrigued rubberneckers and loyal boyfriends. At first her nonchalant approach was gripping, but it never really erupted for any Moments — maybe when she sidled up to the crowd for selfies/hugs/flowers? After a while, it felt like a long, drawn-out sigh.
Part of the reason she couldn’t captivate the whole audience after that first stretch was due to the fact that her vocals were set very low in the mix, resulting in a low murmur that was hard to distinguish between the crowd and the performer. Exacerbating that issue was bleedover from The Black Keys‘ set on the main stage, ironically enough since frontman Dan Auerbach is her pal and produced Ultraviolence. (The same issue affected this same stage the previous night, when Ryan Adams complained about noise from Deadmau5‘s main stage set, so somebody dropped the ball here.)
All these factors were too much to endure save for her biggest fans, so by 45 minutes into the performance, all that was left was a big semi-circle of diehards crowding up to the stage and singing every lyric and eating up every glance or gesture she made toward the crowd. But Lana was totally unfazed by the distant bass throbs overlapping with her music and the fleeing concertgoers. She was smiling, totally in her own world, unconcerned with whatever anyone outside that tight circle felt she needed to do. And that’s both the most alluring and annoying thing about Lana Del Rey.
Check out her setlist and Instagram response to the sound issues below:
“Born To Die”
“Chelsea Hotel No. 2”
“Shades Of Cool”
“Off To The Races”