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30 Best Things We Saw at Governors Ball 2014

Outkast, Jack White, the Strokes and more highlights from the Northeast’s premiere music festival

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Nicole Fara Silver; Griffin Lotz

Rain nearly spoiled last year's Governors Ball, a muddy weekend ultimately redeemed by a closing set by Kanye West. This year's acts didn't have to battle Mother Nature for attendees' attention: Festival-goers were treated to three days of beautiful sun and loud music, featuring headlining sets from Outkast, the Strokes and Jack White. Here are the 30 best things that caught our eyes and ears, featuring everything from hip-hop buddy comedies and nostalgia-triggering rock bands to cuddly R&B and Madonna-approved EDM. By Cady Drell, Claire Lobenfeld and Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Griffin Lotz

Best Reason to Wear Earplugs: Deafheaven

In the small and acoustically challenging Gotham Tent, San Francisco black metal outfit Deafheaven played a highly anticipated early-afternoon set. For those less familiar with last year's Sunbather, it was completely unanticipated how loud the band would be. As a rowdy pit formed toward the front of the stage, it was shocking that everyone's ears weren't bleeding. Then again, with a name like Deafheaven, we can't say they didn't warn us. C.D.

Burak Cingi/Redferns via Getty Images

Best Meek-Voiced Singer: Banks

Whereas some of Banks' recorded material sounds almost too submerged in its production aesthetics, on stage, her sleepy, soulful break-up meditations come to life. Bangers like "This is What It Feels Like" seemed much more formidable in person, and the singer's vibrato was strong while her band played with neo-soul levels of tightness. Even though Aaliyah's legacy has been mined to the point of fatigue, Banks found unlikely success with an "Are You That Somebody?" cover, nailing a chorus that often stumps lesser artists. J.E.S.

Taylor Hill/WireImage for Governors Ball Music Festival

Best (and Worst) Sunset: Neko Case

Neko Case played during the first day's sunset, the night's sky gorgeously sneaking up behind her and her band as they played her country-tinged songs. But the retreating sun was only mood-setting for the crowd, as it continuously blinded singer all through her performance. Fans sweetly offered to give her sunglasses, but she said her head is too big to wear them. Either way, in terms of wearables, Case's skeleton pants kind of owned the festival. C.L.

Nicole Fara Silver

Best Save: Tanlines

Throughout most of the weekend, sound on the Big Apple Stage left a lot to be desired. Kurt Vile and his band wafted into the breeze and for a while, it seemed like every act was getting lost inside of muted instruments. Brooklyn's Tanlines had it the worst. By the time they got to their triptych of semi-hits ("Real Life," "Not the Same" and "All of Me"), the speakers were crackling so badly that they had to stop and start the finale three times. Ultimately, they got through it and one half of the duo, Jesse Cohen, graciously thanked the audience for sticking around despite the disruptively crunchy beginning. C.L.

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