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Governors Ball 2018: 20 Best Things We Saw

Highlights from New York’s biggest summer bash, including Pusha T’s surprise set and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ heartrending comeback

Governors Ball 2018: 20 Best Things We Saw

Carl Timpone/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

Each year thousands of New Yorkers touch down on Randall’s Island for the annual Governors Ball – still, few festival goers come prepared for what’s usually a wet fest. The torrential downpour on Sunday almost generated Woodstock ’94 proportions of mud, but headliner Eminem powered through until the end. In spite of its all-male headliners, the festival paid some respect to a cultural shift in light of the #MeToo movement: Gov Ball organizers formally declared a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment or discrimination on their website, and the Sober Ball tent offered refuge for clean and sober music fans. Even with increasing safety measures, there was plenty of fun to be had. Here are some of this year’s highlights.

Best Mosh Pit: Lil Uzi Vert

Taylor Hill/Getty

Best Mosh Pit: Lil Uzi Vert

“How many people in the crowd believe that Uzi is a real rock star?” Asked Lil Uzi Vert a few songs into his set – just a day after his altercation with rapper Rich The Kid – inside a Philadelphia Starbucks, no less. The audience roared with unanimous approval before Uzi burst into his song, “Real Rockstar.” Apart from his aesthetic throwbacks to early Aughts Hot Topic, the emo rap-rocker brought a gritty punk rock edge that was missing from the rest of the weekend, prompting the crowd to mosh, body surf, and “make some noise you if you don’t give a shit and you a real rager!” Pleased with the crowd’s reaction to his rendition of “Bad and Boujee,” Uzi concluded, “This ain’t no bitch-ass crowd.” D.T.

Best Worst Gov Ball 2018

Griffin Lotz for Rolling Stone

Best Headliner: Eminem

About halfway through his headlining set, Eminem decided to intensify his recent public flirtation with Nicki Minaj: “I just wanna give a shout-out to wifey,” he said, lying down in the center of the stage. “Nicki, let’s do this,” he said, adding, “She don’t even know we go together.” This baiting move was a reminder of the feisty hellraiser that Eminem was when he first broke through two decades ago. His Sunday night set highlighted the struggle between that risk-taking genius of the Nineties and the polished pop hitmaker he’s become in the last decade. The best moments channeled the former – for an audience teeming with kids born well after he released 1999’s Slim Shady LP, the rapper led huge singalongs of classics like “Kill You” and “Stan” for an enthusiastic Sunday night crowd. A special highlight was “The Way I Am,” during which Eminem bounced around as a live band with strings elevated the song to new peaks. After that Eminem gave the floor to surprise guest 50 Cent, who flashed his huge grin through a fun throwback set that included his 2003 anthem, “In Da Club.” Vocalist Skylar Grey appeared, ethereal as ever, for “Walk on Water” and “Love the Way You Lie,” before Eminem segued into some newer tracks. But by then it had started to pour – and those songs felt a little damp too. P.D.

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