Governors Ball Delays Sunday Start, Evacuates Festival Early Amid Severe Weather
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Nas performs at New York’s Governors Ball on Sunday, shortly before the event’s evacuation.
Weather once again interfered with Governors Ball, the annual festival held on New York City’s Randall’s Island, on Sunday.
The event delayed its start on Sunday until 6:30 p.m., due to forecasts of inclement weather. And, after about three hours, attendees were evacuated, before acts including The Strokes and SZA could perform. Artists including Nas, Louis the Child and Sheck Wes were able to perform during Governors Ball’s truncated Sunday hours.
“After close consultation with NYC officials and law enforcement, it was deemed necessary to evacuate the site and cancel the Sunday evening of Gov Ball 2019 for the safety of our festival goers, artists, and crew,” organizers wrote in a statement posted on Governors Ball’s website. “The safety of everyone always comes first.”
Sunday headliner The Strokes posted on Instagram thanking fans who stuck around in hopes of hearing the famed New York rockers. “Sometimes Mother Nature has a mind of its own and unfortunately that didn’t allow for us to meet you on the stage tonight,” the band wrote. “We are glad that everyone stayed safe but we’re just as disappointed as you are that we didn’t get to play tonight.”
Purchasers of Sunday festival tickets and transportation passes will receive refunds, while purchasers of three-day tickets and passes will receive pro-rated compensation. “This process takes time and all parties involved are working incredibly hard to expedite the process to ensure everyone that is entitled to a refund receives it as quickly as possible,” read Governors Ball’s statement.
Charli XCX, one performer whose set was cancelled due to weather this year, staged a pop-up show Sunday night, performing at Manhattan club Le Poisson Rouge.
“MY GOV BALL PERFORMANCE GOT CANCELLED DUE TO POTENTIAL STORMS SO I’M PUTTING ON A LAST MINUTE SHOW TONIGHT IN MANHATTAN,” the British pop artist tweeted. The show which quickly sold out.
Rain has long plagued Governors Ball, which has been held every June since 2011. In 2013, inclement weather ended Friday’s programming early; storms forced the cancellation of Sunday’s programming in 2016, which led to a smattering of pop-up shows by Governors Ball acts such as Prophets of Rage and Courtney Barnett in venues around New York.
“The biggest challenge is always weather related,” Jordan Wolowitz, co-founder of Governors Ball promoter Founders Entertainment, told Pollstar last year. “It’s the one and only thing as festival promoters that’s totally out of our hands. … That’s when people’s safety is at stake and we don’t want to put the fans’ health and safety at risk and we are always super considerate of that.”
Weather interfered with several outdoor music events in 2018, including Nashville’s Pilgrimage Festival, Raleigh’s Dreamville Festival and Panorama Festival, another three-day festival held on Randall’s Island.
“The weather was a monster issue this year, the biggest I’ve ever seen in all the years I’ve been doing this,” Paul Bassman, CEO of Texas-based Ascend Insurance Brokers, which specializes in music festival coverage, told Pollstar‘s sister publication VenuesNow earlier this year. “We have no idea what rates and coverage will look like in 2019. There is certainly increased interest in cancelation insurance, but the carrier rates are rising so high, some clients may just take a risk and go without.”
A representative for Governors Ball confirmed to Pollstar that the festival invested in insurance this year.
HUB International’s Peter Tempkins, another concert insurance vet, echoed the “safety first” mantra in an August 2018 interview with Pollstar. “When a festival makes a decision to evacuate due to weather, they don’t make that decision lightly,” he said. “I’ve been in those ‘war rooms’ and nobody wants to make that decision.”