Valerie Pavilonis

Toes: bruised. Brain: concussed. Hair: pulled. Phone: dropped. Head: empty. This was the aftermath of the mosh pits at A$AP Rocky’s Governors Ball set, especially for an event attendee who stacks up to just five feet three inches.

It was worth it.

This past weekend, my friends and I took the train down to New York City for Governors Ball, a music festival featuring artists such as Billie Eilish, J Balvin, Megan Thee Stallion, A$AP Rocky, King Princess, Phoebe Bridgers and Post Malone.

Gov Ball was the first live music event we had been to post-pandemic. To enter, we had to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, but masks were not required. Being in New York City, riding the subway and standing fewer than six feet away from someone — let alone in the center of a crowd — are three things that I couldn’t have imagined doing a year ago. Though it was exciting to be at a festival after so long in confinement, feeling everyone’s breath without the barrier of a mask still seemed risky. But it was easy to adapt. Maybe we can finally have some semblance of normalcy in our lives again.

Aside from the masses of bodies that characterize any festival, the performances also took me back to the good old, pre-COVID days. Megan Thee Stallion coming out in full force with “WAP” was insane. A$AP Rocky screaming at attendees to “open that b**** up!” and King Princess making eye contact and pointing at me (which of course, brought me to tears) were some other highlights.

Nevertheless, as a native Chicagoan, I remain convinced that Lollapalooza is the superior festival. When I tried to get on my friend’s shoulders, something I’ve done at many a Lolla, Gov Ball security yelled at me. What kind of festival doesn’t let you climb on peoples’ shoulders? What are they going to clamp down on next? Mosh pits and pregaming?

Gov Ball was the first time my friends and I had left New Haven since we started at Yale. Arriving at Grand Central Station and being in New York City for the weekend made us feel like we were in Gossip Girl (not the reboot). It was a dream — but that might be the concussion speaking.