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Danny Brown performs at the 2013 Afro-Punk Fest in Brooklyn's Commodore Barry Park on August 25, 2013.
Photograph: Michael J. Chen

The best acts at Governors Ball 2017

We round up our favorite artists playing at Governors Ball 2017 on Randalls Island, including Stormzy and Kehlani

By Ro Samarth

Panorama and Northside both have their respective charm, but we'll always harbor a certain fondness for Governors Ball—the longest running of New York's summer music festivals. With a truckload of artists crammed into three days, it can be difficult scrambling to figure out which sets to catch upon arrival. So before you get there, check out our primer on the best acts to see at GovBall 2017.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Governors Ball 2017

Best acts at Governors Ball 2017

Photograph: Courtesy the artist

1. The Avalanches

This experimental electronic group's first record combined thousands upon thousands of record samples into colorful neo-psychedelia collages. Considering all the heavy lifting involved—innumerable crates of vinyl—you can't blame the guys for spending 16 years putting together their follow-up effort. You'll see: The decade-and-a-half of work pays off in their kaleidoscopic live sets.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jayjay Robertson

2. Stormzy

This MC might have numerous monikers—Stiff Chocolate, Wicked Skengman, Big Mike—but he's no enigma. His straightforward, everyman personality has won him a unique adoration, while his elemental flow and boastful battle raps have made him a leader in the recent resurgence of U.K. grime.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jayjay Robertson

Car Seat Headrest
Photograph: Chona Kasinger

3. Car Seat Headrest

Will Toledo recorded vocals for his initial Bandcamp self-releases in the back of the family car—hence, "Car Seat Headrest." Yes, the moniker is questionable but his meteoric rise to indie stardom speaks to the strength of his songcraft: wiry, yearning melodies that sound simultaneously anthemic and intimate.

Photograph: Loren Wohl

4. Danny Brown

Danny Brown's brazen aesthetics feel no less captivating now than in 2011: loose-cannon personality, comically gratuitous rhymes, wild-eyed toothless grin and all. As demonstrated on last year's Atrocity Exhibition, the MC's demented vision only gets screwier by the year. His uniquely kinetic performances stand out in any festival lineup.

The Range

5. The Range

James Hinton's skittering beats reference numerous histories of electronic music without being beholden to any single genre. There's elements of TNGHT's bass-heavy trap, the hip-hop pulse of the L.A. beatsmiths on Brainfeeder and Burial's love for obscure, pitched up vocal samples—in other words, something for everyone.

Photograph: Courtesy the artist

6. Kehlani

This fast-rising R&B singer-songwriter solidified her place as one of the most promising up-and-coming artists in her field with this year's excellent debut, SweetSexySavage. An assertive, exhilarating effort, the record is full of colorful exuberance—a celebration of brown womanhood with an ear for massive hooks.

Charli XCX
Photograph: Courtesy Olivia Malone

7. Charli XCX

"Baby, you the love of my life / Selling all the drugs that I like”—sure, Charli’s XCX’s “Drugs” includes some comically clunky lines. But its excessive pop drama also encapsulates everything wonderfully over-the-top about her renovated hyperpop project. The willfully self-destructive party mentality makes for a gleefully bombastic live concert.

Read our interview with Charli XCX

Childish Gambino
Photograph: Michael J. Chen

8. Childish Gambino

The hottest dude on television right now, Atlanta triple-threat Donald Glover, is making his mark on the whole music thing, headlining main stages worldwide. One listen to his sensitive latest, the neosoul opus Awaken, My Love!, proves why.

Looking for some summer tunes?


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