The Governors Ball (Gov Ball) is New York’s hallmark music festival, giving NYC’s dense city population their own sprawling music experience. Ushering in the start of summer, Gov Ball is a destination for the hottest — and soon-to-be hottest — music acts. 

Going out on a high note, Sunday’s lineup featured hit after hit. Palestinian singers Elyanna and Saint Levant had back-to-back sets early in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the triple whammy of Chappell Roan, Renee Rapp, and SZA closed out the evening on the main stage.

ELYANNA

Pop has found a new star in Elyanna, a Palestinian-Chilean singer looking to bring Arab pop to the masses. Her set both caught one’s eye immediately and made it hard to look away with her siren-like, commanding stage presence. Every aspect of her stage was carefully and artistically planned, all while being undeniably and unapologetically Palestinian. Elyanna’s white, lacy outfit was dotted with metallic tatreez-inspired accents. Her band also played Arabic instruments like the oud, and her songs are sung in Arabic. Tracks like “Sokkar” and “Mama Eh” are upbeat and fun; combined with her undeniable aura on stage, people in the crowd were googling her to find out more.

While Elyanna has all the hallmarks of your usual popstar — the looks, the stage presence, the choreo, and the irresistibly catchy songs — she also has a defiance and bravery that all too many lack. If Elyanna is the future of pop music, then it will be a very welcome change.

SAINT LEVANT

Another Palestinian artist to take the stage on Sunday was Saint Levant. With a set directly after Elyanna’s, all one had to do was follow the trail of vintage Palestinian soccer jerseys and keffiyehs to the goPuff stage. A multilingual artist, Saint Levant learned Arabic, French, and English from his parents, his school, and his childhood experience in the Gaza strip. His setlist included songs in all three languages, like French and Arabic in “Comme C’est Beau,” and Arabic and English “Allah Yimeeki.” Both tracks were from his latest album DEIRA, released two days prior, and already had fans jumping and waving keffiyehs in the air. Saint Levant doesn’t shy away from embedding pride in his Palestinian culture in his music, as he closed the set with the heartfelt “From Gaza with Love.” He describes this song as “a message to the world, and I sign it with love. We [Palestinians] are much more than the dehumanizing images you see in Western media.” Although his set was cut short (allegedly for time overrun, yet nothing has been officially stated), the love felt for Saint Levant and for Palestine was clear as day. 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 09: Saint Levant performs during the 2024 Governors Ball Music Festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on June 09, 2024 in New York City. (Photos by Niamh Murphy for EnVi Media)

CHAPPELL ROAN

No one is having more of a moment right now than Chappell Roan. Known for her lesbian-experience anthems, drag-inspired costume, and cardio-intense performances, NYC fans were excited to see the whole experience live. Fans turned up on-theme, donning feathered cowboy hats, glitter, and gallons of pink. 

Naturally, Roan matched the energy tenfold. She made her grand entrance on stage via a giant sculptural apple. She rose out of it, bathed in smoke, in full Lady Liberty costume (including seafoam green full body paint). Her band was decked out in matching yellow cab inspired looks, which Chappell Roan changed into herself halfway through the set. Yet somehow, the costumes could still be overshadowed by Chappell Roan’s own performance. Bright, energetic, and commanding, it’s clear why fans turned out in such large numbers. Aside from the sheer fun of dancing along to “HOT TO GO” or chanting to the chorus “Feminominon,” Roan’s set is a welcoming one, allowing fans to be as campy as they choose without shame. 

RENEE RAPP

It’s hard not to like Renee Rapp. As a performer, she has a cheeky confidence and undeniable charisma that even the grouchiest of tag-along friends would be warmed by. Rapp clearly thrives with an audience, as she was almost unable to stop herself from flitting from down the thrust stage and back, trying to reach and see and sing to as many as possible. Despite the massive stage and thousands-deep crowd, the set felt intimate. Fans were treated to “Poison Poison,” where they almost out-sang her, the soulful “Tummy Hurts,” Mean Girls soundtrack hit “Not My Fault,” and “universal gay girl experience” track “Pretty Girls.” Each one was made all the more enjoyable by the evident amount of fun Rapp was having on stage. She knew all eyes were on her and was fully relishing in it. After all, it’s not her fault you’re, like, in love with her.

PESO PLUMA

Mexican singer Peso Pluma drew a hefty crowd as the goPuff stage’s closing act. Heavily Inspired by the Mexican folk music he grew up with, his set included a full band. These guitarists, cellists, trumpet players, and trombonists were all spotlighted as much as he was.

In Spanish, “peso pluma” is a term in boxing, used to describe the featherweight class. And feather light is the perfect descriptor for Peso Pluma, who treated the stage as if it was his own personal trampoline. He jumped, skipped, danced, and climbed on top of the speakers — nothing was off limits. It created a near feedback loop: the more energy he had, the more the energy of the crowd built. People even pulled over on the side of the nearby highway to watch from beyond the festival grounds. A dynamic, tireless performer, it was crystal clear why Peso Pluma inspires such fervor from fans. 

Images courtesy of Niamh Murphy.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 09: Peso Pluma performs during the 2024 Governors Ball Music Festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on June 09, 2024 in New York City. (Photos by Niamh Murphy for EnVi Media)

SZA

One needed to look no farther than the main stage to catch undeniably one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend — SZA. Even with the impressive roster of acts through the day, fans ran quickly to the GOVBALLNYC for Sunday’s main event. She is your favorite artist, and the favorite artist of acts like P1Harmony, who staked out prime spots to enjoy her performance. Culturally and commercially, SZA is clearly a leader in the R&B space. Making her splash with her sophomore album SOS, it’s an eclectic body of work that showcases the best of her creative genius. 

On the performance front, fans amped up the energy, screaming the lyrics to all SZA’s songs. She effortlessly switched from sensual moments during songs like “Shirt” to cinematic numbers like her hit “Kill Bill.” The technical excellence behind her set design and props must not be understated, though. Incorporating sword play, and being lifted up in the air all while not missing a beat is no easy feat. But for SZA? It’s effortless.

Want more Gov Ball content? Check out our recap of Day 1 and Day 2!