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Gov Ball 2024, Day 1: Making Life Feel Better than Usual with ARCY DRIVE at GoPuff Stage

Updated: 5 days ago

Photos by Josh Sobel

It was a hot, and I mean hot day in beautiful Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The weather managed to hold out for clear-ish sunny skies after a week of suffocating humidity and a near miss with some heavy rain. It was clear that nothing, not even the omnipotent Mother Nature, could keep a good set from going wrong. So there was no better way to start off our long three days of good times and good music with ARCY DRIVE's unbelievable energy and soul.

The Long Island born-and-bred indie folk rock band has been making waves since the release of their 2023 EP, Beach Plum, skyrocketing the four piece into the stratosphere seemingly overnight. Hot off the success of their fall Static Tour, ARCY DRIVE now finds themselves etched onto the playbill for every major festival of the year; hopping from Shaky Knees across to the Kilby Block Party, before finally landing in their home state of New York for the coveted Governors Ball.

ARCY DRIVE found themselves second in line today on the GoPuff stage, following closely behind Alex Chapman. I made it to the stage 10 minutes before they were set to take the stage, where I found the band still sound checking; glancing up from their pedal boards every moment or so to size up the crowd. I stood close to center, not quite barricade, not quite lawn, but just enough to get caught in the dirt bowl that has surely been getting deeper with each yearly incarnation of the festival. Already exhausted fans and curious onlookers looking to pass the time before their favorite artists's sets already blocked the entire length of fence separating general admission from the sparsely populated VIP section; the handful of VIP's each took their turn to gaze longingly into the still multiplying crowd, but unwillingly to leave their spacious premier lawn.

Set time creeped up slowly as sound check dragged on. Nick Mateyunas, ARCY DRIVE guitarist and lead singer, rested his hands on his stark black Telecaster, pointing up periodically, asking to raise the the volume in his headset. Austin Jones and Pat Helrigel, a.k.a, Helzi, lead guitarist and bass respectively, stood to either side of Mateyunas, both tweaking their equipment (it’s important to note that they did so with their hands rather than their feet, as the band is known for fiddling with the knobs the dextrous bare feet and playing barefoot, earning them the nicknames, the "barefoot bandits") and taking turns peaking out into crowd. The fellas each rotate around Brooke Tuozzo, their fearless all-star drummer, pacing back and forth hurriedly between her kit and their own equipment before exiting the stage a final time.

The still growing crowd murmured and giggled with anticipation and curiosity, several fans could be overheard asking each other what sing they were most excited for, or conversely, if their friends had ever heard of the band or knew where Arcy Drive was geographically. By this point, I’ve already finished my beer, now disappointed in myself for not making it last or having the good sense to get another one before marooning myself in the uneven dirt of the GoPuff stage. The band finally reemerge from their shaded hiding spots, hands raised triumphantly, each of them with a giddy goofy smile across their face. The crowd hoots, hollers and screams as Tuozzo is plastered across the stage screens, as she counts the band into “Wicked Styley,” the lead single off Beach Plum.

As the first song of their set closed out, Mateyunas finally greets the crowd, “We’re ARCY DRIVE, we’re from Long Island so this is like a home town show for us." The crowd roars, the FLID-iest of FLID's (look it up) being thrown on screen one after the other, as the band moved hastily into “Smoke & Fire,” the third song in the set.

Mateyunas took a moment to sip his Liquid Death before setting his Telecaster down gingerly, then announcing their next song; a new track, called "Thrift Store." “It’s a little weird,” he explained; a man of few words. "Thrift Store," a sprawling, Talking Heads-style surf rock head-banger, caught myself and the rest of the crowd completely by surprise. It was catchy and creative, a delightful new step in ARCY DRIVE's sound, and one that I'm excited to see them hopefully lean into more. Tuozzo and Helzi are easily the stars of the new song with their unbelievable rhythm and expert play style. Unfortunately, Helzi didn't quite nail the hand whistle during the spoken bridge, but rounded it out with the neatest, cleanest bass lick I've ever heard.

“Thank to everyone who’s here hanging out with us,” Tuozzo shouts before counting her minions into “They Don't Dance." They don't waste a second getting into the juicy bits of the songs, Jones got to fucking groove on that guitar, his solo sent the crowd into screaming fits. Not only that, but Tuozzo is easily one of the best drummers in the indie rock scene today, she's like a Ringo Starr metronome, with the creative flair for Mooney-style fills. Mateyunas perfectly summed it up, saying “give it up for Brooke back there’s, she's fucking killing it." Jones also chimed in, “we found out today we’re only the guys playing instruments today on this stage,” before slipping into the riff from “Superbloomer." The entire dirt lawn shook and screamed loud as the could, “as bad as I want to/as bad as I want to.” Helzi and Jones took the lead on the closing instrument break on "Superbloomer," before Mateyunas pivoted back to the microphone to close out the final reprise.

“This is our last song,” Mateyunas called out, which was immediately met with a reasonable array of booing, awes and fuck you's, as Brooke lead the fellas into “Roll My Stone." Girls were hoisted up on shoulders in kind, the whole crowd swayed, humming, singing, and screaming; once again losing their proverbial shit as Tuozzo's sticks filled every open space in the final instrumental break. “Have a good rest of your day guys,” Tuozzo screams into the crowd as  “Roll My Stone" closes out, the crowd roaring as the barefoot bandits marched off stage.

Rob Lucchesi



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