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Gov Ball 2024, Day 1: Ryan Beatty Will Make You Sob in Public

Updated: 5 days ago

Photos by N. Bradley

I’m late! Time flies when you finally sit down for a moment at a festival. I was sprinting around the corner from the press lounge to catch a set I'd had on my bucket list for many years, Ryan Beatty. Beatty performed on the GOVBALLNYC stage, presented by Verizon, smack in the middle of the afternoon heat. But you wouldn't have known the sun was beating down on anyone the way Beatty sat cool and calmly on that stage.

Reminiscent of a life I had (Photo by N. Bradley)

Ryan Beatty is not performer, he’s a musician. He lets the music speaks for itself, wholly and completely, letting the moment and the emption flow through him, giving life and from to even the most indescribable of feelings. The man is a generational talent and a lyrical storyteller, comparable to no other. He took up so little space on the stage, band and all, and never left his chair but to leave at the end of his set. Beatty's backing band was no less talented than the man himself, complete with jazz piano, a bassman that you couldn't look away from for fear that you'd never hear him plat again, and a slide guitar solo in virtually every song that rang across the dusty grass.

“This is cool, I really have nothing else to say, this is 'Cinnamon Bread'," Beatty beamed sheepishly into the crowd between songs, taking small sips from the “worlds beat actor” mug he kept next to his mic stand. The crowd chattered and vibrated as the band readied themselves to start the next song, but the whole field went silent the moment a tune left Beatty's mouth.

Beatty took another sip from mug, "I guess this one's meant for the OGS,” he said. "We’re just getting started, we're talking long-term, not just today." Slow synth tones and blues piano rolled across the park as Beatty and the band ushered in the jazziest, most soulful, most beautiful version of "Haircut" the world will never hear. It was longing, it was hopeful, it was drearily optimistic in a way. It was like the ghost of a distant memory finally moving on, finally letting the 17 year-old boy who first heard that melody all those years ago fade away. But there was no time to rest, no time for a single person in that crowd to wipe a single tear, Beatty careened right into "Ribbons" without so much as blinking.

“Well I appreciate you coming to see me, if you’re waiting here to see somebody else, I appreciate you too,” he paused briefly, “Yeah.” Without another word, the band creeps into a long, winding cowboy-crooner version of "White Teeth," leaving several fans in tears or at the very least, unable to form a complete sentence in the wake of this impossible musical force. But all good things come to an end, and Ryan Beatty was far too good to stick around for long. “This is my last song for you,” he sullenly addressed the crowd. “Thank you, New York, thank you, New York, thank you, New York!" After a searing rendition of “Little Faith” to close out his set, Beatty stood and blew kisses to every corner of the crowd before removing his headphones, picking up his mug and leaving, the band still playing, as if they were soundtracking his leisurely exit.

Rob Lucchesi

Ryan Beatty


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