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Swear and Shake to open Governors Ball

Local band Swear and Shake open the 2013

Local band Swear and Shake open the 2013 Governor's Ball on Randall's Island. The band is, from left: Shaun Savage, Kari Spieler, Adam McHeffey and Benny Goldstein. Photo Credit: Tetiana Steblova

The Governors Ball is one of the summer's hottest tickets, featuring Kanye West, Kings of Leon and Guns N' Roses as headliners and hot up-and-comers from around the world.

But it's area indie-folk band Swear and Shake that gets the honor of kicking off the three-day event at Randalls Island, which singer-guitarist Adam McHeffey of Center Moriches calls "a dream come true."

"It's a pretty big step for us," McHeffey said. "When I saw the lineup for Governor's Ball, I thought, 'Who knows my exact musical tastes to a T?' They really have their hand in all the right pots. It was a show that I would love to go to, let alone play it. It's definitely one of the coolest festivals we've been a part of."

Of course, Swear and Shake was founded less than three years ago at SUNY Purchase, where McHeffey and singer-guitarist Kari Spieler were studying, with McHeffey's Center Moriches friends bassist Shaun Savage and drummer Tom Elefante completing the band. (Elefante recently left to spend more time at home, replaced by Ben Goldstein, who produced the band's debut album, "Maple Ridge.")

And things show no sign of slowing down. Swear and Shake also was chosen to play the official Governors Ball after-party at Bowery Ballroom, as well as playing Mountain Jam, in Hunter Mountain, N.Y., on Saturday -- playing on the same stage as Gary Clark Jr. and Deer Tick. Besides working on their new album, Swear and Shake will go on tour, opening for ZZ Ward.

Part of their success may be due to the massive interest in Americana and indie-folk music, with Mumford and Sons touring arenas, and The Lumineers topping the charts. However, part of it is also due to the band's ever-improving songwriting and live show.

McHeffey said the band got picked for Governors Ball after one of the organizers saw them play at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. "It was kind of a bust of a show," McHeffey said, adding that comedian Sarah Silverman was having a show in a different part of the club at the same time, which took away most of their crowd. "But we just made the best of it, and we were super energetic. ... Everything just comes together in a weird way."

WHAT Governors Ball

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WHEN|WHERE Noon Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Randalls Island

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The lineup

The Governor's Ball has grown into the area's biggest weekend festival, featuring some of the most-buzzed-about musicians around. Here's a look at some of this year's must-see acts:


KINGS OF LEON Though the band has had its struggles since 2010's "Come Around Sundown" album, everything seems on track now for the Followill brothers, and they've finished recording their sixth album, due out in the fall. How much new material will they reveal at this show? Hard to say since it's their first of the year.

PRETTY LIGHTS The EDM star (aka Derek Vincent Smith) will release his new album, "A Color Map of the Sun," next month, featuring live musicians playing new music that he then sampled into his songs.

ERYKAH BADU & THE CANNABINOIDS Hmmm, how will this set from Badu and her band compare to what she plays Saturday and Sunday with the Brooklyn Philharmonic? Never a dull moment with the queen of neo-soul.

YOUNG THE GIANT The "Cough Syrup" band just started recording its sophomore album in May, but it has been tempting fans with talk of playing new songs at this show for months.

OF MONSTERS AND MEN Somehow, this Icelandic band has become a crossover sensation, with its hit "Little Talks" even making it onto adult contemporary radio. The rest of their set will likely be more indie-folk-meets-the-Sugarcubes.


GUNS N' ROSES Fans of the ever-mercurial Axl Rose can forgive a lot of shortcomings as long as he nails the vocals on some of his classics. Luckily, with Tommy Stinson shoring up the band these days, even an off night for Axl can be pretty good.

KENDRICK LAMAR How can you tell Kendrick Lamar has arrived? Well, his hit "---- Don't Kill My Vibe" has versions featuring Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and now Emeli Sande.

AZEALIA BANKS The opinionated rapper-dance artist is still trying to live up to the potential of her impressive debut, "212," looking to high-profile gigs to establish herself with a broader audience.

JAPANDROIDS The Canadian duo was one of 2012's breakout stars, thanks to the uplifting indie-rock anthems of "Celebration Rock." The festival circuit should be good to them, with all their scream-along choruses.

ICONA POP Will the Swedish duo really have the song of the summer with "I Love It"? The thousands screaming, "I! Don't! Care! I love it!" say, "Yes!"


KANYE WEST With less than two weeks to go before the release of his new "Yeezus" album, 'Ye is reportedly still working on songs that could end up on the final release. After the flashy debut of his "New Slaves" video on buildings around the world and the unveiling of "Black Skinhead" on "Saturday Night Live," who knows what he may reveal at this appearance?

THE AVETT BROTHERS Call it great counterprogramming, but putting the roots rockers up against Yeezus shouldn't really hurt either crowd. The Avetts were revving up Americana crowds before the Mumfords had sons.

THE XX Between "Together," their haunting song for "The Great Gatsby" soundtrack, and their collaboration with Solange, the British electronic group is poised for an American breakthrough.

THE LUMINEERS The best new artist Grammy nominees have plenty more pop-leaning Americana to follow "Ho Hey" up the charts, as the stomping "Stubborn Love" should show.

THE VACCINES Not only was their "Come of Age" one of last year's best albums, but the British rockers are one of the best live bands on the road, combining punk energy, clever insights and singer Justin Young's considerable charm. They still may get "Teenage Icon" status.


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