HIGHLIGHTS: Day 1 of The Meadows Music & Arts Festival
  • MONDAY, OCTOBER 03, 2016

  • Posted by: Kirsten Spruch

meadowsblog


There was a lot of uncertainty about the inaugural Meadows Festival, which was organized by the same promoters behind Governors Ball, Founders Entertainment. Is it going to be well-organized? Is the rainy weather going to hold out? Is the fact that it's essentially located in a parking lot going to bum us out? Will Kanye's followers cause a riot? All of these things crossed our minds as we rode the packed 7 train all the way up to the Mets - Willets Point stop in Queens, New York... And although there were some things that needed hella improvement, we've come to the conclusion that it was an overall success.

Weather-wise, there was a slight overcast all weekend, but the previously predicted rain never showed. It was slightly chilly - maybe sixty-five-ish degrees - but it was perfect. Having this unusual October weather during a festival made me realize how much I actually prefer it. I didn't feel like dehydration was threatening my life, I didn't go home feeling sweaty and disgusting, and the autumn fashion was an absolute treat to observe. The parking lot aesthetic didn't bother me as much as I thought it would, but the concrete combined with the weather made it feel like a lesser version of a real festival, especially when compared to the grass-covered Governors Ball.

The crowd was definitely of the younger demographic... I witnessed a good handful of boys and girls either vomit or pass out and the lines for Kanye merch never subsided until the very end of the night. However, other than that, the people on Saturday were pretty lax and comfortable.

The organization was 50/50. Getting in was smooth and easy since they set up the entrance right where everyone gets off the train. One of my favorite parts was how close the stages were to each other - they were all facing out instead of in and it was a solid five minute walk to any stage you wanted. If you wanted to catch half of two different sets, you easily could. The disorganization was displayed in the staff - when asked for help, they would never have an answer... But hey, it was a new festival... Right? Anyway, time to get to the music.

We started off our day at 3:00pm with Frightened Rabbit at the Queens Blvd stage, and what a great band to start the weekend with. "Welcome to the old man guitar section of the festival - it's very brief." Scottish lead singer Scott Hutchison said after the first song. Their banter in between songs was hilarious, "You guys will cheer for anything... Hey, I had some cold brew this morning!" The crowd cheered. "I might have ice cream after dinner tonight!" The crowd cheered. And apparently ice cream was on his mind, because then later he said, "We were thinking that they should take The Weeknd's fee and split it among the poorer bands. Then we can go out and get some ice cream later." Yes, Hutchison. Priorities.

The quirky Yeasayer turned into an immediate highlight of the weekend. They dug out a lot of older songs in their catalogue including "Ambling Alp," "O.N.E.," "2080," and "Henrietta" and of course they played their latest singles, "Silly Me" and "I Am Chemistry." In between songs they'd banter about Brooklyn and Donald Trump but kept it strictly about music for the most part. Their set was fun, as everyone took turns singing and they played tight grooves - even someone unfamiliar with their music could probably get into it since it's so catchy.

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I don't find acts that perform with nothing but a computer particularly interesting, but Sylvan Esso was an exception. Even though the duo didn't use any real instruments, singer Amelia Meath owned the stage with the most Beyonce-like dance moves and crowd interaction (she even started singing "Flawless" for a second, which was amazing). Her voice was never not perfect and producer Nick Sanborn continued to drop a heavy dose of beats.

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Grimes has been hitting a ton of major festivals this summer in support of Art Angels, and even though her schedule is packed, we were happy to see that she had some time to change and add some things in her set. For the intro to "Laughing and Not Being Normal" she had a different dancer come out, one we've never seen before. She also added an intermission in the middle of the set, where the dancers and backup singer HANA jumped into a choreographed dance to an instrumental of the album's title track. There was new choreography throughout the entire show overall. Grimes' set included all of the hits, "Oblivion," "Genesis," "Go," "Venus Fly," "Realiti," "Kill V. Maim," and more. Simply put, it was a rager with lots of (slightly frightening) screaming.

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If you ever have the opportunity to see Savages live, you taking that opportunity. Right off the bat, they came on stage with the coolest of aesthetics - clean cut black and white outfits and no colored lighting. They started off with "I Am Here" and then went into "Husbands," "Adore," and more. Lead woman Jehnny Beth dove into the crowd early on in the set but then later on when Ayse Hassan's bass went out, Beth dove back into the crowd to make up for it. She stalled as Hassan's bass was fixed, preaching about what we're going to do when it comes back. When she dove into the crowd, she would stare into one person's eyes for a long period of time as she sang and affectionately held their hand. It was one of the most compelling and intimate sets of the weekend.

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J. Cole was a perfect end to day one. Despite being a last minute addition to the lineup, he raked in an enormous crowd of dedicated fans who were just as excited to see him as they were to see The Weeknd. He brought out Queens-based rapper Bas for a song and hyped up the crowd with all of his goodies including "Fire Squad," "Wet Dreamz," "Work Out," "Power Trip," and "Can't Get Enough." His set was stripped of ego and he looked truly happy to be there. Even when he was sitting down or just standing in one spot, he was still incredibly fun to watch.
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