The subway to Queens from Grand Central was packed with people between the ages of 16 to 25, with a sparse few locals who didn’t deserve to be in the same compartments as us. Speakers blared The 1975, alcohol was cleverly disguised as energy drinks, and a thin dusting of glitter seemed to adorn everyone and everything in a 3 mile radius. We were on our way to The Meadows.
October 1st and 2nd marked the inaugural season for The Meadows Music & Arts Festival. Taking place in Citifield, home of the New York Mets, and boasting food from famous local restaurants and bakeries, this was about to be the most New York thing I would do during my semester here.
Day 1 featured artists such as Zella Day, Empire of the Sun, Chromeo, Thomas Jack, Grimes, J. Cole and many others. Day 1 was also far less crowded than the next day was going to be. The vibe was also far more chill than Day 2 – there was less pushing to queue for sets, shorter lines for food, and less bustle by the port-a-pottys. After a lot of wandering from act to act throughout the day, I spent the evening by watching Empire of the Sun. The performance was absolutely ridiculous and over the top in the best way possible. Opening with ‘Lux’, the band took to stage in costumes that featured intricate headpieces and a slew of background dancers. The lighting was intense, constantly flashing and fluctuating between deep reds to vibrant blues, which was enjoyable until it induced a rather bad headache.
Day 2 was an entirely different story. I stood waiting for the 7 train towards Flushing at around 1:00 pm, timed perfectly so I could reach Citifield to catch The Temper Trap’s 2:00 pm set. Slowly but surely, the platform filled up until there wasn’t an empty pocket of space in sight. I was surrounded by the stench of alcohol and teenage girls who wouldn’t stop chanting “Let’s get a little bit rowdy” in a constant loop. I mean, come on. But it was all okay! I was off to Meadows Day 2! But then of course, my train was delayed by 40 minutes. I made it to the venue, sprinting through the crowd, to make it just in time for the second verse of ‘Sweet Disposition’. I was sweaty, excited and emotional and the day had only just begun.
Further adding to the madness of it all, was the fact that I had obviously managed to lose my friend as I raced to see The Temper Trap. However I soon enough found her, eating the most delicious shrimp roll from Luke’s Lobster Shack which I knew I had to have too. It was then that I could tell that Day 2 was going to be one for the books. For one thing, I’d watched ‘Sweet Disposition’ being performed live, but I also munched on some great shrimp, and the weather was perfect. This weather, by the way, was the best thing about the festival being in October, as it was the perfect temperature outside! You’re not sweaty and dehydrated, you’re cool and layered up, prepared for anything.
We then headed over to the Queens Boulevard Stage, where fellow Londoner Jack Garratt was performing. Rather than elbowing our way to the front, we chilled at the back with enough place to sit down and stretch our legs, or even dance around. Best decision we made. Garratt was absolutely brilliant, reminding me of a more electronic pop inspired Ed Sheeran. It was just him alone on stage, with his guitar and some sort of loop pedal station? I don’t know, it was intricate and produced great tunes, which was all I cared about. He even sang the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme tune, which drove the crowd WILD.
I watched both Børns and Chance the Rapper perform – the latter of which my friend described as a beautiful, theatrical performance with big colorful puppets that reminded him of children’s art – before making my way to the Shea Stage, where the reason I went to the festival was about to perform. We had arrived an hour early for The 1975. Whilst waiting, the screens showed tweets about the festival, one of which read “I’m being bullied by a 14 year old while waiting for The 1975”, which accurately sums up the crowd for that set. But man, once Matty and the boys came on it was mental. As per usual, the lighting was beautiful and always captured the theme of the song they were playing. Designed by Matty Healy himself, a personal favorite of mine is the soft white rectangles that fade in brightness while the band performs a gospel-esque ballad, ‘If I Believe You’. John Waugh, the saxophone player killed it as usual, and it was great seeing the drummer George back and performing after pulling out of their tour due to sickness for the past couple of months. All in all, incredible. Matty ended the set by saying, “Ok you guys can go see Kanye now”. And go see Kanye we did.
I split up with my group then, with half of them going to KYGO and two of us off to see Ye. We were fairly far behind for Yeezy, and it was a rather rough crowd but once he started no one cared about anything else. Kanye spat out a medley of tunes, with each song feeding into the next after the first chorus ended. He started off with crowd pleasers, with ‘Famous’ and ‘Mercy’ quite high on the set list. Of course, everything was going great until the infamous “I gotta…I gotta go, there’s a family emergency”.
Temporarily pissed off, exhausted, and still buzzed, we headed back to Manhattan on a packed subway. The Meadows had defeated us. I needed three whole days to recover, but still miss October 1st and 2nd every day.