If you missed out on New York City's latest great music festival, well, depending on who you ask, you may or may not have missed something spectacular... for one day.
The Meadows Music & Arts Festival was almost great, but for a number of reasons, it couldn't be as great as other music festivals have been.
Sure, outdoor music festivals are hard. You have to worry about the weather cancelling sets or entire days, the weather poisoning underage drinkers, or the sheer prospect of managing hordes of teens and festival goons clad in potentially offensive costumes. It's a pretty volatile mix.
If the question was, "Did The Meadows succeed in delivering a worthwhile experience to people who paid a couple hundred dollars for one or both days?" Oh, most definitely.
Sunday alone (even with the shortened Kanye set) was worth the price of admission.
Then again, you factor in the lines, the overpriced merch, the waaaaay overpriced adult beverages, and slightly inflated prices on food? Well, you've got to do it right.
Some of us learned that the hard way (we were not one of the unfortunate thousand to stand in an impossibly and consistently long line for $75, poorly made hoodies one might wear to go hunting so that he might communicate to the wilderness that yes, he, too, feels like Pablo).
But something must go wrong. Kanye had a family emergency. The Weeknd had "unforeseen scheduling conflicts." Even when you book the right talent, there's so much that's really out of your hands.
Here's what else we learned.
1. "Lineups are subject to change... again and again."
the.weeknd Shoutout XO
What a way to start the morning! Nothing like getting ready to book it to Citi Field's parking lot than getting an update on The Weeknd's twice-cancelled set. Hope SNL was good, man. Hope it was really, really good.
Spoiler alert: it wasn't really.
2. People will wait forever for anything Kanye
baeblemusic #kanyemerch #kanyemerch #kanyemerch @themeadowsnyc
Whether it's standing in line forever just to buy a decidedly hideous, wildly overpriced memento of Kanye, flooding every orifice of the main stage well before he was slated to go on at 8:15, or even waiting pretty patiently for 30 minutes for him to actually start the set, Kanye's an interesting examination of the public's breaking point.
Seriously. Even after he stopped his set mid-song, either not knowing the best way to escape the festival, or waiting for the joke to end, people STILL waited for Kanye after he left.
Kanye made more than $1 million off his 2-day pop-up shop in NYC earlier this year. Still waiting on numbers for Kanye merch at The Meadows, but we've got the distinct feeling that IT WAS A STUPID AMOUNT OF MONEY.
3. It was a win-win for the pleasantly surprised
dommmcgee #themeadowsnyc was amazing 👏. Now experiencing festival withdrawal. Can't wait for next year!
The Weeknd's cancelled set made for a really interesting turnout on Saturday. There was a lot of room to roam at pretty big names like Sylvan Esso, Post Malone, and Chromeo. The same could not be said of Damian Marley. That sh*t was packed.
Headlining sets by Pretty Lights and J. Cole had a decent turnout, but the deal was sweeter for people trying to get front-stage for smaller acts like Savages, who totally killed it while playing for maybe only a couple hundred of people by the end of the set.
4. Not enough people make it out early, and they suck
tonebrann In other news, I am in love with @zoeisabellakravitz 😍😍😍 . . . #themeadowsnyc #musicphotography #lolawolf #zoekravitz
Maybe it's the prospect of dealing with concrete for 9 hours or so, but the most underrated performances of both days were in the early hours.
On Saturday, Queens rap collective, World's Fair, absolutely killed it. Zoe Kravitz's band, Lolawolf, was low-key brilliant, and Bas was absolutely sensational. All of this was before 3 p.m., and the majority of people didn't really stumble in to fill the spot until Damian Marley.
Sunday was a bit different. Lewis Del Mar, Zella Day, and Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires were easily the best way to kick off the day, but by the time you got to the end of The Temper Trap's packed out set at 2 p.m., the lot was a mess.
Then again, it's hard to call the scene a mess when Pusha T. drops the beat for his featured verse on Kanye West's "Mercy" and thousands of people walking within earshot of the stage stop to dance and sing along. Same for "Drug Dealers Anonymous" and "I Don't Like."
5. Teenagers scare the living sh*t out of me
sammfrankie Still humming the tunes from my two favourite Chicago boys 💞🎶 #themeadowsnyc #pablo #chancetherapper
Some kids, man. Some kids suck. A number of times, in the Freeloaders' & VIP lounges, the exact sentence, "After seeing this sh*t, I'm never having kids," was overheard nearly a dozen times. That's not an exaggeration.
Drunk kids, stoned kids, kids in braces getting busted by event staff for sparking up blunts at the front of the stage right before the first set of the festival even starts ―kids! Get your sh*t together. Finesse. Pace yourselves. Don't be stupid.
6. The layout might need tweaking
tonebrann Artistes 🐥 . . . #themeadowsnyc
This is just a general observation, but there was definitely some downside to how the festival was mapped out. If you've ever been to Gov Ball, you know that the main stage goes back about a hundred yards before there's a jumbotron that allows for additional viewing behind all of that.
That would have been perfect to see Kanye. Not so much at The Meadows where their spatial constraints kept Kanye out of view without a straight line of sight to the stage. It was even difficult seeing him in the VIP area where there were several dozens of non-VIPs clambering over the rails to get in.
7. Need more star power for both days
deshaunicus Empire of the Sun! One of the nicest setups of the festival.
Saturday definitely suffered because of The Weeknd's cancellation. Sure, it was still a dope day ― J. Cole, Pretty Lights, Empire of the Sun, Sylvan Esso, and Zhu were absolutely killer. But it couldn't touch Sunday.
Sunday you could make a full circle around each stage for almost the whole day and be more than satisfied with what you were seeing rather than settling for something you might not have otherwise.
Case in point: Chance the Rapper on Sunday had a bigger turnout than J. Cole on Saturday. Does that have everything to do with Chance? Oh, most definitely.
8. Chance the Rapper is a super star
Now, if you had your heart set on catching Cage the Elephant with relative ease on Sunday, Chance the Rapper was your way in. He stole the show. He ruled the weekend. He absolutely killed it with a show that was almost too literary for the deluge of "Kanye's a God, Lemme Cop All the Merch" bros to handle.
He had glitter. He had smoke. He had... puppets?
"It was like going to church with Jim Henson," someone said, saying that the puppets "were kind of weird, but I think I liked it?"
He dropped hits. He had singalongs. He had energy, charisma, and, sh*t, even a narrative. If you somehow missed Chance, you screwed up.