With the success of Governors Ball over the past few years, Founders Entertainment tried to catch lightning in a bottle once again with The Meadows NYC. Earlier this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio initially denied permits for a music festival to be held at Flushing Meadows Park during discussions to have Coachella team AEG/Goldenvoice bring their inaugural Panorama fest to Flushing Meadows the same week as Governors Ball, prompting the Founders team to host the fest only feet away in the parking lot of Citi Field.
The two day festival was reported to feature Kanye West and The Weeknd as the main headliners, but due to a scheduling conflict with a Saturday Night Live performance, The Weeknd cancelled his performance a week before the event.
There was a brief attempt at putting the “XO” singer back on the bill, playing an earlier set before replacement headliner J. Cole. Yet, The Weeknd backed out again only days leading up to the fest leaving fans irate.
The first day of the fest saw J. Cole close out the fest as his “last show for a very long time” without any details for future endeavors. Earlier sets included artists that have hit the festival circuit almost ad nauseam like Post Malone, Chromeo and Grimes.
Sunday afternoon saw a sea of highlighter colored “Pablo” merchandise swarming the main stage ready for West to play his first NYC festival set since 2013 when he debuted his “Yeezus” material. The daytime slots on the main stage included indie up-and-comers like songstress Zella Day and U2-esque rockers The Temper Trap before R&B acts Bryson Tiller and Chance the Rapper. With three other stages, hip hop acts would prove to have the larger draw with Mac Miller and Pusha T bringing over massive crowds.
A fellow Chicago native and Kanye protegee, Chance the Rapper, brought his “Magnificent Coloring World Tour” to Queens. With an intricate stage production, the flow of the setlist felt wholly organic seemingly based on spur of the moment interactions with Chance and the many puppets.
Tailoring his set to the festival environment, he ripped through many tracks off of both his “Coloring Book” and “Acid Rap” mixtape, even throwing in a cover of “Ultralight Beam.”
Multiple times throughout the day, festival managers attempted to get the Kanye-centric crowd to move back as the fans on the barricade were being crushed by an impending horde.
With a pretty evenly divided crowd, much of the audience receded after Chance or were just taken out of the stage area by security due to physical discomfort. Starting off 30 minutes late, as per usual, the introduction sample of Pastor T.L. Barrett in “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” begat West’s appearance amongst a barrage of fireworks. The setlist, identical to most of the Saint Pablo tour ranged from early hits like “Jesus Walks” to the name dropping “Famous.” Over halfway into the show during “Heartless” the rapper cut his set short claiming “I’m sorry, family emergency I have to stop the show.”
Confusion struck both the crowd and the event organizers, who attempted to take an intermission, but within minutes Kanye had left the premises and the fest was over, sending the audience of thousands into mass chaos.
Overall, the many mishaps, some preventable, and a lack of variety of acts, were the festival’s undoing.
With the Sunday of the festival being sold out for GA in a short matter of time, and the Saturday show seeing many demanding refunds the results were truly stratifying. Compared to Governors Ball, less of the artists were relevant or preparing to release new material. Many of the acts on the bill were already an entire year removed from their latest records, which proved to be a major disadvantage of planning a music festival in the fall.