It was 11:57am when the stampede started. As soon as the Meadows Festival opened its gates for Day 2, fans sprinted through breathlessly, racing all the way to the mainstage in the hopes of catching Kanye West from the front rail – who, it’s worth noting, would not be performing for another 8 hours. But based on yesterday’s merch line, and the one that was already forming today, Kanye’s hardcore fans don’t mind camping out. That loyal crowd was the only reason we were bummed about Kanye starting his show over half an hour late, and then having to leave mid-”Heartless” due to a family emergency (Kim K was reportedly robbed at gunpoint in France). But the chaos couldn’t cast a shadow over all the impressive Day 2 performances that had come before it.
Long before any Kanye drama, gospel/blues rock band Mail the Horse were getting funky, and their eclectic sound coaxed the first crowd of the day over to the Shea stage. Shortly after, there was another big crowd vying for space at the Queens stage, as dreamy LA pop band Coast Modern showed off their feel-good, sand-and-surf sound. When we caught up with Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp backstage, they told us they were really happy with the crowd response – and put an old LA/NY audience rumor to rest. “We’ve heard that New York crowds are supposed to be more…discerning,” Coleman said carefully with a grin. “But we’ve gotten really good vibes from New York audiences.”
And as far as good vibes go, there was one part of Day 2 that was truly unforgettable – and it was all thanks to Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires. The legendary funk and soul singer, who has been performing since 1965 (and has yet to bend to any trends that would warp his perfect, classic sound), was so good he literally gave us chills – and had all the girls screaming, just like old times. After his incredible Meadows set, we were horrified to hear him announce his diagnosis of stomach cancer just a few days later – news that makes his words at the festival all the more powerful. “I love you. You know, you are the next generation to make this world a better place, and I give it all to you,” he said at the start of his show. “It’s your turn. I give my love to you.”
After Charles Bradley had given us some perspective, the festival carried on with everyone in a good place. Many were soon heading over to catch the much-loved Australian rockers, The Temper Trap, and the excitement kept reaching new heights as the band dished out their heavy, melodic pop riffs. Our good luck on Day 2 continued when we were able to procure the hottest item of the fest to munch on during Robert DeLong’s set: a juicy and tangy Original Ramen Burger, in all its Shoyu-smothered glory.
A snack like that is a tough act to follow, but we were psyched to catch Metric in what was one of the hardest-rocking performances of the day. Frontwoman Emily Haines had everyone wrapped around her finger, taking long strides around the stage to rev up each side of the crowd as she sang. The next Day 2 highlight was courtesy of Børns, who brought out an especially groovy cover of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” – which more kids than you would expect knew every single word to. Things got even better when the one and only Pusha T took the Shea stage, giving the hip-hop crowd a solid dose of hard-hitting verse and rhythm.
For us, it was all leading up to Cage the Elephant – and the Kentucky rockers were absolutely on fire. The swarm of fans lost their shit over modern classics like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” “Trouble,” and “Cigarette Daydreams,” and lead singer Matt Shultz was right there with them, tearing it up like we figured he would. The 1975 had their work cut out for them after Cage, but there were girls coming out of the woodwork to squeal for Matt Healy, so we weren’t too worried. Then, of course, the whole late-and-short Kanye set went down, and the turn of events left more than a few fans crushed. But truth be told, we were fine having finished off the night watching Twin Shadow, who performed a gripping reimagination of the full Purple Rain album in Prince’s memory. It takes a lot to ruin a day like that.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley