Whether the magic of Day 1 was still lingering, or it was just the New York crowd’s hip-hop intuition, there was a tangible vibe that some important stuff would go down on Day 2 at the Meadows Fest. As suspected, Saturday proved to be a festival day of historic proportions, with big name after bigger name one-upping each other’s surprise guests as the hours flew by. There was hardly time for a break as the action on all four stages forced fans to run around, so the Meadows’ locally-sourced food options, like the piping hot slices from Pizza Nova, were a much-needed energy boost throughout the sweltering afternoon. It was also a prime day for people-watching, whether observing attendees’ chic summer fashion, or enjoying the sight of super-young fans perched on parents’ shoulders and jamming.
Things were off to a good start with NYC locals Public Access T.V. bringing some gritty rock to the mainstage at 1:45pm. Meanwhile Dams Of The West, the solo project of Vampire Weekend drummer Chris Tomson, were getting fans revved up at the Queens Blvd Stage – which would be packed with hip-hop legends in just a few hours’ time. One of the best early sets came from British singer Jacob Banks, whose deep, silky voice was enticing enough to continuously pull a crowd over. Another highlight came when Flatbush Zombies arrived, with Meechy Darko looking fresh in soon-to-be-airborne two-toned sneaks. His intense delivery was just on the edge of a fierce scream as the Brooklyn locals jumped all over stage, urging the crowd to shout “R.I.P. B.I.G.” right before they performed “Glorious Thugs.” Not long after, Day 2 festival-goers enjoyed a sizzling, hit-heavy set from Big Boi, who didn’t stray far from the Outkast discography. The Atlanta-bred rap hero tore up everything from “Rosa Parks” to “Kill Jill” to “So Fresh, So Clean,” evening blessing us with the fantastic “Ms. Jackson.”
In what was easily the strongest set of the day, Queens native LL Cool J and DJ Z-Trip totally shocked the Meadows crowd when they welcomed Q-Tip and Jarobi White of A Tribe Called Quest onstage to perform “Award Tour” and “Vivrant Thing.” Another big surprise followed when they were joined by none other than D.M.C. (Darryl McDaniels), who discussed how LL had inspired him before helping deliver Run-D.M.C. classics “Peter Piper” and “It’s Tricky.” “I may be a little older than you, man, but when your record came out, you made me stay in the house a whole fucking week to work on my lyrics. The old don’t just inspire the young,” D.M.C. said to LL Cool J, as the fans soaked up every moment. They didn’t stop there, because the group suddenly expanded to include Melle Mel and Scorpio of The Furious Five, teaming up with the rest for an unforgettable run of “The Message” before LL wrapped his set with “Rock the Bells.” Those who were still actively people-watching couldn’t miss the cluster of security guards and paramedics who had taken a well-deserved break to come see what was happening, filming clips on their phones with big smiles while they danced.
“So, here’s the problem,” announced De La Soul’s David Jude Jolicoeur, shortly after the Long Island hip-hop trio hit the American Eagle Stage for their 5pm set. “I see cameras up and shit. I see cell phones up. Put your fucking cell phones down,” he commanded, as much of the crowd complied. “Check it out. Let’s be part of the experience, instead of trying to capture it, alright? I’m serious, we won’t start this shit until everybody’s hands are up.” Making sure they had the crowd’s undivided attention, they stopped the music several times, even directly addressing those working in the photo pit. “All you little camera people up front, put your fucking cameras down and let’s have a moment.” They got their moment and made it a big one, and the classic hip-hop bash continued as De La Soul dished out upbeat, throwback-to-89 hits like “Me, Myself and I” and “Buddy.”
After all that had just gone down, Future had his work cut out for him – but he also had a massive, hyped crowd waiting when he started his set (about 15 minutes delayed). As much as they enjoyed early songs like Ty Dolla $ign’s “Blase Blase,” “Same Damn Time,” and Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” they were even more thrilled to see him bring out surprise guests Young Thug, Yo Gotti, and Nicki Minaj – and each new entrance triggered big screams from the unsuspecting audience. The night was really heating up by the time TV on the Radio took the Shea Stage, and frontman Tunde Adebimpe immediately thanked the fans who had gathered to see them. “Always a blessing to be in New York City,” said the Brooklyn native. “Extra nice to be in Queens.” A big herd of fans had raced over just as they started, so there were plenty present to witness their cool grooves on tracks like “Young Liars,” “Happy Idiot,” “Wolf Like Me,” “DLZ,” and set-closer “Staring at the Sun.” By 8pm, a number of rap fans were soon rushing over to see M.I.A., who brought a generous set with a 7-song encore that finished with “Paper Planes.”
Gorillaz, Saturday’s highly-anticipated headliners, couldn’t have come soon enough for the ravenous crowd – who prepared for their set by packing together so tightly they could hardly lift their arms. Thankfully, the English alt-rockers shook things up by starting their set 5 minutes early, and quickly found themselves face-to-face with the astonishing sea of fans. Frontman Damon Albarn was unstoppable with his vehement delivery and serious melodica skills, and the group opened with “M1 A1” and “Last Living Souls” before things really got crazy. In a performance that had New York buzzing for days, they brought out not one, not two, but ten special guests. In order of appearance, Gorillaz were joined by Pusha T for “Let Me Out,” Bootie Brown for “Dirty Harry,” Peven Everett for “Strobelite,” D.R.A.M. for “Andromeda,” Jamie Principle for “Sex Murder Party,” Little Simz for “Garage Palace,” De La Soul for fan favorite “Feel Good Inc.,” and Savages’ Jehnny Beth and D.R.A.M. for “We Got The Power.” And believe it or not, their encore came with more guest appearances, including Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Everett again for the crowd-pleasing “Stylo,” and Del the Funky Homosapien for final song “Clint Eastwood.” Based on fans’ starstruck expressions, you could tell that there were at least a few thousand who would have happily stayed and watched them all night. But the anticipation of what Sunday might bring was just enough to coax them away and onto the city-bound buses.
Photos: Shayne Hanley
Article: Olivia Isenhart