The king of music festivals just got some very serious competition coming out of the east coast. The Coachella music Festival has been a musical monsoon which has drawn millions of attendees over the years with line-ups featuring the biggest names in music across genres. It has exploded to the point where people will shell out big bucks for passes ($400 for a GA weekend pass) even before a single artist’s name has been released! I spent the last 2 years living in SoCal so there was no way I was going to miss the chance to experience Coachella for myself. The hype is real. However, as is usually the case with the friendly East vs West rivalry, New York doesn’t like being outdone by its west coast cousin.
Enter, The Meadows Music and Arts Festival.
A 3-Day musical experience in the heart of Queens, NYC. You could feel the vibes from miles away. NYC has always had big shows and lots of world class performances, but there hasn’t been a gathering like this since Woodstock. Headlined by Jay-z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the highly anticipated return of the Gorillaz after a 6-year hiatus. Not to mention performances by numerous legends, current superstars, and cream of the crop up and comers. The game-plan is (as it always should be for a festival): come early, grossly overpay for parking, have at your favorite pregaming goodies, ENJOY.
The overall feeling of the place was reminiscent to that of Coachella, but seemed like a bit less of a cluster-f*#k. Definitely a plus. The biggest problem I had with the festival (other than finding my car after every night) was having to decide between which groups/artists to see when you have conflicting performance schedules. The two toughest choices were deciding between LL Cool J vs Erykah Badu and Nas vs Weezer. Call it being a homer but I ended up going with the guys from Queens. As a music junkie, it was incredible to see these legends of Hip Hop perform. Looking back, I catch myself being really amused by the fact that roughly 80% of the crowd in the LL show had no idea just what an influence was and the fact that he’s a true godfather of rap. The wow factor of seeing LL perform was intensified by him bringing out fellow legends Q-Tip (from A Tribe Called Quest) and DMC (From Run DMC). The history of Hip-hop was lighting up the stage for a new generation of fans to appreciate. I only hope that this begins the movement away from mumble rap. (Asking for too much?) Speaking of mumble rap, I have to say Future killed on stage. The guy’s music just gets people turned up on a whole other level. The entire place damn near exploded when he brought Nicki Minaj up to perform with him. If you wanted to get to the front of that performance, good luck not getting trampled.
As expected, Jay-Z, Nas and the Red Hot Chili Peppers put on the type of performances that let you know why they are mega stars. Blending older material with newer stuff in a really tactful way truly allowed fans to appreciate how all of them have changed their sounds over time and managed to stay on top in their genres. I was very much blown away by the acts but the highlight for me was finally seeing the Gorillaz live.
The Gorillaz have been one of my favorite groups since their first album dropped in 2000, and for one reason or another I couldn’t make it out to see them live. When I heard that the Gorillaz were touring again, I was not missing my chance. It’s a very singular feeling when you hear one of your all-time favorite songs played live for the first time, and when the Gorillaz played “Clint Eastwood” it literally took me to another planet.
You no longer have to journey to Cali to catch the biggest music festival of the year. We’ve got you covered in NYC. Now where the hell did I park my car…
Column by: Felix “Bear Jew” Bergan