Jay-Z, Run The Jewels and More Kill It With Memorable Sets at 2017 Meadows Music and Arts Festival
For the past week or so, New York City has been blessed with festival-appropriate weather, rather unlikely as we've reached the middle of September. So though many complained about the sun striking down on them in the Citi Fields' parking lot Friday afternoon (Sept. 15) in Queens, N.Y., the rays didn't deter anyone from enjoying their favorite artists and art installations at The Meadows' second annual Music & Arts Festival.
The first rap act up? 21 Savage. The 2016 XXL Freshman has accrued major success in music, and love, over the past year, so his hour-long set was heavily anticipated. That is until he failed to show up around a quarter after. The city's adolescents were unphased. All the millennials resorted to chanting his moniker, hoping we would still have time to get good spots to see Migos in 45 minutes. Someone just yelled "Fuck 21" and walked off.
Then, humorously enough, at 3:21 p.m., Savage appeared on the Shea Stage quite agitated—although it could've possibly been his usual facial expression—as he told his fans to yell "Fuck NYC traffic!" We all screamed in agreement, with more than a bit of compassion and empathy—as New Yorkers, especially in Queens, we'd all been there.
Then as 4 o' clock neared, many began making their way to the Meadows Stage to see Migos, but if you weren't there by 3:45 p.m. it was far too late to get even 20 yards from them. DJ Khaled introduced the group via video as they walked out to "Slippery" with Gucci Mane nowhere in sight. For the full hour, Offset, Quavo and Takeoff hyped the crowd with live renditions of just about every song off Culture, and a nostalgic "Hannah Montana" performance.
Hip-hop fans galore retreated to the American Eagle stage as Joey Bada$$ wowed his followers with a true all-"AmeriKKKan" show. "Heard my only competition today is Hov, what's up?" he yelled. The Brooklynite performed songs off his well-received All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ project, including the popular cut "For My People," making his set one of the smoothest throughout the evening.
At this point it was known you had to leave a set 10 to 15 minutes early to see the opening of the next. Fans maneuvered their way through Tegan and Sara as the Meadows Stage prepared for Run The Jewels. "I'm really learning out here. Damn," a man under the influence of marijuana said behind me as the screens spit out random Queens facts. Not for long, though, as Killer Mike and El-P appeared on stage to Queens' "The Champions," with Mike shouting "Hello Queens! We're Run The Jewels and we came to burn this stage to the muthafuckin' ground!"
RTJ got the crown involved more than any other act, performing tracks from all of their projects while providing comic relief throughout. Smoke filled the air as Killer Mike announced he's "high as fuck off this Queens weed." El-P—who was happy to celebrate in his hometown—brought his mom to the show, telling the audience "I told her we were opening up for JAY-Z so she came." He even wrote a poem, letting the crowd know he may pursue other talents.
Run The Jewels also brought out Travis McCoy from Gym Class Heroes and Gangsta Boo, to the surprise and satisfaction of the audience.
By 7 p.m., most Hov fans had already begun marking their territory, as it was now clear who everybody was really there to see. For an hour and a half JAY-Z fans stood in place as the crowd grew to over a thousand, at least. The skies turned dark blue and the wind picked up quite dramatically, though no one could feel it as everyone's body heat—and weed—had taken over the air.
Then at 8:15 p.m., the crowd began taking their phones out as the Jeff Koons' air balloon dog filled, taking up over half the stage. It was time.
Unlike earlier performers, JAY-Z arrived only five minutes behind his scheduled time, shouting out those who stood there all day in the process. Opening with an amped-up, solo rendition of "Run This Town," JAY-Z took full control of the night, as most undoubtedly expected.
Throughout his hour and a half set, JAY-Z has Guru on the boards as he took us back to his earlier days with songs like "Izzo (HOVA), "Big Pimpin" and "Hard Knock Life." At one point he even brought out Damian Marley, who performed "Bam" and "Welcome to Jamrock" as his flag waved in the background.
JAY-Z's last two songs struck a chord with his fans the hardest. Paying tribute to the late Chester Bennington, Guru turned to "Numb/Encore," with what seemed like everyone in attendance singing along as the lights were dimmed. "Sing it so loud they can hear it all the way in heaven," Jay told the crowd. They didn't disappoint. He then went on to ask for requests, ending the night with a memorable performance of "Forever Young" as festival-goers sung Mr. Hudson's intro.
All in all, year two of The Meadows Music & Arts Festival was one for the books. But with so many notable artists this year, who could they possibly bring out for year three?
See Photos of JAY-Z's Different Looks Over the Years