The A train to the 7 train, this is a first for me. I'm used to driving and sitting in long lines waiting to get into the parking lot or the campgrounds when I am attending a festival. I can get used to this taking a train to the venue. The team at Meadows Festival reached out to me a few months ago and asked if I would be willing to help them promote the festival on my various social media accounts. One thing leads to another, and here I am camera bag loaded and headed to the festival to photograph the first of 3 days.
Meadows is a brilliant set up festival, all the stages are right in the middle, and you can walk your way around the outside making it easy to get from stage to stage. Citi field the home of the New York Mets makes for a beautiful backdrop and the planes from LaGuardia make their quick assent over your head. After getting a lay of the land, I decide on my first show and head right over to get in line for photo pit access. Throughout the day I cover four bands and meet some great people.
Sky Ferreira, Tegan and Sara, Two Door Cinema Club, and Milky Chance made for a great first day. Each has such a distinct and different sound. That's what makes these festivals so much fun. You can see four completely different bands in the course of 4 hours and all within 300 feet of each other. Meadows has so much else to offer other than just music; they are featuring amazing food this year as well. Along with numerous booths and vendors. With day one in the books and a better feel for day two schedule, I hope to be able to enjoy some of the other offerings at the festival on Saturday.
Day 2 of any 3-day music festival is always a beast of a day. It usually draws the biggest crowds and the biggest names. The fans that are going for all three days are now in the full swing of festival life. They are riding high off the experiences from day 1 and now have a good lay of the land with regards to how to get around the festival. Day 2 seems like it is going to be an awesome day to be at a festival; it's warm but not too hot, no rain in the forecast, The sun is shining with some clouds providing shade from time to time. The atmosphere is alive, and you sense people are ready to let loose and have some fun today.
I have five bands on my schedule to photograph. Erykah Badu, De La Soul, Big Gigantic, TV on The Radio and M.I.A. I manage to squeeze in 2 others with Antibalas and LL Cool J (what can I say, I grew up to LL I had to try to make that happen). The range of artists at this festival is incredible! Erykah Badu with her soulful lyrics followed by two-person act Big Gigantic with their saxophone and lyrics laid over beats that carry a rock n roll vibe, all of which provides the backbone to their sound. Big Gigantic is a band you have to see to appreciate. I would have never guessed that sound would work if I didn't see it for myself.
As the day goes on the crowd grows and becomes more energetic! By the time De La Soul takes the stage the energy is palpable. De La Soul played to the crowd. So many acts at times seem to just be on the stage going through the motions. De La Soul is there to play to the emotions of their fans, and they do it magically!! In all the concerts that I have photographed never have I had an act tell all the photographers in the photo put to put down their cameras, enjoy the moment and dance. They didn't continue their performance until we all lay down our cameras and put our hands up!! Not an experience I will soon forget.
As the day came to a close, the big acts took the stage. M.I.A and Gorillaz closed out the night and ended the day on a high note. They left the crowds wanting so much more and more they will get tomorrow on Day 3. For me and the throngs of people, it's off to the Subway in the hope of getting home with enough time to recharge and be ready for the final day and a lineup that will have the Meadows Music Festival fans counting the days till next year.
Usually, by day 3 of any festival, I am dragging, my body is hurting, I am tired, two days in the sun have taken their toll on me and I start convincing myself that I got my monies worth by only going to the first two days of the festival and thinking that the bands on Sunday aren't really worth the effort to go back out in the sun all overt again! Add that to the fact that I am also carrying around 25 pounds of camera equipment and the argument to not get out of bed could be easily won by laziness. Nah' so far this festival is living up to the reputation of the city it calls home. I popped out of bed early, finish up editing photos from the day before, knock out a 1000 word article for the blog and get on the train hours sooner than I did the last two days. Meadows was calling for me on this day.
Meadows Festival isn't like any other festival I have ever been too. It has an energy and a vibe that draws you in. The setting has a lot to do with it; you have the subway train running on one side and the baseball stadium on the other. Once you hop off the subway, within moments you are among thousands of music lovers and four stages packed back to back with incredible acts. From the time I stepped off the train today, I had this feeling day 3 was going to be nothing like anything I have ever experienced before!
Day 3 didn't usher itself in slowly...it came out swinging with hot acts from the start. My day started off with Dreamers on the main stage. My train ran into delays, so I am running behind, I get to the main stage and Dreamers is already finishing up their first song. I flash my credentials and run into the photo pit, I toss my bag down and only have time to grab one camera. I am on the clock; we are only allowed to shoot the first three songs. Song two has already started by the time I turn my camera on. I have to fight my way through the throngs of photographers to get a good spot. Fortunately, I know some of the photographers, and we are always looking out for each other, so they happily make room for me. Before you know it our time is up. Band one down. The rest of my day would look like this. Wild Belle, CRX, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Foster The People, Action Branson, Ghostface Killah, Weezer, Sleigh Bells, Red Hot Chili Peppers (I wasn't able to photograph them), That list makes up less than half the bands that performed on Day 3. This festival is designed for the eclectic nature that is New York.
This is the part where I wrap up my weekend, yet I have been sitting here for over an hour trying to find the words that adequately convey my weekend at Meadows Festival. I want to eloquently put into words what this festival is like. But the only thing that keeps coming to mind is HOLY SHIT! What a weekend! I photographed 21 bands, walked 25 miles, spent 9 hours on the subway in 3 days, tried to take care of my sick wife at home, wrote three articles and worked through over 2500 photos (I am not much of a deadline guy so that last part is a problem if you know me). My feet are killing me; my back is sore, my subway card is worn out. But if there were a day four I would without a doubt be on my way to the A train right now looking forward to another day. Meadows brought it in every way possible. This festival needs to make it on your must-do list. I can't wait for next year!
Thank you, Meadows, for one of the best weekends I have ever had living in New York!
Article and Images by Nubbs