The Meadows Music & Arts Festival Day 1 Highlights: J. Cole, Post Malone & More

Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
J. Cole performs onstage during The Meadows Music & Arts Festival on Oct. 1, 2016 in New York City. 

On a chill and overcast day that signaled that fall has finally descended on New York City, the promised rain never arrived, leaving the first day of the inaugural Meadows Festival at the parking lot at Citi Field in Queens a thankfully dry affair.

And while The Weeknd announced late on Friday afternoon (Sept. 30) that he, in fact, would not be performing at the event -- after dropping out, then returning, only to drop out of Saturday's lineup again -- there was plenty more to take in on this first day of October.

From opening sets by a handful of Queens-bred artists -- appropriate for the four-stage festival -- to a closing performance by J. Cole, a proud St. John's alum, here are some of the biggest highlights from day one at New York City's Meadows Festival.

1:30 p.m.: Day 1 was off to a somewhat slow and dreary start, though the threat of rain never became more than that as the dark and foggy skies didn’t allow any drops to fall. As opening acts took to their respective stages, the largest crowd of all was already gathered by the Kanye merchandise tent -- yes, that’s right, Kanye had his own tent, complete with five lines to help keep the large crowd of people moving along (somewhat) quickly in case they planned on actually seeing any acts.

2:00 p.m.: “The next song is for us because we party in the daytime,” Lolawolf told the modestly-sized crowd of early arrivers before diving into “Every F---in Day” off her 2015 EP of the same name. She continued to impressively tackle the task of rousing up fans as she ran through favorite tracks with a smile on her face the whole time, despite the cold weather and somewhat early set time.

2:05 p.m.: "Where the honey buns at?" said Queens collective World's Fair, as the collection of a half-dozen MCs started to throw honey buns and blow pops -- hood snacks, as they called them -- into the crowd. Remy Banks stepped forward to perform some new material, prowling the stage purposefully, and the crew ended their set with the appropriate middle finger of "B.O.T.P." Irreverent party music at its finest.

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2:45 p.m.: Despite the fact that the rain held off, it had rained plenty the day before, and someone brought dozens of rubber duckies to the lot, floating them in the puddles that dotted the festival grounds. Another Queens MC, Dreamville's Bas, celebrated on stage with his remix of "We Made It."

3:00 p.m.: Frightened Rabbit were all too aware of the relief they provided from the otherwise electronic and hip-hop heavy lineup, as frontman Scott Hutchison welcomed the crowd to the “old man guitar portion of the festival.” While those passing by were enticed by the indie rock radiating from the stage, Hutchinson’s humor helped win them over. As for his best joke, he suggested all the other bands on the lineup split The Weeknd’s booking fee: “We can all go out for ice cream after,” he said with a laugh.

3:10 p.m.: Drinking a Bud Light and smoking a cigarette, Post Malone hits the main stage to the sounds of "White Iverson," much to the delight of the young crowd who had mobbed to see him. But he stopped short before the song really took off. "Rest in peace to ASAP Yams, Bankroll Fresh, David Bowie, Dale Earnhardt," he said, before launching into his similarly-atmospheric "Too Young." In a diverse set, he ran through his cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams," his remix of 50 Cent's "Window Shopper" and one of his latest singles "Go Flex," showing that his catalog has grown much more diverse since breaking out onto the scene with his woozy ode to Allen Iverson, which inevitably brought the set to a close.

3:30 p.m.: Either a handful of attendees were soon to be disappointed or they were nothing more than loyal fans, but a whole bunch of XO merchandise -- The Weeknd-founded record label -- was spotted throughout the day. Even though The Weeknd had rescheduled and then canceled his set altogether after downgrading from his headlining slot to an earlier set time, some fans remained out of the loop or kind. 

3:45 p.m.: Unlike Frightened Rabbit’s set that included some comedic banter, Yeasayer didn’t talk much in between their densely layered songs -- quite possibly because they were stuck in a world of their creation. The funky production and intricacy of their tracks, strengthened by their three-part harmonies, resulted in a set that didn’t disappoint. Though they released a new album back in April, a handful of fan favorites -- such as set opener “Madder Red” and “Ambling Alp” -- found their way into the set list as well. 

4:30 p.m.: Chromeo provided the festival just what it needed: a funkified midday dance party to shake off the more mellow morning. The duo’s synth-heavy and techno-infused set proved to be infectious, as the crowd continued to grow up until the final few minutes. “We came out of the studio for this,” David (Dave 1) Macklovitch said. “We have to get funky at least once a year.”

5:30 p.m.: Following a lengthy instrumental introduction and a warm welcome as the son of the “legendary Bob Marley,” Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley appeared on stage with his trusty Rastafarian flag waving companion. The theme of Rastafarian and Jamaican pride ran strong throughout the fiery set, as literal flames flickered on the screen behind Marley. He proceeded to tell a story of how he once told Bruno Mars to smoke some marijuana so that he could relax, and then dove into “War/No More Trouble” followed by “Could You Be Loved,” a tribute to his late father. 

6:30 p.m.: Empire of the Sun gave a timely, and highly theatrical, performance as they took to the stage just as dusk blanketed the festival. Their set can best be described as an elaborate spectacle complete with wild lighting, heavy fog, and a whole bunch of costume changes by the four dancers who helped bring each song to life. The glam/art alt-pop duo delivered a set made of up tracks off their upcoming album, Two Vines, as well as nostalgia-driven hits like “We Are The People” and “Walking On A Dream.” 

8:45 p.m.: “I’m not even supposed to be here,” J. Cole acutely acknowledged. He told the large crowd he was a last minute addition, alerting anyone (all those XO merchandise-wearing fans) who were unaware that he was technically The Weeknd’s last-minute replacement headliner. The majority of the crowd couldn’t care less, however, as they hung onto his every rhyme and verse while he ran through a similar set list he has been toting around from festival to festival -- such as Lollapalooza and the Billboard Hot 100 Fest -- all summer long. As a unique twist to this set though, he brought out Queens rapper Bas, who performed earlier in the day and is a fellow Dreamville signee. Elsewhere in the set, Cole told the crowd that when he first released “Blow Up” and rapped the lyrics “Bitch I’m about to blow up,” he wasn’t really sure of it at the time. He then proceeded to say with a grin, “Now I am.”