It was a beautiful three days of blue skies, last-days-of-summer escapism, and mid-afternoon performances from headliner-worthy artists at the Meadows festival in Queens, New York last weekend (Sept. 15-17). In case you couldn’t make it out to see the array of legendary performers, ascendant stars, and lesser-known favorites that played over the festival’s three days, we’ve got you covered: Here are the 12 best things Billboard saw in and around the Meadows festival this weekend.
Run the Jewels Get Help Raging Against the Machine
Run the Jewels were typically brash and energetic on the main stage Friday evening, and El-P took a moment to bask in his return to performing in his hometown, shouting out his mom who was in attendance. (“I told her we were opening for JAY-Z, so she came,” he said.) But they didn’t come alone, bringing out Three 6 Mafia’s Gangsta Boo for a raucous “Love Again,” and former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zach De La Rocha for a bruising “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck).” — Dan Rys
Sky Ferreira, Letting Her Voice Carry
Though Sky Ferreira’s Day 1 set was plagued with earpiece issues and the artist’s shaken confidence, her performance was still resounding; never more so than on a cover of ‘Til Tuesday’s emotionally fraught ’80s pop masterpiece “Voices Carry.” The anxiety of the gig — and perhaps some other external factors weighing on the alternative singer/songwriter, who apologized for “doing a bad job of hiding my bad day” — led to a powerfully committed performance, particularly on the song’s climactic bridge: “He wants me, but only part of the time/ He wants me, if he can keep me in line!” — Andrew Unterberger
JAY-Z in Jamrock
Damian Marley is quickly racking up the respect of top-level hip-hop royalty, having put out a full album with Nas (2010’s Distant Relatives) and contributing to JAY-Z’s 4:44 LP this June. And Hov gave Jr. Gong his props during his Friday night headlining set, bringing out Marley for their collaboration “Bam,” before letting him run through his own signature cut, “Welcome to Jamrock,” with Jay playing hype man — a huge gesture from the Brooklyn MC. — D.R.
Still Fresh, Still Clean
When an artist goes solo from a famous group, it’s always a toss-up if they’ll honor their beginnings at their own shows. In the case of Big Boi, he seemed to love honoring his Outkast days, playing some of the duo’s biggest hits during his Saturday afternoon set. But while he already had Outkast fans pleased with songs like “Rosa Parks” and “ATLiens,” it was the middle of his performance that was a standout — singing the smooth “So Fresh, So Clean,” immediately followed by the crowd-hyping “Ms. Jackson.” And to top it all off, he snuck in “The Way You Move” before heading out — providing all the ’00s nostalgia hip-hop fans could want. — Taylor Weatherby
Future’s Famous Friends
During Future’s high-energy set at Meadows on Saturday, he welcomed a handful of his famous friends and collaborators to the stage. While fans were surely pleased to see Yo Gotti and Young Thug (for “Rake It Up” and “Pick Up the Phone,” respectively), the volume of screams notably increased when the queen herself, Nicki Minaj, slowly strutted on stage. “My baby, my friend forever, my love for life,” Future said of Minaj — who was wearing an ankle length fur coat in near-90-degree heat — after she sang her verse of the Gotti collab. Though brief, her appearance helped elevate the Atlanta rapper’s set to a “new level.” — Lyndsey Havens
Georgia Nott of Broods, Far From Brooding
Georgia Nott of New Zealand brother-sister duo Broods left festival-goers at her Sunday afternoon set with an apology, admitting with a laugh that she’s “terrible” at “banter” between songs. No need: the 23-year-old singer’s energy-packed performance was a spectacle of entertainment on its own. Clad in an army-green crop top with matching pants and beige sneakers, Nott bounced, jumped and head-banged her way across the stage throughout her hour-long set, belting out pop hits like “Heartlines,” “Bridges” and “Couldn’t Believe” in perfect, breathtaking tune and goading audience members to match her energy: “If I can sing after that, you guys can dance,” she joked. Point taken. — Tatiana Cirisano
GTA Drops Sins, Not Tragedies
Even if DJs have a roster of their own tunes to play live, festival settings typically result in the EDM artists playing a handful of popular and classic hits – this year’s favorite seemingly being Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble,” further proven by GTA’s performance at the Meadows on Sunday. Amidst other hip-hop favorites like Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” and Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem,” the electronic duo slipped a not-so-expected rock hit from 2006, Panic! At the Disco’s “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” While the vibes were already running wild, the jamming crowd took their excitement to another level on that signature line everyone just loves to sing: “That poor grooms bride is a whore.” — T.W.
Spotted in the crowd during Broken Social Scene’s Day Three set: A “Free Winona” T-shirt, dating to the days where Winona’s brief moment of shoplifting infamy made her a sarcastic cause célèbre. Considering the recently reunited Broken Social Scene’s own halcyon days came in a similar early-mid-’00s moment, it was an entirely welcome and appropriate flashback. — A.U.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Youngest Superfan
The packed audience of Red Hot Chili Peppers fans who lingered after the band’s closing set Sunday night wasn’t ready to give up hope on an encore, even once the stagehands began packing up equipment. But it was one tiny fan caught on camera by stage projectors who lifted everyone’s spirits: a little boy in a Chili Peppers t-shirt, perched on someone’s shoulders and mouthing the chant “one more song!” as the crowd cheered him on. Whether the Red Hot Chili Peppers noticed the toddler festival-goer or not, the boy’s infectious excitement made it all the more magical when the band members emerged onstage moments later to perform two more songs, “Goodbye Angels” and “Give It Away.” — T.C.
During Red Hot Chili Peppers’ headlining set on Day Three, a girl in the back of the mainstage crowd got sick, causing a wide circle to be cleared out around her vomit in the middle of the packed audience. Though helpful bystanders attempted to shine a light on the grossness in the hopes of steering interlopers away from the pile, one group of girls still couldn’t help traipsing right through it. But once the mess was pointed out to them, rather than recoil in horror, they celebrated the evidence of hard-partying, even taking a selfie along with the puke. Now that’s how you festival. — A.U.