By Naeisha Rose
The inaugural The Meadows Music and Arts Festival, which stretched throughout the Citi Field parking lot, could have easily been called the Kanye West festival. But it ended abruptly before the final curtain.
While there were many big names scheduled to perform, like The Weeknd, who was scheduled to perform Saturday but dropped out at the last minute, and J. Cole, the St. John’s alum who replaced him, the most highly anticipated act was the enigmatic Mr. West, who closed out the festival the following day.
The day before he was set to perform, one merchandise line that simply said “Kanye Merch” stretched a quarter of a mile as festival-goers were ready to get everything Yeezy.
Even in-between sets for other big name artists, like Cage the Elephant, Pusha T, and Charles Bradley, there was silly Kanye trivia to help pass the time. He likes his “eggs over Yeezy.”
Before Kanye was set to perform on The Meadows stage, one of four stages, he was preceded by his protégé, Chance the Rapper, who had an inspiring and uplifting set, gospel music and all.
After Chance’s puppet-filled set came to a close around 7 p.m. Sunday, many thousands of attendees stayed put and thousands more arrived and waited impatiently for Kanye, who wasn’t scheduled to perform until 8:15 p.m. and finish things off at 10:30 p.m.
Organizers said 35,000 people attended the festival Saturday and the numbers swelled to 50,000 Sunday.
Of course, the designer was fashionably late and fans smoked, danced, drank and got high as their legs began to give way from hours of being on their feet from other performances. As fans started to chant his name, a fight broke out because of the occasional stampede toward the front of the stage. One woman passed out and was lifted out of the crowd by her friends, another left due to claustrophobia and a third got sick and vomited in the crowd.
The diehard fans remained though, and around 8:50 p.m. Kanye literally started things off with a fiery bang. Fireworks went off and red, white and blue confetti covered the audience.
In the midst of this cool October night, Kanye started things off singing, “it’s a beautiful morning,” from the “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” track on his current album, “The Life of Pablo.”
His set was worthy of a rock star. When he said jump, everyone did and it shook the ground.
As he was in the middle of his “Heartless” record from the “808s and Heartbreak” album, he was interrupted by a man waving him at the corner of the stage.
Together the two spoke by the DJ booth as the background vocals went on to the tune of “how can you be so heartless.”
Soon, Kanye returned to the stage surrounded by red orange strobe lights and smoke, then said he had to “leave because of a family emergency,” and just like that he walked off the stage around 9:39 p.m.
Confused, many in the audience thought he was joking at first and that this was a similar gag to his previously canceled show a few months ago at Webster Hall in Manhattan, which later continued in the streets and caused property destruction.
Some fans stayed and awaited confirmation of the cancellation, while others left to see if they could make it to the Queens Boulevard stage to see Kygo perform, and the rest simply left heartbroken. At 9:41 p.m. there was a 10- minute intermission announcement and by 9:43 p.m. Kanye’s departure was confirmed, leaving many upset due to the long wait and late performance. Others were concerned about his family.
As hordes of people began to walk over to the Kygo set or to the No. 7 train, the tired sat behind and went on Twitter to ask for answers or pray for his family. Many festival-goers were on Google trying to find out if his wife, Kim Kardashian West, was okay, after having been accosted five days ago at Paris Fashion Week. One concert-goer who went by the name of Chris wondered if their children, North West, 3, or Saint West, 11 months, were ill.
As it turned out the family emergency was real and serious. According to Reuters, Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint and tied up in her hotel bathroom just hours after spending time with her siblings and her manager mother, Kris Jenner, at a fashion show.
E! News reported her publicist said she was “badly shaken but physically unharmed,” after “she begged for them to let her live and (said) she had babies at home…she thought they were for sure going to kill her,” since one of the five thieves, all of whom were dressed as French officers, had a gun to her head.
There were no details as to the whereabouts of the Kardashian West brood, but according to Reuters, the reality star immediately took a private flight home Monday morning and was seen outside her Manhattan apartment with her husband.
The 24-hour French news channel reported that she was tied up with packing tape, and the robbers stole between $10 million and $11 million worth of jewelry and cash.
This comes at a very crucial time for France, as the country has lost thousands of tourists after the recent terrorism attacks in Paris, according to the New York Times.
The first song from Kanye West’s current album, “The Life of Pablo,” is the spiritual anthem “Ultralight Beam,” featuring Chance the Rapper, and in it he sings “Pray for Paris, Pray for the Parents.”