The second installment of Panorama Fest took place this past weekend on Randall's Island in New York City. It's the same location as Governors Ball so naturally, there is always some comparison happening in the back of our minds as we attend both fests. Panorama is deceivingly powerful though; people think that because it's only in its second year, it won't be as good as Gov Ball, which launched in 2011. But let's not forget the team behind it all: Goldenvoice (AKA the same company behind the iconic Coachella). So really, you might think it's new, but there are some major players working behind the scenes, and they brought more than just music -- they also brought luxury, interactive technology, and visual art.
One thing is for sure: selling too many tickets can certainly kill a festival. It seems that every year Gov Ball had been getting more and more packed with very young
teenagers, and this year it finally reached its breaking point. A fight between two enormous men broke out and half of the crowd was on their phones… All while my favorite band was playing. My memory is now affiliated more with the fury of a bro overdosed on a lethal combo of protein powder and molly rather than Childish Gambino giving his first (and last) performance as the sun slowly set behind him. And yes, I know that the crowd comes with the territory - I've patiently dealt with overwhelming crowds many times - but that's the thing. The festival was so
oversold, I was always
in a crowd -- involuntarily. Friday, the first day of Panorama, was crowded (presumably for Frank Ocean), but still not nearly as bad, and it only got lighter on Saturday and Sunday. It was just the right amount of people, where you could get the rowdiness but also feel comfortable in your own space. Individuals were much more tame as well, and their fashion sense was on point
Tyler, The Creator
took The Pavilion stage on Friday night. Wearing flower patterned pants, a knit sweater (that he would later take off for a few songs and then put back on for "911/Mr. Lonely"), and fabulous Elizabeth Taylor-inspired jewels, he played a good chunk of his latest album Flower Boy.
I was interested to see how the crowd would react to the new material, given it's much less aggressive than Tyler's old stuff, but to my surprise, everyone screamed every single lyric. One of the most magical moments was hearing the crowd sing the "Boredom" hook together. Solange
was another highlight on Friday. After her set, all I could think was "oh my god, she's real? Yeah, she's actually real." Dressed in a retro, all-red outfit, each move the singer made was meticulously choreographed, not a beat out of place. To match her dancing, she sang not a note out of place -- quiet and careful, but with defiance.
On the main stage after Solange was Frank Ocean
, who exceeded expectations. After his set at FYF Fest earlier this month, this was only his second American show of the year and, as of right now, his last. Wearing noise-canceling studio headphones over his in-ear monitors, you'd think the crowd would feel excluded. In a sense, we did. Somehow Ocean's elusiveness didn't shut out the crowd though, and instead it made a show with thousands of viewers feel as intimate as a basement show. He played almost all of Blonde
as well as "Biking," which, at the end he followed through with the chilling cries for help. After many cancelled sets due to technical difficulties, plus just his lack of tour dates in general, everyone was wondering if Ocean would show up, and he did. He put on the most "Frank" show ever -- even though it was deceivingly minimalistic, it was a huge deal.
Day 2 brought an overwhelming amount of excellent performances from artists like Sofi Tukker
, Jagwar Ma
, Vince Staples
, Belle & Sebastian
, Nick Murphy
, and Tame Impala
. The Lab was also a great site to experience. Powered by HP, fest-goers were brought into the tent to experience six interactive installations along with a gigantic 360-degree virtual reality theatre. Light shows and trumpets that shot out sounds and smells according to different emotions (ex: a trumpet labeled "disgust" would shoot out a jarring noise and fart in your face) were just a few of the many fun things to experience.
Jagwar Ma got everyone dancing mid-day with their unconventional combination of club beats, bass, and indie-rock guitar riffs. I've seen Long Beach rapper Vince Staples 2 or 3 times now, but this was one of his first performances since the release of his latest album Big Fish.
Hearing the bangers live for the first time in addition to locking eye contact with Staples' intense facial expressions (I don't think he smiled once) made for a dark dance party.
Conversely, Mitski balanced out the day with somber love(?) songs. Or maybe she was angry and intense, too. Hearing her scream "fuck you and your money!"
during "Drunk Walk Home" will never get old. Alt-electronic artist Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker) was the biggest surprise of the weekend. I was excited to hear his hits like "Drop The Game" and "No Diggity," but I had no idea he'd appear with a full rock band, and I had no idea I'd leave saying it was one of my favorite performances of the entire weekend. The set was dynamic and packed with energy, and now I'm not so patiently waiting for a new full-length album.
The end of the second day is always the biggest challenge. You've already gone through two full days and still have one left. It's kind of like Hump Day! So the headliner is crucial, their set has to be strong enough to not only make you want to stay, but give you some energy to feed off of. Luckily, on Saturday we had Tame Impala, and this was their last confirmed show of 2017 as of now. Longtime fans of the band were extra happy, as whipped out some rare songs from their catalogue, like "Love/Paranoia," a song off of Currents
that they only played at a Panorama pre-show. They also played "Sundown Syndrome," a song they hadn't played since 2010. It's amazing that a group of modest, flannel-wearing Australian dudes with uncombed hair could get a crowd this riled up, but their music speaks for itself. The light show that came along with the music was just as energizing, making us feel like the sky above was closing in on us.
On Sunday, being the typical girl that I am, I finally made my way to the Sephora tent. Little did I know I was taking a huge risk, because I could happily get stuck in there forever
. Surrounded by different Sephora products, everyone was encouraged to pick out their favorite shade of lipstick and go for the festival look they've always dreamed of. I chose bright blue eyeliner along with blue matte lipstick, blue mascara, and rhinestones. Too much? Never. We also had the option to get our hair done -- every girl was so visibly happy as they got their hair professionally done in a style of their choice. It was a nice way to take a break from the never ending stream of music, and it reinforced the idea that Panorama will always deliver the level of luxury we so rarely get at most festivals.
It was only around 3:00PM but Bishop Briggs
still managed to shake the main stage. After that came Angel Olsen
, who managed to send shivers down my spine merely with her voice, despite the heat. Mura Masa
opened up the floor for everyone to move and even brought out Desiigner
for "All Around The World," delivering one of the freshest dance sets of the weekend. A Tribe Called Quest
was one of the biggest sets of the weekend; the group set up a mic stand for Phife Dawg and paid tribute to him profusely, projecting his image on the screens several times. "We The People…" was an emotional cut from the set, and to add salt to the wound, the band reminded us that this was their final NYC show. Nine Inch Nails
closed the weekend with their hits and new singles, in addition to a fantastic cover of David Bowie's "I Can't Give Everything Away."
Panorama Fest was special for many reasons. A lot of final shows took place there -- it's a festival that hones in more on the rarer artists, rather than focusing on quantity. With less stages, a smaller lineup, and a smaller number of people in attendance, it's not nearly as overwhelming as other festivals. And aside from the music, there are other things that make it great as well, like the technology aspect that is tied into everything and, let's face it, the porta potties are way
better. It has only just completed its second year as an official NYC player, but it's clear that Panorama is here to stay.