There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being on the opposite side of Manhattan from your friend’s apartment when your phone is dead, you’ve lost your friends and you have no idea where to go. On day two of Panorama music festival, I found myself in this predicament.
Overall, the festival was well organized; there were plenty of bathrooms and water stations, the stages were well placed and the lines for food did not become ridiculous. Panorama faltered in directing foot traffic to and from Randall’s Island Park. On the way back to my friend’s apartment on day two, I ended up taking the wrong subway twice, getting off on the wrong stop and spending an hour crossing a single bridge. Next year, Pano’s top priority should be to exponentially increase the number of workers directing the attendees on how to get home from the festival.
Regardless of this unnecessarily prominent stress, the weekend was pristine. The headliners blew me away more than I thought they would, some of my personal favorites graced the stage with their presence and I discovered new music I never thought I’d listen to.
Tyler, The Creator
When I bought tickets for Panorama months ago, I didn’t think Tyler would become one of the artists I would be looking most forward to seeing, but after becoming obsessed with Flower Boy, things changed drastically. This was Tyler’s first time performing several songs from Flower Boy, and he did not disappoint — “See you Again” and “Who Dat Boy” being two powerful standouts. Although there was no guest appearance by A$AP Rocky, Tyler screamed “You guys gotta do Rocky’s part!” for “Who Dat Boy,” and everyone screamed it right back at him.
A Seat at the Table is one of those albums that grows on the listener over time. While I appreciated it after my first listen, the album has slowly become one of my favorites over the past 10 months. Solange took the funky smooth sound of the album and tweaked it with more horns and louder drums for her performance. She also incorporated beautiful dancing and vibrant, ever-changing background colors to her set. Overall, Solange passed my already high expectations, and I still can’t get over seeing her and Frank Ocean back-to-back.
There just aren’t enough words for Frank. While Tame Impala’s show was enthralling from start to finish, it did not come close to the power of his performance. With assistance from creatives like Spike Jonze and Alex G, Frank created an atmosphere unlike any other concert I’ve ever been to. Giant speakers were positioned in a semicircle around a small section of the audience. A bridge was extended from the stage into the middle of the semicircle and at the end of the bridge was a small circular stage where Frank and his band performed most of the show. A disco ball was positioned about 20 feet above the circular stage and slowly spun. This, along with the speakers surrounding me (and the rest of those lucky enough to be within the semicircle), gave Frank the ability to make it feel as though both sound and light were moving in the same direction around us. He would match the speed of sound and light with his echoed vocals and would layer images on top of one another on the gigantic screens in front of us. There were times when a crystal clear close up of his face would appear on the screens, and I couldn’t believe how real he felt. When he walked onto the stage for the first time, I had a hard time believing he was actually in front of me. It was like seeing a myth before my very eyes, an American God.
Riding off the momentum of his critically acclaimed album Big Fish Theory, Staples played on the main stage during the second day. Full of dance influenced tracks, the album is perfect for festivals. Vince continued the act how we’ve become accustomed to and behaved like he didn’t care about anything. Nevertheless, he still brought good energy with well rapped verses and heavy beat drops.
I knew nothing about Jagwar Ma before seeing them at Pano. I saw them as a consequence of waiting in front of the main stage for Tame Impala, but I’m very glad they were a part of the wait. Booming beat drops satisfied hundreds of dancers, and there was never a lull to their energy. They transitioned between songs so seamlessly that without knowing their music beforehand, I could not tell the difference between one song and the next.
Telefone was one of my absolute favorite records of 2016, and I still can’t believe more people haven’t discovered its magic. The three person band accompanying Noname pulled off the sound of the album well, and her interactions with the crowd were superbly entertaining. This was the one set of the festival that I was able to push my way to the very front row of people; at one point we made eye contact, and my heart melted out of my chest.
Tame Impala’s show was the adrenaline fueled dance party of Panorama. The audience was extremely amped the entire time. I was worried that their sound would suffer in a live set, but it didn’t at all; Kevin Parker nailed all of the high pitched vocals thrown throughout Currents. Parker even gave a shout out to Frank Ocean saying “A show like that makes me think, well, at least our show has lasers.” Their lasers were vibrant and matched with the constantly changing trippy background images, but Kevin was right: It did not measure up to Frank Ocean.
Mura Masa has such a mysterious persona that it felt strange to see him in person, yet behind Tame Impala, he had the most adrenaline pumped production of the festival. He brought out Designer for “All Around the World” and opened with his most popular song “Lovesick,” which immediately got the crowd into his performance.
A Tribe Called Quest
It’s sad to see Tribe go. During their set, ATCQ member Q-tip announced that this would be their last show in NYC as a group. He explained that the group must honor Phife Dawg, a member of the group that passed away in March of last year. The group put a mic in the center of the stage and during certain tracks they would all point to it during Phife’s verses. Q-tip also gave Phife’s parents a shoutout who were in attendance for the performance. Emotional and entertaining, I won’t forget ATCQ’s Panorama set.