I could tell New York City’s Panorama Music Festival would be a mainly refreshing festival experience from the moment I stepped in, and I was proven right.
After Goldenvoice, the team behind Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, announced a brand new festival in New York City last year, curiosity ran high. The three-day event was ultimately successful and came back for a second round this year, so I decided to see what it was all about.
From volunteers being organized and well-prepared, to amazing designated VIP areas (hello, front row for the main stage) and more, the festival was a perfect weekend away from the typical hustle and bustle of New York.
Day one of the festival’s second year was a blast. After taking a beautiful ferry ride over to Randall’s Island, we were met with free (and delicious) cocktails and popsicles from the team at Bai and Infatuation. After enjoying all that Bai had to offer, including a Polaroid photo booth and personalized illustrations by Jordana Schrader, we made our way over to MGMT and Tyler, The Creator. Seeing MGMT perform with the beautiful New York skyline behind them was a sight to remember. However, a main highlight of the night, and the entire festival, was Girl Talk’s performance.
The mash-up maestro put on what was pretty much a house party in the middle of the festival, with an absurdly pristine selection of throwbacks, current hits, underrated bangers, and more. Headliners Frank Ocean and Solange were slightly more disappointing, but most of the crowd seemed to have a different opinion. The main downside of my introduction to the festival was the cancellation of acts like Breakbot after the evacuation of the Parlor Stage, but the rest of the impressive performances made up for the minor hiccup.
I stepped into day two with very low expectations (and a very strong hangover). After remembering that Vince Staples was on the bill, I drank as much Pedialyte as I could handle (which happens to be the ultimate hangover cure, if you weren’t aware) and made my way to Manhattan. Once we stepped into the hyped up crowd for Vince Staples, I knew I made the right decision. He performed just about all of his major hits, like “Little Bit of This” with GTA, and had an undeniably incredible stage presence.
Once the Parlor Stage was back in action, Hot Since 82 threw down a flawless techno/house set that made for one of the weekend’s top performances.
A final highlight of Saturday night was Alt-J’s stellar performance, who proved to me that I can enjoy alternative music as much as I used to. Panorama NYC had minimal sound bleed and incredible set-ups and visuals at each and every stage (from the panoramic main stage to the enclosed side stages), which made for a completely enhanced festival experience. We grabbed a quick and delicious bite at one of the festival’s many food stands and were ready to go out with a bang on the most anticipated day, Sunday.
One of the biggest, and only, flaws I saw with Panorama was the outsourced security company, who managed to set me off on the wrong foot on Sunday morning. When under-qualified employees in collared shirts think that they can do anything they want, you begin to wonder just how much the festival cares about their attendees. Luckily, I came back from some unacceptable encounters and made my way into Panorama for one of the most exciting lineups that the city had seen all summer. Cashmere Cat absolutely dominated the Pavilion Stage, while Glass Animals and A Tribe Called Quest made the main stage one hell of a party for their last-ever New York concert.
We headed back over to the Pavilion Stage for Justice, who (literally) brought a friend of mine to tears. With a sound mishap that caused them to halt their set for almost 20 minutes, the French power-duo came back stronger than ever with a wicked live performance, featuring their signature golden cross and LED Marshall amps.
Finally, it was time for Nine Inch Nails. Trent Reznor brought back a whirlwind of angsty teenage memories and even made a touching tribute to Linkin’ Park’s late Chester Bennington. We headed out early and got a much-needed night of sleep after three days under the Randall’s Island sun.
After hitting up Coachella for the first time earlier this year (check out my review here), I can wholeheartedly say that Panorama blew its sister festival out of the water. For only being the festival’s second installment ever, it went off (almost) without a hitch and impressed me significantly. I would definitely attend Panorama 2018 and look forward to reliving my positive memories until then.
Top Sets of Panorama NYC 2017:
3. Vince Staples
2. Girl Talk