The Panorama Music Festival debuted on Randall’s Island in NYC on Friday, July 22nd and had its grand finale on Sunday, July 24th 2016. The festival went incredibly smooth for the most part and all the kinks seemed to be worked out by the end. Instead of focusing on negatives we’re only going to point out the positives of this spectacular festival.
An incredible line-up of artists performed with intensity and passion including; LCD Soundsystem, Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, FKA Twigs, Lindsey Sterling, Silversun Pickups, Alabama Shakes, The National, Classixx, Holy Ghost, Sia, Sufjan Stevens, Anderson .Paak, Blood Orange, De Lux, and more.
The heat was the first thing festival-goers felt but as the bands started playing that feeling quickly went away (for the most part). The art installations and technology dropped many jaws. The Verge and HP put together the Lab, which is seven interactive art installations that cleverly combine technology and the creativity of various artists. HP describes The Lab as a “playground of music and technology” in which festival-goers can experience a 360-degree virtual reality theater inside a dome, a pinball digital art performance and a cotton candy multi-sensory orchestration — made out of real, sugary cotton candy.
Friday, July 22nd
Broken Social Scene performed with a vigor and passion, typically witnessed in new indie acts, after a few years out of the spotlight due to personal tragedies and feeling the weight of stardom. While Feist was not present Amy Milan of Stars took her place bringing an equally impressive intensity to the performance. The band played classics such as KC Accidental, 7/4 (Shoreline), Cause = Time, and Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl.
Things really heated up when Major Lazer took the main stage. The DJ/Producer trio provided the crowd with four high energy girls that never stopped dancing and a high-powered pyrotechnic dance party. The boys played many of their big hits including “Lean On” and their latest single “Cold Water.”
The British-born performer, FKA Twigs, was an artist in every sense of the word. The success of Twigs 2012 EP1 debut has brought her a legion of indie fans. However, she has defiantly pushed closer into mainstream over the years. She drifted on to the stage like a witch (think Stevie Nicks “Sisters of the Moon”) with her dancers but soon held the stage on her own. Opening up with “Water Me”, Twigs entranced festival-attendees in the while donning white braids, a glittery bodysuit and feathers that came out of her nose.
But the highlight of last night’s festival was Arcade Fire. The band played an incredible set of 22 songs including 3 covers of David Bowie tributing the artist. Win Butler and company performed fiery, impassioned versions of their classic songs (see setlist) with the intensity that brought this band their fame. It is no wonder artists like David Bowie were so drawn to them and their appeal was overwhelmingly apparent last night.
The most incredible moments of this performance came at the end when Arcade Fire came into the crowd and began a 3 song set of David Bowie covers to honor one of the most legendary musicians to ever exist. Back in January the band released a statement saying: “David Bowie was one of the band’s earliest supporters and champions,” the group said in a statement at the time of Bowie’s death. “He not only created the world that made it possible for our band to exist, he welcomed us into it with grace and warmth. We will take to the grave the moments we shared; talking, playing music and collaborating as some of the most profound and memorable moments of our lives. A true artist even in his passing, the world is more bright and mysterious because of him, and we will continue to shout prayers into the atmosphere he created.”
Saturday, July 23rd
AlunaGeorge got the party started on day 2 in the parlor as she lit the stage ablaze with slew of popular dance songs. Even the air conditioned parlor didn’t feel so cool anymore once the crowd came and the energy started building. Songs like “White Noise”, “Attracting Flies”, and “I Remember” kept the crowd moving and the electricity flowing.
Later in the Pavillion Anderson .Paak performed hit after hit from his latest studio album Malibu and delivered his performances with the enigmatic fury. Anderson even played the drums on a few songs including “The Season/ Carry Me”, with his bass player. Anderson played up the dramatics a few times too paying ode to greats like James Brown and Michael Jackson. His performance ignited a spark in festival-goers and had them movin’ and groovin’ even long after the set.
The National‘s Matt Berninger gave the the performance of his life even in the unrelenting heat. This was one of the best performances of day 2. Backed with political images on the large screen, very tight instrumentals, and incredible energy from the audience, it was hard to keep away from the National’s set even though it brought festival-goers into the sun’s den! Check out the video shot by Ivonne Flores below:
If 99.9% didn’t offer listeners an idea as to how well this would play out at festivals, it was confirmed Saturday when Kaytranada pumped out the genre-melding dance song after dance song. Spawning influence from several artists including Lauryn Hill, Janet Jackson, Prince, Madlib and more. The parlor could barely contain the crowd–and the heat!
In a surprise to many, Sufjan Stevens delivered a high energy set that including a lot of colors, dancing, and interesting costumes! Many festival-goers were heard saying that this was very un-Sufan but that they loved it. Stevens ditched the usual Paul Simon-esque routine to appeal to festival audiences and did a wonderful job at it. Check out the video by YouTuber BlackFrances1 below:
Foals brought their brand of poppy British rock to the festival Saturday in support of last year’s album What Went Down. Fans gathered to the stage early to hear the band play a short setlist that included new songs and favorites like “Spanish Sahara” and “Olympic Airways.”
Long before Kendrick Lamar even took to the stage hoards of people started to make their way over for that covenant spot that would allow them to see the rapper shout his ingenious lyrics. The crowd emphatically shouted “Kendrick” from the festival grounds and the sound could be heard from the ferries leaving the island. A vignette played in the background with imagery and video clips that paid homage to everything from Prince to “Malice to Palice.” Lamar’s performance was titanic and absolutely unforgettable for festival-goers.
Earlier on in the Parlor things got heated up when the electronic duo Classixx took to the stage delivering their grade A electronic-pop. The duo ran through a medley of their most recognizable electronic songs in the short amount of time that they had. Their show featured a spectacular show of sounds and vision–David Bowie would have been very proud.
The indie dance Aussies known as Rüfüs Du Sol got the Pavillion moving on Sunday with their impassioned and dedicated performance that showed fans they mean business. Some unfamiliar festival-goers from other areas of the park heard the band and said “who is that!?” and quickly rushed to the Pavillion to catch their raucous set. Check out the video below shot by YouTuber Jose Jorge Garcia Vargas
Run The Jewels came to Panorama ready to sucker-punch the crowd with hardcore rap, big beats, and gifted lyrical talent. The boys were on their home turf and gave the crowed exactly what they wanted. It was great to see such a diverse mix of people their for the duo. While they are considered hardcore rap, they have a legion of followers that just love them for their political activism and for their beliefs in equality for all. They were by far one of the best and most energetic acts at the festival.
Many fans bought one day tickets to see Sia perform at Panorama since her NYC performances are rare. Sia delivered her celestial vocals while Martha Graham-worthy dancers danced alongside a screen showing the images of famous celebrities such as Kristen Wiig and Paul Dano. Some expected more from Sia but the majority of the crowd was very pleased with the singer’s chops and the modern dances.
Golden Voice and the Verge certainly saved the best for last. The ultimate electronic act that is LCD Soundsystem slowly crept on the stage with hypnotic drum beats, synths, and not one computer. The genius that is James Murphy delivered an epic show that brought out songs from their first album all the way to their last album. The show that festival-goers saw on stage was described as other-worldly and life changing. The kings of electronic-disco-funk further cemented in our minds why they are one of the few bands that can actually send chills up your spine and leave an impression on your mind forever. Check out the snippet of “Yeah” below.
The festival could not have ended in a better way. They say music gets you high and we can attest to the fact that Panorama Music Festival provided us with the highest of highs.