2017-08-09 / Front Page


By Blaise Buckley

On the final weekend of July, Friday the 28th through Sunday the 30th, the second ever Panorama Music Festival took place in Randall's Island Park, an oasis in New York City located between Queens and Manhattan. Produced by the same company that brings the Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival to the Los Angeles area, GoldenVoice, promised a good time for all and it did not disappoint. One Instagram poster who had been to both Coachella and Panorama this year, said he had had a better time at the more intimate New York City festival.

Three stages were set up on Randall’s Island, the first aptly named Panorama, which was the MainStage, taking up about half of the entirety of the grounds; the Parlor, a more intimate indoor venue; and the Pavilion, an outdoor covered stage and dance floor. A DJ booth and dance floor, called the Parlor, had fantastic DJ's throughout the weekend: with strobe lighting and mirrors galore, it made for a non-stop dance party.

Two ginormous globe-shaped structures, sponsored by HP, were on the grounds, offering interactive art installations and a virtual-reality theater. The smaller globe had a previously unreleased set of DJ's performing for the weekend. The line to get in remained long until the very end of the night before it closed at 9 when you could walk in without a wait just to see what the hoopla was about. The larger globe, which had previously been at Coachella, offered an immersive mix of music and technology that you'll want to experience for yourself.  HP’s Facebook page offered some highlights at the close of the weekend but the futuristic, computerized 5D experience must be personally experienced in order to fully appreciate.  

VIP passes gave us access to a less crowded area at each of the three main stages.  Each had its own food options and a concierge with candy, sunblock and other festival necessities. A portion of the edge of each stage was sectioned off for those that splurged for the VIP experience, which proved to be well worth it. The only 21-plus area of the festival was tucked behind the Mainstage of the VIP section.  We had some nice surprises running in to some of the artists in this area.   Representatives of Bai Antioxidant Cocofusion were on hand with a variety of complimentary non-alcoholic-drinks and popsicles for VIP guests.  They had bartenders on hand to mix it with alcohol for a small additional fee and it certainly makes for a tasty and healthy drink mixer.  

Food options on sale at Panorama included the popular NYC-based chain restaurant Bareburger in addition to Uma Temakeria’s sushi burritos, and Roberta’s pizza.  Festivals frequently have some of the best cuisine options available, at a usual event up-charge, as festival operators can choose from a large pool of contenders all vying for a space to sell their wares.   We opted for tacos from El Paso and Los Viajeras Food Truck, which I found good enough to consider tracking down.  There were even more taco options from Salvation Taco and Ofrenda.  In addition to the variety of tacos, various types of cuisine and desserts were available in every corner of the park.   

Tyler the Creator was one of the first artists we caught on the Friday evening.  As a rapper, producer and video director he has proved himself to be a staple of the music industry at the young age of 26.  His fans were clearly excited to see him live.  With the amount of energy Tyler gives to his live performance it’s no surprise that his fans give that right back to him.  

Solange was the first act we caught on the MainStage, which had the largest crowd of the weekend but only due to fact that next up was Frank Ocean, who closed out the first night.  While Solange doesn’t have the full super star package like her sister Beyonce, she does have a beautiful voice.  Overall, I found her performance over produced beyond her abilities.  Her awkward choreography was more like watching a yoga class than professional choreographed dance.  This was all a build-up to Frank Ocean, who was the star of the weekend.  His mellow sound and vibe explained why he managed to draw a bigger crowd than artists who have been around for decades.    

The Grammy nominated group Sofi Tukker, who are opening on tour for Odesza later this year, is a duo made up of if musicians Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern.  Despite releasing their first EP together a little over a year ago, the group has developed quite the fan base.  There were a number of people around me who sang along to every word of their set.  Sofi Tukker has created a unique sound that is a mix of house and pop music.  I highly recommend checking out their song “Awoo” as well as their grammy nominated dance track “Drinkee” and catching them live if you get the opportunity.   

Bishop Briggs started off the main stage on the final day of the festival.  She closed her set with her hit song “River” that has raked up millions of views on YouTube.  At 25 years of age, the British singer is only beginning her journey as an artist. She was stoked to be playing that MainStage according to her social media posts that day, and she might as well get used to it.  Her music and energy combined prove her worthiness as a star.  Ms. Briggs is definitely someone you want to look out for. 

A Tribe Called Quest and Nine Inch Nails closed out the weekend. While hip-hop and hard rock aren’t my favorite genres, hearing them live nonetheless proved why both groups have been icons of the music scene for a combined sixty plus years.  

Some of the artists I had not heard of previously but whose talents won me over included the Norwegian Cashmere Cat, who not only creates infectious beats but also sings and plays numerous instruments, Matoma, Girl Talk, Snakehips, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, and Tame Impala.  Some other hot artists I didn’t manage to catch but who performed throughout the weekend were Theo Parrish, Working Women, Noname, Spoon, Future Islands, Pinegrove, Brekbot, and Nicolas Jaar.

Getting to the Panorama Festival was easy. Taking the 4, 5 or 6 train to 125th St. in Manhattan brings you to your choice of a free shuttle bus or the beginning of a 25 minute walk across a bridge, although parking in this area of Manhattan on a weekend wouldn’t have proven difficult. No parking was available on the island, other than disability parking with proper tags.  On the final day, I drove to and parked in Astoria, as close to the footpath across the bridge to the festival, which was about a 40-minute walk to the security check point.  Both bridges offered gorgeous views of the city skyline.  

Looking at the price tiers set for the festival, we thought you definitely got what you paid for. Being in the VIP section, considerably reduced the time to get to the front of the stage and without having to wait at all you could get within 20 feet for the acts earlier in the day and not more than 50 feet from the headliners.  Without VIP access, you would have felt a mile away if you chose not to stand around for some hours before the set began.  Still, supersized screens gave a great view of the artist from anywhere on the field.    

GoldenVoice did a superb job producing Panorama for the second time. The music acts were hot, the food was delicious, the grounds were clean and no one could have asked for more glorious weather, although they can’t necessarily take credit for that. Hopefully the PanoramaFestival will become a permanent staple of the New York City music and art scene.

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