Another NYC music festival has come and gone. This one was packed with excellent sets from some of music’s biggest names – Solange, Tame Impala, Nine Inch Nails and A Tribe Called Quest all treated us to performances on Panorama’s biggest stage, which featured stunning visuals displayed on a screen that stretched a whopping 170 feet. Local New York City restaurants, like Roberta’s, Eggloo and Salvation Taco, kept attendees full and satisfied throughout the three days of jamming. The elusive Frank Ocean also performed on Friday night one of only a handful of live shows since 2014. His performances are rare, but they give us just a glimpse into the breadth of his musical knack.
Frank Ocean‘s set tops our list of the best of Panorama, but his wasn’t the only impressive performance. Check out our full list of favorites below.
As mentioned above, Frank Ocean’s performances are rare, but they are a glorious treat. Instead of performing on the main stage, he performed his entire Friday night show on an extended leg that jutted straight out into the middle of the audience. Accompanied by the recently acclaimed instrumentalist (Sandy) Alex G on guitar, Frank Ocean made a festival crowd of thousands feel like an intimate gathering of friends at an indie show. He paced the skinny stage leg and performed hits like “Solo”and “Nikes” from his 2016 record “Blonde.” While he was a bit soft-spoken when interacting with the audience, that did not diminish his mastery as a musician. His performance was gripping from start to finish.
Solange’s performance was without a doubt the most visually stunning of the festival. Reddish light bathed the stage as Solange and her troop of musicians, all appropriately clad in completely red or orange outfits, executed flawless choreography. While Solange is the definitely the master of her stage, the whole performance felt more like a shared story between herself, the musicians and the backup singers, rather than just a solo act. At two different points during the show, around 20 or 30 horn players also joined the magic on the stage. Her set was full of hope and joy, and the Panorama stage and screen offered a sensational scape for her show. She performed older favorites like “Losing You” and “T.O.N.Y” as well as her newer songs like “Cranes in the Sky.”
Tame Impala are the masterminds behind the 2015 revelation “Currents,” one of three albums released by the Australian group, all of which were named “Best New Album” on Pitchfork. Few bands can boast such an achievement critically, but Tame Impala can, and without losing ground or losing themselves. Their Saturday night Panorama show was a spectacle, featuring psychedelic projections and acutely synthy beats. Their set, and their songs, were nothing short of musical perfection. They even performed a song from “Currents” for the first time ever live – “Love/Paranoia,” a treat for longtime fans.
The subject of one of our Panorama previews (read the feature here), rock band Pinegrove gave an impassioned performance early Saturday on the main Panorama stage. Lead singer Evan Stephens Hall humbly and repeatedly thanked the audience for spending time at their set, one that needed no convincing for us to stick around for its entirety. Hall is a spirited lead singer, and Pinegrove lyrics are ardent in their storytelling. They’re a must-see for live shows, and thankfully they just announced another leg of their tour, so you still have many more chances to catch them on the road.
While at first her music comes across as angsty, Mitski’s critically acclaimed songs are actually compilations of deep and moving stories. Some are indeed fraught with pain and anxiety, but the songwriter is a heroine of self-discovery and acceptance in the end. Her Saturday performance was passionate and dynamic. At one point during the set, Mitski took center stage to play a few songs alone, which encompassed some of her best moments musically. Her song “Your Best American Girl” is an honest sentiment describing her being torn between her immigrant heritage and wanting to be who others want her to be.
Future Islands lead singer Samuel Herring is a raucous romp on stage. He beats his chest, rolls on the floor and growls lyrics into the microphone. And it all makes for one of the most entertaining sets at Panorama this year. They released a new album this year called “The Far Field,” which is a telling name as that’s exactly where they are. Their music definitely swings somewhere stage left, but it’s wonderful in its uniqueness. They stand alone in the synth-pop genre because no one else sounds quite like them.
Tyler, The Creator
It’s only just August, but 2017 has already welcomed many of its best albums into the musical cosmos, one of which is thanks to Tyler, The Creator. “Flower Boy” was released last month and has seen rave reviews from both crisis and listeners. The rapper treated Panorama audiences to a lively performance on Friday evening. A vista of sunflowers served as background to his set. Only one other rapper joined him on stage, but they made use of the whole space. Tyler, The Creator is a performance pro and had the whole room jumping.
Photos courtesy of Panorama NYC