While there ain't no rainbow on the other side without any rain, and the sun did sure shine down on Day 2 of Panorama Music Festival after Day 1 saw severe thunderstorms forcing the festival to shut down and evacuate Randall's Island Park, the venue the festival has called home for the last three years.
The festival did change things up from 2017 in terms of how they laid the festival grounds out as well as the style of programming, and let's just say we think it worked! The did away with the indoor stage from last year, the Parlor, probably after the debacle during Isaiah Rashad's set when the floor came down and they had to shut the stage for the rest of the day. But they also repositioned the Pavilion stage bringing it closer to the main Panorama stage. Both stages were programmed to have a very minimal overlap and this worked great in terms of being able to catch most major sets! Because of the position and angling of the stages, even though the Panorama stage fired right at the Pavilion, there was hardly anything of a sound-bleed to talk about during the short overlap of sets. Kudos to them on that! The LAB and the Point, their open-air club space was repositioned too. The LAB was brought more outdoors to be one amongst nature in terms of sustainability and to go with their theme of the year, Fractile Nature.
Day 1- Let's just take it back a little, last Friday afternoon saw Day one of Panorama kick off successfully at Randalls Island Park. With early performances by Daniel Caesar at the Panorama stage followed by Sabrina Claudio at the Pavilion, all with bursts of showers coming down in between, but the show went on as they'd claimed, rain or shine. The masses had slowly but surely begun to arrive at the festival grounds with major anticipation for a stacked lineup of the day from Dua Lipa to Migos and Father John Misty to, of course, the headliner of the night, The Weeknd. But the weather took a major turn downhill and minutes before Dua Lipa was to take to the stage, amidst sounds of rumbling thunder, the festival was forced to announce an evacuation fo the island due to inclement weather and a major thunderstorm approaching.
Day 2 - While the remnants the storm left behind were felt way into days 2 and 3, there was not much there was to be done. The slushy muck-filled grounds didn't stop the fans from enjoying some stellar acts through the day. Starting off Day 2 were some early but noteworthy sets by Lo Moon, Cloves and young 21 year old Norwegian singer, Sigrid. We also have to give Kyle Hall a shoutout here for keeping the vibe going at The Point throughout his set.
All wasn't well in paradise as Day 2 saw a last minute cancellation of Lil Wayne's set who was added onto the lineup to replace Cardi B after she canceled due to her pregnancy. While this wasn't the fault of the festival since his flight was delayed due to bad weather, the late announcement didn't go down well. People had thronged and were waiting at the Panorama stage for a good 25 minutes into his scheduled set time before the screens displayed a message mentioning he wouldn't be able to make to his performance any longer and this left people livid. With about 45-50 minutes of silence between the Panorama and the Pavilion stage before St. Vincent came on the Bud Light Divebar stage which was a cozy space to enjoy live music, a few chilled buds and some arcade style gaming among more became the place to be! With up and coming acts playing over the weekend, the stage saw the likes of SUR, Olivia Noelle and Fly by Midnight take over.
The night progressed with a surreal sundown set by SZA where she hit home with personal stories behind the tracks and kept it real, relating to her audience like a dream. Moving on to Gucci Mane's all the more anticipated set after Lil Wayne getting canceled, his set didn't go much as planned as well. Several interruptions in the music due to technical issues marred the set with gaps, but he played along to go acapella on "Lemonade" before things shot back into action. Ending Day 2 on a high note was the queen Janet Jackson bringing back to the stage all the stellar moves and her pop-infused sounds she's best known for. A set that started with a strong political message saw her drop hit on hit and match herself step for step from her videos from years ago which played on the screens. Short but fantastically mixed DJ breaks saw her slip in some costume changes and grab a breath. But might we say, for 52 years of age, she still looks, sounds and moves like a dream!
Day 3 - As the previous two days, day 3 started with its own share of disappointment before the festival even began. Greta Van Fleet who were meant to play on the main stage took to Twitter to announce an injury suffered by their drummer due to which they had to cancel their set at Panorama. But the day kicked off nice and early with acts like Shannon and the Clams and Rex Orange County keeping the audiences engaged and with them through the afternoon heat. In fact, Rex Orange County also took a break mid-track when he saw a fan up front who had passed out and immediately drew the attention of the paramedics and after it was taken care of, continued with his set soon after. Talk about an aware artist, kudos to the young man on that one!
The evening saw the Talking Heads legend David Byrne take to the stage with his perfectly suited and coordinated standing band members who danced along with him with just as much panache. What a performer he still is! It wasn't all without a message though, he recreated Janelle Monae's 2015 track from the women's march and reiterated its current relevance! As the sun began to set on the final day Fleet Foxes and then a set followed by The xx set the mood going into the final night of Panorama 2018. The xx, in fact, announced that after about two years straight of relentless touring, 138 shows on the tour, this was their last set from the tour and aptly finished what they started in New York City! What followed was outright the set of the festival in our eyes, nothing short of sheer magic.
ODESZA's set had the audiences in a rapture start to the very end, from their spectacular lighting and visual effects to the Odesza drumline and horns which accompanied them, not to mention special appearances by Naomi Wild and Wynne! It all came together in perfect harmony to only enhance their already fabulous music. With theatrical wow moments perfectly spaced through the set, it was 50 minutes of unreal, blissful perfection! Finishing off with an all but dramatic and theatrical performance were The Killers on the main stage and on the other hand the deep-house queen Nora En Pure was simultaneously closing out the Pavilion stage. With her set from start to end, she played unadulterated bangers with the perfect chill but intense vibe she's known to bring.
While the killers played most of their hits, the highlight was when they called a youngster from the audience on to join them and play the drums on "For Reasons Unknown," of course he kept the sticks he played with for the sake of posterity. They hit their sound curfew but things didn't end before they finished off with "Mr. Brightside" with all the swagger and dramatic flair their frontman Flowers had to offer.
When you think of Panorama, The LAB has become synonymous with it! A space at the festival where art meets technology and music, which all comes together seamlessly and to perfection! Meticulously designed and curated by META, outdoing themselves year on year, the LAB powered by HP has become a staple to the festival. With a change in scene, this years theme Fractal Nature, focused on sustainability. While Flatlands, the 360-degree immersive experience which debuted at Coachella made an appearance here too, the stunning visuals were perfectly complemented by soundscapes by St. Vincent and ODESZA who partnered with HP on what followed. The other installations this year included Kate Raudenbush's "As Above, So Below", The Windmill Factory's "Pixel Vortex", "Infinite Wild" by Smooth Technology and "HyperSubtle" by Superbright.
In addition to this, another major feature of the festival was the American Express space. Designed to give you all the beach vibes, the tastefully designed space had two sections, one which was open to the public to win Amex goodies and create for stunning photo ops, and another top deck exclusively for their card members. While the top deck had a tastefully done lounge setting, it also featured a fully stocked bar to avoid those lines and stunning top views of the main stage!
Moving on to another important aspect, the Food and Beverages! Panorama is known to curate detailed and extensive options when it comes to this. From festival favorites such as Roberta’s Pizza and Eggloo, to new-to-Panorama concepts like Avocaderia and Two Guys Chicken & Fries, amongst a ton more took for the Randalls Island fields for the festival. With no dearth of bars along the festival site, there were also dedicated activation spaces and bars by the likes of Hendricks Gin, Glenfiddich and Barefoot Wines. With a dedicated shaded area, The Grove, it was another sucessful and delectable year for the food and beverage offerings at Panorama.
There was never a dull moment at Panorama. There was SO much happening thanks to interactive and well-curated brand activations, that no matter what part of the festival you were at, it was happening! Whether it may then be the space by JBL where attendees could try and see products but also win some or the Sephora tent which pretty much always saw serpentine ques.
All in all, despite the weather gods not being on their side all weekend, Panorama 2018 had more hits then misses and we're looking forward to Golenvoice ironing out the flaws for the next edition and coming back with a bang for Panorama 2019! Here's to sunny skies and firmer grounds (sinking into muck two days straight really wasn't fun! No, seriously) for the coming year!