The New York/Tri-State area has had some struggles with festivals in the past. Until Governors Ball, many organizers couldn’t come up with a balance that provided New Yorkers and their neighbors with great lineups and an experience close to the famed Coachella experience they’d heard about. When organizers of that Indio, CA festival announced Panorama NYC, many thought it would be the Coachella of the east coast. As we’ve seen this weekend, not quite.
It’s hard not to compare Panorama to Governors Ball, which took place a little over a month ago in the exact same location. Panorama was named after the main attraction in the Queens Museum, introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair. They weren’t able to hold the festival in Queens, so Randall’s Island was an appropriate substitute. As it’s in its first year, staff and organizers have a little more to learn about the location (July in New York is like standing on the surface of the sun) and how Coachella-fied this thing can realistically be. While impressive, the technology attractions served more as relief from the heat. The festival grounds felt crowded, not by people but by food stands and the large white tech structures.
The saving grace of Panorama’s first year is it’s incredibly stacked lineup. With only three stages (Panorama Stage, Pavilion, and Parlor), fans had to make some tough choices about who to see. Making matters more stressful, the Parlor stage is actually enclosed (and air conditioned), so it has a hard capacity. In our opinion, putting acts like DJ Khaled, AlunaGeorge, and Kaytranada in this very small space was a mistake. One of the best parts of a festival is walking by a stage, hearing something you like, and staying for the show. Constructed to give more a club vibe, Parlor stage definitely came through with that and was packed every time we walked by.
The first two days of Panorama boasted Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, Alabama Shakes, Blood Orange, Major Lazer, Foals, and many more. The best performance we’ve seen so far came from Sufjan Stevens on the Pavilion stage. Looking like an avenging angel with white wings, Stevens took us completely by surprise by swinging his banjo around his head by the strap then smashing it.
Check out photos from days 1 and 2 below.