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Panorama 2016 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

on July 26, 2016, 12:00am
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After three straight days with temperatures flirting around 100° F, LCD Soundsystem gave their sweaty fans at Panorama music festival the chance to dance themselves clean.

Five years ago, long before James Murphy and co. returned for their current reunion at Webster Hall earlier this year, LCD famously said goodbye at Madison Square Garden — few ever thought they’d return. As such, LCD were an undeniably big get for Goldenvoice’s inaugural festival, especially given the heated competition, namely the long-running Governors Ball, which was also held at Randall’s Island last month.

Nina Corcoran, Crowd 02

Unlike its counterpart, however, Panorama avoided any rain that could threaten a festival weekend. Instead, the event was blessed with three beautiful, albeit scorching, summer days. Such unforgiving heat only drove crowds toward the Despacio and The Lab installations, where much-needed A/C cooled down attendees while they were entertained by the interactive exhibits. The domed, planetarium-style section of The Lab was especially great for gazing up at trippy visuals.

The shaded Pavilion Stage and enclosed Parlor Stage also gave a slight respite from the unrelenting sun. But the latter spot also provided significant logistical challenges. At the Parlor Stage, the floor space for DJ sets quickly reached capacity for popular artists like Kaytranada and Tokimonsta. When this happened, the general admission line to get in the door snaked all the way to the festival’s main throughway.

Nina Corcoran, Crowd 01

Save for this stage, though, foot traffic wasn’t too much of a problem, even later in the evenings. It’ll be interesting to learn more about Panorama’s attendance, but at a glance, the grounds appeared much less crowded than at GovBall. Decent spots flanking the main stage were available for the headliners right up until their sets started. While probably not good for business, this proved ideal for navigating the crowds in the heat and helped reduce lines for food and the upscale bathrooms. Conversely, the smaller audiences didn’t have the imposing feel of massive festival scenes you’re accustomed to seeing when headliners take the stage at the biggest fests.

Regardless, Panorama’s first year was filled with memorable performances. Arcade Fire joined forces with the  Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a moving tribute to David BowieAnderson .Paak proved why he’s one of the most exciting rising acts. Kendrick Lamar and The Julie Ruin gave fiercely political performances. And of course, LCD Soundsystem threw a joyous dance party for all their friends.

So, cool off and relive the top moments of Panorama — sans any sunscreen. You welcome.

–Killian Young
Social Media Manager

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Schoolboy Q

ScHoolboy Q - Killian Young (12)

Photo by Killian Young

“This is the most turned down show I’ve ever done in New York,” ScHoolboy Q told the crowd before he walked off stage, calling it quits. The packed (and slightly insulted) pavilion then notably thinned out, either due to disappointment or the fact that Arcade Fire’s set was beginning soon. Before diving into “THat Part” Q told the audience he couldn’t read them and was, “Trying to figure out what the fuck y’all wanna hear.” He later threatened to grab a mic stand and stand still (not like he was moving around much anyway, which he blamed on the audience’s lack of enthusiasm), and even tweeted after his set that “Dat sHit was Hella weak I literally stood still and performed.” Lyrically at least, Q was raw and dirty as he spat rhymes that hit hard, but as for his stage presence and overall performance, he failed to deliver and didn’t seem to mind. —Lyndsey Havens
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Madlib

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

Madlib hit the DJ booth in front of a handful of projections that acted as homages to acts as diverse as Sun Ra, Public Enemy, and King Crimson. He then proceeded to spin a low-key DJ set that didn’t really get most of the crowd going. Perhaps more suited as a headphone mix, his crowd was still very tame nearly an hour and a half into his set despite dropping familiar tunes like Madlib’s “Figaro” and paying plenty of tributes to J Dilla. Madlib is a genius, but perhaps his DJ sets aren’t the most festival friendly. By the end, the cheers were more for the sampling genius Madlib displays on his albums and less for the set he just spun. —Edward Dunbar
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Algiers

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Photo by Killian Young

This post-apocalyptic and culturally aware quartet (as illustrated through the various PSAs sprinkled into the set that stated things like: “The American mainstream is obsessed with black creativity, but ignores black misery”) delivered a roller coaster of a performance. The relatively new band (their self-titled debut only dropped in 2015) performed much like a toddler or new puppy acts, with bursts of high energy followed by waves of pure exhaustion. The Atlanta outfit’s sound is that of garage rock fused with moments of sweet and soothing soul, best heard on “Remains”. But the members’ desire (primarily frontman Franklin James Fisher’s) to go down several sonic paths at once resulted in more of a collision than cohesive journey. Algiers could be headed somewhere, eventually — if only they find some direction. —Lyndsey Havens

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White Lung

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

“Thank you for coming to our matinee rehearsal,” White Lung frontwoman Mish Barber-Way joked to the underwhelming early arrivals. The band then set off full speed ahead — the only pace they know — into their raging set. The Canadian punk rockers delivered the lethargic crowd just what it needed for the third and final day of the fest, a straight shot of angry adrenaline. They performed a series of songs all of which featured Barber-Way’s primal screams, making it clear you wouldn’t want to piss her off. And even though she stated, “I have a good attitude because I’m a nice Canadian girl,” her presence and songs prove otherwise as she sang of a “rich little bitch who fell in love with a garbage man,” and other unrelatable occurrences, resulting in a set that never quite clicked. —Lyndsey Havens
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Daughter

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Photo by Killian Young

Daughter’s mid-tempo set acted as a nice respite from the sun though it didn’t seem to really lift everyone’s spirits. Unsurprisingly, The Julie Ruin’s riot was a tough act to follow, and Daughter’s songs somewhat wilted in the 96 degree heat. That isn’t to say they didn’t put up a good fight, it’s just that their oft-subdued swirl of sound doesn’t always work in a festival environment. When you’ve been sweating under the boiling hot sun the entire day, sometimes you need something a little more direct for strength. In an indoor venue, Daughter would surely put on a fantastic show, but it’s just a little too sleepy for an afternoon festival set. —Edward Dunbar

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Silversun Pickups

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

“This song is fucked up,” Silversun Pickups vocalist Brian Aubert forewarned before leading the band into “Friendly Fires” for their late afternoon set. Though, the only thing about the song that seemed to differ from the rest was that it saw the band at their best in terms of execution and energy. Early into the set, Aubert’s high-pitched (and, at times, off-key) vocals were drowned out in fuzzy distortion, an effect that only worked to the band’s advantage for the hit and closing song “Lazy Eye”. There they finally let loose — bassist Nikki Monninger even shook out her curls — just in time for their set to end, but the band’s faithful fan base paid no mind and seemed to enjoy it all the same. —Lyndsey Havens

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Mike D

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Photo by Killian Young

Unlike Madlib and DJ Harvey’s crate-digging sets, Mike D seemed to go a different route: big hits right in your face. It wasn’t for everyone — he had what was easily the smallest crowd out of the three sets I saw in the Parlor on Friday — but there’s nothing wrong with throwing on some classic hip-hop especially when you’ve helped contribute so many classic songs yourself. He dropped tons of Beastie Boys tracks, including a remix of “So What’cha Want” with MIA’s “Paper Planes”. It wasn’t the most original DJ set, but it’s always a good time hearing Dre’s “The Next Episode” on some nice, loud speakers. After understandably stepping away from music for a few years, it’s good to have a Beastie back in some capacity. —Edward Dunbar

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Kurt Vile & the Violators

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

Kurt Vile has established himself as a guitar virtuoso, and his talents were on full display during his late Sunday set as he continuously swapped out instruments, from electric and acoustic guitars to even a banjo at one point. Halfway through, Vile introduced himself and the band —“I’m Kurt Vile and these are my violators” — though the mild-mannered bunch didn’t seem capable of violating much. The band performed as if they were in a garage rather than a main festival stage, keeping somewhat stationary and largely to themselves. And though the set slugged on, lulling some into a daze, tracks such as “Freak Train”, “I’m an Outlaw”, and last year’s hit “Pretty Pimpin” surged on with overwhelming instrumentation. Before the set came to a close, Vile revealed a softer side of himself with the acoustic track “Stand Inside”, which he performed solo with an elegance and purity previously unheard. —Lyndsey Havens

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Kaytranada

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Photo by Killian Young

Kaytranada’s set was fun … when I could eventually get in. The 1100 capacity Parlor, which was relatively empty on Friday, was absolutely packed with lines for both general admission and VIP, stretching far out into the festival. Though it did seem like a relatively consistent stream of festivalgoers were being let it in, it took some a good 30 to 40 minutes to enter the sweaty Parlor tent. After all that wait, it was disappointing to see that it was just a glorified DJ set. Perhaps it was wrong to expect a live band set up in such a small area, but after hearing Anderson .Paak and his backing band gloriously bring “Glowed Up” to life, a DJ set just seemed less than ideal. That being said, it was a solid DJ set that the capacity crowd ate up. You can’t fault him for giving people a good time, but it’s nice to daydream about a day when he’ll be ready to take his live show to the next level. —Edward Dunbar

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Holy Ghost!

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

“This is the part you call charming,” singer Nick Millhiser said at the start of Holy Ghost!’s set. The local synthpop act were the last to perform at the Parlor stage and they kicked it off with a literal — and insanely loud — bang. The duo’s touring synth player looked down in horror as his instrument lost power, crackling a few additional times for good measure before disconnecting, prompting him to wave his arms in the air until the rest of the band realized what happened. Though the stop and start nature of their set broke the hype building up to them taking the stage, Holy Ghost! performed the rest of their material with enough subdued energy and crystalline pop to win everyone over. The crowd kept their feet moving to an otherwise hit-filled set, and newer cuts from this year’s Crime Cutz EP were greeted with ear-to-ear grins. Who said a false start had to ruin the race? –Nina Corcoran

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DJ Harvey

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Photo by Killian Young

Some people got in a few laughs by confusing DJ Harvey with PJ Harvey when Panorama’s lineup was initially announced, but while DJ may not have the same draw as PJ, he certainly is just as much of a legend. Despite playing to a noticeably smaller (and still far from capacity) crowd compared to Madlib, DJ immediately got the party started with his carefully curated collection of classic and forgotten disco, garage, and house, one that lasted for an hour and 45 minutes. Out of any of the DJs on Friday, DJ Harvey was perhaps the closest The Parlor came to matching Despacio in terms of crowd-pleasing jams for a discerning audience. —Edward Dunbar

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The Black Madonna

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Photo by Killian Young

The Black Madonna provided a delicious taste of what pre-commercialized dance music is by delivering a cohesive and fluid set that took the crowd on a sonic journey. She started the midday dance party with a mix of soulful crooning as a man stated, “We need some inspiration.” The earworm of a set then entered into a funk phase that incorporated instrumental elements into the mix, which surprisingly sounded quite organic. Following a third section of trance/dance music that highlighted the notion that the devil is in the details, the Black Madonna circled back to soul, bringing the set to a satisfying completion. —Lyndsey Havens

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Flatbush Zombies

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Photo by Flatbush Zombies

Rap doesn’t have to be taken seriously, but it does have to be heard from start to finish. Straight out of Brooklyn section Flatbush, the ever-goofy trio Flatbush Zombies owned the main stage like they were stepping out to a 10 p.m. crowd. Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick “The Architect” Elliott sprinted out, each manning a raised platform. They’re not an act that walks from one side of the stage to the other. Instead, they climb into the audience, run down the aisle, and leap across platforms like a game of Frogger. Since their vocal affectations cater to totally different types of listeners, audience members connected with one of the three moreso than the rest — and that’s not a bad thing. Flatbush Zombies’ set was filled with reefer humor and ’90s throwbacks, giving onlookers plenty to chew on between laughs. —Nina Corcoran

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FKA Twigs

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

The enigmatic radiance of FKA Twigs, better known as Tahliah Debrett Barnett, was on full blast during her visually and sonically stunning set. The theatrics she incorporated into her performance made it just that — a performance in the truest sense of the word. Her set included a contortionist and highlighted an underlying storyline of tribalism and sorcery as she and her dancers all desired and fought for a precious stone. FKA Twigs’ exotic image pairs well with her enchanting and ethereal vocals that seem high enough to reach the heavens above, and while the set mostly pulled from her debut LP, LP1, she made sure to perform her latest effort “Radiant Me²”, which she debuted live earlier this month. —Lyndsey Havens

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Sia

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After years of not performing, Sia has managed to turn her crippling stage fright into a moneymaking gimmick. Sia and co. entered the stage veiled by a somewhat sheer black curtain, which wasn’t removed until all was perfectly in place. From that moment on, the set carried on with razor sharp precision — each note, movement, and facial expression had been carefully calculated and choreographed with little to no room for error. While Sia’s impeccable and unmatched vocal range was well on display, it literally and figuratively took a back seat to the interpretive theatrics and dancing (courtesy of Maddie Ziegler, of course) that aimed to keep the crowd entertained. Sia ran through her recent hits such as “Alive”, “Cheap Thrills”, and “Elastic Heart” while also throwing in Rihanna’s track “Diamonds”, which Sia wrote but reclaimed as her own here. Further into the set, she sang the song that launched her career, “Breathe Me”, which momentarily brought back the delicate and vulnerable singer/songwriter that has since been overshadowed by the pop powerhouse she has grown into nowadays. —Lyndsey Havens

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Alabama Shakes

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

As the sun set over Panorama’s gigantic mainstage, Alabama Shakes’ laid back and soulful music lazily wafted out over a huge sunburnt crowd. It’s perfect early evening music for a hot summer day and every touch of fresh air made a difference after a sweaty afternoon. Brittany Howard is a captivating frontwoman with her impassioned pleas often at odds with the Shakes’ otherwise relaxed groove. “It’s been awhile since we’ve played here, so to see all of you out here … it’s not lost on us,” Howard proclaimed before launching into the stunning, “Don’t Wanna Fight”. After the overblown and hollow bombast of Major Lazer’s set, Alabama Shakes’ soulful and swooning throwback jams were just what Panorama needed before a very emotional Arcade Fire performance. —Edward Dunbar

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AlunaGeorge

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

British electronic duo AlunaGeorge have come a long ways since their last festival set on Randall’s Island a couple of years ago. Aluna Francis has always been an enthusiastic frontwoman, but now she is absolutely enthralling as she confidently made her way across the stage in front of a packed crowd. With The Parlor’s sound loud and bumping, the duo was given an extra kick thanks to their touring drummer. AlunaGeorge’s music is a wonderful, danceable thrill live, but Francis made a point to speak out to the crowd. “There’s one thing that people black and white, men and women, have in common”, she proclaimed. “When we fight, someone else profits.” Dance music has always been built on unifying people and on Saturday night, the Parlor was one nation under AlunaGeorge’s groove. —Edward Dunbar

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Blood Orange

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

The stark difference between Blood Orange‘s new and old material speaks volumes to his versatility as an artist. On Saturday, Dev Hynes delivered a balanced set that fused favorites from his past with heavier material off his latest album, Freetown Sound. Hynes seemed more comfortable with the hits, as his voice sounded pitchy and even nasally at other points throughout the set. Still, the performance proved larger than just the singer’s voice, with highlights including a spoken-word introduction and the band’s one-man horn section. Hynes even shredded away with an impressive guitar solo during the groovy slow jam “Juicy 1-4”, a feat that really helped the track come alive. In spite of everything going on, what took a front seat in this performance was Hynes’ passion and unwavering conviction in himself, his message, and his music. —Lyndsey Havens

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Ex Hex

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

Mary Timony totally shreds. Literally every song in Ex Hex’s set is marked by a kick-ass Timony guitar solo, and the crowd wouldn’t have it any other way. While their one and only album Rips came out nearly two years ago, songs like “Don’t Wanna Lose” and “New Kid” still crackle with punk enthusiasm. The power trio (which also consists of bassist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura Harris) may be from DC, but they are undeniably influenced by NYC legend Johnny Thunders and his brand of high-energy rock and roll. Despite their early afternoon slot on the very sunny main stage, the group still pulled a respectable crowd and won over any doubters with their instrumental prowess and catchy songs. It was a fantastic way to kick off Panorama’s Saturday. —Edward Dunbar

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Sufjan Stevens

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

Sufjan Stevens transformed the Pavilion stage into a colorful wonderland of his own creation, complete with neon, tinsel, balloons, and a disco ball. Stevens and his band looked as though they had just left a rave and were on their way to entertain at a children’s party — fitting, considering Stevens himself seems to embody the spirit of a young boy in the form of a man (granted, a man who became a life-size disco ball at one point). As for the music, each song Stevens performed intensified until it burst into a sonic eruption, sending a rippling shockwave through the audience. Messages of hope, healing, and unity are inherent in songs such as the 25-minute epic “Impossible Soul”, which had the packed pavilion chanting, “We can do so much more together,” a concept Stevens has built his career around. And though the fanfare felt out of place during his softer moments, the juxtaposition enabled his set to stand out among the rest. —Lyndsey Havens

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A$AP Rocky

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Photo by Killian Young

Though only A$AP Rocky was listed on the Panorama lineup, he brought out the whole damn A$AP Mob to help elevate his set. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Rocky also literally performed on an elevated platform at times. With more than 10 people running around the stage, the set managed to find that sweet spot between structure and chaos, proving this mob draws power in numbers. Rocky did have one moment alone for the vocoder-heavy track “L$D”, which saw the rapper bathed in bright lights and surrounded by thick fog. From there, he was rejoined by the mob to finish off the set, demanding that fans form a large mosh pit before jumping into closing number “Yamborghini High”. Prior to the madness, Rocky took a few moments to comment on the beautifully diverse crowd before declaring, “A$AP is for the people.” Considering how many artists shared his stage, A$AP’s set was by the people, too. —Lyndsey Havens

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The National

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Photo by Killian Young

At this point in The National‘s stable and successful career, the band operates as a well-oiled machine. Led by the long-haired Matt Berninger, the seven-piece churned out a smooth-sailing set that spanned their full discography and featured two new tracks in the form of “Day I Die” and “Can’t You Find a Way”. As the band swapped out instruments, Berninger swapped out drinks, all the while pacing back and forth like a lion in a cage, biding his time until the start of the next song.

At various points throughout the set he dropped down to his knees, pushed over a speaker, and passionately screamed into the mic as if it were a pillow. Berninger made sure to release any and all pent-up emotion, and while his voice did show some wear at moments (possibly from the screaming), it didn’t distract from an otherwise dense and dynamic performance. —Lyndsey Havens

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Nathaniel Rateliff

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Photo by Killian Young

“Prepare to have your asses blown off and your faces melted,” a sports-like announcer declared as the Night Sweats took the stage. While the six-piece band got things going, Nathaniel Rateliff entered shortly thereafter, showing off some fancy footwork to boot. The soulful jam fest then commenced and didn’t stop until the clock ran out. The band, having only one record to perform as of yet, took advantage of the live setting to expand the instrumentals and allow more room for their songs to breath. Each of the “old” songs received a vibrant revamp, and Rateliff even performed two new tracks that stirred up hope for a forthcoming sophomore album. —Lyndsey Havens

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Run the Jewels

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

Run the Jewels rappers Killer Mike and El-P epitomize the term “dynamic duo.” The two complete each other, and though they’re hip-hop artists first and foremost, they sure could moonlight as a comedy duo. The hijinks started when Killer Mike shouted out the “savages” in the first 10 rows, which he dubbed the “no-deodorant section.” El-P was quick to fire back, saying, “I thought that was up here.” Humorous banter aside, the two delivered an enthralling set with tracks delivered at a heart-pounding pace. The set wouldn’t have been complete without at least one Bernie Sanders shoutout from avid supporter Killer Mike, which in turn ignited a “Fuck Trump” chant — just one of many from the weekend. —Lyndsey Havens

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Kendrick Lamar

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Photo by Killian Young

“We gonna have a long one tonight,” Kendrick Lamar declared, though he later decided to end his set early. Considering Lamar now has two recent critically acclaimed albums under his belt, the premature finale felt like a cheap shot. Less than two hours prior, the rapper kicked off his fiery set with a track from his untitled unmastered. album, a power move proving that his demos hit just as hard as his more polished material. While the setlist leaned heavily on older hits — “A.D.H.D.” closed out the night — a handful of To Pimp a Butterfly tracks served as a testament to how far King Kendrick has come.

Throughout the set, video clips of George W. Bush tripping over a curb and Barack Obama dancing on Ellen played out on the large monitors, both mocking and praising the intersection of politics and popular culture. Lamar later told the rowdy crowd, “As long as you have me, you’ll have a voice.” Before closing out the night, he spoke humbly to his “day ones,” stating, “Our dreams are still with us,” as if his haven’t already been realized. —Lyndsey Havens

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Anderson .Paak

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Photo by Killian Young

Did anyone else know Anderson .Paak is not only an absolutely kick-ass drummer, but also his own live drummer? At least for a good portion of his set, the Malibu rapper managed to hype up the crowd by absolutely smashing it on the kit. In fact, his groovy West Coast vibes played to probably the biggest crowd of the day. .Paak took the stage with a rush of energy that didn’t let up throughout his entire set. When he wasn’t drumming, he was bouncing around, and his backing band injected his songs with just the right blend of rock and funk. It was an incredibly polished show that upped the already abundant energy found in his first two albums. He even ran through a fantastic version of “Glowed Up”, his collab with Kaytranada. Ever the charismatic frontman, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him headlining a fest like this after a few more albums. The potential is there. —Edward Dunbar

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LCD Soundsystem

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

Five years ago, James Murphy and co. bid farewell to the world at Madison Square Garden. As the final headlining Panorama performer in their native New York City, the reunited LCD Soundsystem brought everything full circle with a career-spanning set. As the giant disco ball slowly lowered on the stage for “Us v Them”, the dance party officially began.

The early rounds of the festival circuit have primed the group to play as a well-oiled machine: They took the stage on time and fit their set precisely into their nearly two-hour allotment. And their sound remains impressively true to their expansive recordings, but it’s even more thrilling to hear the members’ individual elements coalesce live. On “Yeah”, Murphy, drummer Pat Mahoney, and multi-instrumentalist Al Doyle all raised drumsticks together before crashing down in unison. For “Someone Great”, Murphy introduced a triumphant horn section as he sang with heavily distorted vocals. And the crowd erupted in movement at the climax of “Dance Yrself Clean”.

If you checked out the setlist that LCD Soundsystem has been bringing to fests, you may have noticed that the songs played were almost identical to those played at other gigs this summer. Regardless, the crowd went wild for all the landmarks Murphy name-drops in “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”. The one wrinkle was that the group honored the memory of Alan Vega with their cover of “Bye Bye Bayou”. Its positioning after “Dance Yrself Clean” led to a bit of an energy comedown, but LCD Soundsystem electrified the crowd once more with the urgent keyboard notes of “All My Friends”. As the song drew to its climax, the audience bounced to Murphy’s croon one more time, and his words rang true (especially with the group’s recent history): “You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan/ And the next five years trying to be with your friends again.” —Killian Young

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Broken Social Scene

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

Is there a better opening combo than the one-two punch of “KC Accidental” and “7/4 (Shoreline)”? As the horde of musicians on stage powered through the two songs’ massive, grooving drums and arena-ready guitar riffs, the thick wall of sound they concocted was enough to knock back the entire front row. As members ran around on stage, alternating between a wide array of instruments, there was a palpable sense of gleeful abandon. You can tell that they’ve been itching to get back together for a while. Frontman Kevin Drew was as positive and uplifting as ever. “We only have a small amount of time,” he said, “so we’re gonna cram as many political songs in as possible. We know you have a tough election coming up, but we know you’ll make the right choice”.

After a triumphant return to New York at the Music Hall of Williamsburg the night before, Broken Social Scene ended up drawing a small but dedicated and age-diverse crowd for their set (seemingly the trend for most of Friday’s acts). Songs like “Fire Eye’d Boy” and “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” are always thrilling live, thanks in part to impassioned performances by Stars’ Amy Milan and Aurora’s Ariel Engle during the latter, but the set’s emotional core was found in its finale of “Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)”. As horns swelled and drums marched along, Barnes implored the crowd to scream as loud and as passionately as they could. “Let it all out after I count down for four … or eight, I haven’t made my mind yet” he joked before being absolutely drowned out. —Edward Dunbar

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The Julie Ruin

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Photo by Nina Corcoran

Kathleen Hanna is an astounding frontwoman. Even with Panorama’s packed lineup, she was the most legendary (and certainly the most punk) person to take the stage over the course of the entire weekend. She hopped around, flipped off the crowd, and completely smashed it up throughout The Julie Ruin‘s set. While the band grooved along to a kraut rockish beat, her half-sung, half-spoken delivery was reminiscent of John Lydon’s pissed-off rants in PiL and Lydia Lunch’s surreal vocal attacks. After thrilling versions of “Hit Reset” and “Be Nice”, Hanna brought out an even punkier version of Courtney Barnett’s “Pedestrian at Best” after quoting its chorus earlier in the set.

Hanna brought up a number of issues that a normal festival band might shy away from, including the Republican National Convention (“I’d like to trust everyone… I wish the world was like this festival! We can’t let Trump’s hateful rhetoric win.”), parental abuse (“I didn’t meet a cool dad until I was 30. I was wearing shorts and I was amazed that he didn’t look at my ass! If you have cool parents, please let your friends who don’t come over and experience it. It can change your view of the world.”), and, eventually, letting it all out (“We should be able to sing about fucked-up shit and we should be able to party and dance it all out!”). She brought the righteous anger that is desperately needed at a huge, corporate-sponsored festival like this. For the small early-day crowd that stayed for the end of their set, The Julie Ruin were an unquestionable highlight. —Edward Dunbar

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Arcade Fire

arcade fire killian young 1 Panorama 2016 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

Photo by Killian Young

Arcade Fire sets are always emotional roller coasters, with story arcs that run through neighborhoods and suburbs before bleeding into self-reflective states of mind. But Friday night’s set seemed particularly poignant. There were two emotional peaks during the band’s set. The first came after frontman Win Butler launched into a short rant against Donald Trump and the absolute mess that was the RNC. After losing himself in a string of “fuck you”s directed at Trump (which appropriately drew huge applause), he regained his composure and began to tell a story about wife and fellow Arcade Fire member Regine Chassagne’s father and his struggle to become an American citizen.

“Regine’s parents came to America to escape François Duvalier’s regime, and in order to become a citizen her father had to fight in Vietnam,” Butler told the crowd. “He fought in Vietnam with a passport. That says a lot about the empty, nationalistic rhetoric that is being thrown around a lot nowadays.” The band followed up the story with “Intervention” and “My Body is a Cage”; Arcade Fire’s songs always tug at the heartstrings, but those two hit particularly hard Friday night.

Nina Corcoran, Arcade Fire 13

Photo by Nina Corcoran

The second peak was teased early on during a victorious run-through of “Reflektor” and “Afterlife”, during which the video monitors displayed images of David Bowie in the many shapes, forms, and costumes of his career. Seemingly ending their tribute on that note, Arcade Fire ran through a cathartic set that got the crowd going absolutely wild for “No Cars Go”, “We Used to Wait”, and “Here Comes the Night Time”. Then, right before the inevitable conclusion of “Wake Up”, Butler again addressed Bowie. He admitted that, while Bowie may not have been from New York, he had left both an undeniable mark on the city and a gaping hole in the hearts of all of the weirdos, dreamers, and lovers that looked up to him. “We met him here in New York and it fucking hurts every single day,” admitted Butler before thanking Bowie for supporting Arcade Fire throughout their entire career.

“Wake Up” proved as cathartic as ever, especially with some help from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and an up-for-it crowd that roared along. Perhaps in an effort to reflect the same joyous spirit Bowie showed in his final days, the group grabbed acoustic guitars, megaphones, and drums and led their show into the crowd and to the gigantic cubic art installment prominently displaying the iconic Heroes album cover. Much like their steet parade in New Orleans, the band paid tribute to Bowie through acoustic covers of “Suffragette City”, “Rebel Rebel”, and “Heroes”, all the while leading the crowd around the main area of the festival before running into a secret backstage area. Those that stayed began to chant, “One more song!” No matter how many more songs they could have played, that chant would have never died down. —Edward Dunbar

Click ahead for an exclusive gallery from Panorama Music Festival 2016.
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Gallery

Photographers: Nina Corcoran, Killian Young

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