Coachella creators, Goldenvoice, set their eyes on New York City on the final weekend of July. After underselling last year, the second annual Panorama Music Festival returned with a strong comeback. The 2017 lineup included sets from Frank Ocean, Solange, Tame Impala, Kaytranada, MGMT, and Nine Inch Nails. The three-day festival was held on Randall’s Island. It included stunning art instillations and activities. Roughly 50,000 people came to the four stage event as opposed to Governor’s Ball’s 150,000 people, making it feel less crowded and more intimate. This Coachella-sponsored event even attracted celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and her squad during several sets. However, the festival’s sound quality and visuals were notably spectacular and allowed festivalgoers in any spot to bask in high quality acoustics.
One of the first acts to kick off Panorama was HONNE, the English R&B duo James Hatcher and Andy Clutterbuck. The masters of modern day slow jams have been on a world tour to promote their first album Warm on a Cold Night. On a sunny afternoon on Randall’s Island, the musicians discussed future music ventures, their obsession with Japanese aesthetics, and their new found friendship with Rites of Spring performer Amine. The pair met in college while James studied guitar and Andy focused on music business. Bonding over their love of old and new soul artists like Quincy Jones and Chance the Rapper, the duo set out to bring new romance to soul music.
Before Panorama, the band traveled to Indonesia, Spain, and Seoul; yet their creative process did not slowed. James said, “I feel like we’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop and rap, not that I’m going to start rapping. Perhaps production-wise, songs will be a bit more beat-oriented.”
HONNE draws much of their visual aesthetics from Japanese culture. Clutterbuck claimed the influence stemmed from admiration, “It’s just really an obsession. As an extension of that, I’ve been to Japan a couple of times before we even started this project. And just loved it. And the name ‘HONNE’ is actually the Japanese word for ‘true feeling.’”
Frank Ocean’s spot in the Panorama lineup was enough to make people go wild. Ocean’s show was an ornate production spearheaded by legendary director Spike Jonze. The strategically placed speakers around the crowd created an all-encompassing soundscape. The runway stretching into the audience allowed Ocean to be more creative and immersive in his movements. He sported bright blue hair, headphones, and a shirt reading, “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet?” Jonze used both lo-fi blue lensed video and ultra-HD cameras to create a soft, hypnotic image of Ocean. Overall, the set was passionate but not overwhelming, meaningful but not blaze, gentle and raw.
The Australian psychedelic rockers attracted a different crowd to Randall’s Island on Saturday night. Tame Impala went into the set with the mission of creating a mood. They intentionally smoked out the set, becoming sleek silhouettes in front of changing backgrounds and vibrant lasers. With jams like “Elephant” and “The Less I Know the Better” blasting, the band had the audience entranced throughout the show.
Solange won many people over with her sunset performance. She and her band matched the sun in all red outfits as they took the stage. Her sharp, synchronized dancing engaged the entire crowd. Solange’s set was comprised of mostly songs from her most recent album A Seat at the Table, but also included tracks off of Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, and True. She even treated the audience to a nostalgic acapella rendition of The Proud Family theme song.
One of Panorama’s best features was the amount of interactive art there. Inside “The Lab”, which was sponsored by HP, most of the instillations were interactive and exclusively created by New York based artists like Dirt Empire and VolvoxLabs. The instillations ranged from a big room of mirrors to a 4D experience with a 360-degree theater screen, immersing the festivalgoers in a world of fantasy and complete distortion.
HP and Toyota Tents
Panorama’s sponsors all stepped up their game this year. Toyota’s tent offered a beat-making machine inside a C-HR car, a free apothecary session, and a music video maker. Close by, the HP Lounge hosted several DJs that took turns spinning inside a mini club. Inside, festivalgoers lounged on plush white couches and projected a laser show with HP tablet computers. There was also a customized bandana-making station and a Kinetic Art station.
Look out for the lineup release for Panorama Music Festival 2018 in early January.