NEW YORK, NY — The first-ever day of Panorama Music Fest, otherwise referred to as Coachella East, kicked off at New York City's Randall's Island on Friday (July 23) and, boy was it an experience. With sets by Arcade Fire, DJ Khaled, ScHoolboy Q, FKA Twigs, Major Lazer, and Alabama Shakes helping concert-goers brave the steamy temps, day one of the Goldenvoice-presented festival was eclectic, eventful, and, well, an experience. Of course, REVOLT was on the ground and so below we chronicled some of the highlights.
Panorama 2016 continues Saturday (July 23) with performances from Anderson .Paak, Blood Orange, Sufjan Stevens, The National, Kendrick Lamar and more.
Major Lazer Warp the Minds (and Bodies)
Stage: Panorama Stage
"Right now I just want to see everybody dancing," Diplo bellowed on the mic just 10 minutes into Major Lazer's set. From there, not one arm stood idle, and for a quick second it seemed as though there was no feet planted on the ground around the Panorama stage as Diplo, Walshy Fire and Jillionaire, otherwise known as the international sensation Major Lazer, held court. Elbows, hands, hats, towels, shirts (and ass... ets) were all in the air as the heroes of vibrant peace (their recent album, Peace is the Mission, is available now) ushered in the party for the summer. It helped that the weather on the Island peaked at a sticky 93 degrees, because, as mentioned earlier, no one stood still as the sounds of "Lean On," "Night Riders," "Get Free," and "Lose Yourself" erupted on to festival grounds. Marrying the Caribbean vibes with EDM pulsation, the group set the tone for the festival by the time the clock struck 6:27 p.m. Talk about getting the party started? Surrounded by gyrating dancers, sparks of fire flame, and a crowd of partygoers, Diplo, Walshy and Jillionaire gave a performance that was a moving composite to one quintessential summer bash — all as the sun started descending behind the towering New York City skyscrapers.
FKA twigs hypnotizes the place
Stage: The Pavilion
As Diplo and Major Lazer was starting a party, on the other side of Randall's Island, FKA Twigs was busy swooning a packed crowd (by 7pm it was by far the biggest) with her sexy, celestial sounds. While there was more staring in awe than actual dancing like during the former's set, that didn't effect the gravitational pull between Twigs and the flock of attendees. A truly unique musician, at times this writer couldn't help but picture the singer as a dancing compliment to a queen bee, because just about every one else around the stage were her swarm. Wearing a thin top that was accounted by jewel-encrusted bra and bare midriff, Twigs used her soaring vocals and entire body to bring records like "Water Me," "Figure 8 / Video Girl," and "Glass & Patron" to life. Although there were downsides during her set, such as the mix of her soft voice over the thudding beats in songs like "Video Girl," which presented a difficult listening experience, still the whole of her performance art, because that's what it was, counted more than the sum of its parts. Sexual gyrations, boisterous dance moves and a voice powerful enough to crack glass, Twigs kept the crowd transfixed.
Alabama Shakes brings the electricity
Stage: Panorama Stage
As the sunset blanketed the festival ground, Alabama Shakes attracted much of Panorama's attendees with electricity. Singer Brittany Howard is a freaking force of nature. Her croons, mixed in with howls, boils up such excitement and energy that cannot be explained. With guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, and drummer Steve Johnson in tow, the said wails and howls enhanced the instrumentals leaving nothing but a clamor of applause around the stage throughout the hour-long set. Melding southern rock, '70s soul, blues, gospel and mostly notably the groove all in a pot, the band was a moving jukebox, pouring out a mixture of sounds that kept concert goers glued. "This next song means so much to me right now," said Howard at one point during the closing minutes. That song happened to be "Don't Wanna Fight." Enough said there. What a show.
ScHoolboy wants some more
Stage: The Pavilion
As first rap act of the evening, ScHoolboy Q turned the fest into a gangsta party. It helped that his most recent album, Blank Face LP, arrived over a week ago, because there were several gems to sift through. He played a few cuts from the new album ("By Any Means"), as a means of teasing the upcoming tour, but for the most part Q stuck with the hits. When "Hands on the Wheel" had the crowd lit, lit, lit, "Collard Greens" sent them into a tizzy, and "Blessed," a classic within his catalog, took them to rap church. But even while having the crowd in the palm of his hand, Q wanted more. "I'm tryna figure out what the fuck y'all wanna hear?," he asked. So, then came "THat Part". By the time the line "five year drug dealer" arrived, a mosh pit ensued and so did the crowd surfs. Still, with all that was going on in the rather packed-out space, Q wasnt feeling the energy. "This the most turned down NY show I've ever performed for," he said after receiving the loudest pop of the night for "Man of the Year." And like that, he was gone. But as a mixture of confusion and hope permeated from the crowd, the showman returned out of nowhere for "Hell of a Nite." In the words of Welven, Got eem!
"Why isn't DJ Khaled on the main stage?"
Stage: The Parlor
"Why isn't Khaled on the main stage?," "Why is he billed in a small ass tent?," "There's no oxygen, it's f—king horrendous," These are the many comments that were made as concert goers attempted to attend the filled-to-capacity space where DJ Khaled was billed to perform. With Lines wrapped around the Parlor Stage, there was no question that the hot ticket of the night (other than Arcade Fire) was Khaled's show. However, most of those hopeful attendees were left disappointed after the Snapchat King and We the Best Music mogul was billed inside a small space that could barely fit the many attempting to attend. Still, despite the horrible billing (he should have been on a bigger stage), DJ Khaled kept the show going. He brought out a few guests, including Tip, Remy Ma and Fat Joe.
Arcade Fire reflect ultra light beams and then some
The crowd were by the thousands. Everyone was either on the side, the front or on the lawn — all in direction toward the stage where Arcade Fire held court for the evening. To say the group shut things down, would be an understatement. Perhaps more fitting would be to say that they set the precedent. Performing their first U.S. show of 2016, Win Butler and company (including guests the Preservation Hall Jazz Band) staged an incredible show. They performed "The Suburbs," "Sprawl II," and "Reflektor." A huge highlight came when during their performance of "Heroes," a touching dedication to the late David Bowie. The group also covered "Suffragette City" and "Rebel Rebel" as a large screen projected an image of Bowie for all of Randall's Island.