Panorama NYC 2016 Recap: Kendrick Rocks, ScHoolboy Flops & LCD Comes Home

Sia and Maddie Ziegler
Sia and Maddie Ziegler perform at Panorama Festival, Randall's Island, New York on Saturday, July 24, 2016 Fionna Agomuoh

Near the end of LCD Soundsystem’s set you could see raw emotion on frontman James Murphy’s face as he sang the first few lines of ‘New York, I Love You.’ The love letter to his hometown captures the relationship between NYC and LCD and Sunday night you could feel that connection and sentiment in front of thousands at the close of Panorama NYC.

The Panorama Music Festival didn’t have the crowds or the buzz the size of Governors Ball but its first step in NYC should be viewed as a success with a great lineup, good enough crowds, amazing production, decent vendors and an overall great fan experience. Despite the heat there were plenty of places to cool off (Despacio dance party, anyone?) along with misters and captivating technology installations.

Panorama NYC 2016 Recap: Best, And Worst, Sets of Inaugural Music Festival

ScHoolboy Q

ScHoolboy Q’s latest album, Blank Face, is awesome, but ScHoolboy Q’s performance at Panorama on Friday, not so much. He came out looking a little bit too sloppy and while he slayed each verse, it wasn’t the precision fans are used to from the seasoned rapper. There were highlights -- he came on stage to his 2014 hit, ‘Gangsta,’ and the crowd went wild for ‘Collard Greens’ and ‘Studio.’ Then he went on to perform a number of songs from Blank Face , but by the time his last song ended, the crowd had dispersed for Alabama Shakes. Q wasn’t feeling the vibe, and fans weren’t either. Frustrated, the Top Dawg rapper aimed a few distasteful remarks at the crowd and left stage a few minutes early.

Run the Jewels

Sunday, as the anticipation for LCD’s return to NYC started to energize the overheated crowd, Run the Jewels showcased one of the best sets the entire weekend. Promising to “burn this motherfucking stage to the ground,” Run the Jewels began its set with the raucous self-titled single from its debut album. As Killer Mike and El-P continued, RTJ filled Panorama NYC with hard-hitting songs like ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck),’ ‘Oh My Darling Don’t Cry’ and ‘Blockbuster Night, Pt. 1’ that kept the crowd jumping, moshing and even chanting “she want that dick in her mouth all day.”

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Run the Jewels played at the first Panorama NYC music festival. Photo: William Mansell

Sia

One of the larger crowds this weekend came courtesy of mysterious pop sensation Sia. While Sia hits like 'Diamonds' and 'Chandelier' were the perfect sing-a-longs as the sun began to fall over Randall's Island, her entire set felt like it was missing something. There wasn't much energy and it was noticeable in the crowd where the only noise was a smattering of applause at the conclusion of a song. The set was largely a live adaption of Sia's music videos. Almost shot-for-shot, dancers did most of the work while Sia stood in the background... and that was the problem. Sia and her music took a backseat to some nice but now well-worn choreography.

Sia
Sia performs at Panorama Festival, Randall's Island, New York on Sunday, July 24, 2016 Photo: Fionna Agomuoh

Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak was the talk of Saturday (aside from Kendrick, of course). With The Free Nationals behind him, .Paak was right in his comfort zone. However, that didn’t stop him from hopping on the drums for a funky duet with his bass player while singing effortlessly to ‘The Season/ Carry Me.’ With an overflowing crowd herding in for shade underneath The Pavilion, .Paak’s high energy performance wooed old and new fans, especially when the bass line on “Come Down” blasted through the speakers.

Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene hasn’t played many shows in recent years, following its tour of 2010’s Forgiveness Rock Record , but it seemed like it was hardly gone as Kevin Drew and Co. took the stage to live standout ‘KC Accidental’ at Panorama NYC last Friday. While the band didn’t play any new material from its upcoming album (though it did the night before at the Music Hall of Williamsburg), Broken Social Scene’s themes of love, heartache and coming together seemed all the more relevant with the 2016 election cycle. Performing in the Pavilion tent, Broken Social Scene’s ‘Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl,’ ‘Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)’ and ‘Sweetest Kill’ hopefully helped concertgoers forget the heat outside and maybe (just maybe) forget how contentious and depressing the summer has been.

LCD Soundsystem

The last time New York City saw LCD Soundsystem (let’s forget those small April warm-up shows) balloons fell from the Madison Square Garden rafters as ‘New York, I Love You’ and the existence of LCD came to close. It was supposed to be the end, a happy funeral for friends that was one gigantic farewell party. Fast-forward five years and LCD was once again performing for its hometown in front of thousands of spirited fans, eager to dance the night away. Opening with ‘Us V Them’ along with favorites like ‘Yeah’ and ‘Get Innocuous!’ LCD made sure its return lived up to the near-impossible hype. Pulling out rare songs like ‘Bye Bye Bayou’ (an Alan Vega cover) and ‘45:33 Part Four’ LCD Soundsystem's headlining set at Panorama felt like much more than just another date on LCD’s reunion festival circuit tour; it felt like a warm embrace between friends who hadn’t seen each other for far too long.

LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem performs at Panorama Festival, Randall's Island, New York on Sundat, July 224 2016 Photo: Fionna Agomuoh

Arcade Fire

Known as one of the best live bands in the world, Arcade Fire did little to dispel that notion Friday during its headlining set at Panorama NYC. Arcade played a tight set featuring multiple songs from each of its four albums including highlights like ‘Sprawl II,’ ‘Reflecktor,’ ‘Neighborhoods 3 (Power Out)’ and ‘No Cars Go.’ The standout, as with any Arcade Fire show, was the closing number ‘Wake Up,’ The generational anthem started a sing-a-long among the thousands in attendance. As the song came to a close on stage, the band was joined by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who then walked off the front of the stage and continued to play the hook of ‘Wake Up’ as Arcade walked through the crowd to end the night.

Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard is one of those rare rock stars that can instantly captivate a crowd the moment a show starts. Within a few notes sung and chords played on ‘Future People,’ Howard had the crowd’s undivided attention. Jamming through hits like ‘Gimme All Your Love,’ 'Always Alright' and 'Don't Wanna Fight,' Howard and her band delivered a near headline-worthy set during its mid-evening, all too brief time slot. By the time Alabama Shakes are back at Panorama, don’t be surprised to see them as the top name on the lineup poster.

Blood Orange

Blood Orange was chill and entertaining, but sonically underwhelming if you’re used to jamming to Dev Hynes with headphones plugged in your ears. He bounced around the stage and engaged the audience, but when it came down to it Freetown Sound just didn’t sound the same. There was a significant overlap with Anderson .Paak, which could have contributed to the crowd’s lack of enthusiasm. “It’s not fair if I’m dancing and you’re not,” Dev reminded fans. The climax of the performance was when Zuri Marley joined in for a compelling rendition of ‘Love Ya.’

Kendrick Lamar

Sending chills through the crowd, Kendrick Lamar shut it down Saturday night. Paying tribute to his NYC day ones, K-Dot played throwback after throwback before dipping into his Grammy-award winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly. Fans lost it for ‘A.D.H.D.’ all the way back from Section .80 in 2011.  Backed by live instrumentation, Kendrick flew through good kid, m.A.A.d city ’s ‘Swimming Pools,’ ‘M.A.A.D. city,’ ‘Money Trees’ and even ‘Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe’ without any hesitation, as if four years had not passed. He also treated fans to his own verse on ScHoolboy Q’s summer hit, ‘That Part,’ before starting a quiet  “We gon be alright” chant and finally giving into the crowd for his renowned record, ‘Alright.’

Other notable Panorama NYC performances included everyone’s favorite melodramatic rock band, The National, the always underbilled Foals, Kurt Vile and the Violators, Lindsey Stirling and (obviously) the one-of-a-kind Sufjan Stevens.

 

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