Panorama 2017 was home to numerous milestones this year, including a farewell from A Tribe Called Quest and the return of Frank Ocean. The three-day festival on New York’s Randall’s Island hosted thousands of attendees for its sophomore year. The Untitled Magazine’s Madison Bloom hit Panorama’s three stages for a weekend full with music.
Many thought Panorama’s opening night was its best, and it’s hard to argue with that. Baltimore’s Future Islands put on a wildly energetic show early in the evening. Lead singer Sam Herring – who admitted to being a bit hung over – was dripping in sweat by song two as he leaped across every inch of the stage. One of the most dynamic contemporary performers, Herring has the voice of a rock legend and the dance moves of a one-man boy band.
Across the lawn, Odd Future alum Tyler, The Creator took to the Pavilion and unleashed some new material in front of an over-sized sunflower patch. Tyler was all about the flowers on Friday – no doubt to match the theme of his latest LP Flower Boy. He strutted around in floral jeans and went shirt-optional for much of the set. No one minded.
Solange transformed the Panorama stage with red and white geometric forms resembling a minimalist temple later that night. Her band mates and backup singers danced in synchronized steps wearing head-to-toe red ensembles. Highlights of the performance included Solange’s many hair flips and the 20-piece horn section that accompanied her during a searing rendition of “F.U.B.U.”
No performer was more anticipated at Panorama than Frank Ocean, whose Friday night headlining spot marked his first North American gig in over four years. Ocean’s entrance was fit for a returning king as he surprised the crowd by playing from a video tower rather than the stage. With a disco ball above his head and screaming fans at his feet, it was a worthy homecoming.
Saturday’s highlights included a knockout set from Chicago rapper Noname and her smooth, jazz-savvy band. Noname’s Fatimah Warner was in peak form, spitting lightning fast raps atop soulful funk riffs. Warner nearly ended her set early when she misheard a stage manager as saying, “Two minutes left!” Lucky for us, he actually said twenty minutes.
New York power duo Sofi Tukker played The Parlor to an excited crowd. Their eclectic blend of EDM and Bossa Nova rumbled the tent with heavy bass and got everyone dancing under the glittering disco balls.
Long Beach native Vince Staples was the unexpected powerhouse of Saturday’s main stage lineup. Staples rapped with full-bodied force across the hot orange backdrop, pulling no punches and rarely speaking between tracks. His delivery was almost surgical with its precision and sharpness.
Nothing was more memorable on Sunday than Q-Tip’s big announcement: this would be the last ever A Tribe Called Quest gig in NYC. The Queens natives paid tribute to ATCQ’s founding member Phife Dawg (who passed in March of 2016) with images of the late rapper as well as his pre-recorded vocal tracks. The homage was intensely emotional for the tearful Tribe crew, but also for Phife Dawg’s parents, who were backstage enjoying the show. They will be missed, but certainly not forgotten.