Frank Ocean, Solange Shine Bright at Panorama Festival Day One
Panorama Festival kicked off its second year in New York City this afternoon (July 28), with headliner Frank Ocean highlighting a day that included standout performances from Solange, Spoon, Honne, Vance Joy, Jamila Woods and more. Here's a quick recap of several highlights from day one of the three-day festival.
1:30 p.m. -- The fest is open, but the grounds are a sparse wasteland, since most kids are still queued up outside, waiting to get through security. For those inside, it feels like a small village is waiting outside Frank Ocean's standalone merch tent, hoping for the chance to cop custom tees that are being printed right in front of them. The line, at one point, would snake around to more than 100 people.
They're screen printing custom Frank Ocean shirts at Panorama.... and there's the line pic.twitter.com/Vgyc4NuL1W— chris payne (@cpayneonaplane) July 28, 2017
2:30 p.m. -- Soulful electronic duo Honne kicked off day one of the second-ever Panorama with high energy and a subtle sense of humor. "It's about to get sexy," said vocalist Andy Clutterbuck before delivering its signature synth-based R&B. The two later ran through hits "Someone That Loves You" and "Warm On a Cold Night," during which Clutterbuck jumped off stage and ran between both sides of fans encouraging a sing-off to close out the set.
2:45 p.m. -- "Do you wanna hear a new song?" Jamila Woods said towards the end of her set at the Parlor Stage (which would later get shut down prematurely when the floor broke during Isaiah Rashad's set). It was called "Giovani," -- or will be, perhaps -- and opened with a blistering low end and airy, reverberated guitar flourishes, before moving into full-band stops, which showcased both their cohesion and Woods' commanding voice. The band then locked in for the hook -- "There must be a reason," she cried -- before the new cut crescendoed into a bombastic, keyboard-led finale, with both Woods and her band oozing -- practically dripping -- confidence. She's a budding star in the making, with little doubt.
4:31 p.m. -- After the first four notes, everyone knew Vance Joy was playing a famous cover. It's the unmistakable intro of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," which he dutifully covers with his band. But that's not all; before the last chorus he mixes in a bit of OMI's "Cheerleader," which fits the vibe and rhythm quite nicely.
5:08 p.m. -- MØ begins an epic three-song sweep to close her set. First, she goads the audience to sing along to a stripped-down, guitar-only rendition of "Cold Water." After that, the tempo revs up for "Final Song," and finally, reaches a fever pitch with her Major Lazer collab "Lean On."
5:55 p.m. -- Spoon's performance appeared to be on auto play, as the seasoned alternative rockers delivered a solid -- though standard -- set. While the band's biggest hit, "The Underdog," came toward the end, the final few songs were mostly off of 2014's They Want My Soul -- before closing track "Rent I Pay" vocalist Britt Daniel requested, "Jim, can you please drum louder?" Following the song, as the band was walking off stage, Daniels delivered some cautionary parting advice to the crowd at the Pavilion tent: "Watch out for the police... All right, that's it."
7:14 p.m. -- You've known MGMT's "Kids" for years, but you haven't quite experienced it at peak psychedelia unless you watch them do it live; here, the indie kids stretch out the bridge into a near-five-minute electronic excursion before returning to the final chorus, only with added momentum when that now-iconic keyboard riff returns.
8:11 p.m. -- Ten minutes after her scheduled start time, Solange stepped on the main stage, which was bathed in vibrant red lighting, and started singing "Rise" over a light horn arrangement.
Throughout the performance, she and her backup vocalists and band -- all of whom were dressed in red to match the on-stage aura -- swayed to the music, creating a look of constant fluidity as they freely moved about the stage. They performed simple, yet in-sync, choreography that made the show look more or less like a hip, looser version of Soul Train at certain points.
While Solange's set should have aligned with the sunset, the cloudy skies prevented a proper one from view. But as the opening beat for "Cranes In The Sky" poured out of the speakers, the sun managed to peek out from behind the clouds for the first time all day to create a purple and orange cotton candy-like appearance -- and suddenly the world truly did become Solange's stage.
"F.U.B.U" turned into a lengthy epic during which the singer hopped off stage to sing directly into the camera while standing among the front row of fans. Towards its end, Solange turned conductor and led the impressively-large horn section through the song's explosive ending. From then on, the smooth R&B jams off A Seat At The Table took a backseat to her older, more danceable tracks like "T.O.N.Y." off her 2008 album Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams and "Losing You" off her 2012 EP True (she even tossed in a brief reprise of the Proud Family theme song before declaring, "Shout out to Penny Proud").
After walking off stage, Solange soon returned to deliver set closer "Don't Touch My Hair." During the song, her voice reach heavenly heights, her body rolling around on the ground -- and long before anyone was ready for it to happen, it was all over.
9:35: What else can be said about Frank Ocean? He was late, but he was there -- a relief for those who anxiously tracked the U.S. festival dates he'd canceled earlier this summer. He opened with "Solo," one of the signature cuts from last year's Blonde, and he did it in the middle of the crowd, on a small mini-stage that made his performance -- as emotional and tender as could be imagined -- even more intimate, if that was even possible. He largely stuck to tracks from that 2016 album, dipping at times into his more recent one-off cuts like "Chanel" and "Lens." Those who were looking for the Channel Orange blockbusters may have been slightly disappointed, but quite frankly, that's on them -- the set was phenomenal by any measure.