The Best Performances at Panorama 2017

A Tribe Called Quest at Panorama 2017 © Amanda Suarez/Culture Trip
Picture of Ryan Kristobak
Music Editor
Updated: 4 August 2017
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Entering its second year, disaster struck New York City’s Panorama on day one.

During rapper Isaiah Rashad’s set, attendees got so rowdy inside the domed Parlor Stage that the floor at the front of the crowd collapsed. The stage was forced to shut down for the remainder of the day, cancelling performances from Cherry Glazerr, Breakbot, and DJ Shadow (Breakbot would be reschedule to Saturday evening).

However, this was far from enough to slow Panorama’s roll—The Parlor was back on Saturday, sans the wood flooring—and by Sunday’s conclusion, the young festival had strung together an impressive and diverse assortment of shows that ultimately edged out its summer predecessor, Governors Ball.

Check out our favorite sets from the late July weekend below.

Best in Show: Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean at Panorama 2017
© Doug Van Sant Photography/Courtesy Panorama Music Festival

Sure, we might have had our opinions on Frank Ocean’s 2016 release Blonde, but we aren’t exaggerating when we say that Ocean (and his and the festival’s team) put together the most incredible sounding performance at any festival we’ve ever attended, potentially ever. There’s so much we could say about Friday’s headlining gig, but we will just leave it at sound quality over everything.

Most Lit: Justice

Justice at Panorama 2017
© Amanda Suarez/Culture Trip

If you like Justice, and haven’t seen them live, make it happen. If you don’t care for Justice’s music, but enjoy a good light show, still make it happen. The French electronic duo’s light-up Marshall amp arsenal has grown in rank, and they aren’t even the most impressive part of their shape-shifting setup.

A special shout out to whoever designed their profile-focused table arrangement. Justice has ascended beyond French producer-DJ cool, and French producer-DJ cool is pretty damn cool.

The “Had to be There” Performance: Nicolas Jaar

Nicolas Jaar at Panorama 2017
© Amanda Suarez/Culture Trip

Is there such a thing as too much fog at a concert? We aren’t sure, but Nicolas Jaar certainly tested that limit.

It’s difficult to explain Jaar’s performance without giving in to cliches like “he created a world of his own” or “nothing else sounds like it,” but if you’re familiar with Jaar’s music, you know that the bass was heavy, the layers were neverending, and the outside world sounded muffled for the first 30 minutes after the set’s conclusion.

Best Crowd: A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest at Panorama 2017
Amanda Suarez / © Culture Trip

Even after Q-Tip announced that this would be the Queens’ hip-hop legends’ last performance in New York, hanging up their microphones in honor of late member Phife Dawg, there was nothing that could kill the crowd’s vibe. After almost 20 years of waiting for new music from A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service not only saw the collective in top form, but also provided one of the most timely bodies of music in the 21st century, and every bit of family and resistance that it preached was in full force for that hour on Randall’s Island.

Rookie of the Year: They

They at Panorama 2017
© Amanda Suarez/Culture Trip

Mind of a Genius R&B/hip-hop signee They lived up to and exceeded our hope, and it largely rests in their chemistry as a duo. Throughout their set, they sporadically circled each other, mimicking the moment before a mosh pit breaks out during a particularly brutal breakdown. They pushed each other back and forth across the stage, exchanging rap couplets, and had everyone emphatically chanting “Wolf pack” in between tracks like they’d just seen The Hangover for the first time. And to top it all off, they performed an Usher and Nirvana cover back to back.

Best Vibes: Tame Impala

Tame Impala at Panorama 2017
© Nikki Jahanforouz/Panorama Music Festival

Psychedelic wash visuals, lasers, and the master-craft of Kevin Parker. How could the crowd be anything short of bathing in satisfaction?

It’s a bit amazing to think back to 2010’s Innerspeaker and wonder at how that band became a mainstream darling and a festival headliner. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a spectacular album, but the evolution in sound to 2015’s Currents is a noticeable jump. The one that has remained consistent: Parker’s warmth, and sometimes that trumps all.

The Comedy Set: Vince Staples

Vince Staples at Panorama 2017
© Amanda Suarez/Culture Trip

To those unfamiliar with Vince Staples, the Long Beach, California rapper might have seemed like the performer least excited to be at Panorama. However, watch any of his interviews, or read through his spectacular Reddit AMA in promotion of his sophomore album, Big Fish Theory, and it will be clear that Staples is a soft-spoken, no frills kind of guy who doesn’t take things that shouldn’t be taken seriously, seriously.

“Now, for my magnum opus,” Staples droned, before turning his head to the side, mouth slightly ajar and eyes lazily attempting to roll back into his skull. Holding the pose for about 10 seconds, Staples finally relinquished to closer “Norf, Norf.” Perfection.

Most Adorable Performance: Pinegrove

Pinegrove at Panorama 2017
© Amanda Suarez/Culture Trip

Before diving into their final track on Saturday afternoon, Pinegrove frontman Evan Stephens Hall, speaking on their 2016 release Cardinal, earnestly encouraged the crowd, “This record is mostly about showing love to the people you know, but maybe what we need more now is to show love to the people we don’t.” Add in a sloth stuffed animal as a mascot, and Pinegrove’s set was one big, cheesy smile.

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