After a fair amount of hype that included some surprise LCD Soundsystem shows at Webster Hall, the organizers of Coachella pulled off their first ever Panorama Festival in New York City. Among the many highlights: Brooklyn’s own Here We Go Magic opening one of the fest’s three stages, Major Lazer’s super high-energy set, Sufjan Stevens’s colorful stage show, a set from rising Brooklyn DJ Jai Wolf, and a performance by Sia during which Kristin Wiig, Paul Dano, Gaby Hoffmann, and other celebs pantomimed on massive screens wrapping the stage. Oh, and let’s not forget Arcade Fire’s tribute to David Bowie, involving a second-line through the crowd as the Preservation Hall Jazz Brand helped out with “Heroes,” “Suffragette City” and “Rebel Rebel.”
During the course of the three-day fest, it was easy to see why its organizers had originally wanted to bring it to Flushing Meadows Corona Park rather than Randall’s Island. Zeitgeisty, futuristic displays abounded, and just like at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, when Belgian waffles were all the rage, there was a massive line for Eggloo’s egg waffle ice cream sundae (other local vendors included Roberta’s, Ice and Vice, Matcha Bar, and Bareburger).
But let’s be real: rather than introducing Americans to jet packs like the World’s Fair did, Panorama mostly offered millennials bold new ways to take selfies.
You could wait in line to get into an HP-sponsored “lab” and control the colors of boob-like orbs in the background of a selfie.
You could get a 360-degree selfie in the AmEx lounge; you could use your phone to take a selfie in front of MTV’s color-changing wall and get a printed copy of it; you could take a selfie using a massive hand on a stick. This was not a place for selfie-loathing.
The Lab’s real draw was a dome where you could lie on the ground and trip out to projections that ran the gamut from planetarium-style starscapes, to Space Odyssey-style geometric warps, to far-out anime. Not going to lie: the best part of the experience was the roaring air con. Best place to be during a heat dome is inside of a cool dome.
Across from all that, a viewing platform sponsored by Google Play and done up by Bushwick Collective reveled in a more throwback style of art. “I really want to go to Brooklyn now!” snarked one of the many “brochella” types in tank tops and backwards baseball hats after checking out the murals. Truth is, the tagged-up walls did make the place look a little bit like the set of Yo! MTV Raps.
For all the motion-sensing, color-changing technology sprinkled throughout the festival grounds, the best exhibit, if you want to call it that, was a good old-fashioned discotheque. Okay, not exactly old-fashioned: the Despacio sound system, designed by James Murphy with Soulwax and 2ManyDJs, consisted of seven stacks placed around a checkered dancefloor, for a sound that was truly immersive no matter where you stood in the room. Actually, it wasn’t a room so much as a circus tent– as you entered it, you felt like you were going to see some two-headed calfs. Instead, ferns, a massive disco ball, and smoke machines gave off club vibes as the DJ went from a Tame Impala remix into LCD Soundsystem.
As for LCD themselves, soon after they took the stage to close out the final night, James Murphy warned everyone that they only had so much time before curfew: “Excuse us if it’s fast and we don’t talk a lot… and I’m a little drunk.” Did we mention PDT was also selling $16 cocktails?
As promised, LCD’s set was super tight, with one of the highlights being “Losing My Edge.” As the song’s humble narrator bragged about being “at the first Suicide practices in a loft in New York City,” a cheer went up in the crowd to acknowledge the recent loss of the band’s frontman, Alan Vega.
It wasn’t LCD’s final nod to Suicide– toward the end of the set, they played what some may have mistaken for a new song (they didn’t play any, sadly). It was actually a cover of Alan Vega’s “Bye Bye Bayou.”
Around 1am, Murphy and other friends and associates of the band boarded a specially hired ferry that took them back to Williamsburg, where Murphy lives near his wine bar, The Four Horsemen. There was no party boat vibe, but the nighttime panorama of the city was truly lovely. Ah, the advantages of being the hometown band.
Check out more shots from the weekend below.