The last day of New York’s inaugural Panorama festival was the hottest yet–even hotter than day one–but the allure of a hometown LCD Soundsystem show after that opportunity had all but vanished was enough to draw some of the biggest crowds of the weekend. Before James Murphy, Nancy Whang and the rest of their cohort took the stage under a massive disco ball, plenty of other performers made the day more than bearable despite the heat. From Flatbush Zombies leaving the confines of the stage to Sia’s masterful use of the enormous high-tech screens gracing the main stage, here are yesterday’s highlights.
7. Okay, this was the worst moment: an unethical advertisement of “mac and cheese”:
This. Is. Not. Mac & Cheese. Full stop. It is made with penne pasta and there is no cheese sauce, just some cheese melted on top. Was it a good pasta? Yes. It was. But it’s not mac & cheese! I don’t want to blow up your spot Hebros Kitchen, but advertising this as mac & cheese left me really disappointed. Great pasta dish though!
6. A$AP Rocky Blings
A$AP Rocky had a rough week when it comes to headlines, and uh, putting your foot in your mouth. But luckily, his Panorama set was as polished and precise as it could’ve been during 90 degree heat on a Sunday evening, even if half the crowd was antsy to get back to the mainstage to make sure they didn’t miss a second of LCD Soundsystem. But Rocky handled it all in stride.
5. Flatbush Zombies Vacate The Stage
On the third day of a music festival, arriving early in the day is not easy, especially when it’s over 90 degrees. But on Sunday it was totally worth it to see Brooklyn natives Flatbush Zombies; their contagious energy made me forget about the heat for a few minutes. Highlights included Meechy Darko making his way into the crowd for a song and the moment when Joey Bada$$ joined them on stage. Brooklyn represent.—Jane Bruce
4. Sia’s Live Music Video Masterpiece
With her signature wig and stoic perfection Sia turned the main stage at Panorama into her own personal music video set. A slew of familiar figures and faces, like her dance-doppelganger Maddie Ziegler, Kristen Wiig, Paul Dano, and plenty of others appeared via screen–if not in person–to make this set feel like one long continuous music video. Which made for a really cool music video, but not the greatest “live” performance. Even Sia’s vocals were so flawless and so similar to the recorded versions of these songs that I really had to wonder if she was singing live. This felt much more like a movie than a concert, but hey, it’s Sia’s world we’re just living in it. Or rather, watching it on a screen.
3. Kurt Vile Playing “Freak Train”
I’ve seen Kurt Vile a number of times, I am a self-professed super fan of the Philly dad folk-rock kingpin, and Smoke Ring For My Halo is basically the album that defined my move to New York and subsequent career as a music writer. So when it comes to Kurt, I have a lot of feelings and a lot of favorite songs. In fact, I once wrote a run down of the ten best Kurt Vile songs to help ring in the release of Wakin On A Pretty Daze. And do you know what the number one song on that list was? “Freak Train.” Because it is the fucking best Kurt Vile song. Anyway, I got to the festival just in time to watch him play it live on the huge Panorama stage, and it was incredibly uplifting, full-circle experience for me. Think I’d rather ride the rails.
2. Run The Jewels Bring The Heat–And The Political Commentary
It’s hard to imagine a more important rap duo to have representing New York in the onslaught of unspeakable violence and racism that has risen to the surface in our country over the course of the last year. Of course, this bile was always bubbling below the surface, but to see it spew forth in such enormous blasts–Donald Trump and others–make the equally aggressive, incisive rapping of El-P and Killer Mike as Run The Jewels feel like a worthy defense, an Obi-Wan Kenobi, a knight in shining armor. Throughout the set Mike and El-P brought their families onstage, led the crowd in a “Fuck Donald Trump!” cheer (word to YG), and explicitly dedicated “Early” to “anyone who lost their life at the hands of people who are supposed to protect us.” Not all heroes wear capes, but the two dudes rapping in front of two giant, zombie fists are definitely heroic. RTJ forever.
1. LCD Soundsystem’s “Someone Great” And The Carpe Diem Effect
I’m no expert on LCD Soundsystem. (If you want to read something incredible by someone who is, check out an excerpt from Ryan Leas’ 33 1/3 on the band here.) In fact, for a long time the only song I knew by them was “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House.” That was also the song that introduced me to Daft Punk, so never underestimate the power of namechecking another band in your song. However, despite my obvious gaps in knowledge, even I could recognize the importance of seeing LCD Soundsystem play an outdoor festival, in their hometown, only a couple years after it seemed liked seeing them live would no longer be an option at all. So I stood in the crush at the front to watch them dance under a massive disco ball, and project their stage set up from above so it looked like a computer circuit, and treat their audience with more respect than I have seen a band convey. I was sucked in, blown away by the massive significance and the marvelous silliness of Murphy and his fellow musicians. Nancy Whang is possibly the most elegant person to ever endure New York’s 50%+ humidity in front of hundreds of people. “Someone Great” is possibly the saddest and best song about the inevitable, crushing loss of not just a person, but an era, a lifestyle, a moment. It is hands down my favorite LCD Soundsystem song, of the ones I know.
And by the time that one came on, I looked around for someone to tell that to and I found myself alone. So I watched it by myself, along with their other infamous sad sad song “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” sitting on the hill solo, in the safety of the grass. I was sitting there thinking about all the people I’d lost, what five years in New York have done to me–all the ways this city has brought me down–and feeling a bit overwhelmed and sorry for myself. Then it struck me: to lose someone great, you have to first go find them. The only reason this city is bringing me down now is because I’ve been reflecting on what it used to be, like the song does, instead of accepting it for what it currently is. So, instead of waiting for the third silver bullet, “All My Friends,” I left the park and went out to go meet New York. Dwelling in the past is something I love to do, and it’s often necessary, but what watching LCD inspired me to do was go find my future. I knew where my friends were, so I went to go find them. Or maybe to meet someone brand new–someone great.