CASSIUS is on the summer music festival trail, and one of the season’s biggest moments was the 2017 Panorama NYC Music Festival. Some of the biggest names in music descended on Randall’s Island, N.Y., for the three-day showcase, which aimed to stake its claim as New York City’s premier music festival alongside challengers both new (The Meadows Music and Arts Festival) and old (The Governors Ball Music Festival).
With headlining performances from Frank Ocean, A Tribe Called Quest, Solange, and more, CASSIUS was in attendance to witness the good, the bad, and the unexpected as thousands of festival-goers partied from dusk ’til dawn—or at least until 11 p.m. Here’s a breakdown of four stand-out performances from the first day, July 28.
Isaiah Rashad (Almost) Brought The House Down
Top Dawg Entertainment artist Isaiah Rashad did a great job hyping up the crowd with one of the best, albeit shortened, sets of the day. The Tennessee-bred rapper started his performance with a list of his “show rules.” The first was about protecting the personal space of women in attendance. “If I witness it, we will put you the f*ck out, personally,” Rashad said. With the rules out of the way, Rashad performed two records from his prior releases, and songs from his latest album, The Sun’s Tirade. His fans were with him every step of the way, ready to tear the roof off the Parlour stage. That actually almost happened; Rashad’s fans raged so hard that the floor of the smallish venue partially collapsed, and while no injuries were recorded, the set was cut short and the audience was evacuated. The stage was shut down for repair. Word is that this is the second year that this particular stage had issues—it might be time to retire it. But here’s to seeing a live Isaiah Rashad show with a quality event floor in the very near future.
If Tyler The Creator Was Nervous, We Couldn’t Tell
Fresh off the release of his newest album, Flower Boy, Tyler The Creator had one of the most anticipated performances of the three-day festival. To many fans’ enjoyment, the vibrant rapper chose to dedicate most of his performance to his more recent material; they sang along, word for word.
“I was kinda nervous, ’cause that was the first time I performed that song, and I didn’t know if you’d know the lyrics,”“I was kinda nervous, ’cause that was the first time I performed that song, and I didn’t know if you’d know the lyrics,” Tyler said after opening his set with the Frank Ocean-assisted “Where This Flower Blooms.” The crowd went nuts when he performed his lead single, “Who Dat Boy,” filling in for the absent A$AP Rocky on his verse. They crooned along with Kali Uchis’ soothing section on “See You Again.” We can only imagine how Tyler’s live show will evolve as Flower Boy has more shelf life, but as of now? It’s lit.
A Solange Knowles Performance Should Be On Your “Can’t Miss” List
We’d already seen a live Solange Knowles performance this year, but were excited to see the production again on Randall’s Island because there are few shows right now that compare. Draping the crowd in a sea of red, Ms. Knowles took to the stage with her backing band, performing song after song with vibrant horn stabs and soul-moving bass lines. The crowd willingly fell into her trance, swaying from side to side, some mouthing—some screaming—the words of “Cranes In The Sky” and “F.U.B.U.” Band choreography blended with impromptu dancing as the crowd cheered, and the band seemingly grew from seven to 27 in the blink of an eye, bringing eloquent funk to the thousands of people in attendance. Solange moved down to the crowd, joining those who made the journey to see her, reflecting their energy back to them, singing alongside the beautiful Black faces in the front row. After a brief tribute to her The Proud Family days and a throwback to “T.O.N.Y.,” the performance reached its crescendo with “Don’t Touch My Hair” in all its horn-blaring glory. If you have a chance to experience this wonder woman for yourself, don’t hesitate. It’ll be one of the best choices you make all year.
Frank Ocean’s Performance Was Worth The Wait
As the crowd came down from Solange’s performance, there was a buzz that swarmed the island. The night’s headliner was one of the most mysterious and nomadic figures in modern music, with a penchant for avoiding the public eye and canceling performances on a whim. That performer was Frank Ocean, and when the start time for his set came and went with no appearance from the singer, some audience members got nervous. But seemingly out of nowhere, the island went black, and he emerged, filming the set in real time and using the projected recording to illuminate the stage. Ocean primarily performed material from Blonde, plus some loose cuts he released in the last year, including “Chanel” and “Lens.” While those looking to go back to the Channel ORANGE days might have been let down, there was a special energy in the park that everyone felt. We knew that what we were witnessing in that moment, we may never see live ever again. And that energy turned into an appreciation for the performance so deep that many were compelled to actually put away their cell phones and take in ever moment of the show in real time. It was something special, as intimate as a performance for thousands of people can be. And just like that, Ocean made up for all those years of waiting for his musical presence.