Panorama, the NYC music festival that has been dubbed the “Coachella of the East,” has only been around for three years. Produced by Goldenvoice, the same group that puts on Coachella (in Indio, California) and Rock on the Range (in Columbus, Ohio), Panorama has yet to become the legend of its older Cali sister. It has yet to be stretched out over the course of two weekends. It appears that Kendall Jenner was the only supermodel in attendance at last year’s event, but that still counts for something. Panorama has some big shoes to fill, it’s true. But this year, the festival has proven itself to be better than Coachella in at least one integral way: with a Black woman. Headlining this year’s festival is the legendary icon Janet Jackson. Putting a Black woman at the centre of their lineup has won Panorama serious brownie points with me.
I know what you’re thinking: Beyoncé literally just snatched enough wigs at this year’s Coachella to have the event's name unofficially changed to Beychella. You’re right. I’m not even sure that Janet Jackson can pull off quite the amazing set that Bey did in April. However, Beyoncé was the first Black woman to have that honour in the event’s 19-year history. To use her own words: “Aint that ‘bout a b***h?” Despite the number of huge Black women sensations we’ve had over the years, including Rihanna, Mariah Carey, and Jackson herself, Coachella didn’t tap a single one to close out their biggest stage until 2018.
This puts Panorama ahead of the game. Three years in and they’ve already invested in the idea that Black women are lit enough to bring in huge crowds. It’s worth mentioning that this year’s Panorama lineup is unfortunately lacking Black female talent elsewhere. In addition to Jackson, SZA and Jhene Aiko are the only other Black women on the bill over the course of the three day event. Cardi B was supposed to perform as well, but she's essentially on maternity leave after giving birth to a baby girl earlier this month. She was replaced with Lil’ Wayne.
Something else that Panorama has going for it? It takes place in one of the most diverse cities in the world. It’s also way cheaper than Coachella, so it’s less pretentious and more likely to bring out fans from many different backgrounds. If Panorama is smart, it’ll channel this same energy into its future lineups.