It’s the time of the year when music fans begin planning their summer festival season. The lineup for the 2018 Panorama Music Festival was just announced and indie music fans everywhere are talking about this year’s eclectic mix of acts. Organized by Goldenvoice, the same organizers of Coachella, this festival has made a name for itself as one of the premier music festivals on the East Coast.
The three headliners of this year’s festival feature a varied mix of artists. Kicking off the festival as Friday’s headliner is The Weeknd. Hailing from Canada, The Weknd hit the U.S. scene in 2015 with the hit “Can’t Feel My Face”, which was quickly followed up with fan-favorite “The Hills”. Saturday’s headliner choice goes off script from the usual indie-dominated focus with Miss Janet Jackson. The iconic pop singer and dancer has been a prominent figure in the music industry for over 30 years. Panorama returns to the Indie music roots with The Killers concluding the show as Sunday’s headliner.
Other popular acts featured in the 2018 Panorama Music Festival include:
• Father John Misty
• Fleet Foxes
• War on Drugs
• St. Vincent
• The xx
This year’s festival will be held July 27-29 at Randalls Island Park in New York City. Located on an island in the East River, this venue is centrally located between East Harlem, the South Bronx, and Queens. Randalls Island Park can be reached via subway, taxi, bike, or ferry.
Tickets go on sale Friday, February 2nd at 10:00am EST. A single day ticket will cost you $79 or you can purchase a 3-day pass starting at $230 for regular admission and running up to $450 for a VIP pass.
When indie R&B artist SZA took the Grammy stage on January 28, she made quite a splash. SZA proved her critics wrong when she performed “Broken Clocks,” which is one of most well-loved tracks from SZA’s debut album. Wearing a pair of modest platform shows, SZA put in a performance that impressed virtually all of the major commentators. The performance was greatly enhanced by a world-class light show. Although SZA received more Grammy nominations than any other female performer, this dynamic artist went home without any awards.
Even though she didn’t win any Grammies, SZA must be satisfied with the overwhelmingly positive reaction to her televised performance. I think it is certainly possible that SZA will become a major force to be reckoned with. Although SZA is already quite successful in the world of indie R&B, she has yet to achieve mainstream success. Over the course of the next five years, it is highly likely that SZA will establish a large and healthy fan base.
SZA has a unique melodic sensibility. When you hear a SZA song, you hear melodies and harmonies that may stay with you for quite some time. Arguably, SZA’s music is more unique and memorable than the music of major artists like Beyonce and Rihanna. Although popular artists can be quite creative, there’s no question that independent artists tend to be far more quirky and individualistic. If SZA is going to continue to grow her fan base, she will need to become more sophisticated without losing her outsider sensibility. Most of all, I belive SZA must continue to express herself authentically. The public seems to have a pretenatural gift for sniffing out fakes and phones.
Recently, Fleet Foxes released an expansive new song that demonstrates tunefulness and originality. This remarkable group is cementing its reputation with this remarkable new song, which is entitled “Third Of May/Odaigara.” It has now been six long years since Fleet Foxes released their last album, 2011’s “Helplessness Blues.” As a variety of journalistic sources have reported, the new album Fleet Foxes have recorded is called “Crack-Up.” Hopefully, Fleet Foxes will continue to live up to the expectations of their fans. Whether or not “Crack-Up” is fully artistically successful, there can be no doubt that this band knows how to put songs together in a professional way. This may be a band for the ages.
With their plaintive, folky tunes, Fleet Foxes have managed to win over the hearts of a generation. Instead of endlessly repeating themselves like so many other successful bands, Fleet Foxes is instead developing new sounds and new modalities. One could argue that Fleet Foxes has unquestionably managed to set the conditions for long-term success. At the same time, music history has a way of surprising even the most experienced prognosticators. Fame and fortune can often prove fickle and fleeting.
One of the most appealing qualities of Fleet Foxes is its extensive use of three-part harmony. Elements like this go a long way towards differentiating an indie band from similar peers. It is relatively easy to forget just what a huge impact Fleet Foxes made when they released their first album. For people of a certain age, the first Fleet Foxes album was a touchstone and a sign of things to come. I think it is a good thing that Fleet Foxes demonstrates great attention to the needs of fans. Without this commitment, the band could potentially become a kind of repetitive self-parody. With groups like Fleet Foxes working tirelessly for the public, I think this is one of the most exciting periods in the history of American popular music.
This is an amazing time for an up-and-coming indie band called the War On Drugs. Recently, this band performed a song called “Holding On” on the Stephen Colbert show. This song is found on the band’s latest album, “A Deeper Understanding.” For this live television performance, the War On Drugs put together a fairly extensive ensemble of nine players. This performance included three guitar players and three keyboard specialists for a nuanced, layered sound. Although this band is still essentially singer Adam Granduciel plus collaborators, Granduciel is reportedly striving for a more democratic, band-oriented approach for the group. As music journalists have duly noted, the War on Drugs is slated to perform a major tour this next fall. I believe it will be interesting to see how this rising band ultimately affects the indie music world.
With its quirky name, the War On Drugs certainly stands out from the crowd. Nevertheless, there is every reason to believe that this band can subside into the background if it does not market wisely. Instead of following tired marketing trends, bands like this need to tailor their images appropriately for the Internet age. In this era of social media engagement, the public is increasingly becoming tired of bland, old-fashioned rock bands who make use of hackneyed imagery. Fortunately, the War On Drugs is a strong enough band that its excellent sonic signature can make up for any possible deficit in the band’s cool factor.
Although the War On Drugs has produced some great studio recordings, the band can occasionally seem cold or sterile during live performances. If this band hopes to mature into a long-lived entity, I think it should continue practicing and honing its live act. Although studio recordings are great for getting your brand out and creating an audience, live performance is now the most practical method for achieving financial independence as a working musician. I have every confidence that the War On Drugs can change the face of indie music if they work hard enough.
If you thought releasing singles was a tactic mainly used by artists trying to hit the top of the charts, you have a lot to learn about the indie music scene. Indie stalwarts Mogwai will probably never appeal beyond their cult following, yet they continue to release singles that achieve serious critical acclaim. As explained in a variety of music journalism sites, Mogwai has released a video for Coolverine, the lead-off single for the band’s latest post-rock opus, “Every Country’s Sun.” Fittingly for Mogwai, this video is deeply evocative and artistic. The video’s surreal visuals include shots of people and objects falling upwards.
Although some people complain that Mogwai follows a too-familiar pattern in their epic songs, I feel that this type of criticism in wrongheaded. If Mogwai were to drift too far from their well-established style, longtime fans might lose patience. Borrowing the atmospheric, soundtrack-like style of Godspeed! You Black Emperor and taking it to the next level, Mogwai achieved great success through their consistency. For better or worse, post-rock is one of those styles of indie rock that has a fairly rigid, well-defined sound. Fortunately, this is a sound that is deeply appealing to those of the public who are willing to stretch their musical horizons.
Since the 90s, Mogwai has delivered incredibly beautiful rock music for the masses. By focusing on instrumental music instead of vocals, this band has established a formidable back catalog that has proved highly influential. Although most post-rock bands are indie artists operating on small labels, I think that the aesthetics of post-rock have gradually filtered into modern rock. This is perhaps one of the reasons that more and more rock musicians are composing pieces with long instrumental sections. Although Mogwai certainly wasn’t the first post-rock band, I argue that Mogwai took the post-rock sound and turned it into something far more sweeping and marketable. Over time, it is possible that Mogwai will find bold new ways to adjust their musical style.
Radiohead’s new video, “I Promise”, resounds with haunting beauty. “I Promise” is an official release of an old track only performed at concerts and on B-sides of their records. The song conveys a different side to Radiohead, one that seems to be like a swan-song to their concluding tour of A Moon Shaped Pool.
Radiohead’s upcoming album is a reissue of OK Computer called OKNOTOK. The music video has timeless Radiohead-esque tales of detachment, technological advancement and human detachment. A bus drives on with passengers soullessly peering out of its windows with blank, empty stares. Revealed to be an animatronic shell, the video hints at what it means to be detached from the hustle and bustle of life and all its humdrum and harrowing experiences.
As the robot tries to fall asleep, he is reminded of lost memories of a woman crying. The robot begins to cry and have an emotionally cathartic release, before the video sweeps into a quietly haunting conclusion.
The video’s director, Mark Pritchard, also directed a music video featuring a single by Thom Yorke called Beautiful People. This music video has similar themes of androids coupled with humanity: Thom Yorke wandering an alien planet through a robotic face-lens.
Thom Yorke said his album OK Computer had inspiration from his lack of connection with other humans while touring for The Bends. He said that he felt paranoid and disconnected from everyone, and that writing was his way of reconnecting to other human beings.
Radiohead is finishing up their last part of A Moon Shaped Pool tour in July. Always in transit, Thom Yorke used these feelings of alienation and disconnection to create new, beautiful soundscapes and lyrics. Their re-release of OK Computer includes a special boxed edition. Included in this special edition are three black 12” vinyl records, a hardcover book featuring artwork, and full transcriptions to the lyrics. Thom Yorke’s personal library of handwritten notes and a sketchbook with a cassette tape mix are also included.