After a red eye flight from LAX to RDU, we landed at 6:20am and had to sprint through the airport to catch our connecting 6:20am flight to LGA. Yeah, you read those times right. Luckily our second flight was delayed, and we landed in NY a few hours later.
We went straight to our Airbnb, (which was super cute by the way), dropped our bags off, changed with superman-style speed, scarfed down some lunch, then headed to the ferry. Did I mention this festival was on an island? Well, it was.
Day one's lineup was insanely awesome... and we were insanely tired. But we were determined to push through!
We got in with a bit of time to explore the lay of the land (figuring out how to get from Stage A to Stage B, etc.). We passed by the Rough Trade record booth when I noticed a sign. And what a sign it was! "Signing today: Spoon. 4:15PM"
How unexpectedly awesome! The catch was you had to buy merch from Rough Trade to be signed. I bought Hot Thoughts on CD, (yes my car still has a CD player), and kept it safe in my backpack until later.
We headed over to the main stage for Honne and watched from a shady spot on the side. It was ironic hearing him sing, "I'll keep you warm on a cold night" with the current weather being in the low 90's.
Foxygen was up next. You know, like from that Google Home commercial where the dad tries to relate to his daughter's boyfriend by finding out what their latest album was?... It's "Hang" if you were wondering.
Emily and I grabbed some beer and enjoyed Foxygen before bouncing back to the Panorama stage for Vance Joy. By coincidence, my outfit was color coordinated to match the Panorama wristband and, apparently, beer.
I sat in the back on a sprawled out scarf on the grass for a bit before heading over to the Spoon signing.
When it was time I grabbed my CD, Instax camera, and nervously walked over. I’ve been listening to these guys since 2005, and have seen them 5 times in total! And in 3 different states! This band seriously means so much to me and I definitely fangirled/froze in front of them at the signing.
There were no "posed" photos allowed, but I was able to snap a shot sans me in it. I only took one photo on my Instax camera and prayed to the indie music gods that it would develop.
Luckily it did! And I came out with a signed CD and tangible photo from it all.
I walked back over to Vance Joy, sat down and basked in the happiness of all that had just happened. Riptide was playing and everyone was going crazy.
During the 30 minute breakdown time in between sets, we made a beer run and then posted up in a good spot for Future Islands.
I've seen Future Islands a few times now and the energy in this band never ceases to amaze me. Samuel Herring, the lead singer, has a unique performance style about him that I've never seen before and it's entertaining to a whole other level. He runs back and forth on the stage pounding on his chest to really get that deep, raspy, howling voice out. He'll even break into that Russian jumpstyle Cossack dance once in a while and it never gets old.
Emily stayed for the full set, but I ducked out a bit early to see my guys Spoon play at The Pavilion stage. As I was walking over, I passed Alex (keys/guitar in Spoon); he recognized me from the signing and kind of stopped, motioning if I wanted to say hi. I sort of waved and just kept walking because sometimes I'm really stupid and walk right past musicians that mean a lot to me out of nervousness. (This has also happened with Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip and Michel Gondry, the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). I kick myself whenever I think about those times.
So this was actually the worst Spoon show I've ever been to. Not because of the performance, but because of the crowd.
Tyler the Creator was the next act at this stage, and that's all people cared about. It was packed. Unfortunately it was packed for Tyler the entirety of Spoon's set and everyone was talking through the show. I looked around and I was the only one in my sight actually singing and dancing, let alone enjoying the music. I was a sardine in the midst of people who gave zero fucks about the show that was happening right in front of them.
I was so angry by the rudeness of everyone. Spoon was what drew me to this festival. They were basically the reason I came and to have it ruined by a sea full of bucket hats really sucked.
But hey, at least I met them. And this wasn't my first time seeing them and it won't be my last. So that's okay.
Breakbot was going to be next, but they got rescheduled to the next day due to some technical difficulties in The Parlor. Apparently Cherry Glazerr also got caught up in the little tech mishap, but had to be on the road for another show so they just didn't get to play at all. Bummer.
In the meantime, we went to the craft cocktail garden and grabbed food.
When the sun was setting, Emily and I made our way over to Solange. I enjoyed her performance way more than I thought I would. So full of soul and emotion; not to mention great subtle choreography.
We stayed in the same spot for Frank Ocean (probably because we were too exhausted to move), and headed back to the ferry after a few songs.
7 acts on Day 1? Super jetlagged? Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
We passed out immediately upon arrival at our Airbnb.
Our alarm was set for late in the morning so we could catch up on sleep. We brunched and filled up on coffee at Mud before heading into the festival.
Our first stop was Sofi Tukker. I was crazy excited to see them again. They were at Coachella this year and it was one of the most high energy shows I've ever seen! (even in the 102 degree heat!)
Thankfully they were in an enclosed tent this time so it was on the cooler side and we didn't get as sweaty when we danced. Because this is dancing music.
Continuing with the dancing theme, Emily and I headed over to the Aussie duo, Jagwar Ma. We hung out in the shade, danced a bit and got ice cream in between acts. Mine was fruity pebble flavored.
After devouring our ice cream, we headed to the rescheduled Breakbot set. They're known for their funky, electro remixes and "French-touch" to music. Good, groovin' tunes.
Previously known as Chet Faker, Nick Murphy was next. I saw him at Red Rocks earlier this year, and this Panorama show was even better than the last. At one point in the show he ran down into the audience and everyone was singing and dancing together. There's just something special about being so close to the live performance, and "up in the vibe" as my friend Jen would say.
PS if you haven't listened to his new album Missing Link yet you should do so.
The last act of the night was at a semi-hidden stage tucked away around a corner. Twirling lights hung above a giant, checkered dancefloor where a DJ was spinning tunes.
I didn't exactly expect Motor City Drum Ensemble to be a DJ, but he appeared in the disco-ball-clad booth and started doin' his thing. What a fun show, though. Everyone was dancing together underneath the color changing lights on a warm, summer night.
It had been a long couple of days and this was only day 2! I fought the urge to go to sleep when we got back from the festival that night, and I dragged Emily out on the town, telling her, "This is our only night to go out!"
We made it to 4 bars and were out 'til 3am. I'd say we did New York right that night.
Our first stop was McSoarleys Old Ale House. A friend suggested this and really talked it up. And I'm glad they did. Cash only, two beers at a time, light or dark. That's the drill. No fancy craft brews, Bud Lights or Stella. You throw your cash down on the beer-soaked bar and pick from the simplest two options. In a "tapper" style fashion they serve you your beer.
Next was Amor Y Amargo. The littlest bar I've ever been to, with one of the stiffest drinks I've ever had. Something with gin is all I remember. They also have a ton of bitters for purchase, and include bitters in pretty much all of their drinks. This place only has about 5 seats and standing room for maybe 10-15 more.
We put our name down at Death & Company and while we were waiting, grabbed a drink at a tavern next door. The tavern wasn't really noteworthy, but Death & Company was. Odd to say, but my drink had the most perfect ice cube I've ever seen. Some solid craft cocktails.
We brunched at Philip Marie Restaurant after our night of drinking, and I figured why not keep it going with bottomless Bloody Mary's?
The ferry ride over was crazy windy and I think the wind blew all the color out of my hair 💨🌈
Once on the island we did our now routine drill of filling up our water bottles, finding food/beer and heading to the first show: Preoccupations. Noisy, grumbly rock which I enjoy every now and then.
The indoor show had been nice and cool, but it was time to venture over to a tented outdoor stage for Angel Olsen. As I type this I'm looking at an Angel Olsen flyer I have pinned up at my desk. God, she's so photogenic AND so talented. There's such a sweet presence to her/her music. I'm sure that everyone in the crowd, at some point during her performance, closed their eyes, swayed and smiled a little.
It felt like we were ping-ponging a bit from the inside tented stage to the outside tented stage. Strangely similar from hopping back and forth from pool to jacuzzi.
We got to the next set a bit early and laid down on our scarves underneath the disco ball.
The atmosphere was awoken by the lo-fi pop that is Cloud Nothings. The disco ball lights were thumping/pulsating to the beats. (Good thing that we magically didn't have hangovers from the night before).
Glass Animals played the main stage next. They sing about pineapples a lot. And they threw a pineapple into the audience, which seems like a bad idea but the dude who caught it was super stoked. Fun fact: some festivals in the UK banned pineapples due to the amount of fans bringing them in to the grounds.
Another really fun show where he jumped into the crowd and sang/danced with everyone. The roadie who had to carry his microphone cord (which was now very tangled) seemed way over it, though. As I could only imagine.
We made a mad dash to grab some food, then held down our spot for A Tribe Called Quest.
It was a lot more emotional of a show than I thought it would be. They had a microphone on stage for Phife Dawg, who passed away in March of 2016; when his part came up in song they showed the mic on screen with a photo of Phife in the background.
I can't imagine how emotional that must be for them as a group, hearing his voice recorded like that. They paid respect to him and his family, and announced it would be their last NY show. Ever.
It's understandable that it's just not the same without Phife Dawg.
We didn't stay for NIN. I ended up going to FYF the week prior and had caught a few songs there. Plus we were exhausted.
The breeze on the ferry ride back felt nice, and I think gave us the energy to go out for one last drink. This was our last night in NY so we went to a rooftop bar to take in the view, and some tequila.
We walked back to our total artsy/90s-dream-world of an Airbnb for the final time. The space was perfect for any music or art lover who is also (bonus) fond of cats. Let me tell you, Blackie is the sweetest cat I've ever met! Don't let his half-cut ear, piercing yellow eyes and snaggle tooth fool you. He was a total cuddler and great buddy to chill with. It was going to be hard to leave.
On Monday morning we slept in and took our time leaving. We grabbed coffee and a bagel from a local shop, walked around and looked at street art, then hung out at the Ace Hotel until it was time to catch a cab.
'Til next time, New York.