July 25, 2016


Panorama vs. Governors Ball: Which New York Music Festival Did It Better?


Competition between music festivals isn't a novel idea, but what happens when they are held in the same city at—gasp!—the same location? There are so many festivals occurring worldwide, and Governors Ball has for the last five years stood out as the one to represent New York City. But an unknown festival soon came creeping up to mark its territory.

Goldenvoice (the same people who bring you Coachellaannounced the birth of Panorama earlier this year, which they presented as a “modern day World’s Fair” fusing music, art and technology. Governors Ball, launched in 2011, took place at Randall's Island Park from June 3-5. Just a few weeks later, the first-ever Panorama was also booked at the same location from July 22-24. Hmm...

Well, Fuse attended both festivals and got a chance to see what makes them so different. Scroll down to read our comparisons between Panorama and Governors Ball, and find out which one we think edged out the competition. 

Easy access: The bumper-to-bumper traffic that occurs every year on the RFK Bridge during Governors Ball is almost as famous as the festival itself. Luckily we didn't have that issue at Panorama, as the number of attendees was significantly lower. But it was Panorama's inaugural year, so its popularity may rise in the coming seasons.

Security levels: Panorama's security checkpoint was overtly strict and patronizing at times, and I was told it was due to the recent ongoing terrorist attacks worldwide. But it becomes pretty ridiculous when they throw away your umbrellas, hand sanitizers, pens, mints, etc.—all items that were allowed at Governors Ball.

The crowd: Compared to the sea of flower-crowned teens at Governors Ball, Panorama was filled with much older and more mature festivalgoers. It was a welcome surprise!

Keep it indoors: At Panorama, a lot of the activities and stages (save for the main stage) were indoors or covered with luxe white tents. This, along with the awesome misting stations, provided us with shelter as we tried to combat the 100-degree weather. Governors Ball, on the other hand, forced you to become one with the sun.

The VIP experience: Panorama kept things very classy and sophisticated for those who paid extra money for an exclusive experience. There were three VIP areas, including the Compound, which had a great food selection and fancy bars with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The separate staging area entrance and the shortcut walkway to the main stage were also major keys. I didn't have VIP access at Governors Ball, but I'm gonna go with Panorama on this one.

Take care of the press: Compared to Governors Ball, Panorama's press tent seemed more like a five-star affair. It was three times bigger, there were fancy pastel-colored tablecloths, more outlets than you can imagine, a better assortment of snacks and drinks (they even gave us free dry-aged burgers at one point) and the wifi actually worked.

Not sure about those tents, though: At Panorama, they were good in retrospect, but it wasn't fun (read: very annoying) when you were trying to enjoy sets from DJ Khaled and Kaytranada. The lines outside the Parlor, the festival's smallest venue, were also ridiculously long. People paid a hell of a lot of money to get to the festival, and many of them didn't get a proper chance to see their favorite artist. The artists deserved an open-air space, instead of being crammed in a tent that has a 1,100-person capacity. Attendees (like myself) got increasingly heated as they faintly heard their favorite tune from outside the tent, rather than being inside to dance along to it. "This was the only act I cared about today," one person said while she waited for Kaytranada. Hopefully Panorama figures something out to combat this frustration next year.

Yummy catering: Panorama's culinary choices were curated by Eater.com, and featured some of the best food spots in NYC: Roberta's, Dough, Loosie Rouge, The Beatrice Inn, Oddfellows Ice Cream and more. It surely beat that other festival's typical selection of tacos, burgers and chicken fingers.

The lineup: This year's Governors Ball lineup seemed like a throwback to my high school days, with acts like BeckThe Killers, Death Cab For Cutie and The Strokes. Don't get me wrong, it was a solid booking. But Panorama's R&B and hip hop–leaning lineup with DJ KhaledA$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels, Kendrick LamarMajor Lazer, Flosstradamus, Blood OrangeFKA Twigs and Schoolboy Q almost made me forget the false thunderstorm that washed out Kanye West at Govenors Ball...almost.

The staging: Panorama's onstage setups during sets for Kendrick Lamar, Sia, Run the Jewels and others were incredible. The larger-than-life-and-Governors-Ball screens were like watching a film, and the audio was crystal-clear.

Cool technology: Along with their fun music options, Panorama stood out from their competitor with the integration of technology and non-music activities. The notable one was the Lab which was powered by HP and TheVerge.com and featured artists like FutureWife, Dave & Gabe, Gabriel Pulecio, Mountain Gods, Red Paper Heart, Zachary Lieberman, Emilie Baltz, Philip Sierzega and Antfood. It was an interactive experience that took you into a different dimension, which was a nice getaway from the festival grounds.

12: Fancy sponsorship: Despite being the first year, Panorama raked in sponsors like Bud Light, Sephora, Macy's, American Express and MTV. Each had their own setup, and gave consumers a break from their musical surroundings. They provided free beer, soaking wet bandanas, an interactive dancefloor, a 360-degree photo experience, a "make your own sunglasses" section, lip gloss touch-up stations, hair-braiding and plenty more that made Panorama seem a little cooler than Governors Ball.

For more, take our quiz to find out what kind of festivalgoer you are.