Editor’s note: Start here for personal style #menswear coverage.
Here at The Style Guide, I’m pretty thankful to get to write about what I love every week. But it’s even better when I get to combine my passions into one post, as I did this weekend when I headed to the first-ever Panorama festival in NYC rocking some great men’s style gear and rocking out to excellent tunes along the way. Panorama was a unique merger of music, art and technology, curated by the same team behind Coachella – and Saturday’s lineup, featuring luminaries like Kendrick Lamar, Sufjan Stevens and The National, was stellar. The festival blended the buzzing atmosphere with some premium food and beverage curated in part by the great folks at Eater.com, too.And of course, the day presented the perfect opportunity for me to combine those aforementioned passions into one heck of an afternoon (although if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’re aware of that!). Now, attending an outdoor festival in the heat of summer might seem like the opportune time to ditch decorum and dress to stay cool, but yours truly thinks just the opposite — bear with me.
Of note, stepping out on Saturday put me right smack-dab in the middle of some very hot weather — it was sunny, beautiful and in the 90s here in the Big Apple. Even still, I was glad to be there as Panorama took over Randall’s Island, the site of this summer’s Governors Ball festival, (a similarly spectacular weekend). It was exciting to know that a quick subway trip brought me mere feet from (among others), The National, supremely talented purveyors of emotionally substantive music … but more on that in a second. Just know that for now, if you get the chance to see them, it’s a must. And if you manage to get as close as I somehow did, it’ll be even more astounding (just check out this video here, for one!).
To tackle the festival in style, I reached for a new pair of Thursday Boots — they’re a big Style Guide favorite for the way they blend price, quality and styling potential, and I tested out the rugged-refined Natural Diplomat Boot this weekend. It’s made from durable Horween leather that provided just the right amount of toughness, edge and style, plus excellent grip and plenty of durability for playing a little air guitar during a high-voltage afternoon set from British rockers Foals. Of course, they had to be able to fight for a spot in the crowd during a visually stunning show by Sufjan Stevens — and before that, I did plenty of rocking out to The National, one of my all-time favorite bands and the group behind one of my all-time favorite albums (that would be Boxer …. or perhaps it’s Trouble Will Find Me …. or maybe Alligator…). The band’s incredible, emotional show came after a blisteringly hot day out and about, and it’s a good thing I had apparel that stood up to the test. Challenges with the heat started early, even during a high-energy, engaging set from British duo Oh Wonder to kick off the day (note that if you dig what you hear from them, they’re working on a new album!).
Attending a great music festival often feels like multiple shows within one large, high-energy show — it’s fitting then, that my style blended multiple elements. To fight the heat (and yes, I’m aware I chose boots and denim), a linen-blend short-sleeve shirt courtesy of Old Navy worked quite well. Although the Navy color is now sold out, the white Flax Linen option on the site would be a reliable stand-in at your next music festival, with a much-needed linen blend and utilitarian chest pockets. It really was crucial to have versatile style, as the day shifted from a eclectic, mellow vibes of Oh Wonder to a high-energy set put on Daughter. The quickly changing scenery called for durable accessories, too — no busted watches or sunglasses left behind here. Plus, my Tread for Men Traveler Sunscreen was a big help in protecting me from the sun.
Chief among the rest of those accessories was a new personal favorite, the outstanding Timex x Todd Snyder Mod Watch. It reliably updates a vintage style for the modern man. I accentuated that crisp watch with a fun-to-wear pair of Millbrook sunglasses via Steven Alan Optical, which clock in at an agreeable price on top of great looks ($165). Certainly, every cent helps when cooling down with some nice refreshments and powering through a day of great shows.
Lest we think the day was all about the big-ticket items (and bands), small touches really do go a long way in completing an outfit, such as the Hudson Belt from Arcade Belt Co. It’s made with stretchy, comfortable and durable navy smartweave fabric, and the color worked well alongside my socks, the lightweight, breathable, teal-and-grey color-blocked Troubadour from the team at Richer Poorer. Those socks paired with my boots for an added touch of comfort, and that was crucial — it felt like a long run-up into the evening, but it really was worth it.
That brings us back, once again, to The National. While I certainly looked forward to dressing for the day in style and checking out other great acts, I’d been looking forward even more to seeing the hallowed indie rockers return (relatively close) to their home turf. Seeing them two years ago at Calvin College back in my home state of Michigan was, to be quite honest, a lifechanging show (right up there with seeing Lucius at Daryl’s House Club in upstate New York earlier this year). And this time around, The National absolutely didn’t disappoint. Although the entire set was stellar, early renditions of “Don’t Swallow the Cap” and “Afraid of Everyone” were huge crowd-pleasers, as was an uptempo take on “Sea of Love” off of the acclaimed Trouble Will Find Me. Being that close to the stage for those songs was epic, seriously. The Dessner brothers are one of the tightest guitar duos around, and the Devendorf brothers reliably carry the rhythm section, too. What more can you ask for?
They’ve got a discography that’s so deep and versatile, an hour isn’t nearly enough — even at a festival. A soul-stirring rendition of “Bloodbuzz Ohio” played well off of two new songs, “The Day I Die” and “Find A Way” fit right in with the rest of the band’s live set, which also managed to work in “England” off of High Violet. The variety in their setlist means you might hear your favorite track at an unexpected time, and it means you might have to wait a bit longer, too. “Fake Empire” was distinctive and well-done, cueing up the crowd for an intense, loud version of the classic “Mr. November” (just ask the folks next to me how much I enjoyed that one). Although Mr. Berninger stayed on stage for that song, he made his way into the crowd for “Terrible Love” — I’m surprised the fans let him go! It was nothing short of emotionally stirring and incredible, probably worthy of a full blog post in its own right. It was a two-year wait to see them, but I can only hope less time goes by before I see them again.
If you get the chance to check them out at one of the many festivals they tend to play during the summer, please do. The same goes for their friend and a top-billed act in his own right, Sufjan Stevens. It was time to put away those sunglasses (and grab another round), as he powered through a visually stunning set — both The National & Sufjan could definitely play for twice as long, what with their deep discographies and high-energy stage shows. Of course, an act like Kendrick Lamar is a huge crowd-pleaser and puts on a high-energy stage show of his own, which drew by far the largest crowds of the day.
It was a heck of a day that really was packed top-to-bottom — bands like Oh Wonder and Foals also rounded out the day nicely with afternoon sets that fit with the festival’s more eclectic vibe. Attendance felt a bit light at times, but it provided the chance to grab some prime real estate during killer sets by some of my favorite acts (particularly, as we all know…. The National). And gear like my durable Thursday Boots Natural Diplomat Boot and the Timex x Todd Snyder Mod Watch was really crucial to taking on such a hot and busy day in style. It was such an honor and privilege to be able to see a renowned act like The National, and the rest of the lineup definitely didn’t disappoint. We’ll see if Panorama sticks around next year, but if they continue to curate an eclectic lineup packed with big names and solid variety, there’s a great chance it will be — and I’ll be there with my best menswear to rock out!
‘Til the next show,