Last weekend, the Music and Other Drugs team traveled from Brooklyn down to Houston, Texas for the 2nd annual Day for Night Music + Art Festival. The festival, comprised of many large scale visual art installations alongside over 40 performing musical acts, made this one hot festival ticket of 2016. Set in December, this makes this festival a unique experience. Texas, being one of the warmer states, is a toss-up for weather. Over the weekend, we experienced the weather turning from warm weather and t-shirts, to a frigid cold coat-wearing experience.
Before the festival began, Day for Night’s initial reveal of their 2016 lineup already received buzz in the music world. DFN lineup provided a vast range of genres, from an ethereal DJ set from Bjork, to thousands of hardcore festival goers raging to Travis Scott. Day for Night even brought Aphex Twin, who one woman told us, “is the godfather of electronic music,” out of an eight-year performance hiatus. Early on, the MaOD team knew this would be a coveted ticket, and one festival we would not want to miss. As we got closer to the date, and began to listen closer to the music from artists who would be performing, we began to understand the importance of this festival for the culture. Bringing legends such as John Carpenter to perform, to the Butthole Surfers, this festival not only collided light and sound, but also history collided with the contemporary.
Day for Night achieved an amazing feat by hosting the event at the historic Barbara Jordan Post Office, a 1.5 million square foot infrastructure that was the perfect space for such a festival. Outside of the postal grounds were three stages (red, green, and yellow,) along with a section for food trucks. Inside of the historic building was dedicated, mostly, to the visual arts, and sound. Some of our favorite visual art installations were Phases by AV&C + Houze, which utilized robotmic mirrors and light to create an “Ultra-Light Beam” experience. London-based art project, United Visual Artists created Musica Universalis, “a social instrument that investigates the resonances from far away objects in our solar system.” The line drew out of the room, as festival goers wanted to take in, if just a moment, the complexities of the creation.
The visual artists, and curator Alex Czetwertynski achieved what many music festivals try to achieve, to infuse a visual art experience into the festival. At Day for Night, the visual art experience is just as important as the musical acts, and the festival goers treated the visual art as such, as well.
One the music end, one of the downsides of Day for Night was its scheduling, many festival goers, had hard choices to make over the weekend. On Saturday, Tycho, Blood Orange, and Odesza were all within 20 minutes of one another. In regards to the performances, the yellow stage sometimes saw few festival goers attending the stage due to the “bigger” name acts going on at the same time. With such an impressive and diverse lineup, DFN had to make hard decisions to fit in all of the acts within the given time frame.
Saturday started with a set by the Welcome to Houston collective. The collective featured , Devin da Dude, Mike Jones, Lil’ O, Slim Thug, Lil’ Keke, Paul Wall, Z-ro, and many more. DJ Michael Watts and all of the performers put a stamp on Houston with their music, and DFN having the collective open the festival was a good call on their end.
California-bred artist, Banks, was one of the highlights of the festival. Music and Other Drugs wondered how the artist would perform her new album, The Altar, and her performance blew us away. Banks provided festival goers with performance art with her intricate movements, alongside her dancers.
John Carpenter, the creator of the score for Halloween, was also on the bill for Day for Night. For anyone who knows who John Carpenter is, this was a pretty big deal for DFN. John Carpenter, at the age of 68, brought youthful vibes to the festival. He and his band played tracks from his project Lost Themes and the crowed was entranced by the sounds.
On Sunday, the temperatures dropped, and what was once a humid warm occasion, became an experience right out of Frozen. The performers pushed through the frigid cold weather, and gave stellar performances. Kamasi Washington, and his band, featuring Thundercat, put on a jazz experience that lifted right off the stage into the atmosphere. Band, Little Dragon confessed that they had arrived 15 minutes prior to their set, but that did not take away from their performance. Even dressed in winter gear, the 4-piece set rocked DFN’s red stage.
Being in Houston, Texas, a majority of the acts, indie and mainstream, were local talent. Ending our Day for Night experience was Houston’s own Travis Scott, Mike Dean, and OG Chase B. Music and Other Drugs have seen Travis Scott perform several times over the year, opening for Rihanna Anti World Tour, and other shows. This experience however was like none other. Minutes before Travis Scott got on stage, we stood in the photo pit talking to some serious Travis Scott fans. Some of his fans had stood in the cold for 4+ hours just to be front in center for this experience. As soon as Travis Scott came out, and the beat dropped, the bass-heavy speakers and the festival goers became one.
In its second year, Day for Night is on the right track. There are many areas for improvements, and as the festival continues to grow, we hope that the visual art centered festival continues to improve upon space, and the overall experience. Many individuals, including us, did not get to experience Bjork Digital, as festival goers waited 6-7+ hours for the VR experience; overall, the curation of this festival is bringing a different type of festival goer out, and is creating a space for the ragers, and fine art consumers to join as one.