Describing Houston’s Day For Night as a music festival just doesn’t cut it. The idea behind the new festival is to showcase artists with a talent for highly visual performances all while exhibiting massive art installations by artists from all over the world.
After hearing about the festival back in September, I watched all of the promo videos and trailers and I still arrived in Houston not really sure what to expect. So is this a festival? An art exhibition? I found that Day For Night falls somewhere in the middle of the two labels, all while surpassing any previous expectations.
At the center of the hype was the festival’s Bjork Digital virtual experience, the U.S debut of video and digital works by Bjork in a five-room installation. The Icelandic artist also performed a Friday night set after the possibility of her attendance alone had people talking months in advance. Unfortunately the long lines and the policy that only 25 could be admitted into the installation at a time (the experience lasted over an hour), caused many festival goers to skip the attraction and see Austin-based duo Light Wheel and get down to some classic rap spun by DJ Kam Franklin. Win Butler of Arcade Fire closed the night as DJ Windows 98.
A solid lineup for Saturday night started off with Thundercat, of Kendrick Lamar’s How To Pimp A Butterfly before the always ethereal Banks. The crowd flocked to see Nick Murphy, the new incarnation of Chet Faker, before going crazy as Odesza dropped three new tracks from their upcoming album.
Saturday night also marked the return of legendary producer Aphex Twin after an 8 year hiatus. The scene at Aphex Twin could be described as creepy with the rain pouring down, the eerie glow of downtown Houston in the background, the almost-demonic laughter echoing as the crowd waited confused as to why Aphex Twin seemed to be delaying his return, and finally the appearance of James’ disembodied head on the central screen.
James looked up at the crowd only once, intensely focused throughout his set, and incorporating every type of genre almost as if to show that 8 years away has put him 8 years ahead. He even dropped a mysterious all white record stamped with the Warped, AFX, and Day For Night logos.
The return of Aphex Twin is a hard act to follow, but Day For Night had everyone coming back Sunday for a highly anticipated performance by Kaskade. Wu- Tang’s RZA made another Texas festival appearance after A.C.L. with Stone Mecca while Squarepusher, Little Dragon, and Butthole Surfers expanded their cult followings. The Sunday night crowd seemed immune to the biting cold as Kaskade prepared to take the main stage and Travis Scott geared up on the Green Stage. The scheduling conflict overshadowed the sudden 40 degree temperature drop between Saturday and Sunday. Playing a mix of old and new for a widely- varied crowd was just one more time Kaskade reminded us that his concert has something for everyone, while Travis Scott brought hometown love to Houston.
*cover image by Greg Noire