Day For Night Launches Houston Into The Future
Kendrick Lamar, Photo: Christian San Jose
Day For Night, the winter festival soon to grace the area around Silver Street Studios, feels different from what usually happens in this town. Of the touring acts, there are artists that have never or hardly ever come to Houston, many of whom are reason enough to go just on their own. When you mix in the crazy list of local acts and the visual arts aspect, you’re left with a two day event that you’ll want to experience in person, because you’ll be hearing about it forever if you don’t.
Rather than start off with the headliners, I feel like a couple of the locals are definitely worth mentioning. For starters, B L A C K I E is definitely an artist that no Houstonian should go without seeing live. This guy has been going hard for a long time now; his mix of UK grime, hardcore, and hip hop are something like you’ve never seen before, and his work is usually about five years ahead of everyone else. His latest release, last year’s Imagine Yourself In A Free and Natural World, is a mix of poetry set to free form jazz, and it’s on a whole other level.
Hearts of Animals’ lo-fi approach and song structures are a mix of dream pop, indie rock, and utter beauty. Their last album, 2014’s Another Mutation is their best to date.
As for as dance pop electronica, you can’t really go wrong with Houston’s Wrestlers. Now performing with a full percussion section, these guys have played such places as Lollapalooza, alongside some of the freshest festivals and opening slots. Their latest release, Perennial Double Single is like dance pop magic and has close to 200 hundred thousand Soundcloud plays alone.
The enigmatic three-piece known as Battles have been on the tip of everyone’s tongues since they dropped the album Mirrored, and their live shows are always something to behold. Battles mixes electronics with traditional instruments with precision and perfection. They followed Mirrored with Gloss Drop in 2011, featuring vocals from Gary Numan and Kazu Makino. This year they gave the world La Di Da Di, and they did so without any vocals, letting their insane instrumentation speak for itself. I’ve felt for quite some time that these guys are one of the most important bands in music today, and live they’re one of the most impressive.
You could say the same thing about Holly Herndon. Herndon is seriously on another level, starting with the fact that she uses MAX/MSP to create instrumentation, the fact that she has a masters degree in electronic music, and the fact that her compositions are just as intense as her music. Her live shows are known to be fully immersive, and her latest album, this year’s Platform, is like nothing else that you’ve heard.
When you think of another level as far as a live performance goes, you have to mention a live set from Flying Lotus. Performing in what appears to be some sort of visual box, Flying Lotus turns everything up a notch while his catalog of tunes from his debut album Los Angeles to last year’s You’re Dead! makes you feel like you’ve traveled to another planet.
The dark electronica of LA’s HEALTH will also be on full display. HEALTH has always been one of my favorite bands going, and this year’s Death Magic just proved that the band is far from calling it quits. The intensity of the drums, the seer of the synths, and the crazed vocals make the album something that will blow you away or give you nightmares.
Sweden’s dancehall and rap artist, Elliphant, will bring her mesmerizing dance moves to the Red Stage on Sunday afternoon. Elliphant’s intense album from last year, Look Like You Love It, coupled with her feature on a Major Lazer tune, should give you more than enough reason to catch her set.
SPIN magazine just named 21-year-old “natural entertainer” Shamir’s Ratchet the #1 pop album of 2015. I was seriously impressed when I caught them live, recently, and I look forward to catching them again.
The set from LA DJ/producer Dillon Francis will get people moving for sure. He drops jams on a regular basis and his latest release, This Mixtape Is Fire lives up to its name.
The fact that Philip Glass Ensemble is performing at this festival kind of blows my mind. Regarded as the most innovative and influential composer of the 20th century, Glass has scored films, operas, and orchestral works that are essential to the development of New Age and ambient sounds. I implore you to catch this set.
The two artists that make up the headlining sets represent the past and present better than any festival headliners you’ve seen before.
If you love electronic music, if you identify with EDM, or even if you just love Britpop, then you have to recognize that New Order is responsible for much of those genres existing. For starters, the iconic group has only thirteen tour dates listed, with their only North American appearance this year being at this festival. Secondly, they haven’t been to Houston since 1989, which is the universe’s way of telling you that this might be your last chance to see them. And finally, they’re an act that doesn’t have an album you can point to as more important than any other, because they’re all important. The fact that both Stephen Morris and Bernard Sumner were in the groundbreaking British punk band Joy Division should be more than enough to convince you of how big of a deal this performance is. If that still isn’t enough, I doubt that you haven’t heard the songs “Blue Monday,” “Bizarre Love Triangle,” or “Age of Consent,” which all happen to be their songs. This year, they returned to form with the album “Music Complete,” and this set will be one that you will talk about for years to come — just ask anybody who saw them at their last Houston at Astroworld over 26 years ago, or actually you don’t have to ask because they’re all still talking about it.
Of course, Kendrick Lamar being hailed as one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time doesn’t hinder the importance of his set at the festival. His 2015 album, To Pimp A Butterfly is currently, and will still be twenty years later, considered one of the most important hip hop albums of all time. The album opener “Wesley’s Theory” is so funky and off the chain that it pulls you in to experience the beauty, the pain, and the genius behind it all. Lamar rocks a mic stronger than the bulk of his peers, and bangers like “King Kunta” and “Alright” just further solidify the album. Pretty much every music critic is calling the album the best of the year, and the rapper’s back catalog, alongside the fact that the bulk of his peers have called him a genius, just showcases that he is the future of hip hop, and his set at the festival will certainly up the street cred of anyone who’s lucky enough to witness it, as Lamar is saying it will be one of the last times he performs this album that has been nominated for ELEVEN Grammys.
The two day festival has more than just music, as it will also feature a ton of top visual artists, making it an experience like nothing else. Casey Reas, Nanotak, and Mark Eats are just a small sampling of the artists who will make this fully immersive experience something you’ll never forget.
The festival gates are set to open at 11:00 am, and the music begins at noon on both days. Taking up Silver Street Studios and surrounding areas, Day For Night still has a small amount of tickets both for two day and single day entry available here. The tickets run between $97.50 and $750.00, the festival is all ages, and it feels like one of the coolest things to happen in Houston since the first Free Press Summer Festival, maybe even since Rendezvous Houston.