How Houston’s Day For Night festival served as a sound intersection of curatorial excellence

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How Day For Night festival achieved curatorial excellence

Houston, Texas’ Day For Night festival has established itself as an unconventional, hyper-sensory utopia. Bolstering an exemplary menu of avant-garde talent, the festival satiates thousands all while blurring the boundaries of performance and offering the utmost in aural phenomena in its industrial warehouse setting.

Day For Night prided itself on its snapshot booking in its third year, by and for the experimentally-inclined. Enlisting artists like Nina Kraviz, Kaytranada, Justice, Jlin, Jamie xx, Mount Kimbie, Solange, REZZNine Inch NailsTyler, the Creator, and Thom Yorke, among others, the gathering has situated itself as an unorthodox standout from an at times mundane, and largely counterfeit American festival circuit.

Words by Grace Fleisher Featured image courtesy of Theo Civitello


In its immersively emblematic nature, Day For Night’s third edition was a polyamorous union of music, culture, and digital art. It was a multifarious destination, and offered its attendees a mode of escapism while simultaneously defying how they explored their own, as well as others’ relationships with art and reality.

Those who attended were immersed in an epicenter of capitalism’s desolation, i.e the former Barbara Jordan Post Office, only to enter a sprawling industrial wonderland; complete with capacious lasers, fog machines, and immersive visual art open to infinite interpretations. Despite its growing pains, Day For Night was an unparalleled destination in the American festival circuit, protruding the landscape with its singularity in 2017, as it likely will in years to come, too.

Photo Credit: Katrina Barber


Embracement of Reflection: Houston & Beyond

It would be naive to ignore how Houston’s rampantly evolving cultural and developmental environment shaped Day For Night. A look at almost any sect of the city points to hyper-gentrification and a lack of zoning restrictions that are rendering a city of cultural depth increasingly unrecognizable. Festivals have the potential to be the 21st-century’s greatest linking apparatus, and Day For Night embraced multiple methods of coupling reflection in an immensely immersive fashion. Summits delved into socio-political discourse by way of Laurie Anderson, Chelsea Manning, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, and more. The gathering challenged its attendees toward an attainment of outward-awareness.

Photo Credit: Charles Reagan Hackleman



Woven into the very seams of artistic discourse at Day For Night was a thread on how the world’s 24-hour loops and radical advances in technology and communication are seamlessly moving faster than behavioral evolution, rendering many helpless in the interim. In a hyper-connected sect of the world, it’s ironically never been easier for one to feel helpless. Day For Night ruminated on how these very advancements can work to foster connections and discoveries in the world which will propel us further as a collective entity.

Photo Credit: Chad Wadsworth


Post HTX Served As A Model Venue

“The way one sees things, and the expectations one brings to a performance, or any art form, really, is completely determined by the venue,” articulated David Byrne of the seminal group, The Talking Heads.

This phenomenon of a concert space shaping context, and in turn, enjoyment, is explored in Byrne’s book How Music Works. Surely, the way in which performances are perceived en masse is in relation to the space they’re experienced in. At times this is an obvious element. Take the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, for example. Burning Man’s sustenance relies on the desert space it resides in, and while this may be an extreme example, space is becoming a deeply entwined element in the worldwide festival circuit. The relationship between attendees and venues is why scenes blossom, and it’s why destination festivals are becoming increasingly popular.

Photo Credit: Sara Marjorie Strick


Day For Night’s decision to place a hyper-sensorial paradise across four stages in a dimly lit, abandoned post office was a masterful one. Ironically, the nucleus of the performance venue were the veins of the warehouse, many of which contained captivating art installations. Unlit hallways that separated the “blue” stage from the intimately circular “yellow” stage, for example, beckoned an art form in themselves. For in these empty spaces, attendees prepared to ascend into visual or aural titillation. Whether it be disco balls adorned from a ceiling in netting, illuminating an entire room, moving mechanical cranes paired to ominous music, or synced screens around a ground level stage, the once-vacant warehouse was flooded with an innate intertwinement of senses.

Photo Credit: Theo Civitello


Exemplary Curatorial Intent

A festival’s success begins in its curatorial intent. Founded in 2015 by the Free Press Houston and the New York-based creative agency Work-Order, Day for Night established itself as a visually immersive music and art festival from the very beginning. By embedding an exploration of the elements of light, space, and sound in its mission, Day For Night has transformed the festival landscape by combining new media art with envelope-pushing musicians. It may still be a young festival, but its surely created a unique experience. Day For Night’s careful selection of artistry and curatorial intent spoke to several sects of music, tech, and art lovers. Planning such a feat does not come without intent or without a deeply embedded audience understanding, though.

Photo Credit: Katrina Barber


Appealing to the experimentally-inclined, for example, Day For Night brought forth Nina Kraviz, who’s on the heels of a momentous 2017, and largely regarded as a queen of techno. The festival also booked her трип (or Trip) labelmate Bjarki. Jlin, who’s set ironically rivaled her longtime purveyor Aphex Twin‘s 2016 DFN appearance, was also a standout experimental act. Her album, Black Origami, was an exemplary experimental record of the past year. Additionally, artists like Forest Swords, Jenny Hval, Shlomo, and Roni Size, all capitalized on the use of live sets as a medium for either outward, emotive release or social commentary.

Photo Credit: Julian Bajsel


Day For Night also booked standout artists like the esteemed Nine Inch Nails, who’ve been touring their immensely accessible EP Add Violence. Solange stunned in her Houston homecoming, merging art and popular culture with an affirming image of black pride and femininity.  Cardi B gave the 12-minute performance of the year, encapsulating a tumultuous 2017 with her ominous hit “Bodak Yellow.”  Tyler, The Creator gave a fervent performance which was brimming with tracks off his introspective new work Flower Boy. Pussy Riot, Pretty Lights, Justice, and REZZ — with her exceptional Mass Manipulation tour visuals — all expectedly stunned.

Day For Night displayed a keen understanding of the experimentally inclined, but also served as an apt pop culture gathering.In bringing together artists who continue to challenge the status quo, the festival’s curational intent was two-fold — displayed initially by the festival, and then, by each and every artist that performed.

Photo Credit: Ismael Quintanilla


Embedding a Festival Framework for the Future

As more and more festivals continue to emerge on the American festival circuit, immersive affairs such as Day For Night will continue to be a saving grace. It’s one thing to have an exemplary understanding of an audience, but as festival-goers grow into an increasingly digitized world, a means of facilitating connection through art and performance will be needed more than ever. Day For Night blurred the lines between its attendees and artists, it’s an environment where everyone was on an even playing field, as an observer, student of performance, and the outside world itself.

Photo Credit: Sara Marjorie Strick

Nine Inch Nails, Justice, Pretty Lights, Phantogram top Day For Night line-up

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It’ll take more than the devastation of Hurricane Harvey to shut down Houston’s Day For Night festival. The three-day festival is set for December 15-17, 2017. Topping the lineup are Nine Inch Nails, Pretty LightsJustice, PhantogramTyler, The Creator, and James Blake, along with 18 art installations and performances by internationally renowned visual artists such as Ryoji Ikeda and Matthew Schreiber.

Day for Night has become known for it’s state-of-the-art lighting productions and art installations on par with Coachella and Burning Man, while retaining an underground/indie festival ethos. The Day for Night Summit, a consciousness raising speaker forum, will kick off the weekend festivities on Friday, with prominent activists sharing their thoughts on the relationship between art, technology, and activism, featuring the likes of LGBTQ advocate Chelsea Manning and the political activist musings of Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova.

Joining the well-rounded list of headlining talent, which also includes Thom Yorke, Solange, and St. Vincent, are electronic music heavy weights G Jones, REZZ, Kaytranada, Marcus Marr, and Cashmere Cat, with an eclectic list of indie-rock appearances by Deep Cuts, True American, and spoken word artist Saul Wiliams.

Tickets to Day for Night 2017 range from $215 to $750 with fees. This year, a portion of the festival’s proceeds will help the Greater Houston Community Foundation aid people in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Feature photo courtesy of Rob Sheridan

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Watch ODESZA perform 3 new songs from their suspected new album

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ODESZA fans have been patiently awaiting the Seattle duo to announce their next full-length since In Return made waves back in 2014. The live electronic group has been keeping busy fostering new talent with their label, Foreign Family Collective, and playing shows like their Red Rocks debut back in July.

Back in March, ODESZA uploaded a photo to their Instagram teasing that a new album was on the horizon. Details have been sparse since the initial post, however, at Houston’s Day For Night Festival this weekend, the duo unveiled three new songs that can be speculated to be the first taste of their new album.

ODESZA boldly opened their set in Houston with a new track that cinematically builds into a stimulating future bass drop that has their euphoric sound written all over it. For the second ID, the Seattle pair perform a funk-driven house arrangement with their on-stage guitarist that features their signature vocal melodies and bright synths tied together with a disco vibe. Finally, the last video showcases an unreleased song that shows off a darker side to ODESZA with industrial synths layered over a bustling, growling bassline.

While the quality of the three videos aren’t ideal, ODESZA fans can surely be excited that the duo has found a point where they’re ready to share new music and hopefully 2017 will be the year their third LP will see the light of day.

H/T: Festival Squad

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Aphex Twin weighs in on US election with tripped out video

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The ever-reclusive Richard D. James, or Aphex Twin, has emerged from his self-imposed isolation to share his thoughts on the US election. Perfectly capturing the absurdity of the 2016 cycle, Richard D. James has delivered a mind-bending video depicting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as warped caricatures of their campaign personalities.

The clip was created by Weirdcore, who has previously constructed videos for artists such as Tame Impala, Radiohead and more. The video arrived with a caption from James, reading: “An Approved message from Aphex Twin.”

The short clip further doubles as a teaser for Aphex Twin’s forthcoming appearance at Day for Night festival in Houston on December 17 — his first US performance in eight years since playing at Coachella in 2008.

Check out the video below: