The Friday Summit of the third annual Day for Night was a great warm-up, both literally and figuratively, for the first real day of the festival. The weather on Saturday was unseasonably cold for the Bayou City, add a little intense rain to the mix, it becomes nearly unbearable. However, much like last year, when rain and wind were special guests for Aphex Twin’s mind-melting set, Mother Nature seemed to make acts like Tyler, the Creator, Cashmere Cat, Nine Inch Nails, and more all the better.
Coverage by Waylon O’Day, Cedric Mathis, German Romaldo, Kolin Miller, and Parnia Razi
Local band Deep Cuts kicked off an amazing Saturday for music at the Green Stage. They started off early but that did not deter the band from having a great time. Labeling themselves as “Houston’s most beautiful boy band”, the quintet pop band has been hard at work by playing as many shows as they can for years around the Houston circuit and beyond. Their work has not gone unnoticed as Neon Indian mentioned the boy band in a Pitchfork article on up and coming artists. Their active status in the Houston music scene makes their appearance at this year’s Day for Night festival a true sign of their progress and passion.
As for their set, they sounded undoubtedly experienced and relaxed. With retro video game visuals behind them, the band played the new and old. Lead vocalist Chase Harris remarked on how they had just finished up recording their first new album, so they definitely wanted to tease the crowd with their new creations. Not the most energetic band nor the loudest, Deep Cuts played a chill session to start the afternoon easy. Their music would fit any 80’s movie with their signature sax while melodic, smooth guitar and bass accompany it throughout. Harris’ vocals fit right into the entire theme as well. The whole experience was like watching a vapor-wave video in real life. Deep Cuts seems to be on the right path to standing out if they continue to perform with this confidence and skill.
In the ten years since the release of the Athens, Georgia bands defining album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Of Montreal has been one of the most successful indie-psychedelia bands of the new century.
In celebration of their success, Kevin Barnes, seen to the left in a blonde wig and women’s clothing, and his fellow band mates, treated the Day for Night crowd gathered at the Red Stage with a performance consisting of the album that put them at the top of almost every indie music publications “best of 2007” lists, catapulting themselves and their now renowned label, Polyvinyl, to new heights never seen by their contemporaries.
The band did not play the album in the order it appears on record, much to my dismay, because the album has such a good flow, that hearing it out of order felt sort of odd. However, those thoughts almost immediately left my mind as it was being completely melted by the awe-inspiring visuals and the steady hum of electronic gravy that was being fed through stage’s speakers. The band is full of consummate professionals, who know what their job is, and that is to split some [email protected]#^ing wigs. That they did, as along with spectacular execution of the dense genre-blending tracks, they also had a very entertaining stage show, as dancers would come on stage, usually dressed in some sort of costume (my favorite was the Darth Vader/Day of the Dead masks), however the Flaming Lips still hold the title for wildest stage show.
After years, and I mean years of obsessing over this band, and their ridiculously large discography, it was more than a pleasure to see the album that had me drawn into Kevin Barnes’ wacky world where psychedelic, electronic, and indie-rock are all one-in-the-same. I walked away from their set, breathless, from the seemingly involuntary movement their music created within me, saying to myself that I had never seen a show like that at Day for Night. Little did I know what the rest of the day had in store for me.
Princess Nokia, NYC-based rapper, made her way to Houston this weekend for Day for Night’s immersive music and arts festival. She came onstage and started her set with full energy – and a bright pink Supreme windbreaker. Looking great and sounding even better, she busted out the bars of “Tomboy” and “Brujas,” some of her most popular songs. Cutting things shorter to fit a festival time slot, she didn’t finish any songs entirely, just cutting off and moving onto another. This made the set a bit choppy, but being a young and new rapper, it still sounded great. More importantly and beyond music or style was her energy and personality. Going hard when she raps, but also being able to slow down and sing a song acapella, as well as stopping to talk to her fans about the importance of the dialogue of feminism and how pro-woman she is, reveals her unique personality and shows that she is more than just a rapper. She also discussed not fitting into certain spaces, and how her career took off when she really decided to just be herself. Even in her songs, some of her lyrics revealed this deep and unique personality, as she discusses her life an as orphan in New York and her life growing up in songs like “Bart Simpson.” Towards the end of her set, she crowd surfed, as she’s known for doing, making the set even more exciting and fun. There’s really never a dull moment with Princess Nokia, and I was impressed with her set and how different and balanced she made it.
Kicking off the Saturday portion of Day For Night, Perfume Genius performed on the main red stage. Since this was one of the opening acts on Saturday, finding a nice spot for Perfume Genius was relatively easy, as I settled in right in the middle of the crowd. After a few moments of waiting, Perfume Genius floated on stage, whimsically waving and smiling to the crowd and thanking us for coming out. After a friendly introduction to the crowd, Genius went into his set, using the giant red stage as his platform as he strolled all over the stage yelling and singing and showing off his beautiful voice. The crown rocked in unison as we danced and bopped to the beats. In the middle of his set, Perfume Genius switched to more of a “not nice” portion of the set, exciting the crowd greatly. After announcing the new tone of the set, Perfume Genius performed even more passionately clutching the microphone oh so delicately while hitting his notes so softly and carefully. Unfortunately, he had to cut a few songs from his set because of time, but the crowd and I thoroughly enjoyed the set we got, and this was a wonderful way to kick off Day For Night.
Oh my god BasedGod, what can I say about you that hasn’t already been said time and time again? The man is easily one of the most influential rapper’s in 21st century hip-hop. Whether you like him or not, he created the style of rap that is now dominating the charts. So if you’re a fan of Lil Uzi, Lil Yatchy, Kodak Black, or any of these MCs labeled as “mumble rappers,” you better thank the BasedGod.
Lil B hopped on the stage giving the crowd gathered at the Green stage one of his classic Based freestyle, where he touched on just about everything having to do with Texas hip-hop lore. He occasionally said “What’s up Dallas!,” prompting the crowd to boo, however I think the BasedGod was just having a little fun, which is what the man is all about.
Lil B rapped over his beats, without vocals (Bless Up), however because he freestyles all of the songs he recorded, it felt like he had forgotten his own lyrics, but it really didn’t matter, because it’s the BasedGod, and you have been graced by his presence so sit down and enjoy the s%&# out of it. Wearing a button-up shirt and cut-off jeans in 50 degree weather, by the end of the set, which featured songs like “Wonton Soup,” and “Look Like Jesus,” Lil B was noticeably drenched in sweat; evidence that the BasedGod had given the crowd his all. We were thankful for it too, having such a positive performer in our midst was truly enlightening, and anyone who says otherwise has just not tried hard enough to understand what kind of person Lil B is. The man is truly a light in this otherwise dark word, and for that I say Thank You BasedGod.
The trouble children of Mother Russia are not exactly musicians but performers more than anything else. During the Friday Summit, Nadya Tolokonnikova remarked on how strange it was that Pussy Riot would be playing on the same stage as “real bands”, but Pussy Riot is as real if not more real than any of the bands or artists that performed in the entire festival. Pussy Riot is purely a critique of politics and society. With every song, the message is clear, concise, and absolutely stinging.
Pussy Riot put on one of the best performances in terms of rehearsal, energy, and entertainment. Although most songs were in Russian, their explosive personalities filled the molds of various genres as they switched from old school gangsta rap to hardcore punk to even pop at times. They played their popular tunes such as “Make America Great Again”, “Police State”, and “CHAIKA”. Each bursting with aggressive sexuality, pure rebellion, and hyperbolic satire, Pussy Riot felt confidently dangerous. Absolutely nothing was left back. For a band whose audiences have been prisoners in Siberia or protestors near the Kremlin, Pussy Riot was instinctually vicious, but most importantly, they felt necessary in this day and age.
Pretty Lights, known for his chill electronic meets hip-hop sound, definitely played a game changing set at Day for Night. Excepting to hear his hit songs and typical sound, he brought something entirely different instead. When he first came on, he told the crowd he wanted to try something new and just play around, doing an entirely live set. He said Day for Night would be the perfect place to try something new, and it most definitely was. The unique atmosphere and how different it is than most music festivals always seems to encourage a new level of artistry and bring inspiration to fans and artists alike. He played with the synthesizer and brought some vibrant house beats, and I was incredibly impressed with his skills as a DJ. This type of live set playing something entirely different than most of his own music really revealed how talented and experienced he is with music. The set flowed extremely well, starting off slow but building throughout the entire set, layering beats and adding beautiful visuals with the stage lights. Despite being different than anyone expected, the crowd was vibing and everyone seemed to be enjoying it and having a good time. The energy was great and his music brought a chill, vibrant, and beautiful feeling. Towards the end as the set built up with his live beats, played a few of his own songs, ending the set on a perfect note with high energy. I was overall really impressed with this set, not being a huge fan of Pretty Lights, but interested in seeing what he would do live, he definitely made a fan out of me. With his live mixing, the visuals, and the beaming city lights of Houston behind us, it was a perfect set for Day for Night and is definitely one I won’t forget.
So day for night has a very wide spectrum of artists in their schedule; spanning from deep edm experimental groups to mainstream pop-rap icons. Cardi B was an artist I was looking forward to seeing live. What would Cardi play? What would her stage presence be like? I was familiar with her on twitter before I ever knew I’d some day be covering her at Day for Night, and I had to say, I was interested. She was funny, she was relatable, she was entertaining and genuine; so naturally I expected some of this to carry over into her performance right?
Wrong. So first things first, it wasn’t Cardi B. I mean it was Cardi B but it wasn’t just Cardi B on the lineup. It was Cardi B ft. Hoodcelebrity. Okay, whatever, let’s get it.
Hoodcelebrity comes out and does…20 seconds of a song and then stops. She says “hold up naw I’m fucking with yalls vibe..” when we were all just confused to be honest. Then she starts the same song again. THEN stops again. The dj, which we’ll get into explaining later (yikes), then stops the song, visibly throwing off Hood, and says “nah y’all gotta try again when the bass hits you all gotta go crazy.” Lordy can we just get through the one song please? We’ll decide if it’s worth going crazy, we probably will go crazy anyways because it’s an amazing festival, just play the god forsaken song. She gets through the song, and boy, do I mean get through. The song is the actual song..she just sings over it, or not really sing…raps over her singing…or wait…not rap over…no that’s not right..she talks…in short bursts…over only a few words here and there…yeah. While that whole thing is happening, she pops open her shirt revealing her completely see through bra, begins to twerk, and lowers her pants to see..well..pretty much everything. If I were closer I could have seen the naked thigh gap in its entirety. All the while she’s kinda stripping and kinda twerking and kinda singing/rapping, the dj (remember him?) is..attempting to hype us up? He was shouting things like “yes haha loud” and “lets hear it” and “ooh Girl show him” and frankly not many (coughcoughNONEcough) of the crowd members were into it. Then hoodcelebrity plays “Walking Trophy” and it actually is dope! I danced, I sang, the crowd moved because it was a good song, she sang every word, and the DJ kept his mouth closed. After this song, I was filled with hope “I wonder what else she has, and what will she do with Cardi?” (Cardi B, remember her? There’s an article written about her performance at Day for Night somewhere..) However, disappointingly, Hoodcelebrity then says “thank you, please go buy my song on iTunes, it’s called walking trophy it’s the No. 1 song on reggae iTunes Radio right now, please go buy it because I know you like it I just watched you all jam to it. Go buy it. Thank you!”
I am jacks complete lack of surprise. I am jacks complete lack of…erm…oh forget it I was disappointed, sad, and felt cheated. Cardi B save me please.
Well, this is what now happens after Hoodcelebrity retreated to back stage. Instead of writing about Cardi B’s performance I am actually going to attempt to recreate the experience of what happened next in the best possible way I can. In the spirit of Cardi B’s houston appearance, here we go:
Who here is Hispanic ?
Who here is in college ! You’re in college!? Okay all my college students.
And what about those 24 and over ? Yeah? Haha yes! For you!
Anyone here ever been to California? Yep! I love it haha YES California! Are you even from California? Have you ever even been? I love it. This is for you!
Who here loves Houston? Who here is from Houston? Y’all like Houston? Huh, well YEAUGH!
Y’all make more than 30,000 dollars a year? Yeah! Turn up if so!
All of the above are (almost) verbatim questions the DJ was asking the crowd. I only remember half of it as I was furiously typing away this very review trying to keep up. It was obvious Cardi wasn’t even here because it was now 6:47 and her set was supposed to end at 7:00. Between 6:20 and 6:50the Dj was obviously covering for Cardi, playing the listed songs (and more I definitely forgot): “Antidote,” “XO TOUR LIF3,” “Drunken Love,” “Poison,” “This is How We Do It.” Cardi FINALLY came out around 6:57 but by this time I was inside the building, pissed, angry, and refueling for Cashmere Cat. I returned at 6:59 and she said “I have one more song and you have to rap the guys part”
Song ends, she walks off saying “bye houston it was fun but I’m cold”
The end. That’s it. And I would continue to talk about this experience and further elaborate, but I’m cold. I love you and this was fun! Bye.
Around sun fall, I made way inside to the blue stage. For those of you who missed this set, or have never been to Day For Night let me tell you, the inside of this abandoned Post Office is pitch black with very little light outside the lights of the art installations or the stages. Once again I got a very good spot at barricade this time for Forest Swords. Going in I knew that Forest Swords, would create an atmospheric soundscape inside the intimate blue stage, but nothing prepared me for this set. From the first kick and snap, Forest Swords production pounded thorough the smaller blue stage blaring their sound leaving a lasting impression on the crowd. I could feel every kick reverberate through my body. One of the coolest things about this set, is the lack of movement by both musicians on stage. Now, don’t take this as a bad thing, as every subtle movement by both men, created pounding and lasting sounds that the crowd was very much into. And going back into the blue stage, the intimacy and bleak lighting only added the mystique of Forest Swords performance. Afterwards my ears were ringing, but I couldn’t have been happier to have witnessed this set.
Within the madness of the Red Stage with acts such as Pussy Riot and Nine Inch Nails, James Blake slowed things down. He created intimacy with bursts of untamed passion. It was the mixture of soothing vocals, deep synths, and gentle drums that warmed a crowd on a cold, sprinkling Saturday night. James Blake was unflinchingly mesmerizing in his performance. There was no looking away. It was simple heart and soul intertwined with the sounds of electronic soundboards and synthesizers. James played crowd favorites such as “Retrograde” and “Limit to Your Love” while mixing in unreleased songs with a personal highlight being “Asking for a Friend”.
The performance was in perfect synchrony with the purpose of Day for Night. Emotion, technology, and artistry. There was no need for special effects, high volume, or excessive dancing. As a fan of smaller venues and smaller crowds, James Blake was able to capture the experience and intimate nature of said venues and performances and transmit that to one of Day for Night’s largest stages. A true sign of a master performer.
Going into Cashmere Cat I was upset. I was upset about Cardi B and her shenanigans at an art festival she was invited to perform at. So, I hoped and prayed Cashmere Cat would lift my spirits. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a set of his at free press this past summer, where as soon as the song “Rice Rain” started, it started sprinkling, and later when the beat dropped, it began pouring as if on queue. So, I knew going in I would have fun, but there was no possible way he could top that (I mean what are the chances right?).
Cat comes out with his long beautiful flowing hair, his potted plants and his mix board, as is tradition. The sky is a pink hue. The crowd is gathering; the crowd is packing in. Cat comes out, and immediately begins to play music. Cat starts with a mix of something I couldn’t recognize, but quickly turns it into none other than rice rain. And almost as if he were commanding the weather, I felt a rain drop. Was it on purpose? Was it intentional? Did cat really control the rain? Is Rice Rain a legitimate rain song ? Whatever. I jammed.
The way that Cat commanded his audience, from high up on the green stage, was so compelling. I felt his every movement. Day for Night, I applaud you for many things, one being the diversity, across all demographics, especially in age. Here at Cashmere Cat, I saw what could have been my little siblings dancing, I saw what could be my classmates at UH vibing, I saw what could be my professors putting their hands up, I saw what could be their parents getting down. Amazing. Cat had pulled together people of all ages, of all occupations, of all walks of life, and created a huge dance party. Every song played flowed so effortlessly to the next, and by the time the rain really started picking up, I barely noticed.
I’ve now seen Cashmere Cat twice in my life, and both times were phenomenal experiences. Myself not being a very big fan of electronic music, I was pleasantly surprised when first seeing him and having a wonderful time. For any that missed out, I only have one piece of advice: do not miss out again. If you ever have a chance to see Cashmere Cat, it is definitely worth taking the time out to see him, whether you’re a fan or not.
Nine Inch Nails
When Day For Night was first conceived three years ago many people who has attended the fest, wondered when, not if, Nine Inch Nails would headline. Finally, in the third year everybody got their answer. All through Saturday rumors and speculation of rain cancelling the fest was rampant. To combat this, the outside stages were moved up by an hour. As 8:30 rolled around, rain or shine, I decided nothing would stop me from seeing Nine Inch Nails. Now, whether it be because of the weather or showmanship, Nine Inch Nails took their time to start, but as soon as the giant screens start animating the iconic Nine Inch Nails logo, what happened next was too good for words. As soon as Trent Reznor and the rest of Nine Inch Nails took the stage playing “Fireman” it started pouring, but this deterred almost no one as we determined to witness Nine Inch Nails preform. Right from the opening song Nine Inch Nails used the giant red stage and all of the potentials that came with it to its max potential. With each heavy strum the lights followed in unison. To call this simply a set, heavily undermines the whole entire performance. Even in the pouring rain the lights and sounds did not miss a beat. These days, aside from a few projects, Trent Reznor has been lending his talents to movies, winning several awards for his musical scores. Truth be told, this performance was like a movie in real life. While I was extremely far back for this performance, soaked all over and shivering, I found solace in the music, as Nine Inch Nails performed many of their favorites such as “March Of The Pigs” and Closer. One amazing thing I noticed about this set as how Reznor would transition from his earlier more visceral and intense material and then play some of his newer material without missing a beat. Unfortunately, because of an intense downpour, Nine Inch Nails had to end their set early, as an obviously bothered Reznor addressed the crowd that he was told to get off, but what was surprising was the fact the crowd came away satisfied. Unfortunately, I cannot describe this performance in one sentence, but I think one fitting way to help describe this performance, was when I overheard somebody in the crowd exclaim, “I don’t like Nine Inch Nails, but this is amazing.” Walking away, my clothes were ruined, I couldn’t see anything out my glasses, but I was so satisfied and floored it did not matter. Until next time Nine Inch Nails…
Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois
When you think about Day for Night, you think about the absolutely legendary artists they are able to draw out of hiding to perform, New Order, Aphex Twin, just to name a couple. However, I don’t think enough people recognized how huge it was for the lineup to get both Venetian Snares, the legendary breakcore artist, and Daniel Lanois, a steel guitarist who has produced for the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson. This pair is, in my mind, one of the biggest “wow” acts featured at this years festival, and they continued to wow audiences during their performance at the Blue stage at Day for Night.
The set felt like a constant battle between man and technology as Lanois strummed his steel guitar and Venetian Snares tore up the sound on a board that looks like it was borrowed from my high school’s auditorium. However, at times, it didn’t feel like a battle, it felt like a dance between two decidedly different musical styles. Much like the vision of the festival, bringing together technology and society, the set achieved those goals by showing us that harmony can still exist in the midst of so much confusion. I hate to say this, but this performance was more goose-bump inspiring than that faithful night that Aphex changed the weather. A truly once-in-a-lifetime performance, one that made me truly reflect on what it meant to be a human in the age of technology.
Tyler, the Creator
How can Tyler be so consistent with his music, persona, and stage presence ? Well, because it is genuine. It’s easy to do all of these things when they are just seamless parts of yourself. Tyler in his performance taught me this very truth.
Cashmere Cat welcomed the rain to the green stage, but, by the end of his set, it began to settle a bit. Hopeful, I got as close to the front as I now could, being that I fled during the Cat set for cover to vibe out without getting too wet. Alas, Tyler is so popular he already had quite the crowd.
Alas, I settled in the middle of the crowd with my girlfriend and my backpack, ready to hear Flower Boy live. I had seen Tyler once before on his Cherry Bomb tour, and was happy to see him again. I wondered, however, what his stage would look like with the light rain. Surprisingly, the set up and soundcheck were very fast, and in no time, Tyler was center stage, beaming down at all of us. Oh boy.
Tyler starts with a beat I hadn’t heard before playing in the background, as he rapped some words I’ve never heard him rap before. I slowly started realizing the beat sounded familiar, and before I knew it he had transitioned it into “Mr. Lonely/911”. Fan-expletive-tastic job Tyler. Holy-expletive-cow.
Tyler continues his set with lots of gems from his newest album, with some personal favorites such as “Garden Shed,” “Who Dat Boy,” and “Boredom.” After “Boredom,” Tyler says in his beautifully blunt way “man F*#% Houston weather. This is wack. Anyways. Enough of that Grammy-nominated album,” with his tongue hanging out of a smirk. Oh no, what will he play next?
If you’re a Tyler fan, and if you’ve read my previous article over Cashmere Cat, you know that: a. there was once a time Tyler’s music was insanely offensive to an outsider, and b. the crowd was VERY diverse, especially in age. Now, with this in mind, you can understand why I was a little nervous, I was hoping Tyler didn’t start playing one of his older songs that would cause all these happy listeners, who are new to Tyler and were loving his performance, to have an aneurysm over the vulgarity. “Please don’t play any Goblin”. Then, it happened. “Golden Rubbers in these denim Pockets…”
Yes. Tyler, you have taken me and this entire crowd for a ride. Thank you for this song. Yes, it’s offensive, but yes, who gives a damn. Let’s jam out!
Tyler continues to play some older songs, playing a personal favorite, “DEATHCAMP,” and some more. The rain really begins to pour and Tyler doesn’t let up. We can all tell by this point, that if there weren’t any time constraints, the storm would have ran out of its energy before T, but all concerts must end for the next act or day to follow, so T would have to retire before this storm. Tyler topped off his performance with “I Aint Got Time,” and we were on our way, full to the brim with good vibes and happiness.
Not only was his energy amazing but his presence; Tyler’s presence is one you cannot help but feel happy to witness. Tyler is so comfortable where he is, and knows exactly where he belongs. Tyler belongs on stage; he belongs in our eyes, with speakers and a crowd surrounding him; Tyler belongs in the limelight. Unmatched in energy and creativity, Tyler has proven to me, and many others, that he is a man of many many talents, and is here to stay in the industry as a top member in all categories: as a performer, as a rapper, as a producer, as an actor, as a designer, as a director, as an overall artist. Thanks T, Houston loves you.
One of the last sets of the night, Jamie xx brought some beautiful electronic house music to close out the first real day of the festival. Despite having dealt with the rain and muggy humidity, the crowd was still energetic and ready to dance to his unique sound. Being indoors, it definitely gave the set a different feeling than a typical outdoor festival set. In the warehouse-looking old post office building Day for Night is held in, this set felt really cool and underground. With a low ceiling, the bright changing colors of the set lights looked amazing, and Jamie xx mixed some of his own songs into a flowy and vibrant house set. With everyone dancing, people blowing bubbles over the crowd, and everyone just enjoying the relaxed energy of the set, it was a fantastic way to end the night. I was expecting him to play more of his own songs, and sound more like The xx, but it was impressive how he brought his own personality and style to this set, revealing his skills as a DJ outside of the band. Having gone to a lot of raves, I was not expecting Jamie xx to be someone the rave crowd would really feel, but with the techno-house sound he brought to this set, it was absolutely perfect for all the late night ravers, as the crowd danced into late hours of the night. He fit well into the vibe and style of Day for Night, bringing an unique and brilliant set to end the night. He is someone I would definitely be down to see again, and recommend to anyone who likes electronic music, but also more chill and ambient-sounding bands like The xx, because Jamie xx brings a perfect blend of both.
Thanks for reading! Let us know what you think in the comments. Did you see anything that you thought we should’ve covered? What was your favorite performances? How bad was that rain during NIN? Stay tuned for our coverage of the third and final day of the third annual Day for Night Music and Arts Festival. Also, keep a lookout for our best and worst from this year’s festival.