Music

Day for Night Festival Sets High Bar with Awe-Inspiring Acts and Art

Photos: Sachyn Mital

Houston's Day for Night festival was more female any other festival I had attended with tons to offer (including shelter from a downpour).

Between numerous, great performances (aka "Sound") at Day for Night festival in Houston, arriving in the final stretch of the year, I found myself roaming the darkness of the historic Barbara Jordan Post Office to engage with the "Light", or art installations placed throughout. I wasn't trying to occupy time; I was excited to experience the art and frequently revisited pieces throughout the weekend. Some, like Matthew Schreiber's "Ricochet", were silent and still and allowed people to be part of the experience casually. Others, like VT Pro's "Telestron", demanded attention with energetic displays that warranted a line (as space was limited). I can still feel the crackle of the lights and hear the hypnotic music choreographed to go along with Playmodes' "Cluster", a pulsating thriller.

As lineups for summer festivals are being announced, there has been a general collective "meh" at the sameness, the safeness and the maleness of the lineups. Day for Night didn't just have some of the biggest female artists (Solange, St. Vincent) on its slate but it also gave women (Pussy Riot, Chelsea Manning, Laurie Anderson) a platform with a day of talks on the Friday of the fest.

The music, primarily over Saturday and Sunday when I was on site, was pretty damn great too. I caught a little bit of Pussy Riot as I was arriving and then wandered around before trying to catch Cardi B. Unfortunately, her performance was like 45 minutes into a set of an otherwise great hip-hop mix. I grew weary of waiting and didn't find myself that impressed with her, though I do admit "Bodak Yellow" was starting to grow on me.

The rest of the day had rain in the forecast, and set times had changed a bit, so I ended up waiting out a deluge to catch some of Tyler, the Creator's fun set but gave up on Nine Inch Nails because of the downpour. That turned out to be for the best perhaps as I finally got to see drum and bass legend Roni Size perform in the round on the yellow stage. Near the end of his set, he dropped "Dirty Beats" which really got the frantic crowd moving.

On Sunday, my focus was on Solange and St. Vincent, making this by far the stronger day. Although, I did plan to catch the Jesus Lizard as I knew to expect a wild show (which may turn out to be their last performance) and I had to see Thom Yorke closing out the night with a live set alongside Nigel Godrich. David Yow was an unpredictably wild frontman, spending like half the set in the crowd. Thom Yorke, on the other hand, was more predictable with his flailing moves but gave the audience a crazy set that included a few Atoms for Peace songs alongside Tomorrow's Modern Boxes tracks.

But the highlights remain Solange and St. Vincent who crushed it, both musically and stylistically. The former had a full band on primarily muted red stage and played an excellent hometown show that included "Cranes in the Sky", "Losing You" and "Don't Touch My Hair". St. Vincent alternatively took a bold stance for an entirely solo performance (she had a backing track). It was just her and her guitar stomping away through Masseduction tracks like "Pills" and "New York". These two are just a couple of the headliner-worthy women that are missing from summer festivals (granted it may not fit their tour cycles and other reasons).

Day for Night sets a high bar for the music festival scene with its diversity in music and audience engagement. I hope more festivals move away from having typical graffiti art installations and offering up challenging museum worth pieces instead. And I hope a few of the 2018 summer festivals in the US have female headliners.

Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot

Cardi B

Cardi B

Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson

Tyler. The Creator.

Tyler. The Creator.
Tyler. The Creator.

Roni Size

Phantogram

Phantogram

Babyfather

Babyfather

Solange

Solange

Solange

The Jesus Lizard

The Jesus Lizard

The Jesus Lizard

St. Vincent

St. Vincent

Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke

Thom Yorke

Related Articles Around the Web
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

12 Essential Kate Bush Songs

While Kate Bush is a national treasure in the UK, American listeners don't know her as well. The following 12 songs capture her irrepressible spirit.

Music

Tatsuya Nakatani and Shane Parish Replace Form with Risk on 'Interactivity'

The more any notions of preconceived musicality are flicked to the curb, the more absorbing Tatsuya Nakatani and Shane Parish's Interactivity gets.

Music

Martin Green's Junkshop Yields the Gritty, Weird Story of Britpop Wannabes

Featuring a litany of otherwise-forgotten budget bin purchases, Martin Green's two-disc overview of coulda-been Britpop contenders knows little of genre confines, making for a fun historical detour if nothing else.

Reviews

Haux Compellingly Explores Pain via 'Violence in a Quiet Mind'

By returning to defined moments of pain and struggle, Haux cultivates breathtaking music built on quiet, albeit intense, anguish.

Reviews

'Stratoplay' Revels in the Delicious New Wave of the Revillos

Cherry Red Records' six-disc Revillos compilation, Stratoplay, successfully charts the convoluted history of Scottish new wave sensations.

Reviews

Rising Young Jazz Pianist Micah Thomas Debuts with 'Tide'

Micah Thomas' Tide is the debut of a young jazz pianist who is comfortable and fluent in a "new mainstream": abstraction as well as tonality, freedom as well as technical complexity.

Music

Why Australia's Alice Ivy Doesn't Want to Sleep

Alice Ivy walks a fine line between chillwave cool and Big Beat freakouts, and her 2018 debut record was an electropop wonder. Now, in the middle of a pandemic, she tries to keep the good vibes going with a new record decked out in endless collaborations.

Books

Five Women Who Fought the Patriarchy

Whether one chooses to read Square Haunting for the sketches of the five fascinating women, or to understand how misogyny and patriarchy constricted intellectual and public life in the period, Francesca Wade's book is a superb achievement.

Film

Director Denis Côté on Making Film Fearlessly

In this interview with PopMatters, director Denis Côté recalls 2010's Curling (now on Blu-Ray) discusses film as a "creative experiment in time", and making films for an audience excited by the idea of filling in playful narrative gaps.

Music

Learning to Take a Picture: An Interview With Inara George

Inara George is unafraid to explore life's more difficult and tender moments. Discussion of her latest music, The Youth of Angst, leads to stories of working with Van Dyke Parks and getting David Lee Roth's musical approval.

Music

Country Westerns Bask in an Unparalleled Sound and Energy on Their Debut

Country Westerns are intent on rejecting assumptions about a band from Nashville while basking in an unparalleled sound and energy.

Film

Rediscovering Japanese Director Tomu Uchida

A world-class filmmaker of diverse styles, we take a look at Tomu Uchida's very different Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji and The Mad Fox.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.