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

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

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.