As Day For Night continued on to its second year with a new location, the abandoned property of the Postal Service hub which was the former Barbara Jordan Post Office building: a 16-acre venue in the heart of downtown Houston provided the perfect space in which led to the creation of a very unique ambiance.
In the pre-coverage piece, I touched on five of the electronic acts that weren’t the headliners to help guide our audience to some artists they might otherwise skip over. We are taste makers over here at EDMTunes after all. While we are music blog, I’m going to dig into the art installations first; just to set the tone off right as their compliment of each other made Day For Night one of the best events Houston has ever hosted.
“Day for Night” is a cinematographic term for “faking” a day scene into a night scene. Sound is the second part of the equation, but sound in it’s relationship to light in movement, to presence and to space. This dialog between our immense venue, sound, light and audience is driven, in all cases, by the mastery of one form or another of cutting edge technology, and this is where the festival really defines its turf.
Heading the art portion were Björk Digital, United Visual Artists and Nonotak. While not being able to attend the “immersive, five-room exhibition of digital and video works experienced in VR, including Black Lake, Björk’s groundbreaking immersive film commissioned by MoMA”, I was fortunate enough to witness one of her DJ sets. Back to this in a bit.
The United Visual Artists piece encompassed an entire wing of the postal hub. Musica Universalis is a “spatial instrument that investigates the idea of harmonic progression; the fundamental relationships that exist in every piece of music and can be seen writ large in the organisation of the universe.”
SHIRO + HIGHLINE are creations by Nonotak; the “artist duo from Paris working with light and sound to create ethereal and dreamlike environments.” Both encompass music but SHIRO is a live performance from the duo while HIGHLINE is group of mirrors, lights and ambient music couple with the right amount of bass tones to provide a calming environment on one wing of the second floor.
There were so many other exhibits to enjoy, but since the goal of this piece is to cover the sonic vibrations the musical artists bring, that’s where we head to next. Complete with four stages red, blue, green and yellow, the arrangement utilized the space very well: giving room when needed. This granted the art installations the flexibility and the setup of the musical arenas a great relationship to work off of.
The red stage, hosted most of the headliners besides Björk Digital, was one of three outside stages. The red one in particular was breathtaking; the stage having the Houston skyline plastered behind it. The green stage was constructed on the west side of the property with yellow taking place on the north side. Besides the mind blowing performance by Aphex Twin, where Björk reportedly immersed herself amongst the crowd, much more was going on around the bustling art and music experience.
Nick Murphy (Chet Faker) did his thing on the main stage, undoubtedly playing material from his evolved moniker along with some older jams as Chet. Tycho nestled inside on the blue stage, expressed soothing auras out of their precisely tuned guitars, bass and drum kit while keeping the energy up tempo enough for the audience’s engagement. Leading exquisitely into ODESZA whom had a conflicting time slot with the band from San Francisco, took off the last 40 minutes of their set; debuting three new tracks before the live Houston audience. Soulection piloted the festival to the tarmac on day one, performing for two and a half hours, as member after member of the Los Angeles music startup collective threw down their varied genre of beats and mixing styles until 2am.
And that was only Saturday.
Austin residents Night Drive drove home their modern synth-pop to the crowd over on the yellow stage while Squarepusher aired his interpretation of electronic music via multiple hardware units and a bundle of wires, all while wearing a fencing helmet. With a forest on stage, Björk DJed in a mask behind an array of potted plants while playing an eclectic selection of tunes only to be criticized by some members of the media for the way her music bounced around in her set.
Housing 15 art installations outside on the walls or in the dungy, Detroit or Berlin type of establishment; a space reminiscent of the techno warehouse scenes from the early 90s, the second year art and music project is part of a growing guild of event planners which are inadvertently building a prototype for what future festivals will be based around. While there always a few setbacks and unplanned for situations, overall, the sophomore edition of Day For Night was a huge success in helping to transform the nation’s 3rd largest city’s music scene into more than just a country music and stadium tour town.
After all, Houston has a vast amount to offer residents and patrons alike. Everyone knows about Houston’s culinary mastery in the dining sector as well as having the NASA MCC (Mission Control Center) located south of the city but everyone hears of Texas and with it not being Austin, completely dismiss every and all notions of making Houston a travel destination. Now, the underground music scene has finally started to take hold on the oil and gas dominated city.