There’s a certain strength of character that all Houstonians, including myself, embody. Though previously intangible, it’s the sort of raw grit–and a subtle darkness–that was finally uncovered at Houston’s second annual Day for Night Festival. In an environment of music and art, light and darkness, and warmth and cold, the festival redefines what true artistry is through its masterful curation of centerpieces of art and carpeted stages of music.
BEST OF DAY ONE
Red stage had it won.
PHOTO: Julian Bajsel
H-town legends: Welcome to Houston
Welcome to Houston popped it off with hip-hop legends from the city including Z-Ro, Lil’ Flip, Slim Thug, Bun B, Mike Jones, Devin the Dude, Paul Wall, Lil’ Keke, Yungsta, Big T, E.S.G., J Dawg, Lil’ O, Swisha House Click, DJ DMD and DJ Michael Watts.
PHOTO: Roger Ho
Our honor roll
Thundercat mastered the stage with his musical brilliance that entertained Kendrick lovers and provided progressions that would blow even the minds of music theorists. BANKS came on deck with sultry performers that blew hot waves over those in the crowd that weren’t even sure who she was initially. When I first saw her at Bonnaroo in 2014, I remember her powerful emotional eruption at the end of her set. I was pleased to see the transition of her musical maturity and continued strength of her stage presence.
PHOTO: Sara Strick
For the third time, I was able to witness a new-and-improved set by Odesza. Always equipped with the best light show, the duo has long been one of my favorite acts to see live. With a couple of new songs sprinkled in their set mix, it was truly a show not to have been missed. However, as strong as their set was, the duo’s manager Adam Foley said they were mostly excited to play on the same stage as Aphex Twin who played his first set in the U.S. in 8 years.
PHOTO: CHAD WADSWORTH
At the Green stage, I witnessed Run the Jewels, for the third time in my music career, wreck the stage. The strong chemistry between El-P and Killer Mike never seems to fade. As they complained about the humidity in Houston, a strong gust of wind brought rain and a drop in 15 degrees to the festival and people began to flee for cover in their booty shorts and tank tops.
Best of Day Two: ATX Represent
Let’s be real and say legendary Bjork and Butthole Surfers delivered lackluster performances. But to make up for it, Austin local acts S U R V I V E and Night Drive earn a spot on our festival honor roll for Day for Night. Otherwise known as the band that scored the soundtrack for Netflix’s Stranger Things series, S U R V I V E put Austin on the map once again, repping the 512 in the 713 on the Blue Stage. A truly impressive act, the artistry and their down to earth demeanor is what impressed me most about their performance. Not only was it thrilling, their music grabbed you by the whiskers and made you feel as if you were traveling through the woods in your own Stranger Things-esque adventure. I would even go as far to say that they delivered the best act of the entire two-day festival.
PHOTO: ROGER HO
Night Drive also earns some points for rallying a good amount of people out into the cold to see them on the Yellow Stage. The band’s stage presence was confident and captivating and their music warmed the crowd up enough to retain them in the un-Houston-like 30-degree weather.
My favorites of the non-local crowd included Wu Tang’s RZA who put on a strong word game and engaged the crowd more than anyone on Day 2. Travis Scott (although he beefed with festival security during his set), Kaskade, SOPHIE and ARCA ended the night on high notes, each entertaining a different type of crowd and putting a satisfying end to a brilliant and well-curated festival.
PHOTO: GREG NOIRE