Houston’s concrete jungle proved to be the ideal backdrop for Day for Night festival, an event marketed as “the festival of the future.”
The two-day event of around 45,000 attendees took place inside and around the former Barbara Jordan Post Office, with three stages hosting crowds in the parking lot and a series of art installations inside the massive warehouse.
Fifteen visual and digital art installations from various artists including Björk, Shoplifter and Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three offered refuge from the freezing winds. Björk’s 80-minute virtual reality experience, Björk Digital, drew the most attention, as it was the installation’s U.S. debut.
Shoplifter used her signature medium — real and synthetic hair — to create her installation, “Ghostbeast,” an igloo-esque space attendees could walk through or sit and relax inside. Echols made an appearance at the festival to explain his piece: a series of glyphs, sigils and symbols.
Outside, Nick Murphy, formerly known by the alias Chet Faker, and EDM favorite ODESZA kicked off a night of beautiful and intense performances Saturday. When Murphy walked onto the festival’s main stage, the sun had set and the crowd was ready to be wowed. His smooth vocals and jazz-infused beats carried through the fog on crowd favorites such as “Talk Is Cheap” and “Gold” as well as a new track.
While Murphy had the crowd swaying, ODESZA got them to jump in the air. In addition to their mesmerizing light show, the electronic duo brought out a live trumpet, trombone and six-man drumline throughout their set which featured all of their hits.
Aphex Twin’s first U.S. performance in eight years was the musical highlight of the fest. From behind a series of screens, the British EDM legend unleashed a wall of sound that went on — without break — for two hours.
But the crowd never grew wary. When a series of icy winds blew through the crowd halfway through his set, they cheered, and when the rains began to fall as fast as the temperature, they embraced it, knowing this performance was one they'd remember forever.
Without a music industry giant like Aphex Twin, Sunday’s lineup was understandably less remarkable. Lo-fi musician Ariel Pink kicked off the afternoon with a predictably wacky set — the band was decked out in Santa gear — and a new song.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra followed in suit a few hours later, playing slower, jazzier renditions of their hits “Multi-Love,” “From the Sun” and “So Good at Being in Trouble.”
Rapper Travis Scott, however, threw the crowd a curveball when he went on an angry rant directed at a security guard mid-song. During “3500,” Scott handed the microphone to an audience member, but when the guard took it from the attendee, Scott lost his cool.
“I'm going to smack the fuck out of you,” Scott yelled at the guard through the microphone, meeting a mixture of confused murmurs and cheers from the crowd.
Overall, the second annual Day for Night festival was a huge success. The art installations were met with high praise from the crowds, and the outdoor shows were all heavily attended. If Day for Night intended to distance itself from all other music festivals in Texas, it did just that.