This interactive music and art festival, tucked into bustling downtown Houston, took festival-goers on an immersive journey unlike any other. The lineup boasted heavily acclaimed sets from Aphex Twin, Odesza, Travis Scott, and Run the Jewels. Alongside the musical acts were renowned experimental digital artists like Björk, NONOTAK, Shoplifter and United Visual Artists.
Only in its second edition, this year’s festival was held in the historic Barbra Jordan Post Office. This gargantuan, warehouse-style venue created a futuristic dystopian vibe that could encompass the festival perfectly. The dark, open complex was large enough to house over a dozen interactive art installations and four stages. Even though attendees expressed concern with the shortage of commodities like bathrooms, wastebaskets, and water bottles, it added to the post apocalyptic feel.
While hundreds waited up to 10 hours just for a chance to experience Björk Digital (a renowned virtual reality exhibit which apparently was awesome), I spent my time meandering the cavernous warehouse and surrounding grounds. The darkness and lack of signs made moving around venue confusing at times, but luckily around every corner there was some sort of visual or audio stimulation.
Throughout the festival you were greeted with lights dancing and oscillating off walls, a grid of red lasers that filled an entire room, a chandelier of moving mirrors, and even a fluffy cloud monster made of synthetic human hair. Each installation allowed visitors to take a step back, live in the present and appreciate something more complex than themselves.
A crazy performance was put on by NONOTAK. The duo from Paris uses their art installation as a stage by creating an infinite, dreamlike environment with a combination of lights and sound (the essence of the entire festival). The pair somehow managed to get the entire 200-person crowd to sit cross-legged on the floor to experience their show.
On the inside of the venue housed blue stage that delivered one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, Björk. The crowd was expecting a lot considering no one could get into her Digital experience. Björk however, left the crowd scratching their heads and wondering when the real music would start. I left after 15 minutes of ambient noises and nature sounds.
Outside, three stages surrounded the warehouse. The temperatures may have dropped to freezing, but the crowds stayed warm with drinks and dancing. Houston native Travis Scott hyped up the crowd at the Green Stage while Aphex Twin blessed the audience with his first U.S. performance in eight years at the Red Stage. Overall, the musical performances at this festival were curated to showcase the best of both visual and audio. Even if you didn’t know a single artist on the lineup, you could still get your moneys worth from the captivating visuals that accompanied the music.
The fashion of this festival was art in its own. From pastel-colored hair, cyber goth get up, onesies, and old school rave attire, attendees used Day for Night to showcase their most unique fashion choices.
This festival was a chance to showcase Houston’s downtown district, and it did just that. I spoke with a local that said the festival was the epitome of Houston’s culture in a festival. “It doesn’t get more Houston than this,” he said. This event is just the beginning of putting Houston’s music and art scene on the map.
Day for Night allowed festival-goers to create their own experience. Attendees were able to leave the real world and enter a reality that was completely different than any other music festival experience. As any young festival goes, there were a few hiccups but I am excited to see what “the festival of the future” will bring us in 2017.