Only a short drive away from the Crescent City in Houston, “Day for Night” promises an avant-garde re-imaging of what a music festival can and could be. In part an homage to French director Francois Truffaut’s 1973 movie of the same name, festival promoters promise a weekend spectacle which include experimental innovative digital art installations including Bjork Digital by the Icelandic chanteuse/icon that move beyond the conventional music festival experience. While paying homage to cutting-edge musical acts and culture from the 80s and 90s which seems to be the craze amongst the millennial set, what makes this festival unique is the fact that it is able to accomplish this while simultaneously staying current with the zeitgeist.
Newsworthy among the headliners this year:
Definitely one of the top 10 DJs in the world and probably one of the top 5, this Ultra Records alum has the music business in the palm of his hand. If you’re skeptical of this prognostication, simply take a look at Forbes Magazine wherein 2014 Kaskade was listed as the No. 8 highest-paid DJ in the world. Monetary concerns aside, listening to Kaskade’s music makes one want to attend a religious service with the Church of the Latter-Days Saints for which Kaskade namesake Ryan Raddon is a member (which included a 2-year stint doing missionary work in Japan). A longtime collaborator of deadmau5, his work with the Canadian house/electronic DJ and singer Haley Gibby yielded hits “Move for Me” and “I Remember” that are now part of the electronic music canon and gave Kaskade two number-one hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay Chart. After co-headlining Coachella last year pulling in some of the largest crowds in the history of the festival, expect standing-room only for this set.
A personal favorite, Blonde Redhead is comprised of Japanese songstress Kazu Makino and Italian fraternal twins Amadeo and Simone Pace by way of Milan. With a sound initially crafted in the 90s after having albums produced by members of “deep in the cut” 90s alternative stalwarts Unwound and Fugazi, the band might fall under a “post-indie” banner maintaining much of the ethos of that era from whence they came while still maintaining relevance in a musical landscape that has sonically, culturally, and even physically been through numerous incarnations. On the blue-chip 4AD label, their song “Everything is Wrong” off their album “Penny Sparkle” should be an anthem for our times with the lyrics “Hard to Say Yes/ Hard to Say No/ The ones who love to dance/The ones who love to talk/The ones who go to bars/The ones who go to Switzerland/Everything is wrong here let's all have a think/Everything is wrong here let's all have a laugh.”
Fresh off the hit Netflix sci-fi horror series “Stranger Things,” Relapse Records (High on Fire, Dillenger Escape Plan, Mastodon) artists Survive break the mold of their label most noted for their grindcore, death metal and sludge metal acts. Paying homage to 80s synth pioneers including Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Goblin, Giorgio Moroder, and John Carpenter, these Austin musicians earlier this year digitally leaked their album “RR7349” which received write-ups in “Pitchfork,” “Rolling Stone,” and “Spin.”
It is fitting that the multi-hyphenate director-screenwriter-composer would be playing at a festival that pays tribute to a style of music he largely popularized having composed the soundtracks for films since the 1970s including Halloween, Escape from New York, and Assault on Precinct 13, Christine, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China. While probably best known from an aural standpoint as the composer for the theme song of the Halloween movie franchise, Carpenter did nonetheless release his first studio album “Lost Themes” on the Sacred Bones label. While it remains somewhat of a mystery what the well-known movie director will be performing during “Day for Night,” it should be noted that he recently performed old and new compositions in London and Manchester, England at All Tomorrow's Parties. While his recent moviemaking career has not been as commercially successful as the 70s and 80s, it was announced that Carpenter would act as executive producer on a new Halloween film, planned for an October 2017 release, his first direct involvement in the franchise since 1982's Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
“Welcome to Houston” Artists:
When Sasha Frere-Jones published “A Place in the Sun—Houston Hip-Hope Takes Over” for the New Yorker in 2005, it appeared to many that H-Town was the center of the musical universe. While admittedly the Geto Boys and DJ Screw laid the foundation that subsequent artists such as Chamomillionaire, Paul Wall, and Lil’ Flip could walk through, a lot has happened since that pre-Obama moment in the sun. While some would argue that Mike Jones still carries that torch with the release of his eponymous 2016 “Where is Mike Jones?” album, for some Houston’s time in the mainstream spotlight is questionable as Houston hip-hop seeks to find its footing in a post-Trump landscape. To silence any naysayers, in a super-rare show of unity Slim Thug, Bun B, Mike Jones, Lil’ Flip, Devin the Dude, Paul Wall, and Lil’ Keke join forces in a multi-generational demonstration of musical firepower.
A veritable inventor essentially of his OWN MUSIC GENRE, with the release of “Selected Ambient Works I-II” in the early 90s, Richard David James (“Aphex Twin”) has always defied easy categorization. Nonetheless, for the sake of edification, it is probably his collaboration with director Chris Cunningham and the music video “Windowlicker” from the album “Come to Daddy” that put him into the mainstream after the video was nominated for a best British video Brit award in 2000. While much has remained mysterious about this reclusive electronic artist, it is a coup for this musician to be playing at this festival if not for the simple fact that he has not played in the United States in over 10 years.
Jesus & Mary Chain:
Another personal favorite always way ahead of their time, the Jesus & Mary Chain first made headlines with their release of “Psychocandy” produced by Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Interpol, The Joy Formidable, Curve, My Bloody Valentine, Lush, The Smashing Pumpkins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Marilyn Manson, Blonde Redhead) and engineer/producer Flood (New Order, U2, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Ministry, Erasure, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey, A-Ha, Sigur Rós, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers).
Fronted by the Reid brothers, Jim and William, the release of “Psychocandy” in 1985 would serve as a precursor to the shoegaze sound that would dominate the UK charts in the 90s before the subsequent takeover of Britpop. While the days of the brothers beating the crap out of one another on stage are long gone, the band would release another favorite “Darklands” in 1987 and “Automatic” subsequently thereafter. By the end of the 90s, in typical UK fashion the band would burn out and dissolve only to re-form again in 2007.
Other notable musicians with mass appeal performing during the weekend include Chet Faker, Odesza, Banks, and Houston’s own up-and-coming Tee Vee.