Houston’s Day for Night Expands Horizons of the Modern Day Music Festival

By: Seth Johnson
Photos: Berto Campos

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Man, oh man, was 2016 a big year for fantastic releases. And with those releases came a slew of acts hitting the road too — many of whom I was lucky enough to catch in concert. Despite a year packed full of show going, however (see Seth’s roundups of Pitchfork Music Festival and Lollapalooza), nothing compared to my time at Day for Night 2016.

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Aphex Twin

Only in its second year, the festival boasted an impressive lineup of acts, including the likes of Aphex Twin (first U.S. show in eight years), Bjork, Run the Jewels, Blood Orange, Travis Scott and more. And while this is certainly what caught my eye, I eventually became more intrigued upon learning that the fest would also feature several immersive art installations curated by artists from all over the world.

Held in and around a different abandoned warehouse in Houston each year, Day for Night 2016 was held at a huge abandoned post office building, with three outdoor stages, one indoor stage, and art installations scattered throughout the vicinity. With so much art in one place, there was never a dull moment, as the stimulating instillations allowed festivalgoers to explore visual art when they weren’t catching their favorite musical acts. Ultimately, this aspect of the festival was incredibly refreshing and gave Day for Night its own one-of-a-kind charm.

Before I jump into the music portion of my roundup, I think it’s only appropriate that I give the booking team behind Day for Night proper praise. Unlike many major festivals in the modern age, Day for Night seemed absent of outside influences such as massive media companies. Nevertheless, they managed to bring together a very unique lineup of acts that featured a little bit of something for everyone, while still showing love to Houston with several featured local artists too. In a nutshell, the whole thing just felt genuine.

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DJ Windows 98 (aka Win Butler)

After attending the Day for Night pre-party on Friday with excellent DJ sets from Bjork and DJ Windows 98 (a.k.a. Win Butler of Arcade Fire), I wandered back over to Day for Night’s opening day on Saturday, where I was “welcomed to Houston” by a collective of notable Houston rappers (Z-Ro, Bun B, Mike Jones, Paul Wall and more) all performing on stage as one beautiful H-Town family. After catching a bit of this set, I quickly began darting around from stage to stage, catching bits of magic from Tobacco, Thundercat, Clams Casino, Oneohtrix Point Never and The Jesus and Mary Chain. As one might expect, though, the festival truly transformed into another world after the sun went down and the lights made their emergence.

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Oneohtrix Point Never

Night one of Day for Night was certainly one for the ages, with stellar performances from Blood Orange, Run the Jewels and Aphex Twin. I was so happy to catch the large majority of all three sets, especially considering the releases of Aphex’s mysterious 12” that day and Run the Jewels’ RTJ3 the following week. As any music lover might expect, this triple play of sets was filled with nonstop greatness, leaving my cheeks sore from all the smiling I had done.

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Day two, I was back at it once again, running frantically around the abandoned warehouse to catch as much music as possible. On Sunday, my path took me from SURVIVE to Ariel Pink to Lightning Bolt, and then from Mykki Blanco to Kamasi Washington to RZA. In the later hours, I was sucked into the festival’s playground of lights once again, revisiting some of my favorite installations before heading back to the tunes. After this short hiatus, I entered the home stretch, catching high-powered sets from Squarepusher, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Butthole Surfers and Travis Scott, before capping my weekend off with an appropriately scintillating set from Arca.

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Blood Orange

I look forward to seeing you next year, Day for Night. You truly did change my perception of what a music festival can and should be.

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Travis Scott

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Butthole Surfers

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra

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Squarepusher

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Ariel Pink

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DAED

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Tycho

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Blood Orange

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Blood Orange

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Jesus and Mary Chain

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Clams Casino

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Tobacco

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Tobacco

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TEE VEE

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Highlights from Lollapalooza 2016

By: Seth Johnson

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Photo by Maclay Heriot

We sent writer Seth Johnson to cover Lollapalooza 2016. Here’s a roundup of what he liked most.

Big Grams

Saturday at this year’s Lollapalooza was packed with standout female artists, including Big Grams, Chairlift (also included in this list) and Grimes. Although a rather unusual combination in theory, Big Boi (also of Outkast) and Sarah Barthel of Phantogram made for a very entertaining duo, often combining both of their strengths to create some pretty special moments. During the course of their set, the two even did a few live mashups, including one that was one part “Ms. Jackson” and one part “Mouthful of Diamonds”.

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Photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman

Chairlift

Years ago during the Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix craze, I remember seeing Chairlift open for Phoenix at a show in Chicago and thinking they were pretty rad. Since then, I would definitely say the band has grown and matured, which was evident throughout their performance at this year’s Lollapalooza. Fronted by Caroline Polachek, the Brooklyn band played a dazzling Saturday set, that featured several selections from their 2016 full-length, Moth, including “Ch-Ching,” “Moth to the Flame” and “Romeo”.

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Photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman

D.R.A.M.

Of all the up-and-coming acts I checked out at this year’s Lollapalooza, the biggest standout was certainly D.R.A.M. (which stands for Does Real Ass Music). Throughout his set, the 28-year-old singer/rapper captivated the audience with his charismatic energy, repeatedly cuing fans to shout “Yeah doe” if they loved their momma. Throughout his rather short set, D.R.A.M. made sure to touch on all of his hits, including the insanely catchy “Cha Cha” and the Lil Yachty-featuring “Broccoli”.

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Photo by Roger Ho

Joey Purp

After hearing Indianapolis rappers like John Stamps and Oreo Jones mention Joey Purp, I figured I would go check out his early set on Friday at Lollapalooza. This turned out to be a great decision (thanks homies) as Purp impressed with his energy, style and flow. While many may know him from the song “Girls @” featuring Chance the Rapper, the Chicago emcee has plenty more to show off to the world, which can be heard on 2016’s iiiDrops.

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Photo by Greg Noire

LCD Soundsystem

While I am an unabashed LCD Soundsystem fanatic (I even went to their “final” show at Madison Square Garden), there’s no doubt that the band’s set at Lollapalooza was truly something special. Although they supposedly have a new album on the way, LCD stuck to the hits with this appearance, playing songs from all three of their excellent full-lengths. This included an epic final four songs, where the band went from “Home” to “New York I Love You” to “Dance Yrself Clean” to “All My Friends”. Oh James Murphy, how we missed you.

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Photo by Cambria Harkey

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Photo by Cambria Harkey

M83

In keeping with their latest two albums, M83 played a very danceable set of tunes that featured songs like “Go!,” “Midnight City” and “Steve McQueen”. As expected, Anthony Gonzalez’s compositions were even more grandiose in the heart of a big city like Chicago, as building towered all around. As an old school M83 fan myself, I personally was pleased to hear the band close with “Couleurs” from Saturday = Youth and “Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun” from Before the Dawn Heals Us.

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Photo by Charles Reagan Hackleman

Radiohead

Radiohead made the most of the festival’s longest time slot, playing a career-spanning set that exceeded two hours. After opening up with the first two tracks from A Moon Shaped Pool, the iconic British band quickly dove into a smattering of songs both old and new, giving hardcore fans the set they always dreamed of. In addition to expected numbers like “Everything in Its Right Place,” “Karma Police” and “My Iron Lung,” Thom Yorke and company also whipped out some deeper cuts like “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” “There There” and “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” giving everyone a little something to smile about.

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Photo by Cambria Harkey

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Photo by Cambria Harkey

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Photo by Cambria Harkey

7 Unforgettable Sets from Pitchfork 2016

By: Seth Johnson
Photos: Berto Campos

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We sent writer Seth Johnson and photographer Roberto Campos to cover Pitchfork Music Festival over the weekend. Here’s a roundup of what they liked most.

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Anderson Paak

Although his set overlapped with Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds set, Anderson Paak brought it on Saturday night, treating fans to several selections from his excellent 2016 album, Malibu. From one song to the next, Paak had an irresistible energy reminiscent of fellow California rapper Kendrick Lamar (who’s apparently a fan of Paak). Unlike Lamar, however, Paak is also a skilled singer and drummer, which makes his live show an absolute treat.

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Beach House

Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally closed out an unusually chilly July day in Union Park with a perfect set of tunes from the entirety of their career. From “Sparks” to “Walk In The Park,” the Baltimore duo captivated a field full of fans, even bringing some to tears. In particular, Legrand made a valiant point of speaking to the modern state of our world, saying, “Love is the key word, and fear is the bad word.”

Broken Social Scene

It’s not often that Broken Social Scene tours. But when they do, they make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. With this Friday set, Kevin Drew and company stayed true to form, flooding the festival with a massive wall of glorious sound. In addition to classics like “7/4 Shoreline,” “Cause = Time,” and “Fire Eye’d Boy,” Broken Social Scene also gave fans a taste of their forthcoming record, which has yet to receive a release date.

Kamasi Washington

Sunday was a day full of grooves at Pitchfork, with sets from Holy Ghost!, Miguel, Neon Indian, Thundercat and more. Out of all of these, I was anticipating Kamasi Washington most, simply based on the strength of his 2015 triple-album, The Epic. As expected, Kamasi did not disappoint, lighting up the stage with his phenomenal band of jazz wizards. To make things even cooler, the saxophonist even invited his dad up on stage to play a song with him too.

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Porches

Despite an early lineup slot, Porches were able to get Sunday off to an appropriately dance-y start, playing a set that consisted mostly of songs from their 2016 gem, Pool. During the set, Dev Hynes (a.k.a. Blood Orange) came up on stage and joined Aaron Maine on vocals for a song, putting the cherry on top of an overall awesome set.

Later on in the evening, Porches also impressed at a sold-out Empty Bottle after show that featured Bloomington’s Hoops and Chicago’s Varsity as opening acts.

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Sufjan Stevens

In typical Sufjan Stevens fashion, this set was an elaborate, all-encompassing experience that featured costumes, dancers, lights and more. Despite the recent release of his somber 2015 album, Carrie & Lowell, Stevens packed the set with upbeat tunes, too, including several from The Age of Adz. To cap off the night, the beloved indie icon closed out with a cover of Prince’s “Kiss,” sending crowds off into the Chicago streets wishing they could’ve had even more.

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Whitney

Like many, my ears have been taken hostage by Whitney’s marvelous debut album, Light Upon the Lake. After seeing the band at Culture Shock in Bloomington, Ind., I knew they’d be great live, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, they even brought out a string quartet for the final four songs of their set, making their gleaming pop songs that much more enchanting.

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MOKB Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015 Mix | Auditorium Shores, Austin, TX | November 6th – 8th

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We have had the pleasure to attend many festivals over the years, but Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX is the only one that uniquely stands out on its own. While others try to present “cool”, FFFF always comes off as non-pretentious embracing all of the kids who were always apart of an alternative clique in high school. With that very calculated idea, the fest always ends up featuring a variety of artists who are generally making their only festival appearance of the year along skateboarding, wrestling, comedians, and more. Combine that with its more intimate feel size (each stage sans the main stage feels like a club show) and you incredible experience every year.

This year’s event is an important one with it being the 10th anniversary. The lineup represents this momentous occasion featuring stacked list including the likes of Grimes, Wu-Tang Clan, Neon Indian, Odesza, Rae Sremmard, Lauryn Hill, Alvvays, Fuzz, Viet Cong, Toro y Moi, and it goes on and on. Because there are so many to choose from, we decided to throw a little Spotify mix (found below) of some of the acts we are looking forward to seeing. If you have been waffling on whether or not to go, you can still grab passes here.

MOKB Forecastle Festival 2015 Mix | Louisville, Kentucky | July 17th – 19th

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Forecastle Festival 2015 will be hitting the banks of the Ohio River this weekend in Louisville, KY. The fest has grown from more of a regional event to one of the best in the United States. Every year, it seems the lineup quality from top to bottom gets better and better and this year is no different. From the hometown heroes of My Morning Jacket, Houndmouth, and the up and coming White Reaper to ILoveMakonnen, Alvvays, Lower Dens, The War on Drugs, Broncho, Twin Peaks, First Aid Kit, and so much more. We’re not even including the late night after festival shows that are highlighted by our girl Ellie Herring opening up for arguably the most talked about artist in the world at the moment, Jamie xx.

As you can see, the quality from top to bottom is on point. Add in the manageable size of the festival grounds (what can we say, we are old) and it is really one of the better live experiences out there. So with that being said, we have put together a Spotify mix of some of the artists/bands you should go out of your way to catch this weekend. We will see you there.

Fun Fun Fun Fest Announce Their 10th Anniversary Lineup

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One of the best music festivals in the land, Fun Fun Fun Fest, have announced the lineup for what will be the 10th anniversary of the event. Being held at Auditorium Shores in Austin, TX from November 6 through the 8th, artists at this years lineup will include Grimes, Wu-Tang Clan, D’Angelo, CHVRCHES, Toro Y Moi, Neon Indian, and so many more that we could single out. It could arguably be their best lineup yet. Tickets will be available today starting at 11am EST here. Watch Bill Nye the Science Guy give you all of the details below.

FULL LINEUP:

ORANGE STAGE
Jane’s Addiction (performing Ritual de lo habitual), D’Angelo and The Vanguard, CHVRCHES, Future Islands, RIDE, Cheap Trick, ANTEMASQUE, Toro y Moi, American Football, The Growlers, Fuzz, Mikal Cronin, The Charlatans UK, Viet Cong, Alvvays, Speedy Ortiz, Murder By Death, Cass McCombs, Steve Gunn, BRONCHO, Grifters, Creepoid, East Cameron Folkcore, A Giant Dog, Think No Think, Ringo Deathstarr

BLUE STAGE
Wu-Tang Clan, Chromeo, Schoolboy Q, Grimes, ODESZA, Neon Indian, Rae Sremmurd, MSTRKRFT, Hudson Mohawke, Gesaffelstein (DJ set), Peaches, Joey Bada$$, Big Freedia, Afrika Bambaataa, Slow Magic, Lido, Doomtree, BADBADNOTGOOD, Anamanaguchi, Shamir, Bomba Estereo, Snakehips, TOPS, Haelos, Two-Nine, Roger Sellers, The Outfit, TX, SURVIVE

BLACK STAGE
Venom, NOFX, Gogol Bordello, Coheed and Cambria, Drive Like Jehu, L7, Dag Nasty, Desaparecidos, American Nightmare, Converge, Chain of Strength, Skinny Puppy, Babes in Toyland, Parquet Courts, OFF!, La Dispute, Title Fight, Fucked Up, Head Wound City, Dwarves (performing Blood, Guts & Pussy), King Khan and BBQ Show, Benjamin Booker, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Nothing, together PANGEA, Power Trip, Joanna Gruesome, American Sharks, Future Death

Photo Recap: Pit Stop Music Festival

Festival season is upon us. People will inevitably trek across the country to see the largest and most well-known festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo in order to have the typical festival experience: seeing most of the bands you want to see from a few hundred yards away, overpaying for beer, and getting a painful tank burn before falling back into your friend’s car for the seven hour drive back home. It’s a long, messy, unpredictable but memorable weekend that’s become quintessential to what summer is all about.

The Pit Stop Festival in Bloomington back in March, however, brought a little intimacy back to that festival feeling. Held over three nights at a handful of local venues, Pit Stop’s goal was simple: “Bloomington isn’t flyover country; it’s where great independent music puts wheels on the ground. Pit Stop is a three-night sprint of live music featuring national, regional & local acts. Like SXSW for the Upland South, catch the best of indie rock, Americana, hip-hop and more as they roll through our town.” It brought a few of the same pitfalls as its larger festival brethren (due to show times I couldn’t see everyone I wanted to see), but it also found a few of the same unmissable draws in its list of headliners and local talent. Even though I was left with the same sense of exhaustion and slight dehydration at the end of Pit Stop that I’ve found myself in at previous festivals, I still had the same thought as I packed up my camera a remembered where I parked: I can’t wait to do this again next year.

Hiss Golden Messenger

William Tyler

Mike Adams At His Honest Weight

Madlib

PHNM

Stakzilla

Strong Roots

DJ Spikes

Maps & Atlases

The Alamo Freeze

Words and Photos by Doug Fellegy (via Flickr)