Inclement Weather Is A Thorn In Day For Night’s Side REVIEW+PHOTOS: DAY FOR NIGHT 2017
HOUSTON, TX- Before travelling to Day for Night, I pondered the idiosyncrasy of its timing. Most major music festivals take place between the Spring and the Summer. This high profile musical gathering was scheduled late in the year during the heart of Winter. Given intemperate conditions of seasonal weather, I kept my fingers crossed that climate conditions would be fair as I made my way to Houston.
Upon doing more research about the festival, I learned that the event was to take place at the Barbara Jones Post Office, a 4-story complex that was once used as the central mail carrier location. That assuaged some of my concerns, but the forecast of a possibility of rain still had some of my hesitant about coming out. I assured my friends not to worry, because I assumed that the festival planners would likely have anticipated for rain and, given the venue, would take place in the 4 story abandoned complex which coincidentally had 4 stages.
I arrived at the festival just as the winter sunset commenced. I did a bit of exploring and realized, to my surprise, that the 2 main stages were set up outdoors and the electronic DJ acts were placed inside the huge complex along with art installations on each of the 4 floors.
I saw some heavy clouds gather, but didn’t pay them too much mind and proceeded to the beer garden where some girls told me to check out Cardi B. I didn’t know much about the artist, but it seemed like many people in Houston that I spoke with were pretty hyped up to check her out.
Cardi B was charming and her on stage persona was extremely entertaining. The music was fun and totally understood why she attracted so many of the ladies at the festival to check out her set. After my time in the photo pit, I found myself dancing with a group of women. Amidst the flirting, they stated the obvious and mentioned that they were big Cardi B fans and subsequently invited me to a club they planned on heading to later in the evening where Cardi B would be performing again. I was really excited to go, but I didn’t expect to be soaking wet by the end of the night … I’ll get to that later.
Up next for me was the band I was most looking forward to photographing during the weekend: Nine Inch Nails. To my dismay, I was informed that there was no press access for NIN, so I snaked my way through the immense crowd to try to find a decent position from which to photograph. It was task to find a good spot as NIN fans are reluctant to give up their own position, even for a moment, for one of music’s favorite anti-heros. I don’t blame them.
There was a light drizzle began to fall as we waited, but as soon as Nine Inch Nails took the stage, it began to pour heavily. Considering that I had my camera gear, I could only stick around for a few songs. I wasn’t going to take a chance of having my gear ruined. That was a disappointment.
I have seen Nine Inch Nails 4 times previously. Each time Trent Reznor assembles a band that gladly plays over their allotted time slot. The festival schedule said the band was to play 2 hours, but their set at Day For Night was cut to under an hour likely due to the rain creating dangerous conditions for both the band and attendees. I attempted to head to the other main stage where Tyler the Creator was playing, but was only able to catch a few of his songs before his set was cut short as well due to the inclement weather.
Luckily for me, Roni Size was back in the States touring for what would be the 20th anniversary of his first album New Forms … and performing INSIDE Barbara Jones Post Office. I attended college in Houston for 1 year back in 2001, I remember Houston having a huge drum and bass scene, so it was no surprise that many soaking wet attendees preferred to go inside the complex and rage out to Roni Size.
The majority of the festival crowd was gone way before 10pm when the main headliners “scheduled” to finish their sets. Those sticking around retreated inside to dance the rest of the night away to electronic acts such as Bjarki, G Jones, Jlin and Jamie XX until 2am amongst trippy art installations. Only 2 of the 4 stories of the building stories were with most of the complex being filled with art installations that were cool to look at for 5-10 minutes, but not really much of an attraction unless you were on psychedelics or just needed a break from estivating.
I pondered why the organizer didn’t use each floor as a separate concert venue. The stone architecture appeared to provide soundproof barrier for each floor, and the stair wells seemed wide enough to support heavy traffic. In my opinion, it would have surely prevented any discomfort from weather complications.
As a Texas winter chill set in, the vibe of the evening seemed to die down. Even though tickets for Saturday had sold out, the day seemed to end with an anticlimactic swing. I’m sure that much of the crowd shared my displeasure with the lack of contingencies for the bad weather.
After reviewing the weather report early Sunday afternoon, I decided to head out to the festival shortly thereafter, especially because Phantogram slated to perform at 5pm. My early arrival to the festival paid dividends as I got to witness a small framed girl with trippy colored spinning LED glasses named Rezz rock the main stage with an arsenal of sound. Rezz woke the sleepy Sunday afternoon crowd with a barrage of monstrous, dark dub step that served as a perfect compliment to Phantogram’s forthcoming set, and surely earned her new fans. Myself included.
I didn’t realize how big of a Phantogram fan I was until I realized I was singing along with almost every song in their set. Their combination of electronic dance music and catchy pop lyrics, when played as a live band, is my favorite combination when attending live events. Sarah Barthel (lead vocals) completely commands the stage with graceful theatrics, presence and a bubble gum pop sounding voice which compliments the band’s electronic rock sound as a whole and is a reason when I have their music on a consistent rotation on my play list.
The highlight of day two, however, was Justice. When they started their set, the festival grounds were rattled with an assault of metallic, techno, synth fury and banging electro beats that takes its inspiration from metal guitar compositions. I was so excited to see this act (my the 6th time) that I never noticed when the rest of the photographers were asked to leave the photo pit. I suppose security must have given me a pass due to the overwhelming excitement I had from dancing along with each track.
After the never disappointing performance put on by Justice, I decided to check out Corbin’s headlining time slot. I often introduce women I know to the smooth R&B vibe of Spooky Black (Corbin prior p/k/a). His video “Without You” shows a skinny white kid with a skull cap and a turtle neck displayed on a couch with low fi VCR tape quality visuals. My fiends initially laugh at his take on the urban aesthetic until a honey smooth voice come from his lips which immediately changes their perspective.
Corbin, however, has evolved his aesthetic, and instead of the silky smooth persona I knew, he now appears to be a tortured young man who appears to have one too many drinks. His vocals were way too thin to compete with the underlying music that blared through the speakers. Some artists often don’t translate well to festivals and some artists just need a bit more seasoning before undertaking a main stage slot. Corbin had a time slot that only comes with being at the top of the game, but it would seem he was not ready for it.
I was really looking forward to checking out Thom Yorke’s late night solo set, but with a 12:30-1:15am time slot, I honestly couldn’t’ get my self to stick around after 10pm, especially after seeing the supporting DJ acts and the 30 minute windows of no performances between each set. Not to mention, to be honest, that Thom Yorke solo that late in the evening would have probably put me to sleep on the concrete floor by an art installation.
All in all, this 3rd installment for Day for Night gave Houston a music festival with decent acts, but I was wasn’t impressed enough to travel from Los Angeles again in the future. With no competing regional festivals around this time of the year, there will always be a market for Day For Night, and perhaps they will learn how to adequately address inclement weather to help it become better prepared for next year, but perhaps they should schedule the event to exchange “Day For Night” with “Rain For Light”.