Day for Night Saturday review (NIN, Cardi B, Lil B, Princess Nokia, more)
Texas is extreme– extreme everything. Hair is taller, drinks are a bit bigger than anywhere else, food portions tower and intimidate, and thankfully festivals like Day for Night in Houston are completely over the top. Housed in a large USPS distribution facility in the heart of downtown, this art fest (focused on several facets) is wholly unique, concentrating on not only music but also interactive art installations, speaking engagements and much more. Now in its third year and second in its current location, Day for Night’s lineup is decidedly indie, but erring on the side of experimental and adventurous: obvious festival choices are shoved aside for names like Venetian Snares and critical favorites like Jamie xx, Demdike Stare and Roni Size.
This year’s fest featured Nine Inch Nails in the top slot, but also extended invitations to Solange, St. Vincent, Justice, Tim Hecker and many more. And while major cancellations from revered names like Andy Stott and GAS put a damper on the weekend, their loss was felt like a single dish on a buffet table of interesting performances, events and experience at the festival.
The day started with a stage dive. Princess Nokia’s stage dive to be exact, out on the Green Stage moments after riling up the crowd from the photo pit. Her positively fun live show was a great contrast to the sexy and slithering Perfume Genius on the Red Stage, whose emotional and electrifying performance was one that we’ve come to expect from Mike Hadreas.
As Hadreas was wrapping up Red, Lil B’s nonsensical and hilarious set (“WHAT’S UP DALLASSSS!”) riveted everyone in attendance -- with sing-a-long verses like “hoes on my dick cause I look like Jesus” and lots of third-person shouts to himself for being a “pretty bitch.” His performance could have been the stupidest of all time, if it wasn’t so goddamn jovial and fun. Back out on the Red Stage, Pussy Riot was tending to the masses with their politically-charged pop tunes while Demdike Stare performed seated on the Blue Stage, to a backdrop of flashing projections and throbbing woofers. The ethereal nature of their music fit perfectly to the relative darkness and light installations within the room.
Back outside, the masses were lined up to see Cardi B on the Green Stage, whose hour long set consisted of 40 minutes of a DJ, 15-ish of the Bronx MC, and a short period for Hood Celebrity as well. Though her actual appearance was short and sweet, she had all of the swagger and ability to live up to the hype.
The main event to many was Reznor and co on the Red Stage, despite set times being bumped up to accommodate for a potential rain-out (which did not happen). Nine Inch Nails hit the stage around 8:45, which was around 15 torrential downpouring minutes after their schedule. Surprisingly, the crowd did not retreat en masse, with a massive chunk of devotees sticking around to catch the band’s abbreviated setlist out on the Red Stage that included classics like "Wish," "March of the Pigs," "Closer," and more. The night seemed eerily similar to that of a year ago, when Aphex Twin hit the same stage and the sky seemed to open up in some sort of cosmic protest.
Day for Night wraps up today (12/17) with sets from Justice, Thom Yorke and many more. Stay tuned for more coverage.