Day for Night Rundown, Pt. 1: Kendrick Lamar + New Order + Indian Jewelry + Prismo + Dan Deacon + EFFIXX + Psychic TV + Kamil Nawratil + Work-Order

12274342_1676511042618122_1472637314105145607_nAnd now, here we are. After much hyping, Day for Night is finally here, bursting into life tomorrow, Saturday, December 19th, and Sunday, December 20th, over at Silver Street Studios (2000 Edwards St.). And to me, at least, said hyping looks very much justified.

Over two days, Silver Street will play home to not only an insanely-diverse pile of musicians, from ones you’ve loved since you were a kid to strange outfits you’ve never heard of, but also to a bunch of ridiculously talented artists, people who work in light and in sculpture and…well, frankly, I’m not sure what the fuck else.

The organizers — who you may also know from their previous work, a little thing called the Free Press Summer Festival — are calling this “a music festival inside an art installation,” and while yeah, that sounds a little weird, it kind of makes sense. It seems like it’s going to be some kind of a combination between the CAMH, say, and the hippest, most intellectual rave you never got to go to in high school.

If you’ve still got no idea what that might sound/look like, well, watch:

Now, I’ve got a sad, lame confession to make: yours truly can’t go. sigh. December is a crazy month to begin with around our household, and we managed to triple-book shit for both days, which means that instead of gawping at bizarro light installations while banging my head along with B L A C K I E, I’ll be white-elephant-ing and driving out to the boondocks & back and trying to keep my children from exploding due to sugar overload. Yes, this is the sweet, sweet life of a parental unit.

That said, I am seriously psyched about this festival. If all goes as planned — and the FPSF folks have a history of pulling amazing shit together — it promises to be something truly special, something I hope gets continued for years to come, much like its hot-as-fuck companion festival. So while I can’t go, dammit, you shouldn’t miss out.

Anyway, with that preliminary stuff out of the way, I figured SCR could take a quick look at some of the folks on the lineup, and since this isn’t your everyday music festival, I’m gonna try to hit some of the non-musical artists, too, in our randomly-selected list. Here goes…

kendricklamar2Kendrick Lamar
Okay, I swear I didn’t plan it like this, with arguably the single biggest performer at DFN first on the list; it was completely, totally random, no lie. Maybe it’s that Kendrick Lamar is experiencing some sort of cosmic alignment or something, I dunno — I mean, not only is his latest, To Pimp a Butterfly, showing up on music writers’ best-of lists all over the place and is he nominated for more Grammys than literally anybody else, but the freaking President came out and declared Lamar’s “How Much a Dollar Cost?” was his favorite song of 2015. Hot damn, y’all.

Don’t get me wrong: the guy deserves any cosmically-induced praise he gets. Butterfly is a goddamn impressive album, reminding me of nothing so much as Mos Def at his best, and “How Much a Dollar Cost?” is simultaneously soulful, angrily bitter, and thoughtfully meditative. The album follows similar lines, not afraid to make things ugly and gritty and real but at the same time incorporating some nicely subtle beats and a sidewise smirk.
[Kendrick Lamar plays at 9:30PM on Sun., December 20th, at the Red Stage.]


neworder1New Order
I’ve got to be honest, here: in New Order‘s heyday, I wasn’t a fan. Sure, I liked a few of the bigger radio hits, but at the time, I was pretty dismissive of anything even remotely poppy, instead gravitating towards any heavy metal I could find. I had friends who were big fans of the band, but all I could ever really muster for ’em was an uninterested shrug.

Looking back, though — and listening to the band’s classic albums for the first time since high school — I’m pretty blown away. I hadn’t really understood how big an influence they’ve been to, well, pretty much any electronic and post-punk band to come along in the last two decades or so (if not longer). Listening to the band’s earlier albums, in particular, I was surprised not just by how much of the Joy Division sound remained, with that great, great drone, but also by how many of the songs I do know, even without realizing it. I’m sitting here singing along with “Temptation” like I’m riding around in a friend’s car back in high school all over again, and it feels pretty damn good.
[New Order plays at 9PM on Sat., December 19th, at the Red Stage.]


indianjewelry1Indian Jewelry
Ahhh, yes. This one makes perfect, perfect sense for Day for Night, and it makes me weirdly happy that Indian Jewelry are the first band repping H-town to pop up on this list. They’re experimental, strange, and dirty, but still somehow addictive as fuck, drilling into your brain with Tex Kerschen‘s Lou Reed-reimagined vocals, the quasi-tribal/quasi-industrial percussion, and droney, atmospheric, menacing guitars. They’re intense in a way few bands ever manage to be, especially on new album Doing Easy, which to my ears sounds more like full-on psych-rock than anything else they’ve done up to now.

Plus, they’re one hell of a visual band, cultivating an image that’s somewhere between sunburned California-desert hippie cult and Mad Max nomads roaming the wasteland; I can absolutely see them playing in front of one of DFN’s intricate, mind-warping installations as the crowd sways and pulses along, entranced like bugs in a spotlight.
[Indian Jewelry plays at 5:30PM on Sat., December 19th, at the Blue Stage.]


I’m not real familiar with Prismo, unfortunately, having only listened to him very briefly, but I’ve heard/read good things about the guy from folks more knowledgeable than I am when it comes to Houston-bred EDM, so I was interested to take a better listen. And for a guy his age — he’s apparently still a college student — he’s got a pretty well-developed, mature sound, one that’s hard to pin down specifically.

There’s definitely a serious trap influence, for sure, but there’s also a nice hip-hop influence floating through, especially on tracks like “Squad”; the guy claims to be a fan of Skrillex more than anybody else, but to my ears he’s a lot closer to DJ Snake or RL Grime than anything even vaguely dubstep-related. Either way, I’m enjoying the hell out of the handful of tracks I’ve been able to check out so far.
[Prismo plays at 10:15PM on Sun., December 20th, at the Green Stage.]


dandeacon1Dan Deacon
And then, there’s Dan Deacon. Like Indian Jewelry, the Baltimore-based oddball fits the aesthetic of Day for Night like a glove, combining sweet-voiced melodies with frantic, quirky electronics and a strange, Flaming Lips-esque vibe that’s friendly and welcoming while being undeniably bizarre. Think early, un-pretentious Modest Mouse spot-welded to an electro-pop band like Freelance Whales, and you’ll kind of get the idea.

Sadly, I’ve yet to see Deacon play live, but I’ve heard some truly neat stories about his shows; apparently they’re one hell of an experience, with the audience kinda-sorta collaborating with the musician as the set unfurls. I’d love to see how that works out, especially considering that the guy makes his own electronics and whatnot…
[Dan Deacon plays at 7:15PM on Sun., December 20th, at the Green Stage.]


Alright, and now we get to our first member of the “Light” side of the Day for Night slate, Chicago-by-way-of-SF filmmaker/artist EFFIXX, aka Anthony Ciannamea. Ciannamea has apparently done a lot of music videos for various people, from Moby to Prefuse 73 to A Lull, the latter of which I’ve got linked below because, hey, it’s neat.

I’ll admit that I’m at a loss when it comes to describing EFFIXX’s work; I’m a music guy, not a film guy, despite some ill-advised dabbling in that area early on, so I have a hard time dissecting any influences or styles. The feel of what I’ve seen so far is nicely naturalistic — that much I can grok — which I like, both when going for a grainy, ’70s-film look or the hypersaturated colors of the video below. It’s intriguing and not sleek, instead rambling around in surprising, strange, creepy-yet-friendly ways.

A Lull "Weapons For War" from A Lull on Vimeo.


psychictv1Psychic TV
Heading back to the musical side of things, another bunch of bona-fide legends of post-punk music, albeit in much more of an experimental vein than New Order’s electronics-tinged pop. I hadn’t heard a damn thing from Psychic TV since my DJ days back in college, but even back then the group was legendary in experimental-music circles, sucking in pretty much anybody engaged in making strange, challenging, obtuse music; they were like a supergroup of sorts, a merry band of weirdos led by Genesis P-Orridge on a quest to bring more strangeness to the world at large.

Which, hey, is always a good thing, to my mind — the world needs more weirdness and less close-mindedness, in my book.
[Psychic TV plays at 7PM on Sat., December 19th, at the Blue Stage.]


Kamil Nawratil
Another visual artist, this time Polish-born artist Kamil Nawratil, who does computer-generated video that’s constantly shifting and morphing from one thing to another, like liquid given some kind of disturbing, alien life. He’s most recently worked with Denton band Neon Indian to come up with a kind of motion-capture-ish technology that takes the movements of the band on stage and incorporates them into the actual visuals of the show, which is a very cool idea.


I’ve gotta say, I was a little confused to see Work-Order show up on the lineup for Day for Night — not because they’re not involved, mind you, because they’ve been one (er, two) of the prime movers and designers of the whole damn thing. But everybody else on the list is some kind of performer, y’know, and I was under the impression Work-Order was basically a design firm.

Granted, they’ve got quite a pedigree, with heavy-duty work for MTV, Comedy Central, and The Sundance Channel under their collective belt before partnering up and work for Apple, HBO, and the New York Times as a duo, not to mention a crapload of awards. Whatever they’re doing, it’s bound to be impressive.

More to come if we can swing it, alright? Check back…

(Photos [top to bottom]: Kendrick Lamar; New Order; Indian Jewelry; Prismo; Dan Deacon; EFFIXX; Psychic TV. Kendrick Lamar photo by Christian San Jose; New Order photo by Nick Wilson; Prismo photo by Mike Victorick.)

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