It’s hard to believe the Free Press Summer Fest debuted just six years ago. Already a mainstay in the Houston calendar, the event each year attracts nearly 100,000 attendees, there to take in acts like Weezer, Skrillex, Jack White and Willie Nelson, along with the best local bands in the city. But for some of us, there’s always been one little problem with FPSF, evident from its very name: It’s an outdoor festival. In June. In Houston.
“We would get messages on Facebook and Twitter saying, ‘Summer is hot. Have you thought of doing something in winter?’” says FPSF founder Omar Afra. “We thought, why not give it a try? Let’s take advantage of Houston’s best weather.” So this year brings the debut of Afra’s new festival: Day For Night, which takes place December 19 and 20 at Silver Street Studios off of Washington Avenue.
To think of Day For Night as Summer Fest, but in winter, would be a mistake. Yes, there are big-name musical acts scheduled to appear—Janelle Monae, Kendrick Lamar, Philip Glass Ensemble and New Order, among others—but that’s only part of the experience. “Everyone has a pretty rigid expectation of what the festival experience is,” says Afra. “We want the music to be an afterthought here.”
To that end, the event will also feature computational and visual artists, whose LED- and projection-heavy work will interact with the music and keep fans engaged between sets, too. To Afra, the pairing is natural. “When you look at Kendrick Lamar’s videos or look at Philip Glass’s history, they are as much a part of the arts world as they are the music world,” he says. “New Order conjures to mind very specific artistic tendencies. All of them have that commonality.”
And Afra plans to use every one of the six acres surrounding Silver Street. “This is a hybrid of indoor and outdoor,” he says. “It has places you can escape to and not be in the festival, but still be in the festival. Soup to nuts, it’s all about the immersive experience.” One that, by the way, you won’t find in Austin.