Now in its second year, Day for Night, the two-day event Free Press Houston presents this month, continues to redefine the music-festival equation by combining highly sought-after acts with cultural experiences such as art installations. Here’s five things to know about the buzzier-than-buzzy winter fest:
1. The Music
More than 64 performers, including notoriously reclusive electronic musician Aphex Twin (making his first U.S. appearance since 2008), acclaimed synthpop star Washed Out (who wrote the opener for Portlandia), and legendary horror composer John Carpenter (The Thing, Halloween), turn up the Bayou City with head-bobbing, Snapchat-worthy tunes.
2. The Art
“Fans consume music differently than before, when someone’s first taste was through records or cassettes,” says Omar Afra, publisher of Free Press Houston. “It’s more visual now, with technology and media playing critical parts. The experience is now an interactive event.” The weekend’s roster of immersive electronic and light exhibitions features more than 15 artists, among them Björk, presenting her only U.S. exhibition of Björk Digital, a multi-room experience that combines music with visual art and digital effects, and NONOTAK, a collaboration between illustrator Noemi Schipfer and architect/musician Takami, who return to the fest with another supercool installation.
3. The Venue
Central Post, formerly the Barbara Jordan Post Office, sits on a historic 16-acre campus downtown, providing Day for Night with a centralized location that’s a rarity among music festivals. This event is the first for the three-stage venue and, thanks to its optimal placement near the METRORail, University of Houston and I-10, definitely not the last. The original structure, by the way, was done by the same architecture firm that designed the Astrodome.
4. The Influence
While the inaugural, sold-out event saw around 20,000 attendees, this year’s turnout will be much higher, as Central Post is more than triple the size of the original venue, Silver Street Studios. As of September, more than 75 percent of tickets sold went to festival-goers from outside of town, many from as far as Europe and Asia. “We want to do more than emulate what’s happening around the world,” says Afra. “We want to use Houston as a vessel to innovate rather than imitate.”
5. The Hoax
No, the festival won’t display a hologram of Harambe, the gorilla shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo last May, although Afra did include an Easter egg in the festival’s online lineup announcement, touting an appearance by “our beloved Harambe.” The prank went viral, garnering international headlines. “It was a joke caught at the intersection of meme culture and click bait,” says Afra. Well, any press and all that, right?