Moral victories in the music business are rare, to put it mildly, but Day For Night’s forging ahead at a time when many other festivals, concerts and theatrical productions across the Houston area have lost their footing in the wake of Hurricane Harvey has to count for something. Now entering its third year, #D4N has caused ripples around the festival world for its high-concept marriage of digital art and envelope-pushing yet fan-friendly music. In the process it’s given Houston a marquee live-entertainment event at a time of year when the only real competition, attention-wise, is lower-tier college bowl games and The Nutcracker. (And, true, your relatives.)
To wit, the blind presale announced last Thursday is already sold out, so to give everyone a little something to chew on in the meantime, the Houston Press asked our music staff to give us a few names of artists they’d like to see when the 2017 lineup is announced on Wednesday. With a track record that already counts Kendrick Lamar, Aphex Twin, John Carpenter, the Philip Glass Orchestra, S U R V I V E, New Order, Kamasi Washington and the Butthole Surfers (and that’s just the music), if Day For Night has proven anything in its short lifespan, it’s that very little is impossible. So why not shoot for the moon?
LANA DEL REY
Ever since Lana Del Rey burst onto the scene with Born to Die, critics have struggled to classify her music while fans have eagerly dissected her artistry. All the while, the rest of us have wondered how sincere these lyrics that seem tailor-made for Instagram captions can really be. But nonetheless, Rey is an unapologetic leading lady with mass appeal. And since Day For Night is as much an art festival as it is a celebration of music, her music would fit that mold nicely. MATTHEW KEEVER
GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
Few artists mix music and visuals as well as Godspeed You! Black Emperor. With live film manipulation and songs that often feel like the world is crashing down around you, their performances sound, look and feel epic. From an artistic perspective, they’re the exact type of act that should be perfect for Day For Night. And what do you know — they’ve got a new album coming out they need to tour behind. I can think of few things more exciting than experiencing GY!BE under a cold Texas sky. CORY GARCIA
Founded in 1973, the San Francisco-based ensemble is one of the most recognizable brands in avant-garde culture thanks to their voracious, pan-cultural approach to chamber music. Live, they have appeared with David Bowie, Tom Waits, The National and Björk, while Kronos’s more than 60 albums have showcased the music of Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Tan Dun, Henryk Gorecki and Sigur Rós, among others. The biggest factor in Kronos's favor may be simple timing: A new record was released last week — Ladilikan, a collaboration with Mali’s Trio Da Kali — and it’s been ages since they’ve performed in Houston. CHRIS GRAY
Seemingly overnight, Logic became one of the most relevant rappers of 2017. Anyone paying attention, however, knows better. The Maryland-born artist has been rapping tirelessly for the better part of a decade, making a name for himself through a unique blend of spoken-word and hip-hop. He's huge with millennials and would be a perfect addition to Day For Night, either as a hype man around sunset or maybe even as a headliner, depending on what kind of slant D4N is hoping to take this year. MATTHEW KEEVER
Texas's own Post Malone has managed to combine country and hip-hop with a signature lazy flow to become something of a white, Southern Drake. Since "White Iverson," the Dallas native has released four chart-topping singles, one of which made its way onto the soundtrack for the last The Fast and the Furious installment. As a regional act, Post would likely be well within Day For Night's budget and serve as a selling point for younger concertgoers as well. MATTHEW KEEVER
The pioneer of Italian disco has aged with grace. The 77-year-old is no stranger to all-night shindigs. As the man responsible for co-producing most of Donna Summer’s chart-dominating tracks during the heyday of Studio 54, Giorgio Moroder has been creating music to get your body moving longer than Apple products have been around. Last year brought the multi-talented genius of John Carpenter. My vision of Moroder’s set includes lights that sync up with the beats to get everyone groovin’. VERONICA ANNE SALINAS
There are not a ton of high-profile slots for musicians who make less bombastic forms of electronic music, of which Nosaj Thing is among the best. His new record, Parallels, is rock-solid, full of interesting melodies and textures. But beyond his skills, Houston owes Nosaj a solid after his 2015 visit to the city. For those of you who don’t remember, Nosaj was yet another touring performer who had his gear stolen during his visit to Space City. A prime festival slot might not make up for his bad time here completely, but it could be a nice peace offering at least. CORY GARCIA
KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH
Heading into an October release of what Rolling Stone claims as the “most anticipated experimental album of 2017,” The Kid composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith is pushing the unconventional into the limelight. Smith masters the complex Buchla synthesizer while layering shimmering loops and vocals into her hypnotic compositions. From what we can tell of last year’s D4N lineup, it seems that Smith's futuristic sounds line up with the ambient atmosphere of the festival. VERONICA ANNE SALINAS
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PLAYING THE FIELD
My big-button phone marked "suggestions" never rang, so all Dr. Daddy (online degree only) here can do is make a guess to what sort of meat got pushed through the grinder that is Day For Night. But I’ve been catching up on culture, if that means watching way too much TV. I put in some time with the Twin Peaks, and reckon I’m not alone in that, so my first round of predictions for the winter festival include Nine Inch Nails and Chromatics, both of whom came out looking pretty good at the Roadhouse. My second round of guesses come from the Golden Oldies, English Breakfast category, from which I deduce that we may see one or two of the following: My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, or Ride. Because I’m feeling horsey, let me pitch a curve, and take an outside shot that the recently disinterred KLF may show up in conjunction with some sort of music-art crossover performance.
More likely, expect to see Grammy winner Solange Knowles, as well as a Geto Boys reunion, for local pride. Beyond that, there’s too much milk in my crystal, except that I’d reckon on at least two from the following — Frank Ocean, Angel Olsen, Alex Cameron, MF Doom, Lana Del Rey, A Tribe Called Quest, Burial, Oneohtrix Point Never, Ryan Trecartin, and Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon. That’s it, best of luck to you, and a caveat: Dr. Daddy here likes to bet, but Dr. Daddy doesn’t always win, so bet a trifecta or bet to show. And, if you do decide to wager your life savings before now and Wednesday morning, please break me off a piece of your winnings, in unmarked bills. TEX KERSCHEN
Day For Night's lineup is scheduled to be released at 10 a.m. Wednesday, September 20. Afterward, tickets will be on sale through dayfornight.io.