In its first year, Houston's Day For Night hosted Kendrick Lamar and New Order alongside some insane digital art installations, making a definite statement. Year two boasted Aphex Twin and OneOhTrixPointNever, and year three had Tyler the Creator, Nine Inch Nails, and Solange.
In December, we’ll be coming up on year four. In anticipation of that event, I made a list from headliners to locals that would be good to see make their way to Houston for the festival.
First, here are the two performers that would be great to get but we probably won’t see starting with Burial. The world renowned dubstep producer from London has spent the bulk of his career in anonymity, making seeing him a rare special event. Add killer releases like 2007's Untrue and his most recent drop Predawn/Indoors, and you have a sure crowd pleaser.
The second name is Kate Bush. Bush rarely appears in public, possibly because of her aversion to flying. Her 1985 album Hounds Of Love and her 1989 album The Sensual World are both masterpieces. She also made a return in 2011 with 50 Words For Snow, which was a welcome addition to her catalog.
The first name at the top of my list for Day One is Germany's Kraftwerk. Widely considered the innovators and pioneers of electronic music, these four rarely do sets these days post reunion which means that they'd be a great fit as headliners for this festival. Their albums Autobahn, The Man Machine, and Tour De France are all classics and their live performances are legendary.
The second name that came to the top was Annie Lennox. Lennox, best known for her work with Eurythmics has had an incredible career as a solo artist as well. Her 1992 album Diva spawned plenty of hits while her albums Medusa and Bare were powerful examples of her incredible vocals and prowess as a solo performer. She dropped an album of covers with Nostalgia in 2014, though her live sets are becoming increasingly rare, making her a great headliner.
For Day Two, I looked at an act that rarely performs in the United States. It's been 21 years since Blur has performed in Houston. That show in 1997 was at Numbers at the height of the band's popularity around "Song 2" before they dropped two amazing releases with almost no real touring for Think Tank and 13. When they reunited, they sold out a space in London that was only ever sold out by the Olympics. While Blur toured the globe in support of The Magic Whip in 2015, they played everywhere but only sparingly in the United States.
The fourth headliner suggestion is Grimes. Aside from the fact that the producer is dropping an album later this year, or that she's one of the greatest performers you can catch, her albums Art Angels and Visions still hold up as examples of what great pop can sound like. Full of energy and surprises, her latest single "Kill V. Maim (Little Jimmy Urine Remix)" proves she's still making amazing music.
Heading into the names that make up the lines that flow beneath the headliners, you can't have a festival without Pusha T especially considering his latest DAYTONA, with that hook from "The Games We Play," or the verse from "Come Back Baby." The same could be said about SZA. If you were just going off the track with Kendrick Lamar she dropped on the Black Panther soundtrack alone, her presence could be understood. However, with last year's Ctrl, the Missouri born singer easily solidified her name to be at the top of pretty much every solid lineup with tracks like "Love Galore" and "The Weekend." Of course, if Scotland's My Bloody Valentine were added, plenty of folks would probably lose it. One of the most influential bands to come out of the '90s, their album Loveless is the manual for anyone starting a shoegaze band, and now reformed and with rumors of a new album before the end of the year; they'd be a great addition.
The name Brian Eno should be one you recognize if not only for the fact that the producer has helped make records for a number of performers including Grace Jones, U2, and Laurie Anderson. His time in Roxy Music was celebrated, but his solo work is just as epic. His latest drop Music For Installations is ambient music at its finest. Of course, Childish Gambino with his latest drop "This Is America," makes him a name to have at this festival to blow all of our minds. British born and L.A. based producer Bonobo is a hot commodity as of late, and his latest release Migration is a large part of that. Mazzy Star had the bible of all albums with 1993's So Tonight That I Might See. With that said, Hope Sandoval and the band have stopped and started enough to kill any fan's dreams of a full fledged date here in Houston. Of course, with a new E.P. from this year called Still, there's still a chance they'll perform here.
When you look at the band Animal Collective, you can't help but love their live sets, but the band isn't the talent, singer and producer Panda Bear is. His 2015 drop Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is pure magic, and the band's live sets are all him. Scotland duo Boards of Canada have made themselves world renowned for their epic live sets. When you jam their 2013 album Tomorrow's Harvest, remember that these two are brothers. We shouldn't have to sell you on the in-demand sounds of producer and turntablist A-Trak, as the Canadian performer is a name that brings fire wherever he performs. A$AP Rocky has been making his name shine for a good while now, but his latest drop TESTING has the rapper on a whole other level.
Leeds' Vessels with their latest release The Great Distraction are a name you might not know until you Google greatest live sets of the past couple of years. The band has made a name across Europe and beyond. Brooklyn's Dirty Projectors have dropped eight studio releases. They've changed their lineup multiple times and are known for an energetic live show; their last release was Dirty Projectors. Brixton's Gaika might not be a household name, but his expansive electronica mixed with notations of grime, dance hall, garage and R&B infused hip hop, should turn heads. Meanwhile 2016's SPAGHETTO still sounds amazing.
You might not be aware of the experimental sounds of California's Yves Tumor, but jaunts into lo-fi R&B and ambient jams are noteworthy and intriguing. While he now lives in Europe, his 2016 album Serpent Music is masterful while his work with Alice Glass and Mykki Blanco is something else. In 1990 Rhode Island's Six Finger Satellite formed and began an post hardcore electro-rock revolution. With epic releases like 1993's The Pigeon Is The Most Popular Bird, 1995's Severe Exposure, and even performing as the backing band for about half of the Fred Schneider punk release Just Fred; they could get reunited to play this festival. Dedekind Cut has always been ahead of the curve, with a sound that's ambient music re-imagined. With releases like this year's Tahoe and 2016's $ucessor (ded004), the producer's work should be something to behold in person. In a time when bands are reuniting, or everyone is waiting for a Fugazi reunion that will probably never occur, Kentucky's Slint not only changed the world with their 1991 release Spiderland, they never actually broke up.
Berlin's Ellen Allien isn't a household name to many, but her contributions to the world of electronic music production are massive, she's a highly regarded producer, and her last drop Nost was amazing. Known as the perfect minimal techno group, another great addition to the lineup would be Berlin's Moderat. Aside from the fact that the trio has become known for insane live shows, their latest release III is like nothing you've heard before. Of course, the genre defying sounds of Kali Uchis would be a welcomed addition as well. Uchis had a feature on Tyler The Creator's Flower Boy, but her album Isolation solidified her as a singer and producer who can bring fire as well. The band Algiers mixes R&B, industrial, and no wave post-punk with ease. Their 2017 album The Underside of Power was something else, and they're known for epic live sets like gospel music from a pop up tent.
In the noise pioneering band Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon proved real fast that women can rule the globe. In her latest project Body/Head, she proves that's still very true. With a new album out in July, the insane sounding single "You Don't Need," Gordon has the craziest live set you can see in the states. Poppy has taken all of what we love about the internet, created a character from it, and dropped the pop heavy album Poppy Computer while laughing all the way to the bank in the process. For 20 years, Detroit's ADULT. have proven that dark electronica is not only worth seeing, it's worth listening to as well with a live set full of smoke filled mystery and albums like 2013's The Way Things Fall and 2001's Resuscitation. If you're wondering when will Pitchfork give an album a perfect ten, then you don't have to look much further than 2018's The Future and The Past from Virginia's Natalie Prass. Prass isn't the biggest name just yet, but Pitchfork was right, her album is pretty extraordinary.
If you caught Priests at the festival last year then you may have noticed they had a different bassist. That may be because he was working with his other project, the post-punk infused indie rock group Flasher. Flasher has been around for a minute, but their energy heavy sets and their recently released album Constant Image would sound great as a great daytime addition to the festival. If you ever wanted to catch an electronic producer also play his own drums, then you don't have to look much further than Michigan's Shigeto. With starry eyed sets, beats for days, and last year's The New Monday, the producer would look great on this lineup. Australian born and L.A. based producer Alison Wonderland has rocked out plenty of festival stages, her latest drop Awake is a pop infused trip. D.C.'s GoldLink has been dropping groove intensive music for a while, but his latest release At What Cost makes him a welcome addition to this festival.
Scotland's three-piece Young Fathers might be one of the most intriguing and energy heavy live acts performing today. Their set downstairs at Fitzgerald's when they toured in support of White Men Are Black Men Too, was intense. Their latest release Cocoa Sugar from this year is pretty amazing as well,. L.A.'s Girlpool have always been mesmerizing to see in person. Their last release Powerplant just proved they're as engaging as ever. Washington's Chastity Belt has always made stellar songs, their latest release I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone was pretty wonderful. Chicago's Saba has been dropping beat heavy nerd infused jams for a minute, but with his latest release CARE FOR ME, he made his name pop more.
In 1995 when London's Black Grape formed, the music they created from the ashes of the band Happy Mondays mixed hip hop with Brit pop and funk sensibilities. Their debut release It's Great When You're Straight...Yeah to this day sounds modern even though it's nearing the 25-year mark. So when they reunited last year and returned with Pop Voodoo, it was proof that solid music can't die. The guys in British post-punk group Shame with this year's Songs of Praise play with a reckless disregard for their surroundings. Mitski has been dropping records since 2012 but her last full length Puberty2 and her new single "Geyser" have popped off like you wouldn't believe.
New York's A Place To Bury Strangers with their new album Pinned are nothing short of mystifying and alluring when they perform their light infused and smoke filled live sets. The world of IDM doesn't have much weight without the contributions of the two guys in Plaid. Knocking around British and electronica scenes for longer than some have been alive, their rarely performed live sets are legendary and their last drop The Digging Remedy is epic. Lauren Flax with her latest release The Acid brings plenty to the table mixing techno, house, and more to her tunes, and collaborations with Sia and Tricky to name a few, make her a noteworthy name in the upcoming dance world.
Australia's Anna Lunoe might not be the biggest name here in the states, though the dance moves behind the decks and singles like "Blaze of Glory" would be worth seeing. The new album from Brooklyn's Parquet Courts takes their blend of post-punk and indie rock to a whole new place. In fact, while many critics are already placing Wide Awake at the top of their year end lists, their live shows are a hefty reminder that while a third of this band is from Texas originally, they can bring any space to its feet when they perform. Half Japanese with their latest release Why Not? is a band that many wrote off years ago, but essentially existing since the mid-seventies, garnering fans like Daniel Johnston and Kurt Cobain.
Bayonne might just be a guy who grew up in Houston, but his last drop Primitives mixed with one of the best live sets you can see. You could say the same about Austin's The Young Mothers. The jazz group that sounds closer to a math rock band that dropped a jazz intertwined hip hop album may feature Houston's Jawwaad Taylor on vocals, but they're so much more than that. With a new album dropping sooner than later, their last release a mothers work is never done is pretty impressive.
When it comes to the local acts that the festival hosts, the name at the top of this list is Studded Left. Tex and Erica have pioneered so much over the years; their live sets as Indian Jewelry were loud and abrasive, and this year's Old Gold is a trip. The hip hop of Houston's Guilla has been grinding hard for a minute now, but add energetic and electrifying sets and releases like Children of The Sun and you have a guy doing hip hop like no one else. MyDolls are legends who are still releasing music and who still play more than many bands with more reasons to perform more often. Formed in the late '70s, the group just dropped a new single this year with "Easter."
Houston's Black Kite, who opened for Erase Errata and Alice Glass, mixes dark electronica with haunting vocals in her second release Soft Animus Heart. Houston's LACE doesn't apologize for releasing music that's bleak, painful, and without any future. Mixing punk and post-punk with gothic undertones, this Houston five piece delivered the full length Human Condition which might be one of the best and most original punk albums to come out in at least ten years. Secret Sands is easily one of the more intriguing electronic acts to come from Houston recently. In their last drop, Secret Sands, this duo mixed techno and krautrock with industrial.
MIEARS with her debut release Who Will Save You? has a hard working attitude towards learning new ways to capture electro-pop, bringing a mix of new wave and ambient electronica to her music. You might not know the sounds of birdmagic, but as once a member of Black Kite, as someone who's done remixes for Feedback Alliance, and a producer who gets more work than many flexing, he definitely upped things by dropping a new track out of the blue recently with "This Ship Contains No Cargo." For anyone paying attention, Pearland's Tears On Tape have made quite the splash around town in the last year. While they're all under 21, while they've only toured once, their Demos release proves that the future of music is in the hands of the youth. Mixing dream pop with sad undertones, they're the perfect act to kick off the festival.
Keep in mind, we know nothing about what the festival has in-store for this year, this is just a personal wish list for who we'd like to see perform at Day For Night in 2018.