When you’re looking for a festival that values the experience as much as the music, look no further than Houston’s Day For Night Festival. Taking place over the course of 3 days, the festival will see legends like Nine Inch Nails and Thom Yorke of Radiohead fame grace the same stages as today’s hottest up & comers like Tyler, The Creator, Solange, and James Blake. Without further adieu, we give you The Festival Fistful, a healthy handful of jams from our 5 favorite artists from Day for Night Festival.
The third edition of Day For Night festival will be in Houston from December 15th-17th bringing one of the most multidimensional and eclectic lineups to include multi-platinum rock bands, burgeoning hip-hop artists, rivals of the Kremlin, leakers of top secret United States info, and a portion of the whole thing is going to charity. With headliners including Nine Inch Nails, Thom Yorke, Solange, Justice, St. Vincent, Tyler The Creator, James Blake, Pretty Lights, Jamie XX and Phantogram, there’s something for everyone here.
To prove that there’s more to the business than selling tickets, Day For Night will be hosting a summit on the intersections of art and activism and donating part of its proceeds to the Greater Houston Community Foundation to help aid with hurricane relief efforts and stand in solidarity with those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The summit will feature guest speakers including Chelsea Manning, Laurie Anderson, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, and more. The festival will also feature “Soul Cleansing,” a performance piece presented by Saint Heron that includes Solange, Earl Sweatshirt, and Kaytranada.
Attendees also will have the chance to attend a summit on the intersections of art and activism, led by Chelsea Manning, Laurie Anderson, Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, and Lauren McCarthy. The panel will conclude with a separate special performance from Saint Heron featuring Solange, as well as Earl Sweatshirt and Kaytranada. Houston will also receive an appearance from veteran ambient musician Gas, who released his first album in 17 years, Narkopop earlier this year. He played Barcelona’s Primavera Sound in the spring.
Check the full lineup artwork and more info about the festival!
— Day for Night (@dayfornightfest) September 20, 2017
— Day for Night (@dayfornightfest) September 20, 2017
“People in bands don’t have the kind of conversations people might think they have. The best things about being in a band are the things that are unsaid.” – Thom Yorke
“I’ve never felt like I had anything important to say.” – Noel Gallagher
In 2006, I visited China with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Over the course of several weeks we travelled much of the country while also stopping in Tibet and, briefly, Japan. I recall enjoying some places, disliking others, drinking too much tea, and feeling homesick. The World Cup was happening at the time and while the Chinese National team was not very accomplished, there was a profound sense of pride throughout the country, due in part to the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics. My cousins and I would wake up at odd hours of the night to watch certain World Cup matches and I remember seeing France upset Brazil in the Round of 16 at 5 am.
On one of my last days in Beijing, I bargained for a replica World Cup trophy from a street vendor outside of my hotel for what amounted to roughly $20. I decided that I would present it to my friend Louis Miller who, at the time, was the biggest soccer fan I knew.
When I returned to the United States, I rode my bike to Louis’ house to deliver the trophy to him. I rang the doorbell, he opened the door, said a very soft “Cool, man. Thanks,” nodded his head a bit and made some excuse about being busy and not having time to hang out. I was confused and bitter.
After that, we grew apart. I don’t recall ever seeing Louis again. I know that can’t possibly be true but if you don’t trust your memories then anything is possible.
I thought of this the other day while listening to “Don’t Look Back In Anger” by Oasis from their 1995 album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? This song was the defining anthem of my middle school years. If you had asked me at the time to create a trailer for the movie of my life (we all do this, yeah?), it would have been scenes of me running cross country, tee-peeing houses, and struggling to talk to girls set to the gorgeous wailing of Noel Gallagher:
When you’re 13 years old, the way you make someone care about the same things you care about is to never shut up about them. If it weren’t for Louis Miller, I would have never cared about Oasis. Over the course of a few months he managed to not only convince me that they were perhaps the preeminent rock band in the world but that they were, in fact, closer in scope to The Who or even The Beatles. He burned me a copy of Morning Glory, and I bought Definitely, Maybe and Be Here Now. I was impressionable and Louis could play guitar better than anyone else my age so he seemed like a credible authority. He had the conviction of a much older man.
Oasis had a different kind of conviction. The crispness of their vocals, punching each consonant with their rough, Manchester accents, brought a vitality I had not heard before. For the first time I could quantify confidence – an absent quality in my teenage years – as a tangible necessity for any great rock band. They were loud and proud, brutal and boisterous yet skilled enough to suit their vocals to smart melodies and catchy lyrics. I had grown up listening to the early records of The Rolling Stones, before Altamont and the 70’s brought a new kind of energy and agency to their music. But Oasis was distinct. They were all energy and agency. All bravado, all the time.
I suspect that my father was aware that my taste in music was subject to influence, so around this time he introduced me to another British heavyweight. Radiohead had just released Hail to the Thief and my father kept the album in his car for many months. Whenever it played in his Chrysler mini-van, I would usually grab the case and struggle to make sense of its cover. Designed by Stanley Donwood, it features words like “Security,” “Drugs,” and “Oil” in multi-colored, non-symmetrical rectangles and was inspired by roadside advertising in Los Angeles. It looks almost like a sad, political checkerboard and has always symbolized my difficulties with the band from Oxford. I could not appreciate the Orwellian analogue systems behind a song like “2 + 2 = 5.” I could not even understand what was being said.
“His voice is so high. Why is he mumbling? What are these noises?” I asked my father.
“I don’t know.” he replied, impatiently. “Maybe one day this will be your favorite album.”
This isn’t my favorite album. It isn’t even my favorite Radiohead album. And my favorite Radiohead album, Ok Computer, isn’t one I go back to very often.
I don’t really like Radiohead. This is problematic since I’m 24 and white and sometimes sad and live in Brooklyn. I should like Radiohead. But for reasons that aren’t quite clear, reasons like Louis and my father and album covers and the Gallagher brothers, I’ve always compared them to Oasis and felt I had to choose sides.
Objectively, the “war” is over and Radiohead has prevailed. This is due primarily to their longevity, consistency, and an overwhelming critical popularity. Scrutiny seems to elude them at every turn. They’re a tenured college professor at the University of Rock and Roll. Thom Yorke could roast a turkey on stage for an hour and Rolling Stone would probably call it the best concert of the decade.
I concede that I have a hard time arguing against the creative merits of Radiohead because, as someone who practices a different kind of art (theatre), I admire the ingenuity of their process. They’ve managed to reinvent themselves several times over their career with deceptive ease. They’ve gone from rock to alternative to electronic to an amalgam of different genres. In a sense, they’ve created their own genre and have done so without compromising the integrity of their artistry.
These are all logical reasons to like a band, but listening to Radiohead is only ever an intellectual exercise for me. I’m constantly concerned with melodic themes, wrestling with lyrical complexity and accepting the fact that a full listening experience may not be achieved on the first several attempts. At the same time, due in large part to the generosity with which they credit other artists, I’m aware of their wide array of eclectic influences: Sonic Youth, Charles Mingus, Queen, the Smiths. This awareness should make me respect Radiohead. But all it does is remind me of my admiration for these other artists even more. If I seem moody, play me the Smiths; when I’m feeling cocky, I turn to Queen; for some reason I like jazz when I’m hungry; and if I want non-linear lyrics why settle for Radiohead when I could listen to the Talking Heads or R.E.M. After all, what is “Karma Police” but a poor man’s “Losing My Religion”?
I realize this isn’t necessarily fair. I project these influences onto Radiohead more than is perhaps reasonable. But unlike these other musicians, they leave me searching for a clear identity. They have the appealing qualities of other artists I like but none of the deficiencies. They’re polite, principled, smart. I just don’t see any cracks in their shiny edifice. It’s not that I doubt their passion and sincerity. Only their humanity.
This has never been an issue for Oasis. They recognize their flaws and seem completely willing to accept them. As lead singer Liam Gallagher said, ”I don’t know what any of my tunes are about, they’re just out there. I’m not good with words. I just say the first thing that comes into my head.” Is some of their music low brow? Sure, but high brow rock bands aren’t really any fun. Radiohead injects more social and political content into their music, but Oasis has always felt more populist. They may have been snobs, but at least they weren’t elitist snobs. They may not be a serious band but no one could ever accuse them of pretending to be.
This is where everything becomes truly difficult: I appreciate art that is high brow and serious. I listen to Shostakovich and read poetry. I prefer Michael Haneke to Michael Bay. I’m even going to the opera next week. Damnit, I’m a serious man! Shouldn’t I love Radiohead? Isn’t Oasis just a bunch of over-amplified, ignorant nonsense? When people tell me they don’t like The Master (with a haunting score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood), I explain that they need to see it at least three times before having an informed opinion. So why can I barely get through In Rainbows more than once? And I can’t knock Radiohead for ripping off of R.E.M. if Oasis did so more egregiously: “Morning Glory” is the insecure younger brother of “The One I Love” (to be fair, everyone in the 90’s was ripping off of R.E.M.)
Oasis broke up because the Gallagher brothers couldn’t find balance amidst their sensitive egos. Their petulance and complacency limited their overall potential. Radiohead has sustained success with each member delivering their own various side projects over the years. They’ve worked in tandem since the late 1980s and show no signs of slowing down. And Thom Yorke must get credit for understanding how diminutives work more than Toms’ Stoppard, Selleck and Brady. Isn’t that worth celebrating?
Twenty years ago, this was much more of a fair fight. When it was released in October of 1995 (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? placed Oasis at the top of the BritPop movement and would become the best selling UK album of the decade. While it will always be remembered for “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “Wonderwall,” I recently found myself more taken with other tracks like the the snotty but resolved “Some Might Say,” or the triumphant coda “Champaign Supernova.” You can feel the sense of longing in “Cast No Shadow” and admire the Beatles-like charisma of the playful “She’s Electric.”
Radiohead released The Bends the same year. Critically considered to be one of their finest albums, I’ve always viewed it as the band finding their footing for the first time. After the tepid respond to 1993’s Pablo Honey, a mix of indulgent grunge and self-consciousness (want to piss off a Radiohead fan? Talk about “Creep”*), the band rebounded with hits like “High and Dry” and “Fake Plastic Trees” while Yorke combined his indelible falsetto with more arcane and less personal lyrics in songs like “Nice Dream” and “Sulk.” It’s easy to see how an album like this would inspire a new generation of British bands from Coldplay to Keane.
1995 saw Radiohead ready for lift off and Oasis at its apex. One was a rocket, taking flight; the other a meteor, crashing to earth. Oasis, still massively popular even in their fractured state, had seen their best days. Their follow up album, Be Here Now, is a stylistic mess; a record that, as critic Steven Hyden notes, “requires a dump-truck unloading a metric ton of cocaine directly into your nostrils in order to sound like a masterpiece.”
So why do I feel so loyal to Oasis even if I can acknowledge they are the historically inferior band? Why do I care so much about a bunch of British people I’ve never met or about Louis, a kid who was good at sharing music but bad at being my friend?
There are three potential answers to these questions, which I will share in order of most complex to most likely:
1). My therapist once told me that the reasons we sometimes hold onto the past is to protect our younger selves. We do this to shield us from the abuse or shame or paranoia we once felt; to not apologize for connecting to people who weren’t right for us or for cheating or lying to others; to feel secure about enjoying books and movies and music that we would never think about liking today. Our past is still very much a part of who we we are and how we think. It is important to respect and defend its integrity.
2). I texted my father for his opinion on the subject and he said it’s because I secretly wish I had a brother. Upon receiving this response, I literally stood up from my chair and verbally exclaimed “Brilliant!” But which Gallagher am I – Noel or Liam? It doesn’t matter, my father explained. “Either way you’d probably get into fights with him and break up the band.”
3). Because reality is based in fact and memory is based, at least partially, in fiction, and fiction is always more interesting than reality could ever hope to be. This philosophy was confirmed by Oasis when they released their sixth album in 2005. The title? Don’t Believe the Truth.
*(It’s no secret that there is no love lost between these bands. In terms of smack talk, however, Noel Gallagher will always be remembered for eviscerating Radiohead with this epic taunt: “No matter how much you sit there twiddling, going, ‘We’re all doomed,’ at the end of the day people will always want to hear you play ‘Creep,’” he told The Daily Telegraph in 2007. “Get over it.” Devastating.)