Porter Robinson's Second Sky Festival

Porter Robinson's Second Sky FestivalFRW Blog

By Kierstin Belden

This past weekend marked the inauguration of Porter Robinson’s Second Sky Festival in Oakland, California. The lineup consisted of electronic producers as well as artists that incorporate various styles of pop and rock into their music. Nina Las Vegas, Wednesday Campanella, Anamanaguchi, Chrome Sparks, Kero Kero Bonito, G Jones (Sat only), Cashmere Cat, Madeon, Skrillex (Sun only), and Porter (as well as his alias Virtual Self) performed. Porter curated the lineup himself, choosing musicians that he was inspired to introduce to his fans. This made Second Sky a great festival to discover new types of music and get out of your comfort zone.

(My photo)

Located at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in the Bay Area, it’s no surprise that the weather at Second Sky was finicky. Although there was a chilly breeze coming off of the water, the view of San Francisco was unparalleled. Porter warned attendees about the weather in advance via social media, which was good looking out on his part. Upon entering the festival there was a gorgeous archway of flowers, letters spelling out Second Sky, and a wall that people could sign. Further inside the festival, there was a mailbox where people could mail letters to their future selves, inflatable pixel clouds that you could sit on, pixelated flower art, and pink and blue lights once the sun had set.  There were a number of delicious food options including acai bowls, dumplings, tacos, burgers, pizza, sushi, and desserts. In general, it was more diverse than most other festivals, which contributed to the curated experience. Merchandise was also available (although the line was insanely long all day). Luckily for those who couldn’t acquire what they wanted, Porter made items available online for a limited time.

(My photo)

(Photo from Second Sky Facebook page)

As a means of encouraging attendees to arrive early and support the entire lineup, Porter opened Second Sky with a Virtual Self set. It was full of his biggest singles (like Ghost Voices) along with some surprising edits and new sounds. At the end, he gave a speech to the crowd to introduce the festival and thank everybody for being there for the first performances.

(My photo)

Followed by Virtual Self was Australian producer Nina Las Vegas, who put on a fun house set that also contained worldly beats. Hers was a good transition from Virtual Self to the more alternative artists that followed. Next on the lineup was Wednesday Campanella, a Japanese electronic/pop group with singer KOM_I taking the forefront. She sang in both Japanese as well as English and had unique props ranging from a black flowy backdrop to a giant patchwork ball that she “handed” to the crowd for a more immersive experience.

The fourth act, New York band Anamanaguchi, played music that utilized 8-bit type video game sounds combined with instruments such as guitar, bass, and drums. Their set was very high energy with nothing but good vibes. Afterward, east coast based producer Chrome Sparks went on to combine his ethereal sounds with trap/bass elements to take the crowd on a musical journey.

(Photo from Second Sky Facebook page)

British Indie pop band Kero Kero Bonito then took the stage combining electronic and rock while maintaining a positive, upbeat feel. They were very interactive and engaging with the crowd as a way to hype everyone up. The seventh artist to play on Saturday was G Jones, a Californian producer that utilizes much heavier bass elements than the artists that preceded him at Second Sky. His set had a really nice, experimental flow and was a combination of previous works (including The Ineffable Truth) as well as three tracks that he’s recently completed. It was especially amazing to hear Porter say that this was one of the “best shows I’ve ever seen” when thanking each artist at the end of the festival.

Following G Jones, Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat played trap hits such as Mirror Maru along with some of his more poppy songs like 9 (After Coachella). Similarly to Nina, his set was a great transition from the obscure sounds of G Jones to the more mainstream ones of Madeon and Porter. It should be mentioned that after Cashmere Cat on Sunday of Second Sky, Skrillex played a surprise set to replace G Jones, as he was unavailable. The crowd went wild when he was announced as the guest and while I wasn’t in attendance on Sunday I can assure you that seeing him live is extremely worthwhile.

(Photo from Second Sky Facebook page)

Madeon came on next and combined tracks that you’d expect as well as those by up and coming artists. For instance, he played his newest single "All My Friends" as well as an edit of RL Grime’s “Pressure” by Japanese bass producer Masayoshi Imori. His set alternated between euphoric future bass and heavy mid-tempo. While his set might be categorized as more main stage than some of the previous, he still brought a unique sound to the festival. Of course, Porter Robinson was the one to close out Second Sky afterwards. He played the widely popular Worlds set, which he literally toured the world with in 2016.  Although it had a similar formula as the classic, he included new twists and live elements to keep the crowd on their toes. Overall it was a dynamic and inspired performance. It’s no surprise that Porter has such a dedicated fan base because he is truly an amazing artist. After he left the stage, the crowd cheered for an encore and he reappeared with Madeon to perform a live “Shelter” reunion, with Madeon singing as Porter played the keyboard. It’s safe to say that for most attendees, this was the climax of the night. Afterward Porter thanked each artist for playing, reiterating how much he cares about each and every one of the artists that were on the Second Sky lineup.

A final thing that needs to be mentioned is that Porter had a donation booth set up for the Robinson Malawi Fund, which he created with his family in order to raise money for children in Malawi that suffer from Burkitt lymphoma. He mentioned that it was started because his younger brother was diagnosed with this rare form of cancer and was lucky to survive thanks to well-equipped and experienced doctors in the United States. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in Malawi, where Burkitt lymphoma is most prevalent. Porter said that he would match every donation made to the fund during Second Sky. According to Porter, fans raised $77,000 and with his matching donation, the total amount raised came out to $154,000. Whether or not you’re the biggest fan of Porter, I think we can all agree that he’s a genuine and kind-hearted person.

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