by: Ariel King
October 18, 2021
A change of venue announced in mid-August initially surprised Porter Robinson. Second Sky, which was originally set to take place in Berkeley’s Caesar Chavez Park on the waterfront, was now moving 20 minutes from the Oakland Arena. Disappointed to lose the backdrop of the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate framing San Francisco and replace it with what is colloquially known as “America’s Worst Stadium” due to its outdated concrete structure, Robinson decided to rather focus on the production and the atmosphere of the place itself. Besides, the music is the reason people come anyway. Despite a last-minute change of scenery, the attention Robinson’s team gave to the setting for the event increased tenfold.
Partnering with Nassal, the same company that designed The Wizarding World of Harry Poter and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Universal Studios, the entirety of Oakland Arena has been completely and completely transformed from core to perimeter. In fact, the parking lot typically used for hatchbacks before track and field games (and formerly the Raiders, before they turned their backs on the town of Oakland), has become almost unrecognizable.
The littered hot dog wrappers were swapped for pristine astroturf that coated the entire lot. Flowery doors that Potaro walked under them greeted attendees once they made their way to the festival grounds for the first time, with the beloved Second Sky mascot stopping to take photos with fans in worship. A Potaro stone temple entertained an intimidating row throughout the festival, while a towering tree provided shade for those who wanted to stretch out on the grass, and a crystal garden stood out as the place to take Instagram photos from another world. The unique scene itself was framed by the passing of the Bart trains and, once the sun went down, the Pisces full moon, adding to the wonder of Robinson’s magical place.
With a single scene framed by Robinson’s exhibits, which looked like what might be Robinson’s own Disneyland, with food cooked at the best restaurants in the Bay Area, Second Sky’s return felt like a whole new experience. festival refreshed. Those queuing for a Potaro-themed boba could still see and hear the stage, allowing the audience not to miss a second of the music. Robinson’s parents also walked through the crowds wearing vests proudly proclaiming, “I’m Porter’s father!” and “I’m Porter’s mom!” hoping to raise $ 154,000 for the Robinson Malawi fund during the festival run. Robinson and his family met their goal for the festival at noon on the second day, allowing them to cover the treatment costs for the entire Burkitt pediatric medical treatment in Malawi for two years.
The crowd remained respectful and orderly throughout the weekend, perhaps collectively overwhelmed with the joy of being together after 19 dormant months without concerts or festivals. Those walking through the event were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before reaching the box office, security and ticket scans. Friends sat on the lawn with blankets, enjoying the decor and sculptures that brought To feed to life around them. Fans sang during each set and watched impatiently during the silences, with the second day of the festival being one of the few days of the year when East Bay is completely devoid of fog.
With lineup featuring talented artists such as Knower, Wavedash, Jacob Collier, Jon Hopkins, Toro y Moi, Jai Wolf, Madeon and the debut of Robinson’s Air 2 Earth project, the musical atmosphere matched the physical location perfectly. . Each artist did their best, reveling in the opportunity to be on stage again. Air 2 Earth greeted the crowd as it entered, giving a glimpse of what to expect of the day while giving fans Robinson’s latest draft. Mocked masked pits made their way through Wavedash, Knower emphasized politics in their visuals, Jacob Collier made everyone groove, Jon Hopkins threw listeners into a heavenly and complex spiral of sensations, Toro y Moi made bring out the funk, Jai Wolf performed a flawless session of his greatest hits, and Madeon referred to his best tribute to Michael Jackson in his fashion choice, while also playing Good faith forever to a crowd of galvanized fans.
But the most uplifting feeling that permeated the whole atmosphere and hovered over the hall was the astonishment and wonder that the festivals had finally returned. With a year and a half spent locked inside, wondering when, or sometimes even if live music could return again, Second Sky was enveloped in the energy of freedom. Freedom to kiss internet friends across the country seen only at a few shows a year, freedom to sit in the sun and watch their favorite artists perform live, and freedom to witness Porter Robinson bring To feed to life in front of them for her very first live performance. It was a special atmosphere – a timely modification of the otherwise familiar feelings of being in the crowd at that concert you’ve been waiting for.
Robinson himself appeared impressed that his vision of To feed finally stood before him. His entire set contained almost every track from his album, with the crowd singing to him every song as he and them wiped the tears from their eyes. He stopped the music to chat with his audience a few times, taking a few moments to soak up the night.
“Hello everyone, how are we all feeling? Let me ask you this, who’s happy that they came here today? I can’t tell you how good it is to see all of your faces again and as, for years now, working on “Nurture”, I imagined this moment of looking in the crowd and seeing the hands everyone in the air and sing me all these choruses. It’s a total dream come true. I want to say thank you. Really, thank you all. It’s the most beautiful day of my life. Every second heaven is. So, in the spirit of hearing you all sing for me, let’s do it for the next one. “
Switching to a softer version of “Shelter” as he sat in front of the crowd, 40,000 voices sang back to Robinson for one of the most memorable moments in Second Sky’s highly anticipated comeback. Each climax of each song was highlighted with fireworks, adding to the audience’s disbelief. The lone opening note of “Sad Machine” plunged the crowd into absolute ballistics, and Robinson even sent his set back to “Language” after keeping the song off its rosters for several years.
Second Sky achieved all of its goals and then some by creating an event that brought fans together as a family and created an atmosphere of love that greeted them again with live music in the kindest and most beautiful way. thoughtful. The festival also successfully showcased Porter Robinson’s plan for To feed in the more experiential objective in which the album was written. If the record’s intention was to express an appreciation for things like the cool breeze on the skin, the soft brush of grass in cool shade, or the warmth of the sun at first glance, those who could attend Upon Second Sky’s return were able to experience Robinson’s vision to its fullest and most robust degree.
Featured Image: Charles Kang