The weekend of June 15th-16th saw the first annual Second Sky Festival event hosted by Porter Robinson. Second Sky’s venue is at the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland, California, just across the bay from San Francisco. Porter Robinson and Goldenvoice are the founders of Second Sky and it was originally a one-day festival. However, tickets for June 15th sold out in less than an hour and it resulted in the addition of Day two on June 16th.
First Impressions of Second Sky
Although I only attended the festival on June 16th, my first impressions of Second Sky were very good. After entering festival grounds, people can view the San Francisco Bay, especially the Bay Bridge and San Francisco. I noticed there were plenty of food and drink options including Indian burritos, Hong Kong-style waffle cones, and Brazilian BBQ. There were also a merchandise tent, a first aid tent, a water refill station, a lost-and-found tent that also serves as a phone charging station, and so much more.
As I entered the VIP area, there were three exclusive food options located inside there; a poke eatery, a taco truck, and a pizza establishment. Meanwhile, I noticed that the view of Second Sky’s main stage was up close and awesome in the area. Even though it was still early, I knew that this festival was going to provide many spectacular memories.
Porter Robinson’s ‘Virtual Self’
The main headliners at a festival are not normally the ones who start the show but in this case, Second Sky’s first performer was Robinson himself. Uniquely, Robinson started the event as “Virtual Self“, his alias that plays a more late-90s and early-2000s techno sound. As soon as Virtual Self started performing, the audience got very excited that they get to see Robinson live. The music got to a rapid start as Virtual Self has a lightning-quick tempo that got people pumped up and ready for the next 10 hours of nonstop, wonderful music.
When “Ghost Voices” started playing, everyone jumped up and down as they hummed along to the song. Afterwards, Porter Robinson came out to thank the audience for attending Second Sky and he told them about the Robinson Malawi Fund. This fund helps children in Malawi who are diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, the most common type of cancer in Malawi and less than 50% of children survive from it.
Nina Las Vegas
The second performer of Second Sky was Australian DJ, Nina Las Vegas. She told the audience, “She flew all the way from Sydney, Australia for this”, and like Porter Robinson, she entertained the crowd with pulse-pounding beats. Many of the tracks she played had strong percussive notes as her musical influences ranged from techno to samba.
Notably, she performed the remix to Pitbull’s “Give Me Everything” that had people grooving from beginning to end. Her music is perfect for any occasion, whether if it is at a music festival or a house party.
The third performer of Second Sky was Japanese electro-pop group, Wednesday Campanella. The main singer of Wednesday Campanella is KOM_I and her musical style combines hip-hop, EDM, J-Pop, and traditional Japanese music. Her performance served as a good impression on the festival attendees who have not heard about Wednesday Campanella before. Some of the best highlights in her performance were her rapping skills in Japanese, her innovative dances, and her passionate emotions
An interesting event happened when a large, boat sail-like balloon floated behind her and flew over the crowd. As the balloon kept flying, she made her way into the crowd and continued singing while security protected her. At the end of performance, KOM_I stood on the ladder and sang a tranquil tune that resulted in the venue to have a peaceful moment.
The fourth act (and first band) at Second Sky was Anamanaguchi, an electronic rock group from New York City. The band is known for its expressive use of chiptune, which contain sounds that are normally heard in arcades and video games, and bitpop, a subgenre of chiptune that has sound parts from 8-bit or 16-bit computers and video game consoles. The band’s hard-hitting guitar strums, along with the added elements of electronic music, added musical diversity into their performance.
As they perfomed “Miku”, the band brought out Sarah Bonito from Kero Kero Bonito (which performed later in the day). One song that got the attendees very enthusiastic about was their unique cover of Porter Robinson’s “Sad Machine” that still got people dancing in approval. The band looked like they really enjoyed performing at the festival while having fun at the same time.
The fifth performer of Chrome Sparks was Brooklyn-based electronic music project, Chrome Sparks. The project is lead by Michigan-born artist, Jeremy Malvin, and its musical style is a mix of techno and chillwave. The project’s music is perfect for people who love dancing while being calm and relaxed at the same time.
Chrome Sparks included electronic drums and synthesizers that added a creative take in the music they were playing. The music of Chrome Sparks is a great balance between upbeat tempo and laid-back melody.
Kero Kero Bonito
The sixth act (and second band) at Second Sky was British indie-pop band, Kero Kero Bonito. The lead singer, Sarah Bonito, is half-Japanese and half-English and she displayed her cultural identity when she sang in both Japanese and English. The band’s music integrate influences from dance-rock and J-Pop as the audience danced to cute, catchy tunes.
As the band performed “Flamingo”, Bonito thrilled the whole crowd when she brought out a stuffed flamingo to dance with. Kero Kero Bonito’s performance was another example of the strong presence of Japanese pop culture at Second Sky. Second Sky’s graphics included references from popular Japanese anime and video games such as Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts.
The seventh act at Second Sky is Norwegian DJ and producer, Cashmere Cat. In 2017, he won the “Producer of the Year” award at the Electronic Music Awards. His performance got a lot of attendees moving to the beat, especially with the remixes he performed.
A couple of prominent remixes he performed were Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and Daft Punk’s “One More Time”. During Cashmere Cat’s performance, the Second Sky mascot Potaro appeared in the middle of the crowd and danced along. The next performer, Second Sky’s special guest, turned up the decibels when he appeared to perform his set.
(Special Guest) Skrillex
The day one performer, G Jones, did not perform on June 16th and instead, his spot was filled by a special guest that surprised the audience. That special guest was Skrillex and he disguised himself as the Second Sky mascot Potaro. He came out shortly after Porter Robinson teased the audience by saying that the special guest “wasn’t able to perform”.
Skrillex was Porter Robinson’s mentor when the latter ignited his career and former got the whole venue nodding their heads to mind-blowing bass drops and rhythmic synths. When Skrillex performed “Wild For The Night”, everyone screamed with euphoria and proceeded to do some high-quality head-banging. Skrillex’s fantastic set gave way to Second Sky’s second-to-last headliner, Madeon.
The ninth act of Second Sky was Madeon and the venue became packed as soon as the talented French DJ began performing. Madeon’s blend of French house and nu-disco electrified the crowd throughout the whole performance. His first set at Second Sky is called Good Faith DJ and when he played his latest hit song, “All My Friends”, everyone cheered, sang along, and danced with their friends and significant others.
Afterwards, he played his Adventure set, named after his 2015 debut album, and the crowd quickly became elated. Hit tracks from “Adventure” such as “Pay No Mind”, “Imperium”, and “Home” got everyone making new memories at Second Sky. Madeon’s magnificent performance got enhanced by Porter Robinson’s presence as both producers performed their hit single, “Shelter”.
The tenth and final performer at Second Sky was none other than Porter Robinson himself and the whole atmosphere magnified quickly. As he performed his Worlds Live set, he spoke about the reasons why he produced the set. The set is a recreation of his #1 Billboard-ranked album, “Worlds”, and the raw, emotional music of the set is for people who want to escape into another world.
Adding to his talented, music-crafting skills is his equally magnificent singing as he amazed the crowd with his smooth voice. As he performed his encore track, “Language”, the crowd let out a loud roar as they got to end their night listening to the track that launched Porter Robinson into the star that he is today. Porter Robinson’s world-class performance adds more reason why he’s been on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ list for seven consecutive years.
The subsequent popularity of Second Sky resulted in the festival’s renewal for next year. The festival had everyone in the crowd excited and animated for 10 hours straight, especially when “Virtual Self” performed. Porter Robinson did an excellent job organizing his own festival as this was a festival that was created based on his passion for music and wanting to make all of his fans happy. During his Worlds Live set, he exclaimed, “To 2014 me, all of my dreams have come true!”, signifying that he has achieved his mission in his successful career.