Photos by Danica Anne Nuestro
To be quite honest, I was nervous about attending a festival in its first year of execution. I’m always scared of the logistics, unsure about a venue that I’ve never been to before and worried about all the things that could possibly go wrong. The inaugural Second Sky Festival, curated by Porter Robinson and Goldenvoice, concluded over this past weekend and not only did it far exceed my expectations and shut down every possible worry I had for its first-ever event, but Second Sky has become my new favorite festival of all-time.
I can truly say that the weeks and days leading up to that weekend were extremely overwhelming with emotions, but mostly excitement. A festival like this, curated by my personal favorite artist, has never been done before. With such a diverse lineup of artists that Porter truly enjoys, his vision comes to life as he gets to showcase his favorite music to his dedicated fans. I was worried that people would only show up at the end for his Worlds Live performance. But to schedule a huge headlining act as the opener so fans can come early and watch all his favorite artists? Genius move by Porter.
I had never been to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park and was worried about the venue because of Oakland’s “not-so-popular” reputation, but the venue and layout were absolutely perfect. Nothing felt more magical than being immediately welcomed with this beautiful floral archway at the festival entrance. Following that was the huge letters spelling “Second Sky” with a gorgeous skyline view of the bay in the background. A Worlds-esque mural spanning an entire walkway towards the stage was next to see, where fans (decked in all kinds of official or inspired merch) could write messages or draw fan-art; and comfortable clouds you could lay on across the mural with a shaded area close behind.
With one stage you wouldn’t miss any of the acts slated to perform. But even if you weren’t at the stage, you could perfectly hear the artists playing while buying merch, grabbing some delicious food, donating at the Robinson Malawi Fund booth or taking pictures with DJ Potaro (the cutest DJ ever).
I cannot emphasize enough how incredible the artists were that weekend. From an energetic opening performance by Virtual Self to the interactive live performance from Wednesday Campanella (RIP Second Sky ball), new music from G Jones (or Skrillex’s surprise guest appearance on Sunday) to Madeon’s Good Faith DJ set—I not only discovered new artists that day that I’ve never even heard of until this festival lineup, but have now had them on repeat since coming back to San Diego. Of course, I can’t forget the only Worlds Live set of 2019 (especially since his Worlds album has saved me from some of the darkest times of my life). His performance was breathtaking and I cannot emphasize how many times I have told people to experience a Worlds Live set at least once in their life. However, I think Porter really wanted the other artists to have their moment and shine this weekend. With that, I now understand why these are Porter’s favorite artists; they were amazing, unforgettable performances.
One thing that made this festival one of my all-time favorites was the atmosphere and environment. Porter had said that the crowd was exceptionally kind, and it was true. No matter where I went, Porter fans were the most kindhearted people, spreading the love all around the venue. I found so many new friends who genuinely adored the Second Sky artists as much as I did. They were so incredibly kind to those who attended solo or were attending their very first festival, welcoming them with open arms. Some of my friends had met Porter’s family and friends, having wholesome conversations and giving them gifts or hugs. Artists like Manila Killa, Chet Porter, Kidswaste, Jai Wolf, Slander and more were out and about on the festival grounds supporting the event and interacting with the attendees. There was just something in this cold, foggy air that was just so welcoming and peaceful. You really felt like you were transported into this new world away from reality, created by Porter himself.
I think the greatest thing from this festival was not only the acts, but Porter’s acts of kindness as well. Announced recently, Porter, his family and UNC Medicine created the Robinson Malawi Fund to help those in need of care from a rare disease that Porter’s very own brother was recently cured of. A booth was set up at the venue for attendees to donate, and if you weren’t able to attend, fans were able to donate online. Porter recently announced that donations made online and at the festival reached $77,000. And since Porter stated that he’d match every donation, a total of about $154,000 was raised which will go towards pediatric care in Malawi. Truly amazing.
I am more than proud to say that I am a fan of Porter Robinson. Not only is he incredibly talented and articulate with his craft, but he is a genuine and kindhearted person that will do anything to help out others or give others the spotlight that they truly deserve. With the first-ever Second Sky Festival now at its close, I already cannot wait for 2020’s edition of the festival and the artists he’ll showcase to us all. Words truly cannot express how much his fans and I are proud of him. This festival meant so much to him, and to see him so happy with the way it turned out and how much fun he had at his very own festival is extremely heartwarming. We really are living in an era of incredible talent and we are undeserving of it all…but we are blessed and eternally grateful for it.
I came to Oakland not knowing what to expect, but I left experiencing sets of a lifetime, meeting fellow fans I’ve met through group pages for the first time and feeling more inspired than ever. It was truly an amazing event to experience, and am ready for 2020.