Porter Robinson's Second Sky Fest Brings 'Worlds' Album Back to Life for Two Sold-Out Shows
It's been nearly five years since Porter Robinson released his transcendent Worlds record, an homage to '80s synths, indie pop darlings like Passion Pit and 8-bit video game soundtracks, interspersed with infections synth-pop melodies and low tempo tracks. At a time when DJs were flooding the Beatport charts with overproduced tracks, Worlds was an honest and self reflective left turn for the genre, bringing unexpected fame to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student.
In the five years that followed, Robinson has released music under the alias Virtual Self in 2017 and earned a Grammy nomination, but says his fans remained deeply attached to Worlds, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top Dance/Electonic Albums chart. He'll revisit "Sad Machine," "Divinity," "Goodbye to a World" and "Sea of Voices" this weekend with back-to-back days of Second Sky, a concept festival at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland recreating his Worlds Live tour. On Tuesday (June 11), Robinson announced the first day Second Sky would be streamed on Twitch and raise money for his Robinson Malawi fund. Produced by Goldenvoice, the 15,000-person-per-day, single stage Second Sky festival includes sets by artists Madeon, Cashmere Cat, Kero Kero Bonito, Chrome Sparks, Anamanaguchi, Wednesday Campanella, Nina La Vegas and G Jones.
"The main point of this festival for me was to create a place where many of my favorite artists can coexist," Robinson tells Billboard, adding the he is opening both days of the festival performing as Virtual Self with music from the 2017 album of the same name to encourage fans to come early to see the entire festival.
"I want to ensure that all of these acts have an audience and that the festival is something that artists would be eager to play," he tells Billboard. "And when I play as Virtual Self, there's zero overlap with Porter Robinson. It's an homage to electronic music from the early 2000s -- trance, jungle and hardcore all mashed up into one. It's like a new old school."
Second Sky's lineup was curated by Robinson, who says he's invited artists who have inspired him, collaborated on special projects and remixed tracks from the Worlds record.
"I usually like to challenge my fans, but in this case I felt like I could do the type of show that they've been wanting to hear again," said Robinson. "And in exchange I get to put on all of these great artists whose music I love that you wouldn't ordinarily see at a music festival. For some fans, its gonna be their dream lineup, but for others, it goes beyond 'EDM stuff.' It's challenging. It's not recognizable."
Robinson said he decided to revisit Worlds for Second Sky because it "puts me back into my mindset of 2014 and reminds me of all the stuff that I was trying to do with our visuals and the aesthetics. It's a nostalgia play and there will be a little bit of weirdness for me. I'm always forgetting what life feels like revisiting myself as a teenager and I'm not sure all my audience feels that way about it."
Robinson said he had only envisioned a single day festival, but decided to add a second show after the first quickly sold out.
"It was not the original plan. I was anxious about being able to sell out one day, but we put it up on sale and then I get this phone call from my manager. He's like, 'There's currently like 80,000 people on the website right now trying to buy tickets,' so we need to put up a second day or people are going to be pissed."
Both shows are now sold out, which Robinson credits to his fans in the Bay Area, which "has always been the place where I have the largest audience. I feel really lucky that I've been so welcomed there," he says. "I love the vibe of an outdoor, daytime festival right on the waterline, its beautiful and a really comfortable place for live music."
Click here to watch the Second Stream live stream on Twitch, Saturday (June 15) at 4 p.m. PST.