HI LITES Festival will showcase innovative audio, video, and performance art

 By Shirley Griffith

February 13, 2020

In late 2016 the tragic Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, CA claimed the lives of 36 creatives, including a friend to Charlotte electronic musician Angela Saylor. In the aftermath, Saylor got to work organizing a benefit with the hope of creating a healing environment for fellow artists to grieve and grow together. The night featured electronic musicians, creating a musical bridge of fellowship between the very distant Charlotte and Oakland scenes. The event was a success; Charlotte audiences were ready and interested in hearing more from the fringe, avant, and electronica musicians. The fire, subsequent fundraiser, and the city’s heartfelt reaction all had a hand in empowering Saylor to eventually create HI LITES in 2019, a day-long festival at Goodyear Arts that showcases experimental local and regional acts.

Angela Saylor, creator of HI LITES Festival

“I originally created HI LITES because I felt there was value in highlighting local and regional musicians who create innovative and experimental music that defies typical genres. Also, for those performers who don’t perform live frequently or feel they have a safe space to show and share their work,” Saylor said. “After [the initial HI LITES] I received a lot of feedback that the fest had brought great exposure to existing regional music, along with nurturing a community and sense of belonging.” 

With such strong support behind her, including the ample space of the Goodyear Arts compound, Saylor put together HI LITES 2, a comprehensive and diverse collection of avant works featured during three nights at three venues over three days starting on February 20. The event ends with the actual festival at Goodyear Arts from 2 p.m. – 2 a.m. on February 22. That’s a lot of recurring 2’s for one occasion and, as fate would have it, in numerology the number two is premiere for balance, duality, and connection, persuading us to cooperate with others and form easy relationships– an ideal theme for HI LITES’ encouraging platform.

Night one of the preceding events is called “HI-LITES: First Nite – Films + Music” and takes place at Petra’s on February 20. Three local directors, Tyler Baum, Krizia Marie Torres, and Brett Green will debut their short films. The screening will be followed by progressive musical acts NDK, Koosh, and Brennan Fowler. On February 21, the event moves down the block to Snug Harbor for “HI LITES: Nite 2” which features Norwegian free jazz group Friends & Neighbors, along with the debut of Cathy Music, a new project from members of Patois Counselors, Blossoms, and Mineral Girls. 

The final and grandest installment of the festival culminates on Saturday, February 22 at Goodyear Arts, which boasts some of the most exciting and interesting audio, video, and performance art in the region. Liza Ortiz (of Chócala and LXS Ortiz), who is known for her infectious smile onstage, will introduce her solo project La Brava, which explores a darker element of her synth prowess. Other pioneering local acts include marimba-based To Be Sure, dance artist Sarah Ingel, improvisational fringe musicians Great Architect, Lena Gray (who creates ethereal experimental soundscapes), Lofidels’ post-punk, the kraut-fueled Joules, psych-hop act Dirty Art Club, and many more. You’ll also find a Sinetology showcase featuring ambient noise project RAPH (who creates healing meditations through sound), avant-synthesist Leo Wolf, and the watery dancescapes of World Select. Regional acts will include Greensboro’s clarinet ensemble Splinter Tongue, Winston-Salem dream pop act Mama, Durham’s frenzy-inducing Sister, Brother, and Asheville’s orchestral Okapi.

HI LITES 2 is a donation based event with a suggested donation of $15. All donations go to the performers and sound technicians. Tickets can be purchased online. Stay up to date on info from the events on Facebook

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