If every city in the world has its own music, its own clubs and festivals, for advanced and/or electro music lovers Sonar remains the best they can ask for.
And when who actually goes to the festival is just a part of those arrived in Barcelona (some doesn’t even have the tickets and search for alternative parties, some have the pass but don’t want to get into the crowd and prefer be alternative ), the air you can breath during Sonar renders everything special, inside and outside the Festival.
This edition has been for me more interesting and amazing than the lasts. The line up was fascinating, so, overcoming snobbism and sloth, I dedicated to Sonar. During 3 days I passed through different atmospheres and époques, styles and languages far but close to me, artist that I always known and artists I’ve never met before. And I got out happily ever after. Obviously, some doubts arose (one on everything: why Fangoria?!?), but it’s been a Sonar that I’ll remember with pleasure.
I’ll tell my festival following a chronologic order, touching on only what I had the opportunity to see/hear.
It’s been a hard job appreciating the show case Accidental inside Village, where I only liked some melodramatic popular songs (how I define them) by The Invisible. The rest wasn’t adapted to the context, or maybe I wasn’t adapt to that context. It didn’t convinced me. Great, wonderful the dj set of 2 hours by James Holden that, from the little console of Village, behind the trees, with his sequence of acid, low, melodic, broke, atmospheric and obviously hypnotic songs made everyone happy, even those who didn’t understand what was going on.
Unfortunately disappointing the Night of the Brain live, the new collaborative and instrumental project of Crisitian Vogel. Electro rock, a little bit dark and dismissed, almost predictable, no scratchy voice and no memorable arrangement what a pity, we got at the Dome numerous and plenty of expectations. Evidently excessive.
Station 55 was up to Burbuja, that conquered back some fans. A mix of concrete music, angelic voice and fantasy lyrics, but most of all static and theatricality that made the few present falling in love.
Meanwhile, for post-industrial souls, a little bit dark with a taste for ambient, glitch or noise, there were some intriguing lives presented during the Capsule show case inside Complex. I got to hear to Black Galaxy, Burning Star and Jazzfinger. Even if different from the other, each one had an antique taste for invention, improvisation, manipulation. They composed, broke and overlapped classical languages of the electro-acustic, industrial, noise, entertaining, amazing and innovating.
Even obvious, but that’s not a good reason to criticize it, the special about China in the Escenario Hall, that after the White live (that I unfortunately lost, but I think powerful), ended with FM3 and Blixa Bargeld, white dressed them and clearly black for him, for an unforeseen and inspired ensemble of electro sound and electrified voice. Good vibes.
At Village, Gus ended the show playing some serious techno. So serious that it was almost hardcore. The greatest end of the day, and have a good festival!.
Beastie Boys and Narod Niki, what else? I’m not a big fan of the group, but I know them quite well but their live wasn’t good enough. I’m not able to argument the reason of my discouragement, so I won’t do it. Well, actually I expected more from the music, as, or maybe because, instrumental concert. I didn’t know that “instrumental” meant only bass, battery and guitar so I kinda missed the vinyl on the turntable and I missed the electronic base, as their mcing doesn’t convince me anymore. But this is maybe a complex of exaggerate expectations, because the crowd was mad
Narod Niki, the collective improvisation project directed by Villalobos, has been another dilemma. I loved the techno minimal in all its declinations, but now I’m banally pissed off. So, it doesn’t matter if there’s one or six of them, live or dj set, improvised or programmed, I’m not moved anymore. Stop. In this case as well, a raving crowd is delighted by the show, but for us this is an anticipated goodnight
On the contrary, (as night is always less solitary than day ) we decide to spend some time at Vice party that, with all its freak rock’n’rave of the case, from Para One to Surkin, together with beer and cocktails, gave us some free vibration. Well, now is really good night, we’re just at the beginning and we already had tons of emotions.
Inside the Village, soul, disco and electro sounds by Hot as Hel invade the air, but I don’t spend too much time there. Maybe it’s because of the enormous crowd that block the entertainment. Or maybe because I know that in the meantime, inside the Hall, the Sunn O))) are devastating tired bodies and happy minds with inhuman frequencies produced by guitars, bass, distorted voices, creating dark, acid and monolithic drones, enchanting a little mass of fool where I’m included this time.
At the end, already exhausted, I decide for a quick stop at Complex, where I discovered Haswell&Hecker. The couple perfectly disturb one of the most immersive performance of the festival, obviously based not only on synthetic sounds, but also on laser, strobo and smoke. Their tribute to Xenakis and his audiovisual translation of the digital draw is mysterious, acid, industrial. Serious. Sonar shoot this way.
Clark is now starter and the Hall is closed, too many people. Bummer and anger. The point is that they do not let people in, but not even out! Only after numerous complaints they understand that pouring out people should be the best solution. Everybody knows that it’s not much the time everyone resists when wall in somewhere (most of all when casually there, and they’re always lot) So after a while they opened the doors again. Clark live is an instrumental and electro mix, rough and refined, a material of sounds and rhythms where he embroiders patterns and drawings, and he’s listened, danced and loved. Some defined it as the best live of this Sonar edition, maybe it’s been the same for me.
This time we didn’t even got to the Dome. I’m not interested in village. We immerged inside Feed, the performance by Kurt Hentschlager at the Santa Monica Centre. We already know him, but it’s always a pleasure to be shook from head to toe. There are some technical problems, we exit anyway, as always, with a big smile. And we start thinking that Sonar is generous again.
We unfortunatly loose Signal, hope we’ll have another occasion. We also lost Beastie Boys. We dedicated to the beginning of Cornelius that, as predicted, is pop, psychedelic and at the same time genial, as his videos but then we ran outside to see the end of Kode9&the Spaceape, that is a not-to-be-missed event in our opinion. After that, a little bit of Modeselektor: dub roots, dark hip-hop, electro or techno, with their “permanent party spirit” that in the end- open the dance night. We then got back to Skream. In synthesis, we love the dub-step a lot, and the more we listen to those syncopated rhythms, those deep basses and those acid and broke sounds, the more we love them. No doubt: it’s our braindance of this 21 st century beginning.
In the meantime, Ed Banger circus started, and this rock’n’rave in its best form, context and companies, is the type we like a lot. It’s our bodydance of the beginning of the 21 st century! So, we tried to resist and dedicate to Dj Mehdi, that is not exactly rock’n’rave because he’s more blackish and soulful, deep and dirty but always extremely happy. We’re not convinced by Uffie in his live version, so we tried with Richie Hawtin, but the minimal question is always the same: we’re saturated. We have a brake and then go hearing the Justice. They can be everything or nothing. They’ve been everything. An electro and techno, pop and weird dj set, played and danced without a breath, with some (just a few) new tracks mixed with those part of our DNA (a lot, but always re-mastered, remixed, with special manipulation). A hour and a half of delirium. What a party! Maybe predictable but a party can also be this way. The important thing is that it must be a party, isn’t it?
We don’t even want to loose the end of Digitalism, so we try to head to Park and luckily the music is still playing. They also can be everything and nothing at the same time, they’ve also been everything. Powerful, serious, great. We passed at Simian Mobile Disco, but this Club version didn’t convinced us. The end of a Fabric party can be psychedelic and retro, but the end of the night at Sonar Club means techno, and the experiment didn’t succeed (anyway, only those who listened the entire live have the right to talk ).
There’s only TImo Mass left that, even if he’s not one of our favourite, is a professional and made us dance till the end and then, happiness shined for young and old, he ended up his live with his own mix of Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode. It is suddenly 7 o’clock and we went home.
It’s hard living the bed, it’s hard going out home. Anyway, there’s no rush. No Various Production live in the Hall, I’ve already seen and heard them at Dissonanze (I heard positive comments though). I have to listen to Wolf Eyes, noise as the noise lovers love, so I do know their wall of electric sound will be another test for my resistance abilities. I’ve been late at Complex, but what I listened helped me out in waking my senses up. Totals.
I then listened to Claro Intelecto and Andy Stott at Dome, but they’re more minimal than what I expected, or what I was ready to listen in that real moment, so I didn’t stop by. I’m maybe a little bit inpatient, but that’s because the two live moved bodies and minds. However, I spent some time at the Redbull Academy Lounge, that is always a great alternative, with great music and parties, and then relaxed with Lovemonk at the Village, and that’s ok. But I escaped after a few notes of the Junior Boys, because I got a strange repulsion for them, too weak and fake for me.
Thanks God, we got KTL, and thanks God this time their dirtier, rougher and smoker than the usual (see Dissonanze), so in a few minutes they complete the work started by the colleagues WY. Incredible volume, abyss of sounds, impossible fog, infinite darkness. Cool. I do not stop at Complex for Planningtorock, I’ve already seen her times and times, and no Mira Calix and Khan as well, because I can’t stand closed spaces and underground anymore Barcelona effect: let’s go open air!
We decide to leave the battle camp and going towards a bar, then Santa Monica Centre, where the show is the Black Out Concert by Tres. Interesting and stimulating idea letting us hearing the silence present in the hall once all the engines are turned off (computers, videos, telephones ), although realized talking with those who had to make the input, so a not completely perfect performance. It is a great idea by the way and it can be re-performed, who knows.
Cristian Vogel is behind a turntable at the Park this time, and it’s suddenly good vibes. And then Devo. Well, there’s a little bit of fear for another delusion, but they astonished. An inspired and continued live, without a single collapse, with all the classic re-arranged, as they wrote them yesterday, played with an incredible determination that doesn’t let the past emerge, with a convinced but not cocky attitude, absolutely ironic but not comical well done guys! It’s been a pleasure seeing and hearing the group for the first and, probably, last time! Sonar is also this way .
And then: a little bit of Tractile at Lab, that we still love because it’s techno but, even if M_nus, it’s still sexy, deep and dirty. A little bit of Matthew Dear’s Big Hand at Pub, that reveals an incredible dark voice, apart from his magic behind the laptop and an intimacy with bass and battery that turn the show into something special. It is techno for rock lovers and vice versa. And then started the Innervision showcase, with Dixon , Chateau Flight and Ame, but we’re not those of the mood house. At last tech house, but we rather dedicate to something else. As Lo Recordings, with big (but aesthetically squalid ) Black Devil Disco Club (listen but not look!), and the super Cursor Miner, one of the most wonderful live of the night, maybe of the festival. At the Club, it’s time for Jeff Mills. We enter overcoming every possible obstacle (imagine the Club Sonar full as it’s never been), we recognize his style, but we do not stop too much, monotony and melancholy are behind the corner Better going back to Lab. Altern8 re-creates a techno hardcore atmosphere of other times, and the things is more amazing!
And then Dave Clark: electro, but most of all techno (at the Club ), that is obviously a mix of classics and new entries, without celebration or auto celebration, because he’s all here and now. Clarke has no limits and he doesn’t make us regret the past, at last he make us re-live it. Different from the electro and rock set of the last year at the Park, but amazing.
Curiosity brought us to Lab for Radioslave, that passionate us, but not till the end Not to end up in the dark, we decided to listen to the Miss (Kittin) at Pub, that anyway has been disappointing because of her egomania and her warbling. Last shoot of will and we go back to club, just in time for Clarke last sequence of acid battery and deep bass. And we’re glad we did it. Great ending! A last jump at the Pub for some notes at dawn light, and then home. What a pity, we were enjoying the festival I think we’ll come back next year.
It’s been a Sonar plenty of new emotions and confirmed emotions (that are actually the most important), that, with less snobbism and laziness (for the organizers as well), has gone back to consider people and fashion!, why not? (post-industrial, dubstep, rock’n’rave ), making the 85thousands participants happy. It is not a case that, for those who knew where to search for, the atmosphere has been wonderful from the beginning till the end because the proposal was interesting, amazing and different. Sometime even brave. And the public knows it.
It obviously provoked some doubts as well. For example, Spain is well represented, ok but not too much, please, when it’s not worth! Fangoria, what is it? And then the Village and the Pub, open air and last notes: when will sets go back to funny and happy moods as we were young? These are questions with no answer But anyway A Sonar that, lived from the inside, was happy again.
It’s been a good experience also for those who participated to the party outside the festival, but I think this year it’s been a wasted occasion missing the festival. Barcelona is incredible but Sonar as well. And if you think you know it enough, so it’s no more incredible, it’s in any case unique, isn’t it?.