11 Reasons To Roll Out The Green Carpet For Sónar 2016
Here's our wonky view of what went down at this year's festival...
Experimental. Diverse. Obscure. These words are used to describe Barcelona’s Sónar Festival. Well, you’re gonna need a bigger thesaurus – because in its 23rd year, the sensory fest just got larger.
As did its catchy tagline... The ‘International Festival of Advanced Music and Congress of Technology and Creativity’ sets the bar high, serving up three AstroTurf-coloured days and shin-shattering nights as an education in new music and stamina. (And the bar serves wine in real glasses, so the organisers aren’t dicking around.)
This year gave us 130 performances including New Order, Fatboy Slim, Roots Manuva, James Blake, Santigold, Lady Leshurr, Booka Shade, Bob Moses, Jamie Woon and Flume – plus 7-hour sets that made us feel as wounded as the city’s beach tower come Blue Monday.
Here are 11 reasons we're still wonky after Sónar 2016...
1. The Grime Line Up Was No Joke
The Godfather of Grime, Top Boy of Grime and Lady of Grime walked into a festival bar… Ouch!
The sound of Brit youth was repped via Roots Manuva, Skepta and Lady Leshurr. Plus Section Boyz and underdog Stormzy shut everyone up.
2. Double Santigold
Once a day wasn't enough for Santigold. She trap-ped us twice for her take on a kitsch dystopian future - performing at Sónar Day and Night. Who wouldn't want a PEZ dispenser with their own head?
3… John Legends
Not one, but three John facts:
1. At one point John Grant looked straight at me and mouthed “I’ll adopt you and everything will be ok.”
2. Groovy Madrid-based synthesiser-loving newcomer John Grvy is pronounced ‘Gray’.
3. The French John of the electronic iconic variety came in the form of… (drumroll and laser beam)... Jean-Michel Jarre.
Extra John fact: In 1993 my mum called the police to report a UFO viewing. It was the lasers from a J-MJ concert.
4. Jamie Woon Had Our Backs
These two backed the smooth Woon. And our eyes and ears were distracted. EP out soon.
5. Sonic Grrrls
Lady Leshurr wasn’t the only grrrl causing a lyrical sonic boom at Sónar by Day. Kelela mixed urban and emo (‘urbo’ anyone?), Japan’s Sapphire Slows mashed J-Pop and dreampop, The Black Madonna brought groovy techno and Santigold double-dropped.
Meet you by the unicorn tears, yeh?
6. New Music’s Order
Sónar’s program encouraged us to hop, skip and down gins through personal new discoveries faster than you could holler “Track ID?”
We loved Kaytranada. (Madonna does too, but don’t let that put you off.) Fellow Canadians, Badbadnotgood were good. At Detroit legends Undergound Resistance one girl screamed, “This is the best moment of my life. Where are my friends?!” Otherwise Mura Masa repped the Channel Islands, Las Hermanas Colombia and Lafawndah made Ace of Base cool again with her cover of ‘All That She Wants’.
She won’t be gone tomorrow.
7… Hour Sets
Techno kingpin Laurent Garnier suggested a 7-hour set. Gracias to Sónar for listening – plus providing a mammoth 7-hour set from FourTet in the festival’s red-draped new ‘oldschool club’. SónarCar gave me temporary tinnitus.
8. Sonic Clashes
Never say you can’t see it all. A clash between James Blake and Flume gave us a ‘festival moment’ as we floated from one 20-something to the other in time for the infamous drops from Flume’s Skin.
9. Tech Exclusives
This year's line-up was rich in house (Booka Shade, Ed Banger Records, Kenny Dope) and techno (Matias Aguayo, Ben Klock, Coyu), but this year’s big exclusive was Richie Hawtin’s brand new live vision of music, art and technology.
10. Raving And Research
On paper Sónar+D looks weird – a congress of technological, creative and social innovations in the heart of one of Europe’s biggest dance music events. But it’s a key part of Sónar.
This year, producer Brian Eno did a guest speech on the relevance of art to the human condition, “Culture is the lubricant of evolution.” After Sónar+D, consider us lubed up.
11. Hola 'Blue Monday'
My friend discovered she could roll her Rs as we entered Sónar's whopping great air hangar to New Order playing 'Blue Monday'.
This is how she felt when she could no longer roll them the Monday after Sónar.