13 Reasons Why Sónar Festival 2017 Was So Damn Hot
We're already dreaming of 2018...
This year Barcelona’s Sónar was all about the fans. And we’re not talking about its biggest gathering of you lot yet (123,000, no less) – but the kind you buy for a couple of euros from a corner shop.
Sónar or sauna? I know the British like to talk about the weather, but the 24th year of the electronic dance fest was blazing. Luckily it takes more than a 32°C heatwave to stop us dancing for three solid days to bass, beats, drums, acid lines, live disco, pianos, a viola da gamba, a ‘Syntheziser Ensemble’ and even a washing machine – in a sea of fluttering fans.
The line up was scorchio; Justice, Björk, De La Soul, Joe Goddard, DJ Shadow, Little Dragon, Jon Hopkins, Forest Swords, Moderat, Nicolas Jaar, Soulwax, Anderson .Paak, Vitalic, The Black Madonna and Princess Nokia. Fat Freddy’s Drop double dropped, playing both day and night. And hola stamina-testing six hour set from Masters at Work.
Here are 13 reasons why you won’t get a hotter – or cooler – fest this year:
1. Björk’s hot/hat trick
Bjork opened Sónar with a trio of tricks: a rare talk, an avant-garde 4-hour DJ set (thank you for the R&B) and an immersive exhibition of her VR and video work. The Icleandic masked ‘beekeeper’ didn’t sweat a bead, but proved she is capable of Human Behaviour… by admitting she DJs on GarageBand. All was Full of Love for Sónar from the start.
2. Legendary hip-hop from De La Soul
Hearing De La's first album in ten years was good, but the 90s hits were The Bizess. This is how you do longevity.
3. Dancing past Dawn
R&B and pop diva Dawn’s backing b-boys 90s’ moves were quite, erm, something.
4. Kiddy Smile’s squad is cooler than yours
Getting amongst it in dope playsuits, tons of 'tude and bumbags (AKA fannypacks for those of you over the pond)... Kid, you made us smile.
5. Evian Christ was warped
Christ, you could have gone just to see him. A heavy night didn’t stop Joshua Leary turning rave into a weapon of mass distraction.
6. Nadia Rose and her Skwod
Nadia Rose brought “sick and bad” Croydon bantz to Barcelona, and with her DJ skinning up next to her. At the end she left her skwody on stage to DJ, ‘cos why not?
7. Anderson .Paak is a Prince
He’s opened for Bruno Mars, but we still didn’t expect Anderson .Paak to be so jazzy and sexy. When he grinded against a mic stand a flexi-crowd were made jealous of an inanimate object. Plus, he threw in some 21st century trap. Yes Lawd!
8. Dirty Cash
This year Sónar vowed to focus on “mutations in global urban rhythms, new trap from Spain and innovative electronica.” One of the most popular artists in Estonia, Tommy Cash fused bleak raps with hip-hop and electro. And 20-year-old Catalan rap queen Bad Gyal proved why the dancehall feminist is a viral internet sensation.
9. Thundercat’s 2 minute noodles
Kendrick Lamar’s jazz fusion bassist took us to another galaxy; a planet with pink hair, even brighter teeth and a lot of noodles. And he played Lamar’s ‘These Walls’.
10. What did we just watch?
Having produced Björk, Kanye West and FKA twigs, Arca whipped the crowd into a frenzy… literally using a whip. Let’s never talk about the fierce fisting video we can never unsee. To be filed in the same part of our memory as Matmos ‘frotting’ a washing machine. Yep, that also happened.
11. Compassion at Forest Swords
Intense. Haunting. And danceable. Matthew Barnes proved you can move to layered soundscapes. ‘The Highest Flood’ flooded the room with emotion.
12. French class
The French brought fun. Kiddy Smile had an actual ballroom with five voguing dancers, Jacques’s hairstyle was simply mesmerising and Justice’s music built and built until it filled the cavernous air hangar.
13. Cue: very wet hugs
This year Daphni and Hunee played back to back (amazingly for the very first time), closing the festival as the first sunrays hit Sónar by Night – now Day – on Sunday morning. Proper lush.
Once recuperated, the Sónar team will start planning next year’s major 25th edition. But before hitting Barcelona again, the ‘International Festival of Advanced Music’ and Sónar +D ‘Congress of Creativity and Technology’ will hit Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Reykjavik, Hong Kong and Istanbul.
We’ll always be Sónar fans.
By Lisa Goldapple
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