Sónar Festival in Barcelona is one of the most famous music festivals in the world and has been running since 1994. This year I am grateful I had the opportunity to explore it again as the only other time I attended it properly was in 2010 and I think it’s fair to say the festival has come a long way since then.
I always had this impression that Sónar was all about underground electronic music with its main focus on techno however this is not really the case (or if it once was the case, it is not anymore). It is, in fact, the perfect place to be if you want an event that provides a lot of different genres of music, as it is not particularly focussed on anything specific but gives the stage to many artists making it a good place for you to explore and hear new sounds.
This year, was the festivals’ biggest one yet and it was evident from seeing the scale of it that this was an absolutely massive event with a lot of international interest.
I got stuck into the whole thing, from the music festival to the music and technology convention (Sónar+D) and here are 10 memorable moments that I think are worth mentioning about Sónar 26, Barcelona!
10) The Cashless System
One of the best practical things at Sónar 26 was the convenience of the cashless system and how quick and easy it was to enter the festival and pay for everything including your food and drinks all with your wristband. It was never more than a couple of minutes wait to get a drink and for a festival that has tens of thousands of people that is a big achievement. Also, where most festivals use tokens (which can be lost) having a wristband with all your money on it is a great idea.
9) Cecilio G riding in on a horse
One of the weirdest but most memorable moments of Sónar this year was when Cecilio G, a local Barcelona trap hip hop artist entered the Sónar XS stage on a horse. I didn’t really know how I felt about this in all honesty… What was that about?… Was it dangerous for the crowd?… Was it also cruel for the horse? I have mixed feelings and I am sure a lot of the crowd did as well, but yeah this man did make an entrance like no other and that alone will stick in our heads for a while to come!
8) DJ Koze winding down Friday Night
DJ Koze closed the Sónar Pub stage on Friday night and I have to say it was a nice place to be while the sun came up. He played a somewhat tribal and well-balanced techno set which was a cool way to wind down. I caught a good amount of his set but as he was playing at the same time of Peggy Gou and Palms Trax, I was also running in between to catch as many vibes as possibles before the end of the 1st night.
7) Floating-points taking you all over the world during his 6-hour set!
A really phenomenal set was from Floating Points who played for 6 hours taking the crowd on a journey through many different genres including techno, house, hip-hop, jazz, salsa, samba… you name it he went for it. For sure one of the most innovative sets from the whole festival and a big thumbs up to him for keeping the crowd alive, grooving and kicking for a duration of 6 hours!
6) Sónar+D, the convention!
Sónar is more than a music festival! It is a gathering of technologists creatives, artists and innovative companies. The music festival runs in parallel with a music and technology convention called Sónar+D which showcases talks, exhibitions and workshops. We were privileged enough to attend this year and it was so interesting to be a part of it and attend numerous workshops and talks on the future of music, big data and communication amongst other areas. This is the place to be for those individuals and organisations who want to show the world their innovative and creative ideas on the future of audiovisual experiences.
5) Stormzy, bringing London vibes to Barcelona!
After the news hit that A$AP Rocky couldn’t attend the festival due to legal issues in Sweden, the organisers had to step up and find someone just as respected and impressive to replace him. I’m sure they didn’t have to think too hard about it because who replaced him in my humble opinion is equally as good and also a huge international star. Yes, that’s right, it was no other than Stormzy from London, UK who had the crowd on fire during his act! It is fair to say that Stormzy has been one of the more recent artists to put really good UK hip-hop music in the ears of the world and he was definitely very popular with the crowd at Sónar who were singing along continuously to his tracks.
4) Peggy Gou and Palms Trax, b2b set!
Getting on decks after the absolutely killer drum n bass performance Andy C gave is no easy task, especially if you are going to come on and play some house and disco music, but Peggy Gou and Palms Trax delivered the goods at the end of Sónar by Night, on Friday. This was the first time I had seen both of these DJ’s play and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by their back to back performance. The sounds of house and new disco isn’t really my thing personally but it became evident to me while listening to them and watching how the crowd reacted to their music that this was a very groovy and positive way to end the 1st night of Sónar! Definitely look forward to seeing more collaborations between these two in the future.
3) DJ Krush absolutely rinsing it!
DJ Krush was without a doubt one of the best acts of Sónar by Day on Friday. Straight out of Japan, and doing what he does best, i.e. spinning epic-ly filthy bass-heavy hip-hop and dubstep beats using some serious turntables skills, the atmosphere that his music provided at the main Sónar Village stage was one of the most memorable and impressive!
2) Amelie Lens going in for the final kill!
Closing the whole festival at the Sónar Club (Sónar by Night, Saturday), Amelie Lens, one of the biggest names in techno, took us on a pilgrimage, showcasing her hardstyle and looking fairly emotional and excited while she did it. Closing Sónar is a big privilege for any DJ and the way that Amelie went for it this year couldn’t have been done any better. The music that she played was the perfect thing to hear just hours before the end and it gave us all the right amount of energy to walk out of Sónar content, satisfied and with huge smiles on our faces thinking…. mission accomplished!
1) Andy C breaking the crowd… and the speakers!
For me, watching Andy C at Sónar was the best set for sure of the whole festival! If you do not know Andy C, he is a UK drum n bass legend known for his seamless transitions and jump up heavy tracks. He absolutely broke the crowd while he played and played such ridiculous tunes that he even broke the speakers at one point as well. Enough Said! Well done Andy, you absolutely smacked it mate!
Get ready for more articles from me reporting back to you about what’s good in Barcelona in the coming months.
Next stop for me is DGTL in August. See you there Clubbers!
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