Live review: Sónar Festival

There are few festivals as singular and diverse as Sónar. Beginning its life in Barcelona in 1994, its since gone on to traverse across 23 cities across the world including London, Tokyo, São Paulo and Chicago. Its global appeal rests not only with its musical programming which is always top notch, but the added tech and business side to the festival which makes it very much a key date in the diary for all industry personnel.

The line up for this year’s Barcelona leg didn’t disappoint. As is well known, the event is split up into the ‘By Day’ and ‘By Night’ factions, with the daytime music serving as an apéritif for the main helping which takes place in a giant warehouse further afield in the heart of the city.

The daytime paid host to the likes of Section Boyz, Ata Kak, Yung Lean and Kelela across its three day scheduling. Surprise highlights came in the form of Turkish psych folk group Insanlar and the alt r’n’b machinations of Sevdaliza.


By Night was were things got serious. We were treated to seven hour marathon sets from Four Tet and Laurent Garnier on consecutive nights across the weekend, whilst the main stage (which if I was to hazard a guess at the capacity then it would be roughly 20,000 people) paid host to the set of the weekend from James Blake. Not far behind him was Skepta who produced a typically electrifying performances, at one point dipping into his back catalogue to play Ace Hood Flow halfway through his set.


Kaytranada’s performance was, as expected, a high class affair, and vast swathes were also drawn to Ben UFO’s two hour back to back with Helena Hauff – the duo didn’t let anyone down with their relentless assault which dipped into acid, techno, electro and industrial and the heavens opened from above. Other delicacies that were also on offer included Bicep, Jackmaster, Soichi Terada, Anohni, John Talabot, New Order and DJ EZ – punters were certainly spoilt for choice as they made their way round through the various stages across the giant hangar.

A sumptuously programmed festival in a stunning city, there is really no gripes to be had when it comes to Sónar; it’s not hard to see why it’s become the premier electronic festival in Europe, with people flocking from across the globe to sample its truly unique aura.

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