Sonar has been around since 1994, officially being called the International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art. It’s not just about music, it doubles as a trade conference, an arts fair and a showcase for the latest developments in electronics, multimedia, video and cinema – all stuff that as far as the folk that are here for the music are concerned serves no purpose other than to bring several thousand other people to the city at the same time and make it that little bit harder to find a hotel bed for the night.
Just what Sonar means by ‘advanced’ music is hard to define. A broad generalisation might be that as opposed to Primavera, which focuses on bands that make music the ‘traditional’ way (i.e. using guitars and drumkits), Sonar veers towards the electronic – techno, house and hip hop, plus experimental and avant-garde acts – a broad definition that seems to include anything from The Beastie Boys to Pete Tong. Cynics say that the whole thing is also cover for a clandestine trade fair to showcase the latest developments in chemical mind enhancements.
There are two part to the festival. Sonar by Day is in the city centre, focused on the Center of Contemporary Culture (CCCB) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), not far from the top of Las Ramblas. That’s where all the techno expos are, but there are also some live acts and DJs.
But for most festival goers, the real deal in Sonar by Night, which is outside of the city centre and features four different stages where the partying goes on from dusk to dawn. Artists that have appeared in the past include Orbital, Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, Marc Almond, Sonic Youth, Björk, Underworld, Massive Attack, The Chemical Brothers, De la Soul, Chic, Scissor Sisters, Goldfrapp, Grace Jones, Crystal Castles, Yazoo, Justice, The Human League and Dizzie Rascal.
Sonar has also branched out, with the concept now having been exported to Cape Town, Tokyo and Sao Paulo.
Thursday June 14, 2012
SONAR BY DAY
d.Forma, Daedelus Archimedes Show, DJ Spinn & DJ Rashad, Kutmah, Lapalux, Masaki Batoh – Brain Pulse Music, Monki Valley, Om Unit, Ricardo Donoso, Thundercat, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, When Saints Go Machine, Yosi Horikawa
Friday June 15, 2012
SONAR BY DAY
Austra, Clip!, Club Cheval featuring Canblaster, Myd, Panteros 666 & Sam Tyba, Dago, Daniel Miller, Doc Daneeka, Esperit!, Jacques Greene, John Talabot, Lolo & Sosaku, Mouse on Mars, Nehuen, Nguzunguzu, Nightwave, Peaking Lights, Plapla Pinky, Psilosamples, Raisa K, Stand Up Against Heart Crime, Supersilent feat. John Paul Jones, Trevor Jackson
SONAR BY NIGHT
Amon Tobin – ISAM, Friendly Fires, Jacques Lu Cont, Nicolas Jaar, Annie Mac, UNER
Saturday June 16, 2012
SONAR BY DAY
Cornelius presents salyu x salyu, Darkside, Diamond Version + Atsuhiro Ito, Discodromo, DJ Harvey, Ital, Jesse Boykins III, Keys N Krates, LA Vampires, Lenticular Clouds, Magic Touch, Maria Minerva, Pegasvs, Salva, Santiago Latorre, Sinjin Hawke vs. Zora Jones, The Suicide Of Western Culture, xxxy
SONAR BY NIGHT
Azari & III, Cooly G, DVA, Hot Chip, Julio Bashmore, Kode9, Laurent Garnier presents L.B.S., Luciano, Madeon, Mary Anne Hobbs b2b Blawan, Maya Jane Coles, Metronomy, Pretty Lights, The 2 Bears
Address: Fira Gran Via II, Avinguda de Joan Carles I, 64
Sonar by day is centred around the area at the top of Las Ramblas. Many, well most, Sonar goers don’t even bother with it. The real party is Sonar by night, and that’s where you’ll find all the main acts. Getting to Fira Gran Via II isn’t all that easy though.
Even Sonar can sometimes feel a bit like a trade fair, the reason being that’s where it’s situated, in an enormous building that is used for some of the biggest trade fairs in Europe, including Alimentaria (food and drink), the Mobile World Congress, Salón Internacional del Automóvil (cars), Salón Náutico Internacional de Barcelona (yachtie stuff) and Construmat (construction). It’s functional rather than aesthetically pleasing – but thankfull you’re here for the music rather than the sightseeing.
Getting there by day, you first want to head to Plaça Espanya, which you can reach on metro L1 or L2. You then need to get on the Ferrocarriles de Catalunya (FFCC) trains and travel three stops to Europa/Fira. You don’t need a new ticket, your metro ticket is valid and although you have to validate it again in the machine, don’t worry, it won’t charge you. And although there are a number of different FFCC trains leaving from the station, don’t worry. They all stop at Europa/Fira, and the venue is right next to the station.
By the time proper Sonar goers are finished, it’s tomorrow already, and you can join the bemused comuters on the morning trains. However, there is a shuttle bus running on Friday and Saturday from 20.30 to 08.00, running between the venue and Drassanes (metro L3) at the bottom of Las Ramblas. You’d have thought they’d lay on this service for free, as folk tend to do at these events, but you thought wrong. It costs €2, which is the outrageous price for any single metro or bus ticket in Barcelona these days.