Sónar is a festival that always features a good fistful of classics from the electronic scene, whether they're repeat performers at the event or not, that are a real treat. Here are ten suggestions if you don't want to go too deep into the festival bill and just want to party hard.
Sónar is an event to discover new talents, keep it strictly indie-friendly or enjoy a good dose of beats. But it's also a good opportunity to go with the classics who, whether they played the event before or not, are always nice to see. And this year, there's a bunch of them: mass attractions like deadmau5; Richie Hawtin's mandatory visit; causers of hip injuries like Hot Chip; the return through the big doors of Squarepusher; and The Roots, one of the most respected hip-hop bands of today. So here are ten suggestions for those who want to go to the festival and be sure to get what they want and get it good.
1. Mouse On Mars
Friday, 15th June. SonarHall. 19:00h.
With a career spanning almost two decades, and eleven albums on their CV, Mouse On Mars have little to prove. However, that didn't stop them from releasing such a notable album as “Parastrophics” (Monkeytown, 2012), six years after their previous LP. Once again they show their insatiable thirst for adventure, proving they're the best bar none in matters of exuberant and colourful experimentation. For their live show they've teamed up once again with drummer Dodo NKishi, with whom they reformulate their own compositions on the spot, shaping one of the most visceral live shows in modern experimental electronica.
2. Richie Hawtin
Friday, 15th June. SónarClub. 2:00h.
Narcotic early mornings at Amnesia on Ibiza. Bad trips to the tune of “Spastik”. A fringe that stays in place no matter what. Super duper techno singles on M_nus. Jokes aside, Richie Hawtin is one of the most important figures in minimal techno, in all of his incarnations and at any time in his long career. Whether as a producer, with impressive live shows like Plastikman at Sónar 2010, or as a DJ, the Canadian is the man you want on stage if you want your public to have a completely satisfactory experience. This year he'll do a set at 2 in the morning, rather than closing the event, which is why he might have some surprises in store for us.
3. James Murphy
Friday, 15th June. SonarPub. 02:30h.
Though LCD Soundsystem broke up over a year ago, James Murphy has been more than busy roaming the DJ booths of the world with his incendiary sets. The DFA boss picks out some real disco, funk, house and electro delicacies to the crowd's delight. His fashion-proof wisdom will once again be the joy of the dancers. Hard partying guaranteed.
4. Fatboy Slim
Friday, 15th June. SonarPub. 04:00h.
Norman Cook, he who was the bassist in The Housemartins, reinvented himself in 1996 as one of the major electronic music agitators with a funk-soul attitude. It's almost unbelievable, but this is his first time at Sónar, so it seems like a unique opportunity to relive that string of hits he won the hearts of the dirtiest scoundrels with, writing his own chapter in the book of crossover electronica. Moreover, the Brighton boy will play at the ideal time for our inner hooligan to come out on the dance floor.
Friday, 15th June, SonarClub 4:30h
Coinciding with the release of the flaming “Ufabulum” (Warp, 2012), Squarepusher has prepared a new live show, that promises to be one of the most exciting experiences of the event. Wrapped in a torrent of LED lights, the Briton returns to his most electronic side, with a discharge of polyhedric rhythms and frantic sequences, which will remind us why he is one third of the Holy Trinity of British IDM. You can't afford to miss this.
6. New Order
Saturday, 16th June. SonarVillage. 23:00h.
Though they're cross with Peter Hook, the reasons why the Mancunians are headlining this year are more than obvious. The remains of Joy Division have gained a glorious spot on the Olympus of modern music, not only because they've been one of the most important exponents of electronic pop-rock since the 80s, but also for the unforgettable and timeless anthems they've given humanity, like “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle”. The festival will receive them for the very first time.
7. The Roots
Saturday, 16th June. SonarPub. 23.15h.
A must-see for the lovers of hip-hop of yesterday, today and tomorrow - The Roots have been at it for 25 years already - masterfully fusing jazz, soul, rhythm & blues and rap (the old school version, from the time when it wasn't yet raining dollar bills and gold chains). ?uestlove's band is one of the most acclaimed live outfits, which made them Jimmy Fallon's in-house band. The Philly group will be at Sónar for the first time, with their 13th album “Undun” recently released. It could be epic.
8. Hot Chip
Saturday, 16th June. SónarPub. 1:30h.
The people of Sónar know from experience that by having Hot Chip on your bill, you'll get a legion of their fans attending your event. But not only that; you'll also get one of the best electronic live shows in modern music. With their new album “In Our Heads” out this week, Alexis Taylor and friends will make your Saturday night one to remember, with a good dose of wild dancing to their countless hits. Experiencing, even though it's for the umpteenth time, “Over And Over”, “Ready For The Floor” and “And I Was A Boy From School” is well worth your trip to L’Hospitalet.
Saturday, 16th June. SonarClub. 03:00h.
Already a mega star on the mass electronica scene, deadmau5 returns to the festival in order to unfold his trademark orgy of audio-visual stimuli. With his big mouse helmet, Joel Thomas Zimmerman will make it clear why he's one of the most sought-after men in music today. No matter how hard you try to resist, your fist will go up to the sound of his trance-like climaxes, and you'd better bring an extra pair of shoes, too.
Saturday, 16th June. SonarPub. 3.30h.
Luckily, it's not all troikas of outside creditors, second-hand Mercs and 00s-smelling minimal coming from Germany. The formula used by Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary for their creations as Modeselektor has always been a happy and revitalising exception on the German scene, likely as a result of the two's extravagant personalities. If you've ever seen the Berlin boys in action, you'll know that it's an experience you won't forget lightly, both aurally and visually. For those who haven't: they're coming with their latest album “Monkeytown” under their belt, and an eccentric mix of IDM, hip-hop, electro and other danceable rhythms, accompanied - as usual - by prestigious visual collective Pfadfinderei.