Sónar 2011 Night

User’s manual, part 2: Sónar by Night

sónar 2011

By Luis M. Rguez, Franc Sayol and Mario G. Sinde

Today we continue with our recommendations for Sónar 2011. Yesterday we told you what’s what on the by day program at the International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art, and today we focus on the night stages at the Fira Gran Via de L’Hospitalet.

Africa Hitech

The union of Mark Pritchard and Steve White under the Africa Hitech moniker is, let’s come out and say it, one of the best things to have happened to bass music in the past couple of months. Their “93 Million Miles” (Warp, 2011) is a cocktail of genres, forming a sound where the complexity and solidity is virtually unrivalled in current electronic music. Their live show promises to be quite the experience. FS

Saturday 18th June, SónarPub stage, 00:30am

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto

Raster-Noton has just released the fifth and last chapter of the series of collaborative efforts from Carsten Nicolai and Ryuichi Sakamoto in the series they’ve been putting out for almost a decade now. “Summvs”, a title coming from the contraction of “summa” and “versus”, once again investigates the possibility of synergetic conjunction between the acoustic piano (Sakamoto stroking the keys of his instrument with patience and contention) and microscopic electronica (Alva Noto and his laptops processing those keystrokes and adding gassy layers, erratic rhythms, pulses and images). On Sunday 19th June the couple will play concert closing Sónar Barcelona at the Teatre Grec. Luis M. Rguez

Sunday 19th June, Teatre Grec, 10:00pm

Aphex Twin

Though we already had the opportunity to enjoy his set in Barcelona a couple of months ago, a Richard D. James show is always an unpredictable experience and, normally, an almost cathartic one. Even more so if it’s during the best time imaginable. Aphex Twin returns to Sónar by Night with his impressive audiovisual show and we already feeling butterflies in our bellies. If he plays new material, it could be the end of us. FS

Friday 17th June, SónarClub stage, 02:45am

BBC Showcase

Eleven years and counting. The collaboration between Sónar and the best public radio in the world has become a characteristic feature of the festival. After four years under the guidance of Mary Anne Hobbs, this year it’s the Corporation’s three most popular selectors who are in charge of the line-up: Annie Mac, Toddla T and Benji B. Together they’re hosting a gang of new bass stars, among whom, Katy B and Pearson Sound aka Ramadanman shine their own light. FS

Friday 17th June, SónarLab stage, 00:30am - 05:30am

Chris Cunningham

The lord of audiovisual darkness comes out of his cave to offer us his impressive show. From his creations, unreleased material and samples from all over the place, Cunningham will guide us through a dark and twisted world, both visually and sonically. A must see. Check out his agenda for this summer: the Roundhouse in London, the Sydney Opera House, Sónar and… that’s it. Luxury. FS

Saturday 18th June, SónarClub stage, 11:00pm

Cut Copy

here’s little doubt that the Melbourne quartet has become one of the best-oiled pop machines we have these days. “Zonoscope” (Modular, 2011) may not sound as urgent as its predecessors, their sound is now more consistent and complex, without having lost that hedonist feeling. Their exciting live show has grown stronger year by year. A surefire pop hit. FS

Friday 17th June, SónarLab stage, 11:30pm


Apart from playing the closing concert at the Teatre Grec alongside Ryuichi Sakamoto, the prolific Carsten Nicolai (alias Alva Noto) will also perform the visual sound of Cyclo live, his project with Ryoji Ikeda. Abstraction, glitches and experimentation accompanied by an audiovisual show that is a hybrid between sound and plastic arts. FS

Friday 17th June, SónarClub stage, 10:30pm

Die Antwoord

More bad visual vibes. The trio formed by Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek is one of the arresting impressive concepts of recent times, thanks to the cocktail of zef philosophy, the delirious iconography and ghetto-rap/apocalyptic rave hits. If their “$O$” is brutal, their live shows are a pressure cooker of violence, sweat and sex, which could become one of the highlights of the festival. FS

Friday 17th June, SónarPub stage, 03:15am

The Human League

Unlike other occasions, this time The Human League is coming to Spain with a new album under their belt. “Credo” (Wall Of Sound, 2011) is not as good as their big classics, but they’re in great shape nonetheless, especially for a band that’s been around since 1977. Live, with their set list full of hits, they keep showing us why they were and remain one of the titans of synth-pop. FS

Friday 17th June, SónarClub stage, 11:00pm James Holden

Ever since the release of “The Idiots Are Winning” (Border Community, 2006), Holden, the producer, has been a recluse, looking for new forms for a sound in which non-conformity and exploration are key. Fortunately, he has been performing as a DJ sets with an always unmistakable sound and sinuous structure, that take us into the universe of one of the essential figures in the evolution of dance music in the past decade. Plus, to experience a James Holden set while the sun is coming up is something you will not forget. Promise. FS

Saturday 18th June, SónarPub stage, 05:00am

Janelle Monáe

With her eclectic debut album, “The ArchAndroid” (Bad Boy-Atlantic, 2010), the young Cinderella from Kansas, based in Atlanta, has become the crown princess of North American urban music. The girl has natural talent and a freshness that is rare, so much so that both Big Boi and Sean “Diddy” Combs have taken her under their wing, and she’s getting props from people like Prince. Her style mix (old school funk and soul, electronic R&B, psych-rock, hip-hop, sixties pop and even folk) will be heard at Sónar, undoubtedly confirming Janelle Monáe, one of the most personal and singular voices in black music of recent times, as a natural force when on stage. LMR

Saturday 18th June, SónarPub stage, 11:30pm

James Murphy

The sudden and sad demise of LCD Soundsystem, after the release of “This Is Happening” and the goodbye concerts at Madison Square Garden this past April, doesn’t mean James Murphy is going to sit back on the sidelines from now on. For starters, he’s going to continue deejaying, and who knows what else he’ll do in the future. If you want to have the post-modern idol of popular meta-music close to you, you can check him out spinning records of funk, disco and techno without a lot of technique but with excellent taste. Mario G. Sinde

Friday 17th June, SónarPub stage, 05:30am

Katy B

The princess of dubstep will have two opportunities to show why she’s grown from the deepest underground to the heights of pop stardom in little over a year: a concert during the day and another one at night. It will be a good chance to see if the urban hymns of “On A Mission” (some R&B, a lot of funky house and semi-cheesy choruses) stand their ground in a live setting as well as they do on our headphones. MGS

Friday 17th June, SónarLab stage, 02:00am

Magnetic Man

After proving that dubstep is ready to claim its part of the mainstream, the super group formed by Skream, Benga and Artwork will unload their machinery for one of the highlights of the festival. Accompanying the bass epic, a spot on stage set-up that makes the objective clear enough: to wreak havoc. FS

Saturday 18th June, SónarClub stage, 03:15am


Thanks to “Paper Planes”, Maya Arulpragasam achieved what she always wanted to do: become a worldwide star. With the much discussed “/\/\ /\ Y /\” (N.E.E.T., 2010), however, it seems that her star has started shining a little less. Controversies like Frygate and the New York Times article don’t exactly help to make out the true impact of her figure. In spite of everything, on stage, M.I.A. is still magnetically charismatic and battle-ready as ever. This will be one of the concerts nobody should miss out on. FS

Friday 17th June, SónarClub stage, 12:45am

Night Slugs showcase

In little over two years, Night Slugs has become representatives of the most hedonistic part of the party in the hardcore continuum. Now, the label / night comes to Sónar with two of their main artists. First, Egyptrixx, who will perform the tracks of his brilliant "Bible Eyes" (Night Slugs, 2011), the first album released by the collective and a splendid piece of house cut with IDM and rave moods. Completing the showcase are L-Vis 1990 and Bok Bok, capos and founders of the label, in a back-to-back DJ set. FS

Saturday 18th June, SónarCar stage, 04:00 am - 06:15am

Numbers showcase

Before the Numbers showcase there’ll be a Shackleton live set, which means high-precision, sinuous rhythms and post-dubstep darkness. After that, the most explosive troupe on the Glasgow rave scene will be paying tribute to the robotic rhythms of electro, the elastic material of acid and funky house, the heavy basslines of dubstep and the structural complexity of old school IDM. The line-up features the incredible Jackmaster, his squire Spencer, the shiny Deadboy, the tribal Redinho and the so-called “Italian Aphex Twin”, Lory D. Your feet will be destroyed. MGS

Saturday 18th June, SónarLab stage, 02:00am – 05:30am

Paul Kalkbrenner

For many years, Paul Kalkbrenner’s live show was one of the best kept secrets of the dancefloor. However, in 2008, Kalkbrenner’s life changed because of his role in “Berlin Calling”. Apart from “Sky And Sand” dominating the mainstream sales charts for weeks, his performance made him a celebrity in his home country and something similar to that in the rest of the world. So, now we can enjoy one of the best live shows around in techno, undoubtedly featuring his new tracks from the album “Icke Wieder”. FS

Saturday 18th June, SónarPub stage, 03:30am

Surgeon + Silent Servant

After Magnetic Man’s bass candy, the SónarClub will be taken over by two of the greats in gaunt and surly techno. Surgeon has been at the top of industrial-ish and oppressive techno for over fifteen years, while Silent Servant is one of the latest talents surfacing from the orbit of Sandwell District. Both will offer mechanical sets with few compromises. Did you want for hard techno to finish the night? Well here you have it. FS

Saturday 18th June, SónarClub stage, 04:15am to 05:45am


Survivors and witnesses of an era when dance music could and did rule the sales charts, Rick Smith and Karl Hyde have been at it for over 30 years. After their triumphant performance in 2003, the twosome return to the festival with a new album under their belt, ready to reclaim their seminal role in the history of music made with machines. Thanks to a powerful audiovisual show and a string of hits that are part of the clubbing race patrimony, they are still unbeatable live. FS

Saturday 18th June, SónarClub stage, 12:45am


In 2008, the then princess of fluorescent pop made it clear that, if we had to choose one word to define her live show, it could be only one: party. Now, with “Safari Disco Club” (Barclay, 2011) just out, she’s ready to confirm herself as one of the first ladies of global electro-pop. GrandMarnier and Tepr provide the dance muscle and she’s in charge of charisma and catchy choruses, with one goal only and one goal only: to get the pop party started right. FS

Saturday 18th June, SónarLab stage, 11:30pm PlayGround is a media partner of Sónar Sónar is almost here and it’s time we shared with you our top tips. If you’re still not sure what you’re seeing at Sónar by Night - there’s a lot more than this, but here are our most important recommendations.

Report: Sónar 2011. Users manual, part 1: Sónar by Day

Review: “ 93 Million Miles

Review: " Summvs"

Review: '' $O$''

Review: '' The ArchAndroid''

Review: '' On a Mission''

Review: " Magnetic Man"

Review: '' Bible Eyes''

Review: '' Icke Wieder''

Review: '' Safari Disco Club''

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