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Sonar Barcelona 2012

June 17, 2012

A few months ago I heard one of the Ultra Music Festival organizers comment that European festivals were way ahead of the curve as far as production value and organization. Having studied festival production/ live entertainment management for the last few years and working in concert production compelled me to check out the differences for myself. I’ve been hearing about Sonar for a while now and felt like this might be the right time to check a Eurofest out. The UMF guy was absolutely correct, they have the right idea here in Barcelona.

Sonar is broken up into 2 festivals – Sonar Day and Sonar Night. The daytime portion takes place in the old part of the city inside and surrounding a museum. There are three stages (outside main stage, an underground concert hall, and a large tent) shows run from about noon till 10 or 11 at night. The daytime festival is a fraction of the size of Sonar Night and houses all multimedia elements and expositions within the museum.

Sonar Night starts about an hour and a half after the daytime event giving you enough time to grab a bite to eat, wash your hands, and take a 15 minute cab ride to the second location right outside of the city. Picture 2 or 3 Miami Beach convention centers (partially outdoors) and you’ll have a rough idea of what the fair ground feels like size-wise. There are also 3 stages with capacity for few thousand, a bumper cart area with food and vendors, and a bambooed astroturf VIP paradise.

98,000 tickets were sold this year bringing in visitors from all over the world. Instead of 18 year old ravers the crowd was made up of international hipsters and “cool kids” (as Hot Chip put it). Drugs were everywhere but so was love. People were extremely helpful and kind to each other even at the cracked out morning hours when the festival was letting out. There was way more drunken comradery than the aggression and pushiness we’ve all experienced at some US festivals.

The artist selection and musical curation was exceptional and best of all most of the bands expressed that playing at Sonar was a real mark of achievement for them, they seemed grateful to be there thus more enthusiastic about their performances.

___

Below are some pics of my personal highlights:

When Saints Go Machine

John Talabot

Nicolas Jaar

Modeselektor

Other favorites included: Azari & III, The 2 Bears, Mary Anne Hobbs, Metronomy, Hot Chip, James Blake, Amon Tobin, and the list goes on.

Check out the Bleep x Sonar 2012 compilation:

STAY TUNED FOR AN AUDIO RECAP ON RADIO NIGHTDRIVE JULY 5TH FROM 2-4PM ON WYNWOOD RADIO

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