Sonar 2011

'An indulgence of the best electronic music around'


Photographer:ian woodhouse

Spain Spain | by Stephen Greenwood | 20 June 2011

The floor is littered with discarded cups and a few casualties to mark the end of Sonar 2011. Beats are still pumping out of the sound system but they have slowly transcended into monotonous nonsense.

Three days of electronic music and heavy partying has taken its toll on a lot of people. Some look physically worn out, others just flat out and face down in a world of disarray.

Set in the midst of an early Barcelona summer, visitors have travelled from all over the world to lose their mind in a weekend of indulging in the best that electronic music has to offer.

Headlining the Saturday night, Underworld (7/10) managed to draw a massive crowd that soaked up all of their sounds. Incorporating mad visuals and lasers into their set they effortlessly reeled in their audience. Frontman Karl Hyde was in fine form jigging around the stage like a Thunderbird being controlled by a puppeteer suffering from a bad bout of spasms.

Gaslamp Killer (8/10) was not everyone’s cup of sangria as the crowd had dwindled in size but he must take a lot of credit for playing the most unique set of the weekend. Starting off with ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ he later dropped tracks from Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix amidst plenty of hip hop and dubstep. He clearly relished his time behind the decks and could be seen energetically bouncing around stage while chipping in with impromptu vocals.

Bringing his own blend of noise to the outdoor Sonar Lab stage, Shackleton (8/10) produced the loudest set from this year’s festival. Starting off slowly he gradually increased the tempo and volume until it reached ear-splitting levels. At one point the throbbing bass was so loud that it made whole bodies vibrate.

Danish producer Trentmoller (9/10) managed to assemble a top live band that nailed their time on stage and hit all the right notes coupled with top visual entertainment. The problem for Aphex Twin (7/10) is by being an innovative legend on the electronic music scene the expectancy is high. Delivering a quality set he somehow managed to leave the audience wanting more darkness and mind bending trippy imagery.

Sonar by day possesses an altogether different vibe featuring a more relaxed atmosphere making it easier to chill out and soak up some rays along with the beats on offer.

The San Francisco-based electronic music producer Eskmo (9/10) brought the first day of music to a close with one of the best sets of the weekend. Dropping a lot of dubstep he mixed it up with live sound effects, which kept the crowd entertained.

Four Tet (7/10) managed to draw the biggest crowd of all the daytime acts and played a set which built up nicely but was difficult to embrace due to the oversubscribed crowd.

Sonar has finally drawn to a close for another year enabling everyone to return to planet earth and prepare themselves for next year’s weekend of madness.


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