Sonar 2006 (Spain)

Sonar 2006 (Spain)

Dan Davies on 29 June 2006

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Barcelona. 15-17 June. 

The sprawl of Sonar can be mapped out in three ways. Sonar de Día is the day event, based just off the chaotic La Rambla in a combination of university buildings and contemporary art museums. Sonar de Noche is the night time event which takes place in a massive aircraft hanger outside the city. The third I like to call ‘Sonar de Mash-up’ and it happens in the whole of Barcelona whilst the festival is on - all the beach parties, clubs, after-clubs and bar side tapas chill-outs. It’s ‘Sonar de Mash-up,’ away from the festival but at the heart of it, which makes the event unique. The music, food and bottles of sweet lager act as a prism to fully capture and appreciate the city that spawned it. Here’s my prime cuts…

A tapas of Sonar de Día
The lift door softly opens in the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, middle floor and we’re smashed by a CD skipping mash-up of intense electro and Phil Collins. Several angular haircuts stare into their San Miguel bottles while leisure-suited, aviator-shaded loafers hang out in ground level sofas, which resemble man sized i-Pods. We punch for the top floor where we amble into a cheery Chernobyl exhibition and then into the next room - Blast’s Day Of The Figurines.

The room is decidedly hushed and all attention is focused on two spot-lit tables with tiny characters on them. One group of plastic figures wait on a grid to be chosen. The next grid is a town where ‘the chosen’ have been placed. I chose a be-quiffed chap with a tan and a rucksack whom I christen Stevey Fitzpatrick Morris. I fill in the form and Stevey enters the game. For the next few days, via text message, I’m informed of his progress; Stevey gets dropped in town and heads straight to the Queen Vic: “a real ale and horse brasses pub.” He makes a friend called ‘Jazzman’, manages to avoid a riot, and a killer virus by just sitting there and consuming a pint of cider called ‘Crossbow’ - which, when I picked it up for Stevey, hoped was a weapon. For two and a half days I ignore Jazzman – who was definitely the ‘wanker’ side of Jazz.

Back in my reality we i-shuffle into the promotional area. Here I pick up an origami stork and some ‘urban-post-hippies’ explain how it will help me in business before giving me a promo CD.  We exchange myspace’s and hotmails and I move on with my paper bird.

After stuffing my Adidas endorsed Sonar bag with CDs, DVDs, art-packs and a load of magazines, it’s time to check out some more music. We walk into a darkened room on the Sonar Complex and there’s a guy on stage with a day-glo road maintenance jacket holding a neon tube like an electric guitar. He’s running his hands up and down on the fluorescent fret and tramping on a series of distortion pedals. Behind the cordon the crowd are assaulted by yawling feedback. “Hmmm… Jazz or wank?”

These were my first impressions of the musical noodlings and artistic chin strokery over the weekend. Sonar de Dia gives you a real feeling that something is being pushed even though it’s often deliberately acerbic, some of it is mind-blowingly brilliant. Senor Coconut and his orchestra have a smart-arse concept (a German who surrounds himself with Latin American’s to do Salsa’d up Kraftwerk covers) but made the entire crowd move their feet rather than reach for their chins. Modified Toy Orchestra follows a similar ‘name on tin’ formula (this time a bloke surrounds himself with modified kids toys and fiddles with their sound circuitry for the pleasure of adults), but again is too enjoyable to furrow the brow.

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