Sonar 2012 (Barcelona, ES) Festival Review

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Sonar 2012 (Barcelona, ES) Festival Review

First my apology for being almost two weeks late on this article which I should’ve finished a few days after I’m back from the trip. So yeah, after a few days of chilling on the beach and rocking the festival afterwards I’m glad I’m finally back safe and sound, a little bit tanner and deafer. Out of all the cities in Europe I’d place Barcelona on the top spot; hey, which other cities has such a great beach and a cool festival?

The Sonar festival was divided into two main events: Sonar By Day and Sonar By Night, located at two completely separate locations in the city: the day event being very near to the city centre while the night located far at the outskirt of the city, near the industrial area. My verdict? Definitely one of the few big festivals with the most cutting edge line ups out there – compare that with most dance festivals where SHM, Avicii or Aoki are (yet again!) names sure to be found headlining the whole thing!

We opted only to go to Sonar by Night, as going to both events meant that you would be out at 1PM and be back at the hotel 5am in the morning – something my fragile body wouldn’t handle. And guess what? We did miss some shows that we really shouldn’t (like TEED)! But those that we did watch though, were nothing sort of amazing.

There were many interesting show that night – Madeon, Deadmau5James Blake, Maya Jane Coles, Hot Chip, The BBC Radio 1 Show, New Order (!!) and more that it’s hard to pick which of them to write about. But for us personally some shows leaves more mark than the others and here’s our pick:

Best Visual #1: Amon Tobin’s ISAM

Well, surprise surprise. This was my first time ever going to his show and it was definitely a moving experience… and no doubt made him the best show of the night. At around the same time Lana Del Rey was on performing on the other stage and between the two, of course the choice was easy.

Oh and just for the sake of putting this out of the blue, they had, in between the stages, a mini theme-park with nothing else but a DJ who played hardstyle moombahton and a boom boom car arena.

What we went for instead of Simian show – because after ISAM everything else looks like… crap.

Best Visual #2: Daedelus Archimedes

Visualization seemed to be an important overall theme of the Sonar and this performance it was no exception. Performing with the Monome, Daedelus brought another stunning visuals to the stage. Archimedes consists of an array of mirrors that rotates around and when combined with proper lighting it was one of the most beautiful visual performances on the festival.

Best Visual That Utilizes A Glowing Neon Stick In Any Way: Diamond Version

You know they’re awesome.

Best Zef Group That Has Yolandi: Die Antwoord

You know how it is – you either love them totally or hate them to the gut. The sheer absurdity of their performance, music videos, and err… Yolandi’s voice that sounded like a record being played at 200% speed, which was even more “exaggerated” on the live show by the way, was what made them the group they are. If the other shows that night were refined, futuristic and cutting edge, Die Antwoord is rough and straight. Their show completely brought us back from the outer space filled with strange visuals and alien DJs to the back street of Brooklyn with their underground rave-influenced Zef raps.

Final song that made us feel we’re in an underground rave warehouse back in the 90’s… and back. Damn you dubstep.

Mostly Robot ft. Jamie Lidell

I was surprised to see the gang from Native Instruments (they performed on many of NI’s promotional vids) actually get together and performed here. In fact Mostly Robot was their first ever performance together. The show was incredible, you could see that there was a lot of technicalities involved (beatmashing, live-remixing, sampling) in here and definitely was on the other side of things in our recent debate.


Mr. Cleaner will have had lots of work to do!

Finally, I had to bail out from Deadmau5 show after barely an hour to immediately catch the flight back to Amsterdam on 7AM. I’m sure I looked like all these guys on the floor, hopefully not worse. But all in all it was a great festival definitely worth my effort. For you all who live too far from Spain, the festival is also held in South America (Sao Paulo), Asia (Tokyo) and Africa (Cape Town). Definitely attend one if you’re lucky enough to be able to.


Sonar Youtube Page
Sonar Pictures

Photo and video credits: Myself, Juan Sala and Óscar García, , PolSurinach, DavidBalasch


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