MTV REVIEW: 22 reasons why Sónar Festival went beyond music in 2015

I lied. I’m only giving you 17. If there’s one thing that dancing in a post-apocalyptic air hangar as days-turn-into-nights-turn-into-days at Barcelona’s 22nd Sónar does to you, it’s reduce your attention span.

Here are 16 reasons why I’ve forgotten how to count to 22. Or that I just promised you 17.

1. ‘Music, creativity & technology’

Welcome to the future, and a festival tagline that lets you know technological arts will play a leading role – from the unbelievable sound of Björk producer Arca, to the mind-blowing 3D visuals of the Flying Lotus live show. In other words…

This is your brain.

And this is your brain on Sónar.

2. You can’t do the festival of two halves by halves.

Somewhere between a stamina-bothering midday until 7am, Sónar By Day’s complex, complete with astroturf and ceviche, melts into an cavernous air hangar for Sónar By Night. There are food trucks, but post-midnight no Gremlins stop trucking to eat.

3. I know there’s gonna be good times.

Jamie xx slammed into the slick crowd-pleaser right off the bat.

Good times weren’t limited to his set. This year’s line-up included… Roisin Murphy, FKA Twigs, Chemical Brothers, Duran Duran, Hot Chip, Kindness, Squarepusher, Die Antwoord, and more.

4. Nobody told A$ap Rocky it’s a cashless festival.

The crowd went Wild for the Night as the A$AP of the Rocky variety opened Sónar by Night, throwing dinero at the drop of his Skrillex collab.

5. Roisin Murphy is Optimus Prime.

Everyone’s favourite Transformer would be proud of the seamless costume changes as the ex-Moloko singer magicked masks, pretzel hats and accessories from between drum kits and lordknowswhere.

Trousers became dresses became trousers again, without a knicker-flash in sight. Props indeed.

6. The Chemical Brothers were… chemical.

Tom and Ed launched new album Born in the Echoes with a hallucinogenic visual show, with block rocking beats to make a packed crowd holler ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ into faces, with no care for gender analysis.

7. The Catalans lipsynced out-of-sync to Kate Tempest’s Spanish debut.

Many a spoken word might have been lost in translation, but one fan didn’t care, hollering “Janis Joplin of hip-hop!” in our face.

8.  Hudmo gave us a ‘festival moment’.

Beards and Ricki “I take style tips from homeless people” Hill-lookalikes united in the front row at Hudson Mohawke to get the full whack of the Scottish producer’s horn.

9. Die Antwoord f**ked the rules.

‘F*ck the rules, f*ck, f*ck the rules’ = lyrical genius.

10. Annie Mac ‘dropped acid’ until she saw a topless Simon Le Bon.

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11. Duran Duran brought their d game…

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12. … while FKA twigs proved she is a goddess.

We tried to dance along with her. We failed.

13. Modeselektor needs Spanish lessons.

Hola = Hi.
Ola = wave.

14. Skrillex ran through the 6 with his woes.

Course he dropped Drake.

15. Sónar +D was a trip.

The +D added a massive plus with a tech conference dedicated to digital evolution.

Oculus Rift headsets blew away any minds capable of thinking with virtual reality short films by director Chris Milk. Known for his vids for U2, Arcade Fire, Beck and Kanye, he now uses VR technology for social good.


16. The dodgems.

As blue skies congratulated those still raving at 7am to Laurent Garnier’s legendary techno sunrise closing set, those who did Sónar properly made sure to pull up to the bumpercars, baby.

By Lisa Goldapple.

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