by Ben Minto
Sónar in 60 hours. Ok let’s go…
Thursday morning: Shit I hate flying and I’ve got to get on a plane in four hours, I sure hope this Argentinean valium works (you know all those spam emails you get – buy valium cheap etc? Well I replied to one – fingers crossed, as to get valium in Sweden you have to sign on to some sort of registered mentally ill list which would make working nigh on impossible!). Joy, the panic is starting. Sod it: neck my valium and get on the plane.
Sometime later I wake up in Barcelona, act cool, grab a cab, give him the print out of the Google map with trying not to act too monged. 20 minutes later I’m somewhere to the east of Las Ramblas, in a dodgy back street, waiting for ‘Spanish Daniel’ to give me the keys in exchange for 76 Euros. Again I might have got a bit anxious, but as the half life of valium is a good 48 hours I didn’t care too much. Daniel turned up, got the keys, let myself in – I’d arrived!
The press pass won’t get me in to see the Beastie Boys ‘instrumental’ gig, so best bet is to go for a wander and pick up some Señorita Beater (San Miguel) and have an early (ish) night. No such luck. At 11, my partners in crime pitch up and out we go for a egg and bacon fry up and one or two cervesas. On cue my crazy ex-work colleague calls up saying they’re heading off to a pre-sonar club – Razzmatazz – which boasts four floors of mayhem. Yeah ok fuck it I’m on holiday of sorts. I did however forget one rule. Valium + alcohol = BIG NO NO.
Good time to mention a couple of golden rules for Sonar:
1. Don’t mix valium and alcohol.
2. Plan your siestas to perfection. Sleep > Be tourist > Sleep > Sonar by Day > Sleep > Sonar by Night (NB. Eat if and when you can, but rule 4 is so much more important!).
3. Really think carefully about how you’re going to get back from Sonar by Night.
4. Watch out for the sun and drink lots and lots of water. Then drink some more. And carry a bottle or three.
5. If anyone hassles you say ‘Nyet’ in your best Russian accent. No one fucks with the Russian mafia. Really draw it out – ‘Nyeeet’. Works every time.
No idea what happened next – seen the photos of me passed out on various roundabouts and inside a multitude of tube stations on the way home.
Friday and we catch our first Sonar event – Clark! Damn, stood in a queue. ‘Let me in, I’m press!’ NO. ‘Don’t you know who I am? I’m from Loose Lips (don’t forget the hyphen!).’ NO. I continued along this line of baiting for at least two minutes before they got bored and let me in – praise be they did. Clark was playing with a live drummer, which ensured that the set remained danceable. I love my IDM/Electronica, but have found that over the years most of the Warp/Rephlex acts all become a bit chin stroky/chicken dancing when they play live. Yes it might be intelligent, but I don’t really get it. I can’t dance to it and my mum would argue that it isn’t really music. Clark, however, was blinding.
After a siesta, jumped into a cab towards Sonar by Night at the Gran Via M2 (it really is bloody huge!). I’ve missed 15 minutes of the Beastie Boys (above), knackers, and to make it worse I got (pleasantly) distracted by Boris Divider. Speed right to the front. ‘Have they played Sabotage yet?’ ‘Perdoni?’ Oh sod it Body Movin started up, which then slipped into some of their old skool tracks and then slammed into Intergalatic and other such classics. And then it was over… Oh no hang on – here comes Mix Master Mike (below) back on stage and for 10 minutes he showed his triple DMC-winning talents to the extreme!
Head over to Gernot and Sebastian, the MDSLKTR maestros! You have to see these guys live – it will change your life and the smile lasts for months. The DJ set got off to a shaky start as the bass from Kill Bill vol. 4 was making the decks jump all over the place, but once the friendly Sonar techies got involved things really got into full swing. Two hours have never passed so quickly, great set of tunes and some genius crowd teasing/hyping from lads, including the F1-style spraying of the crowd with champagne. Dancing Box was a treat, but I was sorely missing some Hasir and Silikon. They made up for it with a nice Quoth mashup though.
I did go and have a quick listen to some other top tips and I don’t mean to be rude, I’m just being honest. Digitalism – Idealism is a great album, but I’m sorry you aren’t Daft Punk and I (almost) consider it sacrilegious that you (dared to) try to cover Blue Monday. Richie Hawtin – Spastik is a timeless classic, and if I could play 20 tunes at my funeral that would be one of them. I respect that you’ve played at Sonar almost every year, but I heard the first five minutes of your set and it was the same start-up you played the last time I saw you, three years ago.
On to the highlight of the entire weekend. Whichever festival(s) you are going to this year, look out for any or all of these names – Justice, Ed Banger (Records) and Busy P (above). Now, I’m a bit confused, because the middle portion of the ‘Ed Banger’ showcase was meant to be Uffie playing live. I heard two rumours as to why not. I don’t believe either, but here goes. 1. The bassist couldn’t get a visa so they couldn’t play. 2. Uffie was so mashed up on stage that she/he had to be escorted off after 15 minutes. So what happens now? The best bloody set in the world, that’s what! Justice kicked everyone’s ass. A couple of singles, a new album and probably their most well-known remix ‘Never Be Alone’ – more commonly known as the remix of Simian’s ‘We Are Your Friends’ – and they stole the show. I don’t know all the Ed Banger crew by sight, but after a bit of lurking Busy P stepped up. Busy P, the manager for both Justice and Daft Punk, continued on Justice’s theme and kept me going till the sun came up. Thankfully the stage was outdoors – after two hours ravers really smell!
On Saturday I made a point of seeing one more live set – Mira Calix. Wasn’t too impressed – too arty, not edgy enough. Sat in the main arena bit drinking beer and listening to the acts that came on stage. All fairly pleasing but whoever mixed the live sound should have been shot. When Sonar by Day finished, so had my Sonar – my plane was calling. To be honest I don’t think I missed out – Modeselektor and the Ed Banger crew made my weekend. In fact they would have made me cry, if it wasn’t for the valium.