News Sonar 2012: Bands To Watch

“Everybody wants to be the DJ,” complained Soulwax back in 1998, ironic really when you consider that the Dewaele brothers’ success as 2ManyDJ’s has far outweighed anything they achieved as an indie five-piece. Of course, the humble art of the DJ, and electronic music in general, is almost unrecognisable from the era of superstar spinners – Oakenfold, Carl Cox, Pete Tong – and for confirmation, one need only look at the line up for Sónar 2012. Ostensibly not a festival in the traditional sense – it’s billed as an “International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art” – the array of artists and technology on display is mind-boggling. Split over two venues, and into a Day and Night edition, actual performances are augmented by workshops, conferences, and presentations from renowned industry insiders and experts, including several technological firsts. So, what will DIY be tapping our toes to I hear you ask?

Sónar Day is typified by a more relaxed vibe, and home to the more experimental and esoteric artists. As well as the post hip-hop, Dilla-aping Flying Lotus and frequent collaborator Steven “Thundercat” Bruner, it’ll be interesting to see how Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’ two-step Euro-house translates to a live performance. Add in the dreamy deep house of John Talabot, the colourful, psychedelic lo-fi of Peaking Lights, and the hope that When Saints Go Machine play ‘Kelly’, and our afternoons look pretty full. We may even have time to catch local rising stars Stand Up Against Heart Crime in their first festival appearance and the soul-sampling style of producer extraordinaire Darren Williams, aka Star Slinger.

By contrast, Sónar Night is populated by big names, heavyweight DJ’s and dance acts, the festival’s main draw. Headlining this year is the Peter Hook-less New Order with two slots – Thursday’s opening night party and prime time Saturday – James Murphy’s annual, and first post-LCD, pilgrimage, and, um, Lana Del Rey. It’s true that the organisers are always keen to throw a curve ball – I recall a particularly bizarre set by Grace Jones in 2010 – but she’ll need to compete with the likes of Metronomy, Friendly Fires, and current DIY cover stars Hot Chip for attention. The curiosity factor should guarantee her a sizable crowd though, even if she’s up against the magisterial talents of Nicolas Jaar (tough choice, I know). And as night turns into early morning, the beats will get harder with Simian Mobile Disco, Azari & III, and Deadmau5 bringing hard house and techno to a dawn finish.

Sonar Festival will take place from 14th - 16th June in Barcelona.

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