I am sure everyone has noticed a sudden surge in the popularity of European festi’s … People seem to have cottoned on to the fact that instead of spending £200 for the privilege of partying in a field (which will inevitably end up underwater,) Europe lies on their doorstep and offers oodles of sun soaked beaches, boats and booze for a marginal fee … consequently Flux are joining the myriad of parties heading to Barcelona, as it has now become THE place to be in June for one very good reason – Sonar Festival
The OFF –
1. One facet of the Festival, is the symbiotic OFF experience. Every year it gets bigger, and every year there is a new party in a new location. I try to make a point of not re-visiting events. By always going to something new i have experienced the very best (and occasionally the abject worst.) This tactic has always served me well, and for those returning for round 2, I would encourage you to follow my example!
2. For newbies and veterans alike, the selection of parties on offer is bewildering… It does pay to pre-book tickets but keep an open mind and a flexible schedule … given the hangovers you are about to receive and the hours you are about to dance, in a city as large as Barcelona, things rarely go to plan! Last year I bought 8 tickets (including the festival ticket) and only managed 5 …
3. Be wary of attending the “best parties” of yesteryear, just because the party was spectacular last time, doesn’t mean it’s going to be again … Events move, lineups change and it’s gospel truth that the best parties are always the intimate affairs ahead of the crowds… Think about it, if everyone is yammering on Facebook about a paticular event, then that’s where everyone is going to be! There are of course exceptions i.e Secret Sundaze @ La Terrazza – it’s a continually nice crowd, with continually good music, and it has been rocking the same venue for as long as I have been going to Sonar!
4. Don’t be suckered in by lineups… Pay attention to the venues location… Read what others write about the events; a prime example of this is the FACT parties. They were an absolute disaster last year, this was not really their fault and maybe they have sorted themselves out, but the venue they are promoting this year is in the sticks of Barcelona, has a pretty bad sound-system and the pool is basically ornamental. You are in Barcelona, if it’s a day-time party make every effort not to end up in a sweaty club indoors …
5. When choosing accommodation, its sensible to stay somewhere near the city center, ideally close to Barceloneta. Personally my ideal area is Jaume 1 … it’s a great Metro stop to be near, there are fantastic tapas restaurants nearby, it’s close to Barceloneta beach and is pretty easy to get too and from if you are doing Sonar Festival. It’s also approximately half-way between Montjuïc mountain and Mac Arena Beach, nestled somewhere between these two areas you will probably find every OFF party.
6. Be prepared to hemorrhage money… Some people arrive in Barca under the illusion that the OFF will be a cheap alternative to the festival, this is rarely the case. Be it transport, food, accommodation, drink or drugs, expenses are everywhere and unless you are a veteran, at some point you will spend more money than you anticipated!
The Festival –
7. Bear this in mind… Sonar is a festival without which the OFF parties would not exist, it is important to support it! If you are taking the trouble to go all the way to Spain, i would highly recommend making every effort to visit the actual festival. The ticket is comparatively cheap and the lineup always has something special… This year should be particularly interesting.
8. Sonar festival is divided into 2 sections – a day-time and night-time in 2 separate locations – for the first time Sonar by Day is moving away from the MACBA to the Fira Montjuïca … This could be a bad thing, but I am confident that this move will be positive. Part of the charm of Sonar by Night is its astonishing sound system (something the day event usually lacks) this move means Sonar Day is bigger and more isolated which means it could finally offer audiophiles the ultimate daytime partying experience!
9. Take a bag/ lanyard/ bum-bag wherever you go! There are frequently spontaneous events that will have you rushing off with no time to go home. It’s a good idea to carry a spare t-shirt and a jumper (it can get quite cold at night especially if you are outdoors.) Also, the bag will prove invaluable for storing your Sonar ticket … each day there are individual wristbands for the actual festival, in order to get these bands you need to bring your paper ticket to every Sonar Day and every Sonar Night … cause you carry it around with you everywhere, it’s very easy to lose.
10. If you are considering a career in music, make every effort to chat to other attendees, Sonar is THE best place to meet industry folk … it is saturated with artists, PR, journo’s etc… pretty much everyone is a DJ or knows a DJ …
After 20 years, you can hardly expect Sonar to have stayed under the radar. I can’t help lament the bygone age when the crowds were cosmopolitan, the OFF was predominantly free, word of mouth was key and every single attendee was a musical fanatic. But, despite all this nay-saying, when one door closes, another opens! This year i have decided its time to move on to greener pastures, but here is my hypothetical itinerary, I hope it will help you make your own.
My Sonar Itinerary –
I tend to take things easy on the first day of the Off (Wednesday 12th June), with nearly 100 + hours of continual partying to look forward to, taking this evening off is a reasonably sensible thing to do… enjoy the city by day (Parc Güell is an amazing place to relax and take in a panoramic vista of Barcelona) and gorge yourself on Tapas at night (the best restaurants are usually to be found tucked away in side streets.)
Thursday 13th June –
12.00 am – Midnight
+ more tbc
11.00 pm – 5.00 am
In the past Almogavers 86 has hosted Mobilee and SUOL showcases, Tresor have just announced their OFF event, the lineup is still TBA, but the venue is great (despite being indoors) and Tresor will inevitably bring the goods!
Friday 14th June –
10.00 am – 8.00 pm
I would personally take this opportunity to go to Sonar Day, sadly, the program hasn’t been released yet, but there are several artists confirmed that are definitely worth taking the time and effort to see – Lindstrøm & Todd Terje, Matthew Herbert, Darkstar, Ólafur Arnalds Trio, Fatima Al Qadiri, Gluteus Maximus, Fantastic Mr Fox & Mr. Beatnick are my obvious choices!
5.00 pm – 5.00 am
Friday eve I would be tempted to go to the Planet E Meets This and That as Esferic Bcn … Esferic hosted the Life & Death showcase last year and is an unusual space and an excellent club.
The lineup is pretty mouthwatering as well
DJ Stingray 313
This and That
Saturday 15th June –
2.00 pm till Midnight
During the day, it’s a choice between the Festival and/or the Off. If you should choose the OFF, Pampa Records is the sensible choice. The label is consistently on point, all the performers are superb musicians and DJ’s and its the same venue as the hugely successful Innervisions party last year …
9.00 pm – 7.00 am
I would thoroughly recommend going to Sonar Night on Saturday Eve … this will be a rare opportunity to see two truly iconic gigs – The Pet Shop Boys & Jurassic 5
Pet Shop Boys, Paul Kalkbrenner, Ed Banger 10: Justice DJ set + Busy P (ed banger megamix) + Breakbot, , Jurassic 5, Soulwax, Hot Natured, Luciano, Laurent Garnier, Seth Troxler, Maceo Plex, Skream, Delorean, Mele, George Fitzgerald, Angel Molina, Anstam, Phon.o, Benjamin Damage, Bambounou, Coyu, Edu Imbernón, Nehuen b2b Cardopusher, Clockwork feat. Avatism, Vaal, César de Melero, Zero, Kimberly & Clark…
11.00 pm till 7.00 am
If you are looking to do the OFF:
Flux are doing their showcase at SHOKO, the headliners are excellent and it’s an easy walk from Vila Olimpica.
Alternatively the HotFlush showcase is taking place in Nitsa, probably one of Barcelona’s largest clubs … but the sound-system is good, its easy to get to and having just spent the entire day outside at El Monasterio, it’s not so bad that it is inside,
Dense & Pika (live)
South London Ordnance
+ Special Guest
Sunday 16th June –
Sunday Day is an opportunity to get some well deserved r’n’r, head to the beach to top up your tan … If you are going to Barceloneta, it’s worth heading towards Puerto Olimpico, the beach is slightly less busy!
2.00 pm – 5.00 am
Jay Shepheard (live)
Jeremy Underground Paris
Monday 17th June
If you are still alive come Monday, it’s worth keeping an eye on flyers or listening to the wind … there tends to be a free event in a small venue somewhere …
For more info on OFF events, check out the official Facebook page here