Better Late Than Never: Sonar Recap
posted by July 1 at 9:46 PMon
I never did a Sonar post, so that’s what this is. Rather than going into the detail I did with this year’s Movement/DEMF, I’m just going to post some annotated pictures of the highlights, with links to the videos I’ve put up on YouTube as well. If you’ve got any other questions about Sonar, just post them in the comments. I’m still buzzing with enthusiasm from the whole experience, so I’m more than willing to share.
The day portion of Sonar was held in the contemporary art museum and immediate surroundings. The day portion featured a lot of the bands and more experimental acts, making for a largely relaxing experience. The Sonar Village was a “park” of sorts, with astroturf for grass, with people just lounging enjoying the weather (here’s video of Fat Freddy’s Drop, very much a crowd favorite). This picture is from the first act I was really excited to see, .tape.. I was expecting merely a laptop performance, but surprisingly for part of the set it was a full band, with wonderful visuals as well. They sounded wonderful, and the visuals made for a perfect complement. Here’s some video.
The relaxing portions of Sonar Day stood in stark contrast to Sonar Night, which amounted to musical hedonism. Sonar Day was leisurely, with people just drifting among the different stages (while maze-like, it was reasonably easy to make your way to get from one stage to another). Sonar Night was an entirely different beast, existing on a scale that was more than a bit intimidating to a newcomer such as myself. This picture is from Jeff Mills’, and just goes to show the scale of the event. While that’s a lot of people, realize that that’s only a portion of one stage (there were four). Absolutely incredible to see all of those people.
But onto Jeff Mills. After an annoyingly late-running (but otherwise entertaining) set from Jimmy Edgar, curtains onstage opened up to reveal Jeff Mills behind the decks. From first beat to last, the set was unrelenting, with Mills rendering even the best of earplugs all but useless. It was the first time I’d ever seen Mills, and he didn’t disappoint, moving non-stop between three turntables, the mixer, and some gear that I will just classify as “miscellaneous.” Despite the quality of his set, I couldn’t stay for it in entirety, choosing to catch at least some of Tiga (good), DJ Shadow (it was a hyphy showcase, and largely garbage), and Herbert with full band.
Based on the Jeff Mills picture, it wouldn’t be totally unfair to compare Sonar Night to a massive. It didn’t have any of the same accoutrements such as glowsticks or any of that nonsense, but in terms of size and party atmosphere it wouldn’t be too far off. It also had the same issue of drug use. Between the alcohol and other substances involved, it wasn’t hard to find someone that had overdone it. By the end of each night’s festivities you could see plenty of individuals in the care of the medical staff on hand, taking the time to let whatever they’d taken run its course. As an aid for attendees they had the equivalent of a DanceSafe booth in the main corridor with various advisories on the bad drugs going around.
After an incredibly late night Friday, it was hard to make it out to Sonar Day Saturday, but I managed to make it. I’m happy I made it because of a few acts (Modified Toy Orchestra, Rich Medina, CircleSquare), but Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuly Kosminen were definitely the highlight. Yes, that’s an accordion. What doesn’t come across in the picture is that the room was outfitted with surround sound. The guy on the right was operating some sort of uber-drum pad, so while the accordion blared, you also had beats traversing the room. Had it just been calm that would have been interesting enough, but eventually they just, for lack of a better description, rocked the fuck out. Strobe lights, jumping around, all the while creating a brilliant cacophony. More than just incredible to watch, it was an amazing experience. Here’s some video.