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Festival Recap: Sónar Barcelona 2014

Sonar: Photo Courtesy of Sonar Music Festival

So Sónar Barcelona is officially over, and I only know one thing for certain: Barcelona knows how to throw one hell of a party.

From the time I touched down in the city, Sónar was very much alive in the form of posters and billboard ads covering local stores and metro stations.

The festival was split into two locations: Sónar by Day at Fira Montjuïc (which also included the Sonar+D area) and Sónar by Night at Fira Gran Via L’Hospitalet, which I later learned are two of the biggest and most important trade fair and independent business centers in all of Europe. The locations make perfect sense considering a huge aspect of the Sónar festival is to showcase and discover new talent not only in the music scene, but in all facets of digital creation and new media. 

Sonar Village: Photo courtesy of Sonar by Day

The technological innovation throughout the Sónar+D area was so next level, I almost forgot what century we were in. It took me back to my middle school science fair days, only every one’s projects were awesome and I wasn’t stuck with faulty color changing carnations. My favorite exhibition by far was Moobeat, this virtual musical instrument that uses motion capture as a means of making sounds. We weren’t dancing to the music, we were literally making music by dancing. Epic.

The first day of Sónar was quite the whirlwind–it started off slow with people casually familiarizing themselves with the venue, but the place quickly thickened as it got closer to sunset. The mysterious white tower posted in the middle of the courtyard all day was just a casual reminder that Plastikman was looming…and I don’t think a soul in the crowd was ready for it.

Just before our trippy little alien friend Plastikman graced us with his presence, Trentemøller Live took on the SonarHall stage to a jam packed house. A little heavier than I was expecting, but two of the female members doing synchronized robotic dance moves were involved and it was awesome.

Plastikman was a technological spectacle all on its own. The giant LED structure went from silently minding its own business throughout the day, to commanding each and every one of our undivided and mesmerized attention. Richie Hawtin, the brains behind the operation, raised up on stage in the middle of the crowd seemingly out of nowhere. For the next hour we were taken on an industrious and captivating techno trip that is utterly impossible to describe with words. Plastikman was toying with our senses and what we thought we knew about techno music. This wasn’t techno music; it was something much larger than that and it was radiating throughout all of us.

Plastikman: Photo courtesy of Sonar by Day

The second day finally unveiled the much-anticipated acts of Sónar by Night, like Moderat, Pretty Lights, Caribou, Recondite, Four Tet, 2manydjs and once again, Richie Hawtin.

The venue was an absolute circus, complete with bumper cars right smack dab in the middle. The party went on well past sunrise and people showed no signs of slowing down.

The last day boasted a much chiller vibe. We spent a lot of time exploring the parts of the festival we hadn’t had the chance to see yet over the weekend.

Despacio, for one, was a raging party all on its own. Located on an upper level overlooking the whole courtyard, Despacio is a pitch black dance floor with planets hanging from the ceiling and 4 7-ft tall speakers bumping the tunes of 2manydjs and James Murphy from all angles of the room. It was meant to be a real “party going experience,” where the focus was on the music and the people around you, rather than over-the-top stage production. It was by far the most original dance party I have ever seen.

Despacio: Photo courtesy of Sonar by Day

Sónar by Night had a much chiller lineup, as well, with performances like Massive Attack, Lykki Li, James Murphy, and CHIC ft. Nile Rogers. The later of which pumped a whole lot of disco into our veins. CHIC played a whole set of songs written and produced by Nile Rogers, including “We Are Family,” “Le Freak,” “Good Times,” and of course, “Get Lucky.”

CHIC ft. Nile Rogers: Photo courtesy of Sonar by Night

As the festival came to a close Saturday night, it really hit me that I had just experienced one of the most well-rounded, out of this world parties of all time. Nothing but good vibes everywhere you looked. The stages lacked over-the-top stage productions like what you would see at Ultra or EDC, but it didn’t matter. The music was loud, the spirits were high, and people were having the time of their lives.

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