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Sonar Festival 2006 - Review and Photos
This was the first time that DJpromoter.com has attended the Sonar Festival in Barcelona. Sonar 2006 (http://www.sonar.es/) was held from 15th-17th June, with Sonar by Day based mainly at the CCCB/MACBA, and Sonar by Night located at Fira Gran Via M2 (see http://www.sonar.es/2006/eng/como.cfm).
We arrived on Tuesday 13th June and spent the first couple of days chilling out and watching the World Cup, as well as taking a mandatory trip on the Camp Nou tour plus a quick visit to La Familia Sagrada. We stayed in Hotel Abba Sants in the Numancia area of the city, which was handily placed next door to metro station Sants Estació (Metro map http://www.barcelonavacation.com/metro_map.htm).
We picked up our Sonar tickets on the Tuesday, which resulted in us avoiding the massive entry queues at Sonar by Day. I fully recommend to anyone who goes to Sonar to do the same, since it could take hours to wait in those ticket queues on the days of the event.
Our first night of clubbing was Thursday 15th June at La Terrazza for the Soma party, including DJ sets from Slam, Silicone Soul and Alex Smoke. As ever, the Soma lads impressed with their tuneage, although through no fault of their own, the night didn't pass without glitches.
La Terrazza is an open air club, and it was explained to us that the local police have recently started hanging around monitoring sound levels. So for a 2 hour period between approximately 00:30 and 02:30, the sound levels kept dropping suddenly without warning. Of course this was irritating for the clubbers trying to enjoy the music, but it must have been even more frustrating for the DJs, who seemed to have no control over the levels being cut. It reminded me of holidays in Greek islands years ago where the clubs/bars had to cut their music when the police drove by because they weren't supposed to play music after 2am. However, fortunately the police eventually moved on leaving the Soma party to continue through until around 5am without any more unwanted interruptions.
Sonar by Day
Sonar by Day is located at the CCCB (Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona) / MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona).
We popped into Sonar by Day at various times throughout the 3 days. For the daytime event we never really had anything planned, so it was just a case of wandering around the whole complex to find out who was playing and what was being exhibited.
I quickly realised that it wasn't the best environment for business networking, with most people there to relax and let their hair down by consuming large quantities of Sangria and in some cases, smoking some rather sweet smelling substances, unofficially of course :)
As well as the main outdoor stage, there was a smaller tented stage/arena, with the rest of the acts, DJs and bands playing various indoor halls and locations. There were sometimes queues within the venue itself to see some of the bands/acts, for example we waited 20 minutes to try and get into see The Knife before giving up. So if you are really desperate to see a particular act, get there with plenty of time to spare.
There were a number of exhibition halls to cater for different types of exhibitors. There was SonarMática which was a showcase for academic and cutting edge research initiatives. Most of the research mainly seemed to be based around the integration of music with GPS (Global Positioning System).
There was a Record Fair, and an Editorial Fair, which as well as music, included representatives from other related industries, such as media, fashion and lifestyle. There was also an art exhibition by a Russian artist, including The Chernobyl Wall where the walls of the room were filled with the names of all the towns affected by the Chernobyl disaster.
My favourite room at Sonar by Day was an "aural retreat" called 'The Essential Room'. It was a mini-theatre, surrounded by speakers on 4 corners. The room was pitch black and you had to stay completely silent so that the music wasn't obscured by other factors. The sound system churned out a constant flow of electronic and ambient music. I must say, the sound system was of stunning quality, and I could quite easily have relaxed and even slept in there for a couple of hours. To quote from the Sonar program guide, "The Essential Room will provide the listener with absolute clarity where the ears become eyes, over three days the room will feature specially commissioned pieces by the Raster-Noton collective...".
Sonar by Night
Sonar by Night is located at Fira Gran Via M2, which is in an industrial estate in the outskirts of the city.
On the first night it took a while for us to find the pick up point for the Sonar bus which takes you to the night venue. But once found, the queue moved fairly quickly and there were plenty of buses on hand to ship people up to the night event. Arriving at the venue, there were the mandatory queues to get in. However these queues were well organised and so it wasn't too long a wait before we were inside the venue. On the second night we arrived even earlier and the queues moved even more quickly.
Over the course of the two nights I saw the following acts/DJs:
Goldfrapp - Brilliant as ever, although they only got to play for an hour. They played a more up tempo set than I have seen from them in the past, which I think was typical of their latest album and tour.
Sasha - This turned out to be the most enjoyable set I've heard from him for a few years.
Richie Hawtin vs Ricardo Villalobos - Trademark technical wizardry from Hawtin and this really got the crowd bouncing.
Laurent Garnier & Bugge Wesseltoft feat Philippe Nadaud (FR) Live - First time I'd heard Garnier with the live jazz-like accompaniment, so it was a very different style to the previous two sets I'd heard him play in the UK. Enjoyable though.
Miss Kittin - A few technical blips but good tune selection, supplemented as ever with her live punk-like vocals.
For the following three, I only managed to catch the end/part of their sets so difficult to make any real comment.
DJ Shadow presents The Hyphy Movement
Hot Chip Live
Despite the number of quality acts/DJs on show at the night event, if I had to choose I would say I prefer Sonar by Day over Sonar by Night. The day venue is of course far more pleasing on the eye, and I wasn't so impressed by some of the crowd or indeed the venue at the night events. This is in part, due to personal preference, as I prefer really large events to be held outdoors rather than in large conference centres. The SonarPub room was therefore my favourite room at Sonar by Night, since it was an outdoor arena.
I think now that I've done the full 3 days and 2 nights of Sonar, I may only need to experience that once. So next time I think I may just get one Sonar by Day ticket and one Sonar by Night ticket, then just spend the rest of the days checking out other bars and clubs in Barcelona who are putting on their own nights during the festival.
Before we move on to the photos, let me end on an anecdote. I overheard someone in the queue behind us on the Saturday night saying that there were 80000 people there the night before. Yes the Sonar by Night venue is huge but I mean, 80000? Surely not :)
Enjoy the photos...
A long map of London...
This was like a PR corridor, because they let people leave flyers in here.
This was The Chernobyl Wall that I mentioned in the review...
Source: djpromoter - added 07 Aug 2006