Sónar’s 20th anniversary reads like a who’s who of electronic music new and, well, more new. From Jurassic 5’s old school hip-hop and the eternally synth-pop Pet Shop Boys, to dance anthem pedlars like 2manydjs and the impossible grace of Natasha Khan aka Bat for Lashes, this was always going to be a big weekend.
The three day festival kicks off Thursday, leaving you Sunday to recover – or carry on the party. We catch Oddisee under the SonarDôme, slick rap between brassy jazz, while outside SónarVillage has exploded with the cheesy 70s hit ‘Love is in the air’. Fun is the aim of the game.
Gold Panda is another of those non-DJ DJs. In black denim and t-shirt, I picture him nursing a book alone in a café somewhere. Today, though, he hits us with playful and animalistic beats, eyes fixed on his fingertips as he bops along to perfectly haphazard breaks. The sound is of a runaway music box, and oddly relaxing.
Beer vendors wind through the crowd under a heavy Spanish sun. I worry for all the hipsters getting hot beneath their beards – at least they have their Wayfarers on. One such beardy man holds a kaleidoscope to his mobile phone to film the set (not the Beardyman, though he plays on Saturday). Lindstroøm and Todd Terje get us to nightfall. It’s the first time I’ve heard Terje’s ‘Inspector Norse’ and I understand immediately why it’s so popular. Have a listen.
There’s action aplenty with ‘off Sónar’ events across the city, but we save our feet for the first Sónar de Noche, held in a series of warehouses at the edge of town. Of course Bat for Lashes is wonderful, but we knew she would be. Bristolian DJ Eats Everything plays ahead of Two Door Cinema Club, a sentimental favourite who move seamlessly through their repertoire. “Maybe someday, you’ll be somewhere, talking to me, as if you knew me.”
It’s worth the rush to the outdoor SónarLab to see French DJs C2C perform ’Down the Road‘. They do a Run-DMC cover and manage to hold a sound-off in the crowd, a winner-by-applause deal without spoiling the mood. The 3D Kraftwerk set is all hype and Skrillex becomes the night’s surprise win (although I’d like my ears back, badly). I’m distracted by someone so famous wearing a shirt with his name on the back, but he’s forgiven with Benny Benassi’s ‘Cinema’. I don’t like dubstep; I just love that he’s got us all dancing.
Three hours sleep gets us by, and we’re back at Sónar de Dia for some synth-disco courtesy of US act Chromatics. I warm to their 80s edge and a convincing take on the Kate Bush classic ‘Running up that hill’. We watch AlunaGeorge from faux-grass decking, and catch TNGHT open with a cinematic rendition of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’. The stop-start set isn’t my thing, and I leave early to give my eardrums a break.
The closing night of Sónar is marked with a three-hour Ed Banger tribute. Justice scores easy points with his Simian Mobile Disco mashup ‘We are your friends’, and it’s good-time fare ‘til Laurent Garnier heralds the Sunday dawn. Even with a huge turnout, the warehouses have space to sit and take stock when needed. Revellers don’t seem to overdo it as much as back on the British Isles, and the international crowd adds to Sónar’s world-class festival credentials.
In 2014 Sónar hits five cities, so the next question is Barcelona, Tokyo or Mexico? Life’s tough.
Check out the photos from Sónar 2013 here.
SW4 2012 ARENA HOSTS…
THE GALLERY PRESENTS EVOLUTION · BEDROCK
ALL GONE PETE TONG · RAM20
On the Saturday house legend Erick Morillo returns to SW4 this summer for his first London appearance in over seventeen months and his ONLY UK Festival performance this year. With his set one of the ‘must see’ performances in London this summer, it makes perfect sense for ‘Subliminal’, his Pacha Ibiza night and trend setting label to take full control of its own tent. On parade will be the same beautiful people and extravagant clubbing experience one has come to expect from Subliminal, with Erick starring alongside An21 & Max Vangelli, Funkagenda, Sneaky Soundsystem, Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano, Tim Mason and very special guest Roger Sanchez.
Paul van Dyk and London institution ‘The Gallery’ join forces at SW4 2012 to present the biggest trance lineup in London this year. Featuring an array of talent who PvD personally feels has an affiliation with his new ‘Evolution’ album concept, Paul will be joined by Markus Schulz, Gareth Emery, Aly & Fila, John O’ Callaghan, Richard Durand, Claudia Cazacu and Gary Proud. Combined with an extraordinary live show, which merges the soundtrack, imposing stage and hypnotic visuals, expect excellence in the art of sound!
John Digweed’s Bedrock returns to SW4 this summer to host an arena bursting at the seams with the best in underground house and techno DJs. In honour of the namesake label, John has been an irrepressible force in London this year. Setting things up perfectly for SW4, his monthly XOYO residency has rekindled that classic Thursday night slot, with capacity crowds filling one of London’s most forward thinking venues. Bedrock has always translated well to the great outdoors and this summer will be no different with John featuring beside Joris Voorn, Âme, Guy Gerber, Robert Babicz, Laura Jones, jozif and the Mixcloud DJ competition winner.
Lethargic after Saturday’s excursion? The booming DJ Magazine arena hosted by Together is bound to revitalise the senses. The Together tent at SW4 2011 was arguably the most energetic, whilst last November’s Together Winter Music Festival at Alexandra Palace confirmed the night as a dominant force. This summer Together packs its bags to host a sixteen date Tuesday night summer residency at the legendary Amnesia Ibiza but returns to Blighty for SW4. This time round Together brings with them the inimitable flair of 2 Many DJs (DJ set), Eric Prydz, Simian Mobile Disco (DJ set), Erol Alkan, Green Velvet, Brodinski & Gesaffelstein and Jeremy Olander.
This summer the world’s undisputed ambassador for electronic dance music returns to South West Four, this time hosting his very own arena. That’s right, SW4 goes ‘All Gone Pete Tong’! The clubbing credentials of All Gone have already been well proven, with a blowout season at Pacha Ibiza last summer, followed by a Bestival showcase and sell-out London warehouse party. In 2012 another Pacha residency has been confirmed, whilst the SW4 arena represents the biggest All Gone party to date. Pete hosts proceedings and is joined by Sasha, Seth Troxler, Maya Jane Coles, Dyed Soundorom, Eats Everything, Jaymo & Andy George and Connected’s Jesse James & Johnny Bloomfield.
Last but not least the biting sounds of Andy C and ‘RAM Records’, revered amongst drum and bass connoisseurs. This year is the seminal label’s 20th Anniversary with the celebrations launching on Clapham Common. Through its association with London nightspots The End, Fabric and Matter, RAM is responsible for some of the greatest clubbing moments the capital has ever experienced. Andy C headlines, bringing with him his audio / visual ‘Alive’ arc, with further drum and bass coming courtesy of Friction, Delta Heavy and Loadstar. Flux Pavilion, Jack Beats, Borgore and Doctor P also bring the bass, making this arena a real SW4 treat.
That’s the arena hosts done and dusted, sure to be gleaming in the sparking South London sun. But these tense tarpaulins are nothing without artists, so let’s take this opportunity to tease out some more. Sit comfortably and enjoy…
ADDED TO SW4 DAY ONE: SAT 25TH AUGUST
AN21 & MAX VANGELLI
SUNNERY JAMES AND RYAN MARCIANO · TIM MASON
VERY SPECIAL GUESTS: LET THE MUSIC PLAY [EXCLUSIVE]
An21 & Max Vangelli begin the latest Saturday additions, after their Ministry of Sound outings have become some of the most talked about on the superclub’s roster. Theatrical breakdowns and jacking grooves have built a reputation that sold out their MOS gig on New Years Eve several weeks in advance. This should come as no surprise, what with the duo being protégés of none other than Swedish House Mafia. Signed to Steve Angello’s trailblazing ‘Size’ label, twelve months of world domination culminated in November’s sensational Essential Mix. Touted as one of the best of 2011, it was crowned by the An21 & Max Vangelli remix of ‘Save The World.’ Previously named in DJ Mag’s ‘Top 5 To Watch,’ it’s peak time house all the way.
“Let The Music Play”; the motto of SW4 over its illustrious nine year history. But for this summer, it bears even more significance! On the Saturday we welcome the top secret project for their world exclusive performance. Encompassing red hot energy and euphoria, their tracks ‘Stars’ and ‘Waves’ have received major radio support in recent weeks. Keep your eyes peeled for more info.
Dynamic duo Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano, blur the boundaries of house music in accomplished fashion. Perhaps best known for their rousing re-work of Tiesto’s immortal ‘Lethal Industry,’ only the most skilled could enhance a true classic – re-building it into a deep, funky stormer. As Axwell so eloquently puts it, “if there were a Dutch version of Swedish House Mafia, it would be Sunnery and Ryan.” As if any more endorsement was needed, Morillo has snapped up S&R for an exclusive Subliminal residency at Pacha Ibiza this summer. Demonstrated by the groundbreaking ‘Amazone Project Vol. 3,’ it’s dirty Dutch house at its best.
Tim Mason is a self professed purveyor of pure house music. ‘The Moment’ is one of the anthems of 2012 thus far, having been adopted by Tiesto and Steve Angello. A climatic build that explodes into a devastating hook, this debut track has the accolade of being signed to Angello’s ‘Size.’ With such a global platform to shine, this is most definitely Mason’s moment. New track ‘Amina OMG’ is of the same quality, summing up perfectly his big room house. Both these are sure to send SW4 wild, so check them out and envisage as the sun sets. Just beautiful…
ADDED TO SW4 DAY TWO: SAT 26TH AUGUST
BRODINSKI & GESAFFELSTEIN · DELTA HEAVY · LOADSTAR
JAYMO & ANDY GEORGE · JEREMY OLANDER
JESSE JAMES & JOHNNY BLOOMFIELD
Brodinski & Gesaffelstein, a French pairing that stands apart from their conventional countrymen associates. Brodinski is whirring techno, bass heavy house through to melodic minimal, whilst Gesaffelstein utilises wide ranging excerpts from broody techno and engaging electro. The result is an atmospheric musical soundscape that has to be witnessed live, their contrasting sounds playing off one another in mesmeric fashion. The joint ‘Bromance EP’ and tour has been captivating dance floors with the inimitable underground sound, unique to SW4 this summer. Brodinski and Gesaffelstein back-to-back, a bromance made in heaven!
Delta Heavy are the standard bearers for RAM Records’ new roster of talent. Flying high and proud, with rocking remixes for those at the top of their game; Example, Avicii and Chase & Status amongst their pulsating production portfolio. Their endeavours paid off with ‘Best Producer’ and ‘Best Newcomer DJ’ at the prominent Drum & Bass Arena awards. New EP ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’ will definitely take you down a deep and dark D&B tunnel. Aggressive waves of churning bass and blistering beats, exactly the kind of heavy stuff we can expect from the guys at SW4.
Another of the RAM recruits, Loadstar have an inextricable ‘Link To The Past.’ This track described by DJ Magazine as “a huge alien mammoth”, it scooped ‘Best Single’ at the 2010 D&B Arena awards. With such production nous, it’s no wonder acts of such calibre are queuing up to work the Loadstar boys. For example SW4’s headliners Chase & Status and the chart topping Example! Their production efforts on the latter, earning a sought after gold record for ‘Changed The Way You Kissed Me.’ Guaranteed stars of SW4 2012.
Since starting their fledgling night ‘Moda’ back in 2008, Jaymo & Andy George have always championed the party. Now they hold shindigs all around the world, showcasing their policy of having no music policy whatsoever! A daring strategy, which paid dividends when the Radio 1 Essential Mix rolled into their home town of Lincoln. A riveting Moda musical montage, which included mainly of their own vibrant productions and cheeky remixes, resulted in mass hysteria. This led to a current Radio 1 ‘In New DJs We Trust’ show, plus residencies at We Love Space and Fabric. Plus the recent launch of ‘Moda Black’, an outlet for their darker output.
Up next, another protégé nurtured from the Swedish stable. Under the wing of Eric Prydz, Jeremy Olander was the guest of honour at his recent Ministry of Sound album launch. Such was the success of his main room outing, Olander’s outlandish approach threatened to overshadow even Prydz himself! An upbeat progressive and heavy melodic sound, which has graced the prestigious Warehouse Project, Gatecrasher and Cocoon clubs in recent months. We can’t wait for ‘Animal Garden’ to be dropped, a rhythmic bassline that blossoms into a cacophony of twilight synth splashes. Irresistible bait, for Clapham’s dancefloor animals.
Completing the hat trick of pairings for this final day, London’s newest kids on the block. Jesse James and Johnny Bloomfield are residents at Connected, one of London’s most esteemed underground house nights. These guys aren’t here just to make up the numbers, but mean serious business with their new track just released. Entitled ‘Chucks Groove’ and sampling Public Enemy, Jesse and Johnny’s deep tribal taster will ensure they make many good friends on the Common.
There you have it. Eight infatuating arenas and a host of smoking line-up additions – that can’t have failed to enhance that undying SW4 hunger. Still to come the final pieces of the South West Four jigsaw. More meaty line-up announcements including our Sunday live headliner, which at the moment is G14 classified. Well not really, but you get the idea…
Hence no surprise that ticket sales for both days have soared to record breaking levels. Further affirming the thrill enticed by these announcements so far, Saturday 'super saver' tickets have now completely sold out and increased in price, with Sunday not far behind.
With the next round of artist additions set to commence ‘Phase 2’ of the SW4 2012 lineup, tickets will soon be in even more demand. For if ‘Phase 1’ was the Clapham hors d’oeuvre, ‘Phase 2’ is the sumptuous SW4 main course. August Bank Holiday will never be the same again; Bon appétit!
ADDED TO SW4 DAY ONE: SAT 25TH AUGUST
BENNY BENASSI · GARETH EMERY · MARK KNIGHT
JORIS VOORN · FUNKAGENDA
First up for the Saturday is the brilliant Benny Benassi. Since he gave the world ‘Satisfaction’ with his immortal anthem, the iconic Italian has added more strings to his musical bow –moving away from the misconceptions of many. Only the most creative could transform a hip hop rite of passage, into an electro house monster. Exactly the case with Public Enemy’s ‘Bring The Noise,’ bagging a coveted Grammy award for ‘Best Dance Remix.’ A permanent fixture in the upper echelons of DJ Mag’s Top 100, Benassi’s cheeky re-work of Marshall Jefferson’s classic ‘Move Your Body’, is odds on to be the 2012 summer scorcher.
Expect a host of fresh new music from Gareth Emery, the Garuda God who needs no introduction amongst the SW4 fraternity. Charting at #13, Gareth is another of the leading artists in the Top 100 and returns this year for the first time since his storming debut in 2010. Poignant new track ‘Concrete Falls’ looks set to eclipse the landmark success of the sacred ‘Sanctuary’ and will no doubt entice all arms aloft on Clapham Common. Ever since the lush chords of ‘Mistral’ announced him to the world, an unwavering, uplifting outlook earmarks this as a truly standout performance.
Mark Knight’s mercurial sound has not only propelled his revered imprint to world domination but represented a pioneering electronic sound. Blurring the boundaries between the mainstream and underground, it never fails to tantalise an ever increasing fan base. It’s why the packed global itinerary of Toolroom’s top dog sells out each pulsating party weeks in advance. His headline slot at Toolroom Knight’s 5th Birthday at O₂ Academy Brixton proved one of the performances of last year, whilst Toolroom’s Miami showcase quickly became THE talk of WMC 2012. After a year’s SW4 hiatus, the Toolroom Knight is just what Clapham’s house heads have yearned for.
Also true of Funkagenda. A home grown vivacious talent, whose unchartered rise to fame has been no less impressive. That ‘Man With The Red Face’ collaboration with Knight scooped every award going, enhancing Laurent Garnier’s classic with a captivating production nous. Achieving the delicate balance between tough and melodic, this acquired skill led to specific remix requests from Basement Jaxx and Fatboy Slim amongst others. Harnessing the experience from being signed to Toolroom meant Funkagenda was able to fly the nest with supersonic speed! Culminating in his acclaimed ‘Funk Farm’ label, earning a sought after Ministry Of Sound residency. He is certainly at the front of our minds when it comes to quality house music at South West Four.
Finally for Saturday it’s Dutch trailblazer Joris Voorn. Commended for his ever evolving ethos, a host of radical releases have crafted a lasting legacy. A prolific producer who always strives to engulf the senses, look no further than his outstanding edit of Nalin and Kane’s summer smash ‘Beachball.’ Joris has prospered where others have failed, by enhancing the original into an underground spell of wizardry. Also possessing magical properties, Voorn’s now legendary ‘Balance 014’ compilation eloquently combined 100 tracks into a double CD. This demonstrated a rare talent responsible for securing headline slots at We Love at Space Ibiza and Awakenings.
ADDED TO SW4 DAY TWO: SUN 26TH AUGUST
2 MANY DJS (DJ SET) · ERIC PRYDZ · SASHA
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO (DJ SET) · EROL ALKAN
Deep breath, moving onto Sunday. You can never have too much of 2 Many DJs, the DJ manifestation of sensational production duo Soulwax. With an inherent eclectic nature, it’s this ‘expect the unexpected’ prophecy that has wowed their devout fans. Count Zane Lowe as one, after playing their Arcade Fire remix of ‘Sprawl II’ on his Radio 1 show. A brilliant realisation of the ‘2 Many’ concept, it re-vitalised this indie rock original with vintage disco and electro-glitch galore. It is by this ethos that the Belgian musicians headline the world’s leading festivals and club nights and with which we are delighted to present their SW4 debut this year.
Crashing SW4 last year as the enigmatic Cirez D, Eric Prydz prides himself in all things house. His ground breaking ‘Mouseville’ imprint caters for those darker productions, such as the infectious hook from ‘On Off’, whereas the ‘Pryda’ label and namesake tracks encompass the more melodic side, but no less compelling. Hence with this wide ranging spectrum the Swede’s polished performances were always one of club land’s great wonders. Then ‘Eric Prydz In Concert’ came along, superseding all before in EPIC fashion. After selling out the mammoth Brixton Academy, Alexandra Palace and Amnesia Ibiza last year, it’s a privilege for SW4 to welcome Eric Prydz raw and in the flesh.
The mighty Sasha returns also, to sweep Sunday off its feet. The DJ powerhouse, whose illustrious twenty five year career incorporates some of the most memorable moments in SW4 history, is now fully entrenched into Clapham folklore. An undying thirst for innovation has meant that Sasha has always dictated the pace, since establishing himself with pioneering Renaissance and Global Underground associations. Utilising the latest technology enables Sasha to connect with the dancefloor like no other. His inimitable atmospheric sound captivated last summer’s ‘Never Say Never’ Ibiza parties, attracting four thousand connoisseurs each week! Sasha’s transcendental synths are set to mesmerise SW4 once again.
Erol Alkan’s lasting impact on London’s club scene makes him a huge draw at SW4. As founder of trend setting night Trash at The End (RIP) and its anything goes policy, Erol has received worldwide adulation for his unique fusion of tech, electro, pop and rock. Anything that holds a beat is well within the Alkan domain, yielding classics which are sure to be SW4 favourites! Ask the loyal pilgrims who flock to Bugged Out! and Fabric on each momentous occasion. As the immortal saying goes, Erol Alkan ‘keeps kids dancing.’
Having worked with Florence and the Machine and The Arctic Monkeys, Simian Mobile Disco are another devastating dance act joining us at SW4 2012. SMD’s spin on unconventional genres, equates to a defining festival experience. SW4 will be a perfect platform to tease exclusive material from their new ‘Delicacies’ label, best summed up by delicious new track ‘Seraphim.’ Simian Mobile Disco make their eagerly anticipated return to London, after last year’s breathtaking SW4 and Together Winter Music Festival appearances. With both occasions cultivating a riotous atmosphere, the duo are tailor made for Clapham debauchery.