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Live: The Sónar Festival in Barcelona, Day One

June 23, 2009

Who wants to be in Barcelona at the Sónar festival? Ummm, probably everyone, including us. Because we, and presumably you, couldn't be there, check out day one of Zainab Jama's coverage of the fest, featuring encounters with Flying Lotus and Hank Shocklee and stay tuned over the next couple days for more.

Barcelona is pretty much the perfect backdrop for any music festival: It’s a beautiful, cosmopolitan city; it has great beaches; it has one of the best food markets I’ve ever experienced (more about that later), great architecture, history, copious amounts of sunshine and did I mention that everyone is beautiful here?

Anyway, starting my Sónar journey I landed a day early, arriving in the evening to 25C heat, and after checking into my hotel just off La Ramblas (think the Times Square of Barcelona) it was time for RedBull’s Annual Sónar BBQ on the Marina. It looked so packed that as I walked up it seemed a few people were about to head overboard.

Once inside the party was in full swing, Hank Shocklee was playing records, Dante of Dante’s Fried Chicken was hanging out and plenty of other musicians who would later be performing were dancing away. Unfortunately for me, all the food was already gone.

The next morning saw the mercury rise to 30C, and I had the fun of going to find my press accreditation. Easy enough, right? One thing I noticed about Sónar as I enter is that it’s run like a military operation. One person scans your ticket, another puts on the wrist band and another person cuts off the excess. Gotta love attention to detail.

Slap bang in the middle of the city is the Sonar by Day festival, set across four stages in the space between three huge art museums, its pretty damn impressive. There are sexy ladies handing out sunscreen, bbq’s going at each tent, multiple bars, astro turf in place of grass and a super crisp soundsytem. All with more than enough room to feel comfortable despite the 9,999 people there with you. I spent the first day basking in the sunshine while running between the four stages. Highlights included the legendary Mulatu Astatke and The Heliocentrics in RBMA’s packed out SonarDome stage where people vibing out in heat, The Wizard aka the Detroit techno genius Jeff Mills on the biggest of the four stages, and Filastine who rocked the stage with his multi-genre musical stylings.

Later I headed to Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder party. It was so loud that as you approached you could already hear the terrifying soundsystem, but I was pleasantly surprised to find this was not your usual brand of shoegazing dubsteppery. Oh no, it was a party inside. It was hot, it was sweaty and you could either get involved or get out. I chose the latter and stayed so late that I caught the sunrise. Stay tuned for day two!

—Zainab Jama

Posted: June 23, 2009
Live: The Sónar Festival in Barcelona, Day One