2018 is 25 Years of Sonar Festival

Words by: Kristan Caryl
Posted: 23/2/18 14

Since its inception in 1994, Sónar has been one of the standout weeks in the annual dance calendar. Founded by Ricard Robles, Enric Palau and Sergi Caballero, it initially attracted 6,000 people and 40 media figures, and included a Record and Technology Fair which, by 2013, had morphed into Sonar+D, a three day concurrent congress dedicated to Creativity, Technology and Business. 

The years since have seen it grow exponentially, so that in 2017 an eye-watering 115,000 people attended from more than 100 different countries. But unlike many festivals of that size, quality, innovation and niche offerings are never compromised. The whole event pretty much transforms the city of Barcelona into a fascinating cultural hub for the week, with vital and varied musical offerings from a dizzying array of sounds, scenes and styles all cater for. 

Split into two parts—Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night—what marks out the June festival is its devotion to the avant guard as well as to the old masters. It is a place to catch hot new acts before they are hot new acts, and to see tried and tested talents perform at their best. It is a place where freaks and norms co-exist, where the big and the small, the underground and the more commercial all rub shoulders and where trends are set for the years ahead.

2018 promises to be no different, with plenty of things to get excited about. By Day you can look forward to a live show from Detroit funk pioneer Amp Fiddler and exceptional dummer Tony Allen; a showcase of musical minimalism from genre giant Terry Riley and a sure to be throwback set from Zanzibar resident Tony Humphries, as well as a showcase from Sweden’s finest, in the form of Studio Barnhus. 

By Night, the highlights across both evenings include six hour sets from both DJ Harvey and John Talabot, a live show from Bicep (owners of Ibiza Voice record of the year 2017) and LCD Soundsystem; special back-to-backs from Ben Klock and DJ Nobu as well as Motor City Drum Ensemble and sauna-lover Jeremy Underground, plus a DJ set from Modeselektor and appearance from Thom Yorke. 

This is just a briefest of overviews of what Sónar has to offer because, frankly, part of the joy of the festival is what you unwittingly discover when you’re there.

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