XLR8R's Guide to Off-Sónar: 10 Things Not to Miss in Barcelona This Week
- Words: Jay Donaldson
Now entering its third decade, Sónar continues to be a yearly highlight for music fans and industry types alike, with last year's relocation to the more spacious Fira Montjuic for the daytime portion of the festival showing a recognition that catering to upwards of 120,000-plus people is now somewhat of a given. At night, the immense Fira Gran Via L'Hospitalet plays hosts to guests such as Four Tet, Matthew Dear, Caribou, Massive Attack, and countless others, but for those after something more intimate—or for ticketless readers—there's a whole slew of independent events on offer around Barcelona that are well worth investigating. In truth, Off-Sónar has arguably become bigger than the festival itself, and certainly features a similar level of star power, at least for those in search of underground electronic music. That being said, there are also plenty of Off-Sónar events offering little more than poolside bros and a limp tech-house soundtrack. With that in mind, XLR8R has pored over the myriad of options that the city has to offer this week and put together what we suspect will make for 10 surefire hits.
Loud presents Feel My Bicep, Electric Minds & Mono_cult
Wednesday, June 11 - Razzmatazz
For those looking to get an early start, Wednesday night at Razzmatazz offers up a stacked line-up that sets the bar seriously high, with UK-based institutions Feel My Bicep, Electric Minds, and Mono_cult all converging across three rooms for a night tailored toward the deeper end of the house spectrum. Fresh from issuing its "Circles" b/w "NRG106" 12" for Will Saul's Aus label, Bicep plays host to both Deetron and Levon Vincent, while Electric Minds enlists the services of Roman Fluegel and Move D, whose exquisite "To the Disco '77" single saw release via its burgeoning label. Finally, Mono_cult has enlisted the esoteric sounds of Midland and Panorama Bar resident Tama Sumo for what caps off a compelling party prospect.
Thursday, June 12 – El Monasterio of Poble Espanyol
Edging closer to the weekend, Resident Advisor has an exclusive performance by Talaboman, the collaborative project of John Talabot and Axel Boman. Doubts over whether or not they should have named themselves Axelbot aside, they top a billing that's heavy on groove and includes Motor City Drum Ensemble and rising Berlin-based producer Max Graef. Midland and Roman Flugel will also be dusting themselves off from the previous night to trade blows for any trainspotters out there, with the whole event naturally taking place in a Romanic monastery.
Motor City Drum Ensemble
Thursday, June 12 – Be Cool
Seven years in and Hessle Audio has arguably never been bigger, favoring a quality over quantity approach to its release schedule and keeping its cards close to the chest. With all three founding members (Ben UFO, Pearson Sound, and Pangaea) having now contributed mixes to the Fabriclive series, they return to Barcelona to play, at least to our knowledge, the city's only club to be fitted with a revolving dancefloor. What's more, Kassem Mosse will be joining them for one of his consistently absorbing live sets, whilst rumor has it that Paul Woolford is lined up to fill the special guest slot. Overall, it's looking to be an eclectic night, and one well worth considering.
Klockworks Showcase with Ben Klock, DVS1 & Ryan Elliot
Thursday, June 12 – The One
For those on the hunt for something particularly driving, Thursday's Klockworks showcase offers a rare opportunity to catch three Berghain regulars outside of the German capital, at a space that exclusively caters to techno the whole year round. Label founder Ben Klock will be fronting proceedings, with seasoned selector DVS1 and upcoming contributor to the Panorama Bar mix series Ryan Elliott both displaying their prowess behind the turntables.
Ryan Elliott by Will Calcutt
Numbers BCN 2014
Thursday, June 12 - Nitsa
Numbers returns to Barcelona and once again takes over the two floors at Nitsa, a sweaty venue that's well suited to the label's funk-inclined consort. The Glasweigan duo behind the excellent Dixon Avenue Basement Jams label will be providing its own brand of rugged house music early on, with White Material affiliate Galcher Lustwerk and Space Dimension Controller also on hand for some smoother sensibilities. SOPHIE and Redhino will be showcasing their well-oiled, off-kilter live sets, before Hudson Mohawke and Numbers co-founders Spencer and Jackmaster take to the decks in what will no doubt be their typically raucous fashion.
Friday, June 13 – C. de Méxic 7
Tresor, the iconic venue and label that boasts more than 20 years of experience, will be decamping from its Berlin home for a spectacularly heady affair that finds Peter Van Hoesen, DJ Deep, and the talented Zenker Brothers appearing alongside a rare live set from TR-101, the collaborative project of Hard Wax record store stalwart DJ Pete and Sleeparchive. Somewhat excitingly, Moritz Von Oswald—one half of both Basic Channel and Maurizio and one of the most influential musicians working in electronic music today—will be performing ahead of Surgeon, who will presumably do his very best to bring the place to the ground. This one is not for the faint at heart.
The Zenker Brothers
Lost in a Moment
Friday, June 13 - El Monasterio of El Poble Espanyol
The fact that this party sold out in under two minutes speaks volumes as to the popularity of Innervisions, the Berlin-based label established in 2005. Branching out into events last year with a string of successful dates, the Lost in a Moment banner perfectly encapsulates the kind of grandiose sound the imprint has been veering toward as its audience has increased. Here, Innervisions is keeping things mostly in the family, with co-founders Dixon and Âme certain to drum the vested masses into a frenzy, while Henrik Schwarz will supply one of his exorbitant live sets. The peerless Gerd Janson also joins the cast, whose incredibly consistent Running Back label continues to quietly impress.
Hyperdub 10 Barcelona
Saturday, June 14 – BeCool
Hyperdub certainly knows how to celebrate, with its 10th operational year seeing no less than four scheduled compilations and a whole slew of dates planned around the globe. As one might expect, label founder Kode9 will be throwing down his unique mixture of footwork, hip-hop, and more UK-flavored styles, with Chicago DJs Spinn and Taso playing together in a set that's sure to feature some material from the late DJ Rashad. Rounding off procedures are UK bass trailblazers Scratcha DVA, Cooly G, and Ikonika.
Sunday, June 15 – Pic-Nic Area & La Terrazza
Spread out over two locations just a few minutes walk from each other, Secretsundaze's presence in the city has become something of a tradition, with guests split between the leafy Pic-Nic area during the day and open-air terrace at night. This year, Secretsundaze is keeping things tasteful with the rolling grooves of Patrice Scott and leftfield selections of New Jersey's DJ Qu proving particularly tempting for us, while the tough, club-centric tunes of Swedish duo Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie are likely to prove a huge draw under the shaded canopy.
L-Vis 1990 & Bok Bok
Night Slugs ∞ Fade to Mind
Sunday, June 15 - Be Cool
Night Slugs and its fast-rising sister label Fade to Mind also come together on Sunday to help close out the weekend. The Night Slugs roster boasts co-founders L-Vis 1990 (who also masquerades as Dance System) and Bok Bok, whose first solo record since 2011 dropped just last month. They're joined by P.L.O. Style, co-founder of Glasgow's Numbers imprint, who was recently seen collaborating with Matrixxman and Vin Sol for Unknown to the Unknown, and label affiliate Girl Unit also makes an appearance under his Hysterics alias. The US division is headed by Kingdom, a onetime Night Slugs regular who defected to set up the Fade to Mind imprint; he's joined by vocalist Kelela, who will be performing live, and Nguzunguzu, which will surely be delivering one of its signature hyperreal sessions.
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