Who enjoys going to festivals, club nights, and parties? We’re guessing that we all do—and so we’re pleased as punch to announce that XLR8R is launching the all-new Events section. Much like an artisanal-minded shopper at the farmer’s market, we’ll be giving you our pick of the finest throwdowns from across the country and around the globe. To that end, we’ll be kicking this new venture off with six of our absolute favorite fests, each of which offers a unique approach to music and art ranging from the experimental to the party-worthy: Lyon's Nuits Sonores, Detroit's Movement, Montreal's MUTEK, Amsterdam’s Dekmantel, Seattle’s Decibel, and an auspicious addition to the Montreal calendar, the all-new AIM affair. And if you’d like to have your event considered for inclusion, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sure, April in Paris has a certain ring to it, but for five days in mid-May, Lyon is the place to be for lovers of electronic music and digital culture. That’s when the long-running Nuits Sonores, founded in 2003, takes over the city, commandeering more than 40 venues that include everything from art galleries to disused industrial sites, and from rooftops to swimming pools. It’s a sprawling affair, with 80,000 attendees coming each year for the fest’s innovative sights and sounds—and a look at the lineup for the upcoming edition, which runs from May 13th through the 17th, helps to explain the appeal. Pioneers like Laurent Garnier, the Orb, and Goldie vie for attention with such of-the-moment artists as Kelele, Factory Floor, Lena Willikens and DJ Qu; dancefloor faves along the lines of Ben Klock, Tale of Us and Âme go toe to toe with sonic outliers like Jon Hopkins, Nils Frahm and Awesome Tapes From Africa. Add in the multitude of multidisciplinary spread throughout the city, and you’ve got yourself something truly special. Bruce Tantum
Detroit might not be the most glamorous metropolis in the world, but the city has one very big thing going for it: Its musical history is as rich as it comes. From the jazz and blues of its Black Bottom neighborhood, through the emotion-soaked soul of Motown and the cosmic grooves of Parliament-Funkadelic, to the jam-kicking punch of the MC5 and the Stooges, Detroit has long shown a aural sensibility that outshines 99 percent of towns twice its size. For three decades, one of the sounds that’s had the world cocking an ear toward Detroit is techno, so it shouldn’t be surprising that one of the world’s leading celebrations of electronic music takes place in the Motor City. This coming Memorial Day weekend, from May 23rd through the 25th, that blowout—the annual Movement festival—takes over downtown Detroit’s Hart Plaza, nestled alongside the Detroit River. As usual, the massive lineup leans heavily on the inner core and outer limits of electronic music, with the fest's five stages presenting a mind-blowing mix of hometown heroes, visiting grandmasters, veterans, and up-and-comers—along, this year, with a handful of hip-hop icons, including Method Man, People Under the Stairs, and in his DJ Snoopadelic guise, Snoop Dogg. Boom! Bruce Tantum
Now in its 16th year of operation, 2015 installment of the Montreal electronic-music-and-digital-arts extravaganza known as MUTEK takes place in from May 27 through May 31. Over the years, the festival has blossomed into a global operation, with affiliate editions occurring in Mexico City, Barcelona, and Bogotá—but Montreal is still the festival’s home, home, a point borne out strength of its home-town lineup. The festival's first-announced round of headliners, all of which are performing live, is split between dancefloor-oriented fare, like Lucy, Steffi, and Atom™ with long-time collaborator Tobias, and headier, cerebral material, like Kiasmos, a collaboration between Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen, and Pole performing a special A/V ballet-inspired set alongside visual artist MFO. This balancing act—between the body and the mind, the club and the concert hall—is part of what makes the festival so special; there's no shortage of top-notch partying to be had at MUTEK, but the seated theatrical showcases (and the many collaborations with and exhibitions by digital artists from around the globe) set it apart. And there’s this to consider: Festivals live and die by their host cities, and it's hard to ask for more from Montréal at the end of May as it awakens from a long winter. Affordable, easily navigable, and diverse in architecture, language, and population, the city teems with public art, good eats, and a host of extracurricular activities. Chris Zaldua
Given the sterling reputation Dekmantel Festival has built up, it can be all too easy to forget that the event will turn a mere three years of age this summer. Taking place in the lush surroundings of the Amsterdamse Bos, the whole affair is relatively intimate by modern festival standards—and Dekmantel is undoubtedly all the better for it. Last year’s lineup spanned five stages and didn’t have an ounce of fat on it, leading to an embarrassment of riches each day and the good-problem-to-have of rapid sprints between stages to catch everyone you wanted to see. This year’s edition will feature Manuel Göttsching and Autechre (both performing live at the festival’s opening event), Clark, Ben UFO, I-F, and Shed, among others, as well as an expansion into a new night program. Those saddened Trouw's closure at the beginning of the year will be placated by Dekmantel's nocturnal venture into Melkweg, with guests yet to be announced. Chris Duncan
For the past 11 years, Seattle’s Decibel Festival has provided a distinctive, highly immersive experience that sits at the crossroads between live electronic music and visual arts. Originally the vision of Detroit native Sean Horton, the largely volunteer-run festival takes place in September and has grown from 2,500 participants in 2004, to nearly ten times that in 2014. Spread over five days, Decibel takes place in intimate venues scattered throughout Seattle’s centralized neighborhoods. Musically, Decibel runs the gamut between cutting edge and veteran acts, with Kode9, Rone, Andy Stott, FaltyDL, John Roberts and Efdemin just a few of the artists to play 2014’s edition. In addition to purely musical performances, Decibel features a series of hybrid audio-visual events under the name Optical; last year’s edition was housed in Seattle’s EMP (Experience Music Project) center, affording collaborating artists—such as Arca and Jesse Kanda, and Oneohtrix Point Never and Nate Boyce—access to a 66’x33’ high-definition screen to project mixed media. The final ingredient is the dB Conference, offering free audio/visual workshops, panel discussions, artist talks and more. Decibel’s 2015 lineup still has yet to be released, but you can check out our review of last year’s edition here. Melkorka Licea
With summertime’s festival agenda becoming ever more packed, it’s increasing difficult for a new entry to stand out from the pack—but we have a feeling that Quebec’s Art Innovation Movement (AIM for short) will have no problem in breaking through at its inaugural edition, which runs from June 26th to 28th. First of all, there’s the locale: AIM will be at Carillon Park in St-André- d’Argenteuil, at a beautiful waterfront site about 45 minutes outside of Montreal. Second, there’s the lineup itself, which ranges from the ridiculously fun (Wolf + Lamb, Paranoid London, and local boy made good Tiga) to the absolutely sublime (Jamie xx, house hero Kerri Chandler, DJ Three, and, performing live, Isolée)—not to mention the Martinez Brothers, Chaim, Alexi Delano and other heavyweight talents. And here’s an added bonus for the hardcore among us: AIM will be offering nonstop music for more than 32 hours, from Saturday morning through Sunday night. Sleep’s vastly overrated anyway, right? Bruce Tantum