Festival review: Sonar Festival

Sonar Festival Barcelona

FOR FOUR days in June, Barcelona is swamped by some 100,000 people enjoying an appealing blend of culture and partying. Since 1994, Sonar has built a reputation for consistently booking the leading names in advanced music and multimedia art and creating an attractive sun-soaked meeting point for visitors from various sectors of the creative industries. Predominantly focusing on electronic music, the festival offers a diverse line-up of live bands, DJs and visual artists from all over the globe. Official proceedings take place by day in the central MACBA and CCCB buildings, an art gallery and culture centre respectively, and by night on the outskirts of Barcelona at a large warehouse complex.

This year's festival saw probably the largest representation of Scottish acts yet to be involved, from a showcase for the Glasgow club night and record label Numbers, to Offshore – from Aberdeen though now based in London – alongside acts like Aphex Twin, M.I.A., Janelle Monae and Little Dragon.

It was the Aberdonian who took the opening plaudits for a stunning performance at the festival's opening Thursday event. Sandwiched in between his Big Dada label mates, as part of a label showcase, Offshore stood tall over the outdoor SonarVillage stage, drawing a big crowd for his intricately mixed variety of music (electronica, grime and a smattering of folk). By the time he played out the two biggest tracks from the Sonar weekend (Bok Bok's Silo Pass and Africa Hitech's Out in The Streets) the outdoor area was packed. Along with Swedish electro-pop group Little Dragon this was the finest performance of the day.

By Saturday even the most hardened of festival attendees were struggling to stay on their feet. Thankfully, the energetic Janelle Monae was on hand to whip the crowd into a final frenzy, a perfect tonic for the full tilt Numbers showcase. From an opening live set by Redinho through to Italian techno legend Lory D, via Deadboy, vocalist Jessie Ware and label bosses Spencer and Jackmaster, the Numbers contingent blew away the audience with a wall of out-and-out party sounds and stunning visuals.