Written by Zainab Jama
Sonar By Day.
Touching down at Sonar by Day is like going to the grounds of British Museum to rave. Only it’s hotter, there’s a beach nearby and grounds have been converted into stages for live music. If you can imagine that, you’re almost there. But before I give my account of Sonar 2010, it is worth mentioning that Sonar is like no other music festival.
Based in the heart of Barcelona, it is a walking distance from the city centre, a bus ride from the beach and set in-between the museum of contemporary art and University of Barcelona grounds. With two outdoor stages, and a massive basement inside the Museum of Contemporary art, there are no tents, there is no mud, there’s only sunshine and beautiful people ready to get down.
Highlight of the Sonar by Day festivities was Lunice. Hailing from Monteral he came out battling for the crowd’s attention late on Saturday afternoon. With a laptop, mic and a stage presence like no other, Lunice came in hard, dropping a medley of bootleg RnB, Hip-Hop and Crunk remixes by the like of Beyonce, Rihanna, Brandy, Cassie, Soulja Boy and Lil’ Wayne. Leaving the records to play themselves he’d come round the front of the booth to demonstrate exactly how the crowd should get down, breaking into moves that only the most flexible could copy, he left a number of us with sore limbs as we tried to copy his showstopping moves and let me just say someone needs to book him for a London show ASAP!
Listen: Lunice – Sonar By Day Set (RedBull Music Academy)
Speaking of spectacles, hailing from LA Nosja Thing gave his debut live show in Europe at Sonar this year. Complete with his MPC and laptop alongside some spectacular visuals from his projector, the dark basement of the Contemporary art museum was the perfect setting for his wonderfully woozy electronic drums and soothing synth lines. Performing tracks from the album ‘Drift’, he recreated them live adding so many twists and turns you’d find it hard to recognise the original track.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the real gem at Sonar by Day is the Sonar Dome stage. Programmed by Red Bull Music Academy it was hard to see the other stages with such an impeccable line up. With the likes of New York’s Pursuit Grooves MCing and dancing alongside her MPC and laptop. She treated us to the sounds off her latest EP Foxtrot Mannerisms including Start Something and Shapbaps. But it was the EP’s opener Pressure that saw biggest reaction of the set, Vanese’s fusion of hip-hop and beats and breaks worked flawlessly.
Listen: Pursuit – Grooves Sonar By Day Set (RedBull Music Academy)
Soon after Pursuit Grooves it was time for Swedish by way of London soul singer Fatima to take to the stage. Opening with singalong anthem ‘Soul Glo’, she had the stage in the palm of her hands.With the crowd grooving along with her, she effortlessly went into Kleer ft Funkineven, her collaboration with Shafiq Husyan of Sa-Ra Creative Partners ‘Lil Girl’ and ended with the beautifully executed ‘Mind’ produced by fellow Eglo founder Floating Points, sending shivers down the spines of many in the Sonar tent it’s one that manages to show off the extent of her vocal ability like no other. You can catch her supporting Bilal at Fabric in July.
Other highlights from Sonar by Day included the wonderful selection by Rinse FM DJ and past RBMA participants Braiden. Giving the crowd a delightful sunshine set, he opened with Rah Band’s massive Messages From The Stages and managed to pack the Sonar Dome within minutes of hitting the deck. More representation for LA’s beat scene came from Tokimonsta, alongside her trusty MPC Ms Monsta switch up the tempo once again getting everyone moving to her own productions alongside bootleg remixes of Aayliah’s “We Need A Resolution” and 50 Cent’s “Ayo Technology”, I’d highly recommend you check her out if she hits your town.
After a long morning at the beach, Saturday’s line up looked even better. With the legendary Detroit Techno producer Moodymann taking to the stage on Saturday afternoon. He gave possibly one of his best sets that I’ve ever seen. Mixing his incredible selection of productions alongside the rarest funk and boogie, it’s his infectious personality and demeanour behind the decks that has allowed him to receive the tag as one of the best DJs around.
Closing the Sonar by Day 2010 proceedings was the swaggerlicous Jackmaster. Despite everyone’s deflating energy, Jack was ready to party and wanted the Sonar Dome to join him. Opening with Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t No Body’, the energy soon picked up as did the vocal chords of everyone inside as men and women alike broke out into mass singlalong and Jack didn’t stop dropping the house classics until everyone inside the Sonar Dome was dancing and singing in unison. The quiff wearing Scotsman packed truly represented Scotland’s Numbers collective, and ended the Sonar by Day as it started (think dancing, singing and good vibrations) it was the perfect ending to another great year of Sonar by Day treats. Roll on 2011!
Listen: Jackmaster – Sonar By Day Set (RedBull Music Academy)