Best Fit has been in Barcelona for less than 48 hours, and we are already convinced that Sonar is amongst Europe’s best festivals. Set across a beautiful site in the city centre and boasting one of the most exciting electronic music programmes of the year, the 19th Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art is a delightful opportunity to see some of the world’s foremost artists in peerless surroundings.
Sonar began yesterday afternoon, and runs until Sunday. We will be posting our picks from the festival every day – and don’t forget that you can listen live to every set from the Red Bull Academy stage.
Here are Thursday’s best.
Jim Coles’ set was amongst the day’s most eclectic. Playing to a compact but appreciative crowd on the Red Bull Music Academy stage the London DJ navigated his way from London to Berlin via Chicago, taking in metallic techno, elegiac atmospherics, and West Coast hip hop on the way. A set full of dynamism and sparkling with widescreen ideas – and one to which you can listen over here, courtesy of The Quietus.
Lapalux has had A Pretty Good Year. The first time Best Fit saw the London beatmaker and commercial r’n’b devotee, he was playing to about 20 people in the upstairs room of a Camden pub on a Sunday afternoon. Yesterday, by contrast, Stuart Howard packed out Sonar’s main stage, slowly subsuming the crowd within a thick haze of sparkling, pop-indebted bass. Halfway through Howard’s set, Flying Lotus popped onstage, offered him his joint, and wandered off again. High praise indeed.
Spinn and Rashad are at the vanguard of the renewed footwork charge. The Chicago duo have been making their delirious, ankle-bending juke for more than half a decade, but it is only in the last couple of years that the world outside the Windy City has started to catch on.
Back on the Red Bull Music Academy stage it became clear what we have been missing. Theirs was, by some margin, the day’s most entertaining set. While a phenomenal dancer-cum-hype man provided the visual focal point, all seizure limbs and wild eyes, it was the DJs who really stole hearts. Including jukey renditions of ‘Battle For Middle You’ and ‘That Shit Crazy’ (a track which Best Fit heard in four separate sets yesterday, making it an unlikely Sonar anthem), their feverish set pitted violently swung vocal samples against almost laughably fast, triplet-laden kick patterns. It’s a delicious combination, and one to which it is impossible not to dance – and yet virtually impossible to dance to, thanks solely to its speed. There has been a suggestion that Spinn and Rashad are becoming the faces of juke abroad, to the exclusion of some of the genre’s other most exciting players. On the strength of yesterday’s set it seems that juke remains one of the world’s most vibrant scenes – and one to which Europe should pay even more attention.