On Saturday, June 14, Sonar’s 2014 edition finished strong with another exceptional assortment of diverse talents, including a signature performance by Massive Attack, Lykke Li’s emotional stage show and energetic DJ sets by Brodinski and Boys Noize.
6:50 p.m.: At the SonarPlanta art installation, huge video screens shift from DNA patterns to expanding and contracting lines to the tune of high-pitched hisses and rumbling bass hums. Ululating lines and curved images spin as though wind-blown while festivalgoers find respite in the dark.
7:11 p.m.: Enclosed in a space age LED cage of interlocked triangles, Audion – Matthew Dear’s techno alias – pummels the SonarHall crowd with pulsing bursts of bass. Red and blue flashing lights crackle across its surface like electrical energy as snarling synthesizers and otherworldly atmospherics emanate from the attentive artist its core.
8:15 p.m.: Los Angeles DJ/producer TOKIMONSTA can’t contain her smile. “How the fuck are you all doing? Still good?” she asks a bumping SonarDome dance floor, though the answer is quite clear.
9:18 p.m.: James Holden flashes a grin to the drummer and saxophone player joining him onstage. Jamming on chilled-out and melodic musical fare, the wiry British producer employs a boxy synthesizer console and varied reverbs and delays to keep the trio’s sound smooth and ever shifting.
9:28 p.m.: UK garage pioneer DJ Harvey enthralls the SonarVillage with a cutoff analog synth lead and muscular bass. Arcane subtitled videos entertain the crowd, featuring bizarre object and puppet props in a perplexing storyline uttering nonsensical phrases like “I’m the minstrel of the ayahuasca, I’m the keeper of the wheat.”
10:16 p.m.: Striking quite a different tone from Friday’s late-night down tempo jams, Four Tet opens Saturday’s Sonar By Night with a slew of laidback reggae and dub tracks to warm up the growing SonarClub crowd for Massive Attack’s marquee concert.
10:34 p.m.: Massive Attack takes the SonarClub stage to screams and applause. Following their opener, the British outfit plays “Risingson,” complete with kick drum rhythms that shake the venue and incredible choir effects on Robert Del Naja’s voice.
11:14 p.m.: The opening percussive interplay of “Teardrop” sends Massive Attack’s crowd into conniptions. As the female singer’s lilting voice and warm chords enter, cheers begin to swell.
11:23 p.m.: Lykke Li floats across the SonarPub stage in black tights and dark makeup. With tangled hair hanging in her eyes, she launches into “Sadness is a Blessing.” “Barcelona, I’m so happy to be here,” she says once finished. “Are you ready for some new songs?” The crowd’s roar of approval nearly drowns out the opening melody of “No Rest for the Wicked.”
11:38 p.m.: “Are you ready for some slow jams?” Lykke Li asks. “Light it up and let’s get cozy.” As the drums behind her boom, the Swedish crooner pulls her sequined black cloak over her head like a shrouded hood and begins to sing “Love Out of Lust.” Cheers swell as the sad song reaches a soulful breakdown in which she softly sings wordless notes over ponderous drums.
1:04 a.m.: Matthew Dear takes the stage at Sonar for the second time today. Swapping his futuristic Audion setup for a simple black t-shirt and Traktor controller, the Ghostly International co-founder delivers a relentlessly groovy techno set with massive delayed builds and brooding breaks that showcase his skills behind the decks.
2:32 am: Clad in fresh white outfits, Nile Rodgers and CHIC enthrall a packed SonarPub with such disco classics as “I’m Coming Out” and “Let’s Dance.” Even stage security guards temporarily toss their composure aside to dance with wide grins. Backstage, Boys Noize is beside himself with excitement. “My older brother used to play me CHIC records,” he gushes. “I never dreamed of playing a stage with them.”
3:16 a.m.: Brodinski seamlessly transitions from Sinden’s “Step Back” into his own “Gimme Back the Night” while SonarPub’s capacity crowd goes wild. The French DJ’s hands dart across his turntables and mixer in fluid fashion, judiciously adjusting parameters and applying effects while Theophilus London’s voice guides the audience into a signature trap breakdown.
3:48 a.m.: As no fewer than 15,000 fans scream behind him, Brodinski pauses to take a selfie with Bromance label mate Ateph Elidja before wheeling back to the decks to unleash Gesaffelstein’s “Control Movement” on the expectant attendees.
4:07 a.m.: The Barcelona skies break open in a torrential downpour, but Boys Noize’s crazy crowd couldn’t care less. The German electro artist thrills the resilient rain resistance movement with brisk snare builds and saw-toothed bass drops, swiftly escalating the intensity and propelling the soaked masses into an apocalyptic dance party.