Sonar By Night

If Sonar By Day is a playground, then Sonar By Night is Disneyland. It’s the kind of thing that has to be seen to be believed. A gigantic warehouse/hangar/trade show structure one long and wide indoor space that looks like it would hold 50,000 people alone with two outdoor stages that rival the size of main stages at most festival. In between, there are bumper cars with an international DJ playing to those brave enough (or off their heads enough) to hang out on the perimeter of the bumper car track.

The lineup is a mixed bag: Deadmau5’s show is impressive in scale but dull in texture yet it brings in the punters, Amon Tobin’s Isam show loses its impact in the massive hall, Lana Del Rey was playing the wrong festival pretty much, Friendly Fires did what they do best, The Roots lost me during a jazzy meandering set when they played ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’, Die Antwoord were fun for all the ten minutes I saw of them; it will work well in the Academy in Dublin next month no doubt. James Blake got to see what it felt like to DJ on a main stage with his every CDJ move scrutinised by the Sonar video screens so it felt a bit #stadiumstep. His set went hard on early DMZ dubstep so it was fun. Modeselektor did their greatest hits thing, as they did at Forbidden Fruit a few weeks earlier.

Nicolas Jaar

Joined by Dave Harrington live as he was the next day for Darkside, Jaar’s live show relies on subtle changes in his tracks to keep things moving. On record, it can be a bit abstract but in front of what felt like 4,000 people at Sonar by Night, it was deep and widescreen. Jaar’s tracks can have an acid jazz tinge to them which works because the palette is kept muted and the beats are keeping the focus on your feet. I’m glad I picked this set; it was full on audio escapism.