Sónar 2015: The top 10

The line-up at the year's electronic music festival is as extensive and eclectic as ever
By Marta Salicrú |
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The festival of music, creativity and technology, better known as Sónar, comes to Barcelona June 18 to 20 at the Fira de Barcelona in Montjuïc and Gran Vía. Here are ten acts you won't want to miss.

1
A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky

This New Yorker, a rapper and producer with great taste, is one of the biggest stars to come out of the US hip-hop scene in recent times. Even before publishing his debut LP, 'Long.Live.A$AP' (2013) – his debut mixtape, 'Live.Love.A$AP', was released for free download in 2011 – MTV sought him out to perform with Rihanna. Here he’ll present his second album, 'At.Long.Last.A$AP' (2015), featuring collaborations with FKA Twigs and Lykke Li.

Fri 19, 10.45pm, SonarClub

2
Roisin Murphy

Róisín Murphy

One half of elegant dance-pop duo Moloko, the Irish artist was one of the classier pop divas to come out of the second half of the ’90s. She presented her second solo album, ‘Overpowered’ (2007), at Sónar with a fabulous show that included numerous wardrobe changes. Since then, she’s been pretty quiet. Her return was marked by last year’s EP 'Mi senti' with covers of classic Italian pop hits. And this year she’s stormed back with 'Hairless Toys', a disc of refined house-pop.

Fri 19, 11pm, SonarPub

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3
Hot Chip
© Steve Gullick

Hot Chip

They’re Sónar regulars, but this year should be a special one because they bring 'Why Make Sense?' (2015), their sixth album and one of the most solid collections the London ensemble has produced. Which isn’t a polite way of saying the record has few ‘hits’. The vintage house feel of the brilliant ‘Need you now’ will have you dancing into oblivion.

Fri 19, 1.15am, SonarPub

4
Owen Pallett
© Peter Juhl

Owen Pallett

A violinst on the Sónar line-up? In his virtuoso live performances the Canadian musician uses the string instrument as much as the looper to create his angular avant-pop songs on multiple layers. His repertoire includes the brilliant 'In Conflict', praised by media worldwide as one of the best of 2014 – the album features his mix of analogic and synthetic pop as a vehicle for some of his most direct lyrics.

Fri 19, 5.30pm, SonarVillage

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5
FKA Twigs
© James Medina

FKA Twigs

The beautiful and talented producer, singer and dancer – the last was her first vocation and saw her appear in Kylie videos and tour with Jessie J – British musician Tahliah Barnett is one of the most evocative alternative R&B artists around. Her music is narcotic and sensual – and sexually explicit – as you can hear on her debut album ‘LP1’ (2014), which includes collaborations with Paul Epworth, Sampha, Blood Orange, Clams Casino, and Arca, another of Sónar 2015’s interesting acts.

Sat 20, 11pm, SonarPub

6
John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Simon LeBon, Roger Taylor

Duran Duran

It sounds like a (not very good) joke, but one of the most iconic British synth-pop groups from the ’80s will be playing in Barcelona on the same day as their eternal rivals, Spandau Ballet. With apologies to Tony Hadley and co., the balance of hits comes down on the side of Duran Duran: ‘Girls on Film’, ‘Rio’, ‘A View to a Kill’, ‘Notorious’ – and even ‘Ordinary World’, released in the ’90s. Nostalgia writ large.

Sat 20, 10.30pm, SonarClub

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7
Autechre

Autechre

Rob Brown and Sean Booth are a tricky pair to catch live – 2015 sees them perform for the second time at Sónar. They were last here in 1996. Torchbearers of the prestigious Warp electronic music label, their prestige doesn’t begin to fit here – they’re key figures of abstract techno and IDM (intelligent dance music).

Thu 18, 8.30pm, SonarHall

8
Skrillex
© Jason Nocito

Skrillex

The first ‘live’ show (we’re not going to get into a debate about how live are the shows of the EDM 'enfants terribles') from Sonny Moore at Sónar was a real event. The Fira Gran Vía venue practically sank with so much drop, and Skrillex, riding in some kind of toy spaceship and wearing a Barça T-shirt, personified charisma. Take note, this year he’s released 'Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü', a collaborative album with Diplo that features the likes of Justin Bieber, Missy Elliott and Kiesza.

Fri 19, 3.15am, SonarClub

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9
The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers

You shouldn’t see them just because of their key role building bridges between clubbing and stadium rock. Their live shows are spectacular, and what they’ll do at Sónar – twice, in the invite-only opening party on Thursday 18 and on Saturday 20 – promises to be hypnotic and hallucinogenic (who needs more chemicals when you have these two?). They’ll be promoting their eighth album, 'Born in the Echoes', due in July and featuring collaborations with St. Vincent and Beck.

Sat 20, 1.30am, SonarClub

10
Khaled, D.Gómez, Yung Beef, Steve Lean
©Maria Dias

PXXR GVNG

Poor Gang (as you should pronounce it) are an underground hip-hop sensation and trap pioneers in Spain. The Barcelona-based collective is made up of local beatmaster Steve Lean, MCs Yung Beef and Khaled (from the Granada group Kefta Boys) and D. Gómez (from Madrid ensemble Corredores de Bloque). Their live shows, with regular stage invasions by their fans, are exciting experiences. They’re the ones who’ll be responsible for the twerking on the bumper car stage at Sónar.

Sat 20, 1.40am, SonarCar

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