FAULT Magazine at Sonar, Barcelona.

It’s 4:59pm on a Wednesday and I’m eyeing up that laptop shut down whilst strategically pulling my jacket on ready to run shouting good bye work, hello Barcelona! Heading to Luton Airport, knees shaking with excitement ready to meet with friends to once again re-visit easily the best dance music festival in the world. Complimentary plane gin & tonics with some cheap salted crisp snack set the mood as we discussed our expectations for the festival, our yacht (dingy) accommodation and the new additions to our team.

Hitting down in Barcelona, quite tired but needing food we dropped our stuff at our bigger than expected yet smelly-as-shit boat in the Olympic Port and grabbed some much needed Paella in a tourist hot spot beach restaurant. A few sangria’s later and aware what was ahead we got some much needed sleep.


Waking up naturally, looking at blue skies through the window doesn’t make me miss the usual noisy, congested Mare street. “Why don’t we live here?” became a popular topic of the weekend.  A great group effort on breakfast made in our cupboard sized kitchen saw us wash it down with a classy carton of Don Simon Sangria on the boat deck. Beach Time! Towels down, shades on, factor 30 shared around, there we were trying not to look like ‘that group of pastey white brits’. Alas, we were soon joined by our Australian (& New Zealand) friends showing us how the beach is done. Our team had assembled, totalling in a very impressive fourteen comrades. After introductions and hugs were shared, it was nearly time to head to an Off Sonar event in the grounds of the Primavera Festival Parc Del Forum – Proyectual Pres: Todd Terje, Mcde, Gold Panda, Omar S and Joy Orbison. Back to the boat for a quick change and to put our festival orders in with our new greesy haired and sweaty friend Alfredo. This was the golden week in his calendar so I imagine he’d not been to bed for a few days. Supplies obtained, deals made, drinks down, we Olympic power walked along the beach for the festival!

Upon arrival to the site we grabbed our passes and onto the bar we went onto to discover this was another one of those festivals that have annoyingly started to partake in having to upload money onto a chip to get served. This doesn’t benefit the customer; it only makes it easier for cash handling and the customer almost definitely always loads more money than he needs leaving wastage. However we didn’t let this dampen our mood as we caught up with our good friend Derwin (Gold Panda) who we found inspecting the very unstable and shaky main stage. After a few pre-show tequilas washed down with a mandatory mandy lined vodka redbull we entered the crowd to watch a hugely anticipated live performance of Derwin’s new album ‘Good Luck And Do Your Best’. Opening the set with

‘Time Eater’ I felt a strong connection to his earlier work from his first album ‘Lucky Shiner’ through the Japanese instrumental percussions. The sun was setting and he brought the crowd together bringing super high spirits. Adamant to not spend money on drinks I ran backstage to cause some damage and at the time it made sense to bagsy a whole bottle of Jagermeister. Making my way back handing out shots left right and centre the night was a haze with small glimpses of catching Tod Terje’s infamous ‘Inspector Norse’s comedy vibes.

Grabbing a bottle of vodka for the walk back home along the sea front, we drank it collectively as animals do- like it was water. Conscious that Sonar hadn’t even started yet, we didn’t want to ruin our mind and bodies for day 1 but the excitement of having a boat party was too much. We say a boat party, but squashing 14 people inside a dingy that sleeps 6 soon turned into a tight room sweatier than an evening at Shoreditch’s Chariots. Having realised the sun had come up as we were playing deafening techno, we took pity on our neighbouring sailors and called it good night!


I opened one eye and wondered if I had died (or more hoping I had) with my body internally bruised, mind fried and energy levels none existent. I looked over to what can only be described as a film clash up of Titanic & Trainspotting; every surface laced with sticky alcohol, cigarettes, mashed up pills, beer and someone’s primark pink lace knickers hanging from the boat deck ladders. Trying not to look anyone in the eye, I crawled to the freezer to find any source of water and to try and fit any part of my body in to cool down. Knowing what’s ahead you push aside your Sonar anxiety levels, grab your beach towel and head to the beach to sweat it out.

After re-grouping and starting the talks of whether to see James Blake or Kerri Chandler, Richie Hawtin or Ben UFO and reassuring ourselves that at least we have Four Tet’s 7 hour set to use like a 1990’s sherbet dip dab. Getting excited we headed back to refresh and went on to Sonar by Day to suss out the fuss.


After collecting our passes it was disappointing to see Sonar has also begun to participate on the electric chip money uploading wristbands to what we later discovered were an unbelievable nightmare. After swiftly grabbing two pints to supply me with some super-fast courage we managed to catch Roots Manuva in the very impressive Sonar Hall with its enormous floor to ceiling red velvet drapes- a perfect backdrop to a fucked up horror film. It was the perfect introduction to be re-connected with Santigold after her new album ‘Master of Make Believe’ was released last month. The album features production from collaborators Switch, Diplo and John Hill. Before heading over to Sonar by Night we conveniently took refuge in a friends beautifully renovated apartment in typical old school Spanish style with its mosaicked flooring and high ceilings.


Developing excited butterflies as we got our shit together we set out in force taking no prisoners. The taxi dropped us off in an unwelcoming industrial estate on the edge of Barcelona, Fira Gran via L’Hospitalet – to be exact; we entered the VIP section with minimum security checks (hoorah!). For me, one of the most incredible moments was taking the backstage AreaPro Connecting walkway allowing you to take an aerial view to every single aspect of the festival- it’s truly breath taking and you begin to appreciate the sheer scale of the festival.


“Sonar Pub, Front Left, Front Left!”

“Sonar Pub”

“Front Left”

That became the team motto as we desperately text trying to keep our friends together. Which thankfully worked as I have some memory of watching Ben UFO and having got far too intoxicated it seems I had lost four hours; waking up to a friend handing me three bottles of water and the other washing my face to bring me around. Not to worry, back on it! As we reconvened in the queue of the Sonar Car Stage to watch some of Four Tet’s set we realised money was low on our wristbands and only once we were in we realised it wasn’t possible to top these up at the bar- we had to leave and find somewhere else. We didn’t want to wait in the queue again so we went without beer for a while- a reason I’m so against this new payment system festivals are adopting – please, stop it!

We saw the daylight in with my favourite producer John Talabot. The crowd was huge as everyone desperately tried to prolong the festival whilst avoiding dilated eye contact with one another. We sensibly left early to avoid the rush but we still waited over an hour to find an available taxi who then charged us double because he could, fair play I suppose.

Saturday, one of those days you wake up with no hangover and wonder what you did for god to love you so much. After crawling up to the boat deck to bathe in the mid-day sun we wearily said good morning to our boating neighbours who quite rightly ignored us – understandable after our boat party the previous evening. McDonalds took centre spot in the harbour and you could feel the glare of the other restaurant owners as we rolled in requesting at least four hash browns with our dry sausage and egg McMuffins, perfection. Proceeding to the beach we took cover in a beach bar whilst what can only be described as a two hour monsoon took place. With only towels as protection we had our Cava order on repeat whilst we shared stories from the previous night. The day was getting away from us and we were keen to freshen up to catch the end of ‘Ed Banger – Busy P, Para One & Boston Bun’. Arriving at Sonar by Day with weak legs we took a pit stop beer with our new friend Alfredo to replenish our ammo whilst awkwardly getting photographed by press mid-deal for our remarkable festival outfits.

Before heading to Sonar by Night I managed to pull myself away from the team to participate in something cultural. The festival offers a huge insight into the future of electronic music through exhibitions, workshops and tutorials. I briefly sat in a talk courtesy of CERN & ALMA about the connection between art and science. Fernando Cucchietti

(head of the Scientific Visualization Group of the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre) explained the importance of having a relationship between a scientist and artist to work on issues like imagination and creativity, often as elusive as the most undetectable particles. For me what was impressive was a project that saw radio wave signals processed from a particle collider made available to a series of artists so they could create sound pieces based on them.

Looking at the time I was conscious I didn’t want to miss any of New Order so I sneaked off to avoid the taxi rush. Again, paying more than double the average cab fare just to get between venues I arrived with 20 minutes to spare securing our usual spot of “Front Left!”. An almighty roar as they arrived on stage they got stuck into playing

‘Ceremony’ with accompanying electrifying backing lights. For a dance festival where you get used to sticking in your own group and dancing in your own personal space you really got a sense that this set was different. New Order brought everyone together. Strangers were dancing with one another, sharing drinks and hugs. Screaming for an encore the stage turned blue and of course it was what everyone at the festival had been waiting for- ‘Blue Monday’. Phones were out snapping videos (largely annoying) but overall it set the night up- everyone was on top of the world.

Before heading to DJ EZ we took a diversion to the dodgems! Getting fourteen of us into one race was challenging and genuinely dangerous. Mixing drink, drugs and dodgems would be for sure a down right health and safety ‘NO’ in the UK making it that little bit more appealing for us to join in. No limbs missing we ran over to ‘DJ EZ’ which is where I really appreciated the impeccable quality of the sound system set ups. The night was a blur and the team were dropping like flies. Powering through I made it to the front for ‘Bicep’ – quickly moving towards the back because the speakers were so powerful my body vibrations were sure to start giving me a heart attack. Bicep’s visuals were by far some of the best which is something I really enjoy; when the artist has taken time to tie their aesthetics in with their sound- it was harmonious, it was fun.

Feeling physically exhausted but mentally empowered I thought it was sensible to slip off without saying goodbyes to avoid the rush. I also didn’t want the experience of seeing daylight in a state again and instead wanted to remember my last night on a high.

Sunday. Thanking myself for having booked extra night’s stay to avoid sitting in those Monday morning office meetings with gurning mouths and vibrating limbs, we headed for one last gathering in the gothic quarter. Instead of meeting at an old school Spanish restaurant to try and fit in some authenticity we of course did the opposite and met in a burger place. We re-told our stories, gave each other reassuring ‘it’s going to be okay hugs’ and we most definitely ate enough for the 3 days we’d lost. There were talks about heading to secret Sundays, but no, we’d achieved enough, Sonar – see you next time.


Words: LXN Collective