And just like that, another edition of Sónar Barcelona goes by. On Thursday, when you’re just starting, it’s hard to envision the finish line, especially when you check the app and realise you have to watch three different concerts at the same time. Only if we could get that magical thing Hermione was gifted to attend so many classes… But then, in the bat of an eye, it’s Sunday and you’re laying on the sofa unable to move after the three-day marathon, just wanting to do it all over again. This year, the line-up wasn’t packed with big names (there still were great headliners like Charlotte de Witte, Paul Kalkbrenner, Sevdaliza, or Air), which allowed the audience to dig deep into artists that might otherwise go unnoticed.
On Thursday we wanted start slowly, and pablopablo was the perfect choice. The Spanish singer and guitarist moved the audience with an intimate, stripped-back concert at SonarHall, where he played songs like Sidekick (a collab with another Spanish darling, Guitarricadelafuente), recent hits like Mi culpa, or classics like Azul zafiro. Moving on to SónarVillage, the atmosphere was already lit with Olof Dreijer’s and Diva Cruz combined DJ and percussion set. It was joyous and celebratory, and the icing on the cake was the ending: Dreijer’s remix of Oral by Björk and Rosalía. 
That day was full of contrasts. We went back to the more intimate arena with Judeline’s concert. The rising Spanish star has collaborated in the latest Tainy album, and before that, she was making waves with songs like Zahara, Canijo, or as of recently, a cover of Shakira’s and Alejandro Sanz’s La tortura. And she proved why she’s one to keep an eye on. Then it was the turn by Sevdaliza. The former METAL cover star is living a sweet, sweet moment with her viral hit Ride or Die pt. 2 featuring Villano Antillano and Tokischa. During the concert, she talked a lot to the audience, saying things like “If I scared you, sorry, that’s my vibe” or highlighting the importance of getting where she is now being a completely independent artist. She also gave us a taste of an upcoming song, so stay tuned.
From then on, the rest of the day was pure adrenaline. With ¥ØU$UK€ ¥UK1MAT$U, BPMs raised through the roof in a high-energy DJ set that felt more adequate for Sónar by Night. At the end, however, he got us confused by playing Ryuichi Sakamoto’s El mar Mediterrani, an almost twenty-minute-long song that the Japanese trailblazer composed for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. It was an incredibly beautiful and moving way of paying homage to the city as well as to the late Japanese artist, who had played countless times at Sónar. Well done.
From then on, we couldn’t leave the SonarVillage stage to enjoy the sunset and first hours of the night. First with Surusinghe, an Australian DJ whose set was highly inspired by her first-hand experience as a long-time raver. Then, yunè pinku presented a live show that ranged from UK garage to dubstep, while also including her singing. It doesn’t make sense when you read it, but it does when you hear it. And then, Folamour made us dance till midnight with a glorious set where he did what he does best: play incredible house and groovy tunes to vibe to.
Aïsha Devi
On Friday, we got there for Ela Minus. The day before, she took part in a talk at Sónar+D with Barcelona-based Querida Studio (who’ve worked with the likes of Rosalía) to discuss the fruitful relationship between music and the visual arts. In her concert, the Colombian artist presented a highly visual show with strobe lights and her ethereal voice as the main pillars. Hailing from Mexico, DJ Fucci brought the country’s rich musical tradition to SonarPark, and he did it through percussive club tracks mixed with traditional samples and rave-y basslines. Marie Davidson came after him, and she kept the energy high with a live show of her upcoming new album, where she explores and experiments with the infinite possibilities of electronic music and synths. Another live show that day was the one with Surgeon and Speedy J, titled Multiples. It was more atmospheric than Marie’s but maybe more visual, creating an enveloping space with the use of both light and sound.
And then, the main course: Laurent Garnier. The French DJ had to cancel last year’s set due to personal reasons, so for the 2024 edition, he was given a three-hour-long set. And he clearly loved it. His relationship with Sónar goes far back to the 1990s, when the festival was just being born and the artist was a youngster starting in the music industry. Now, thirty years later, with both (Sónar and Lauren) being considered legends for their tireless work to expand the limits of electronic music, Garnier shows to the audience why he’s still at the #1 spot. It was a journey through different genres, sounds, and rhythms, offering moments to dance furiously and then small breaks to catch our breath. 
At Complex+D, the stage where the most experimental performances take place, Kianí del Valle  Performance Group presented Cortex, an impressive immersive show with visuals by Hamill Industries and avant-garde club music by Tayhana. It was everything we would expect from the festival and all the artists involved: jaw-dropping, forward-thinking, and thrilling. To end on a high note, we went to dance to DJ Gigola’s set. The energy there was infectious, with people giving it their all before moving on to the night.
Laurent Garnier
Switching to night mode, French sensation Air, one of the main headliners of this year’s edition, played their 1998 hit album Moon Safari from top to bottom, with hits including Sexy Boy, La femme d’argent, and All I Need. Melancholy plays an incredible role in music, and the emotion was palpable especially among the people who listened to it in their youth. And for those of us who hadn’t, it was still a beautiful presentation and a way to enjoy a beautiful act. But we needed more heat, and Jessie Ware provided it. The METAL 48 cover star gave a fantastic performance with powerful vocals, high-end production, guided choreo classes (yes, everyone there was obediently following her orders of turn around, jump, clap, and so on), and a surprising way to end for her audience (the gays and girls, that is): a cover of Cher’s Believe. Just incredible.
Then, we mixed it up to have a well-rounded experience of what Sónar has to offer: from a six-hands b2b set with Eliza Rose, Dan Shake and Sally C that mixed 2000s nostalgia with today’s hottest tracks, to La Goony Chonga’s sweaty concert of reggeaton, to Kaytranada’s genre-bending set or Adriatique’s dreamy show, where the visuals transported us to other dimensions, or Gazzi and Dalila’s b2b set playing hits like Charli XCX’s Guess and Azealia Banks’ 212. For the closing, VTSS gave it all on the main stage, SonarClub, with an industrial techno set.
Jessie Ware
On Saturday, there was no better way to start than with horsegiirL. Even though she’s been criticised a lot on social media, the zoomorphic DJ knows how to read the room. She played her own tracks including Obsessed as well as hard-tech remixes of bangers like Lady Gaga’s Just Dance. And before starting, she gave out some funny flyers about the body parts of horses that everyone wanted to get their hands on. Her performance was full of humour, fast BPMs, and a devoted audience. Brilliant. Just as brilliant was Tommy Cash, our favourite Stonian artist. The METAL 47 cover star made a rather unusual entrance (like everything he does): he took one minute to play his home country’s hymn and posed solemnly in front of the audience. And as a side note, his DJ painted his face with the Catalan flag (called ‘la Senyera’). A very WTF moment that put a smile on many faces.
At SonarHall, Lee Gamble and performer Candela Capitán were presenting Models, the British producer’s latest album, which used AI to generate synthetic voices. While he was presenting it live to the festival’s audience, Candela and her troupe of performers did what they do best: unsettling movements that reflect on Internet culture, repetition, and the sexualization of the female body. At the same time, one of the most acclaimed French DJs of the 90s, Kittin, was playing together with David Funk.
The top highlight of the day was, undoubtedly, Gabber Eleganza. Their Hakke Show was one of the craziest, most impactful things we’ve seen in recent years. And the recipe is quite simple. To start with, add some quotes in big letters and vibrant colours on a big screen: “Hardcore will never die but you will,” “A way of life,” “No more nostalgia,” or “Sabotage memories.” Then, add four incredible hakke dancers who can keep up to the over-180-BPM tracks. To top it off, include the group’s mastermind, Alberto Guerrini, with his chaotic energy and charisma on stage to make things even more unbelievable. It was one of the most talked-about shows of the entire festival, and we just pray to see them every year after that. 
Also leaning on the spectacular side, Asiandopeboys’ six-hour-long performance had it all: people getting on stage to dance like a collective, artists throwing papaya and urine to the others watching, and an array of DJs turning the small Stage+D into an after hours. And then, Taahliah’s boundary-pushing concert/set made us realise she’s one to watch, so write down her name because you’ll be hearing from her sooner than later.
Tommy Cash
At Sónar by Night, we kicked things off with headliner Paul Kalkbrenner, who put on a brilliant show that set the tone for the rest of the evening, which was characterised by strong sets and performances by DJs like Anetha, Charlotte de Witte, River Moon, or Blexxx DJs Virgen Maria, Naive Supreme, and Hundred Tauro. In those, we experienced from voguing and queer culture at its peak to more hardcore basslines to dance in the darkest corners of the stage. Floating Points brought some light in with a more house-oriented set, and so did Kerri Chandler in his closing set, which proved the veteran DJ’s skills behind the deck. In-between those, we had a moment to watch Soto Asa’s concert, and he didn’t disappoint (it’s hard to do so when all your songs are hits, from Kiyaera to Smartphone to Si tu kiere).
Again, Sónar confirms itself as the place to be the second week of June every year. While some complained that there weren’t as many headliners as in previous years, for those of us who love to discover new talent or go to sets that get you into new sounds or scenes, it was the perfect opportunity to do so. The three-day marathon is a hard one to recover from, but regardless, we’re just hoping it’s June of 2025 to do it all over again.
Charlotte de Witte