Phew, that was a hard one to recover from. But we expect no less from a festival that’s had us dancing for thirty years. Yes, that’s right, Sónar Barcelona has just turned 30. So first of all, happy birthday! And congratulations to the team for making it possible. Last week, the advanced music and technology festival celebrated three days of joy and community with the likes of Aphex Twin, Honey Dijon, Richie Hawtin, Amelie Lens, The Blessed Madonna, Bradley Zero, Ryoji Ikeda, Max Cooper, and many more. An exceptional line-up for an exceptional celebration.
We not only come to Sónar to see our favourite artists, we're here to see what they can bring to the festival, which is to say, will they just play their songs or will they put on a show? Kicking off with Kyne, a promising young singer, it was clear from the get-go that it was the latter: artists were ready to put on a show. Kyne climbed up a pole dance and presented Sad & Horny, her newest album, including songs like Anonadado and Daughter Issues.
We were also excited to see Barcelona-based rapper LaBlackie and singers Kitty 110 and L'Beel. It's no easy feat for three different artists to put on a concert, but with the help of Illegally Fantasy as DJ/MC and surprise guests like Safu and Angelica MRTZ – who also appear on the track Mis niñas – we can safely say that they brought on the heat at 4 pm on a Thursday. 
It was three powerful women on stage as well at B2BBS, a girlband composed of Acidheaven, Buganvilia, and Niki Lauda, who brought the club to SonarPark pretty early, with banging music raging from breakbeat to drum and bass. And then, sticky like honey. Manuka Honey's DJ set was delectable, mixing latinx club music like cumbia, dembow and reggaeton with other sounds coming from dancehall, the United Kingdom-based DJ gave us a taste of what her EP, Industrial Princess, is all about.
Meanwhile, Marina Herlop was on a totally different plane – musically and spiritually. Despite having classical training she is known for her experimental approach to music-making. The multi-hyphenate artist created a magical escape during her performance, a place where the pleasurable sound of chirping birds melts with distorted instruments, voices, and sampled sounds. She’s an artist on the rise following in the steps of Holly Herndon and Björk, so make sure to keep an eye on her.
Daniel Lopatin aka Oneohtrix Point Never brought Rebuilds, his new live show in collaboration with long-time visual collaborator Nate Boyce, to Sónar. There was a lot of expectation in the room, and the act was visually stunning. However, the music felt a bit underwhelming, leaving part of us craving for more. Thankfully, Bradley Zero and Moxie were there to lift us up with an incredibly joyful set, which spiced things up with a great selection of house music at SonarVillage.
Back to an intimate concert, we couldn’t miss Erika de Casier’s performance. The Danish artist brought us to tears with her soothing, soulful voice, which was perfectly paired with visuals of calming waters. And we were lifted up again with Black Coffee’s closing DJ set, a balanced mix of Afrohouse and melodic techno which proved, once again, why he’s one of the most respected DJs right now.
6487 Sonar Village Kitty110 Lablackiel Lebeel Roncca 20230615.jpg
LaBlackie, Kitty 110 and L'Beel
0037 Sonar Hall Marina Herlop Nerea Coll 20230615.jpg
Marina Herlop
0085 Sonar Village Black Coffee Nerea Coll 20230615.jpg
Black Coffee
On Friday, we started early with Ralphie Choo’s unclassifiable performance. The genre-defying artist, who’s been making waves as of late with hits like Bulerías de un caballo trucado or his A Colors Show presentation of Tangos de una moto trucada brought different instruments on stage which he experimented with while also singing his songs. An unusual yet exciting performance, we’ll see what the future has in store for him.

Right before 5 pm we got to see Mercabae's first live performance, 2048, premiering exclusively at Sónar. It was a show of lights and visuals unlike anything he had done before, however, it might have been a bit too much for such an early set. The blood-red flashing lights and hardcore sounds were engaging and dynamic, but there was a mismatch between the set itself and the mood coming from the crowd. There was an overlap between sets but we also saw Ahadadream at SonarVillage. The London-based DJ, known for his bootleg mix of Rosalía's Di mi nombre and for his incense which sits right next to his mixtable, didn't disappoint.
We interviewed the upcoming Parisian alternative popstar Crystal Murray a year ago, and we already knew that she was going places. This time around at Sónar, dressed in a metal-chained collar/top, speakerphone in hand, she gave it her all in an enthralling concert where she even debuted songs from her upcoming album. DJ MikeQ followed the singer with a DJ set that mixed Madonna's Vogue with Kia's My Neck, My Back, need we say more? In addition to a handful of Beyonce’s Renaissance hits. He lifted our spirits as we danced the day away.
What can we say about The Blessed Madonna that hasn't been said before? We were used to seeing her at Sónar by Night, which is why when we heard that she was playing at SonarVillage we were taken by surprise, but in the end this was for the best. She played right as the sun was setting and not only did we get to enjoy her mixing of house, disco and techno, but we got to see some familiar faces on stage dancing right next to her and even on top of her table. From RuPaul's Drag Race France host Kiddy Smile – who gave us a legendary DJ set last year at the festival – to Spanish ballroom fixtures like Jayce and other fellow Barcelona-based dancers and personalities like Miss Diabla, Monroe, Antiki, and Kitana GG.
And there was no better way to open Sónar by Night than with the DJ set from Venezuelan, Barcelona-based DJ Cardopusher, also known as Safetytrance. He gave us his usual mix of raptor house, reggaeton and even some dark techno but he even added in some songs like Rihanna's banger Bitch Better Have My Money, with visuals from Unax LaFuente.
And then, one of the most-awaited performances of the entire festival: Aphex Twin. The elusive artist is one of the most praised figures in avant-garde and electronic music due to his explosive proposal on stage. To celebrate Sónar’s 30th birthday, he came prepared with deafening music, massive laser beams that transformed SonarClub entirely, and hypnotising visuals (of distorting pyramids, faces, abstract digital illustrations, and more). After an hour and a half of random sounds that went from rhythmic series to pure noise, some thought it wasn’t hardcore enough while others couldn’t take it. For us, it was on top of the performances that night.
From the ultra stimulating act of Aphex Twin we then moved to the opposite side of the spectrum: the more intimate, quirky, even sinister performance of Fever Ray. The Swedish artist appeared on a stage lit by a street lamp and accompanied by her ensemble, each of them looking better than the other (the keyboard player wearing cloud-shaped headwear was a total win!). With the tantalising darkness emanating from her, Fever Ray conquered the audience with her modulating voice and beautiful presentation.
METAL Magazine's 47th issue's cover girl Shygirl gave us everything and more at her SonarLab concert. Even though the volume was a bit of an issue – the sound itself was quite loud but we couldn't distinguish her voice let alone hear her lyrics clearly – she gave it her all in a short but dynamic and powerful set. The highlight – apart from Arca's appearance in the audience while Shygirl was singing to Come for Me and the DJ and producer screamed ‘I composed this song!’ – was the finale, as Erika de Casier got on stage with her to sing Crush as confetti that looked like glitter was thrown all over us.
The Black excellence continued with the next two gigs. First, Cakes da Killa, who’s been infusing hip-hop with a high dose of queerness and sassiness for over a decade. He’s currently on his Sex Drive Tour, and that’s what he brought: explicit lyrics about his experience as a gay Black man accompanied by high-energy dance moves and choreography. Explosive! He was followed by non other than Honey Dijon. The praised DJ, who’s no stranger to the festival, kicked off her set with some of the songs she produced for Beyonce’s Renaissance like Cozy and Alien Superstar, and then moved on to her great selection of house and dance classics.
DJ extraordinaire Peggy Gou played at the same time as Honey and at opposite ends of the festival. It was quite the ordeal to either choose one of the two and forgoing the other one's set, as well as splitting your time between both stages. After seeing Honey, we first went to Peggy Gou to admire her show of lights, perfect for SonarClub, and her extremely danceable set that got us off our feet – that included, of course, her just-released song (It goes like) Nanana –, even after standing and dancing for so many hours. She proved to us right there and then that she's unlike no other. The best way to close Friday night.
0006 Sonar Village Crysrtal Murray Schlaepfer Fernando 20230615.jpg
Crystal Murray
0012 Sonar Club Aphex Twin Schlaepfer Fernando 20230615.jpg
Aphex Twin
0108 Sonar Village the Blessed Madonna Nerea Coll 20230616.jpg
The Blessed Madonna
0165  Sonar Club Peggy Gou Nerea Coll 20230616.jpg
Peggy Gou
8597 Sonar Pub Fever Ray Martini Ariel 20230616.jpg
Fever Ray
Despite our aching body after two days of festival, we made it in time to see Toccororo on Saturday afternoon. She’s living an incredible sweet moment, touring the world and playing for some of the most renowned festivals and clubs. Accompanied by her friends and dancers Miguel Sestelo and Raze, who vogued the house down the entire time, Toccororo lifted us up with a banging DJ set of hardcore and techno music. The best way to start the day.
Flaca's flow is unmatched, which is quite a shame that this will be her last Sónar DJ set as she's leaving the music industry by the end of the year. Everything about her set drove us wild – in a good way. Everything from the visuals, featuring a police motorcycle up in flames, the music (she mixed the ever so sampled but classic Tokyo Drift (Fast & Furious) by Teriyaki Boyz with Sean Paul's iconic Temperature, she included Pharaohe Monch's Simon Says, Black Eyed Peas' Pump It, El Alfa x El Cherry Scom's La mamá de la mamá with Bad Gyal, Kendrick Lamar and Shakira's songs), and her infectious energy. Farewell, Flaca, your legendary DJ sets will be dearly missed.
At SonarVillage, 2manydjs invited Peach (known for two hit Boiler Room videos) and Tiga for a highly entertaining set. The five of them filled the seemingly crowded stage with their presence and looked like little kids who were playing around and having so much fun on the biggest stage at Sónar by Day.
We couldn’t stay longer because we had to rush to Sónar by Night. The reason? The incomparable Eric Prydz brought the monumental Holo show to Barcelona. With massive screens taking over the SonarClub stage, the Swedish artist projected impressive space-inspired holograms over the audience, from galaxies to astronauts, to spaceships. The stage was packed, everybody phone in hand recording one of the most eye-pleasing, spectacular shows of the entire festival. It was worth the hype, the wait, and the heat.
The energy stayed high at Samantha Hudson’s concert. The Spanish artist, beloved by Gen Z, was presenting AOVE, her new 4-track EP thought for a club experience. Funny, chatty and flirty, Samantha has an undeniable presence on stage. She’s also been working on her vocals and choreo, and we could feel it: her gig was short but intense, and the audience was devoted to her. Bad Gyal also has a devoted fanbase that can’t stop screaming when she shakes her ass on stage (that means, every five minutes). Her concerts are very enjoyable as every song of hers is a hit, from Blin Blin to Hookah, to Fiebre and Chulo. Smoke machines, fireworks, backup dancers and her fashionable Y2K style – sparkly top, mask sunglasses, long-ass wig – completed her show like no other.
From one urban Spanish queen to another, we had to see La Zowi. The trap singer was presenting live La reina del sur, her newest album, for the first time. And she didn’t disappoint. Even though the auto-tune was too much and we barely listened to her real voice, La Zowi has an undeniable stage presence, which paired with the novelty of the songs made the concert highly entertaining.
We changed the mood radically when we left for the b2b of the night: Tiga and Cora Novoa. The duo, who met that night, was a perfect pairing that played an uplifting yet dark mix of techno and acid. Cora kicked off the set with a surprise for Tiga: a new, unreleased remix of the Canadian’s famous Mind Dimension 2, which made him smile quite a lot. From then on, it was a descent into the darkest night through industrial and hardcore sounds. The mood stayed dark with one of the most veteran artists on the line-up: Richie Hawtin. He’s played more Sónars than we can count, but it’s always a pleasure to see a master at work. As usual, his innovative approach to music was a delight, and he played a very danceable set that also incorporated acid, techno, and house. And the icing on the cake, the way to end the 30th birthday of Sónar, was Angel Molina. The Spanish DJ is also known for his hardcore sounds, which he’s brought to the festival since its inception – he played the first edition almost by chance.
Exhausted, overwhelmed, but incredibly happy and joyous, we left the festival longing for next year already. Sónar Barcelona has positioned itself as one of the most renowned, respected and beloved festivals in Europe and the world, becoming a referent for others when it comes to line-up, organisation, approach, and identity. It’s been thirty years dancing to top-class DJs, seeing big stars shine bright on stage, always with an unexpected twist that make the event so unique. Now that we’ve recovered from it, we can’t wait for next year’s edition to see the festival’s direction and quest for innovation and creativity. The hopes are high, but Sónar never disappoints. See you next June!
0182 Sonar Village Toccororo Nerea Coll 20230616.jpg
0001 Flaca Leafhopper 20230617 1.jpg
9619 Sonar Village 2 Many D JS Martini Ariel 20230617.jpg
2manydjs & Peach
0012 Sonar Car Samantha Hudson Orozco Clara 20220617.jpg
Samantha Hudson
01 Sonar Club Tiga Cora Novoa Leafhopper 20230616 5.jpg
Tiga & Cora Novoa
0015 Sonar Pub Bad Gyal Schlaepfer Fernando .jpg
Bad Gyal
0637 Sonar Club Richie Hawtin Martini Ariel 20230618.jpg
Richie Hawtin
0210 Sonar Club Eric Prydz Nerea Coll 20230616.jpg
Eric Prydz
4101 Sonar Pub Angel Molina Roncca 20230618.jpg
Angel Molina