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Barcelona’s Sonar Festival came last Saturday to the Shrine in downtown LA and put on by far one of the most unique events I’ve ever been to. While many EDM festivals go for mainstream headliners, Sonar’s selection was actually very avant-garde and eclectic. The type of crowd they brought out was very different from the LA norm; instead of neon RAGE hats and half naked girls, nearly everyone dressed warmly in black or grey attire. Further adding to the overall left-field theme of the show were the intermission videos that displayed a trio of “little people” hiking through the snow and exploring an abandoned factory.
Right when we got there, Paul Kalkbrenner was already warming up the dimly lit room with a superb selection of German techno. As he carefully built up the energy in his set, a dazzling array of lights and blinding strobes pulsed to the beat of his tracks. While most of his set leaned towards the dark side, he did surprise me with a few more melodic tunes as well.
South Africa’s Die Antwoord took over afterward and I was totally not prepared for what I was about to see. Fully dressed in fluorescent clothing, the Zef cultured duo of Ninja (pictured above) and Yo Yo Landi stormed the stage their own brand of aggressive EDM and hip hop fusion while the VJ showed shocking images on the screen including deformed people, enlarged male genitalia, and vampires eating flesh off human bones.
The retro-inspired band Azari & III (pictured above) came on next and made another 180 in terms of sound. Their style was a variation of that old school, Chicago house style; two of the members were passionate, R&B-esque singers wowed the crowd with their voices. Closing out the night was LessThan3 favorite Seth Troxler (pictured below), who spun a rather experimental form of deep house that leveraged glitched voice samples and crooked beats.