March 20 - March 27
If you're one of the several thousand heading to Mannheim for the titanic Time Warp gathering on Saturday 27th, you may wish to consider travelling towards Southern Germany a little earlier than intended. Acting as a subtler, more studious sister event to its boisterous bigger brother, Jetztmusik-Festival is a week-long series of events taking place across Mannheim in the run-up to Time Warp, with an expressed aim of highlighting the interfaces between music and art, film, literature and dance. Although all manner of readings, exhibitions and explorations are set to feature across the seven days, of particular interest are Henrik Schwarz, Âme and Dixon who will line-up as A Critical Mass to redub the 1920-released silent movie Das Cabinett des Dr. Caligari, and Dominik Eulberg who will further examine his fascination with the natural world via his audio/visual project Vom Big Bang zu Bambi.
RA pick: Dominik Eulberg's green fingered multimedia show.
March 12 - March 21
Austin, United States
Guitars? Yes, guitars. Film? Yeah, that too. And there's an interactive portion of the event also. So what exactly does SXSW have to with electronic music? Well, aside from a showcase on the Saturday night with Kaskade, The Crystal Method and LA Riots, not a great deal. But that's kinda the point. The festival which began humbly back in 1987 has now grown into perhaps the single most important showcase event for new indie talent, with around 1,800 bands playing across 70 venues in 2010. Despite the emphasis on breakthrough acts, there will be a fair portion of established names taking to the stage: We Are Scientists, Antipop Consortium and Cyprus Hill's B-Real will all make the journey to Austin.
RA pick: The xx will likely be responsible for roadblock. Albeit a melancholic one.
08. Jazz Not Dead
January 26 - March 30
The premise of Vicenza, Italy's Jazz Not Dead festival 2010 is a fairly simple one to grasp: Ten consecutive parties on a Tuesday at the city's Bar Sartea venue within the loose musical bracket of "raw house." The wheels of their sixth edition have in fact already been set in motion (the initial show on January 26th welcomed festival favourite Daniele Baldelli to cut the ribbon) and will roll all across the month of February with sets from, among others, Levon Vincent and Quarion. Local selector Ralf DJ helms the first of five March dates, which will also see Tama Sumo & Prosumer, Dor and Scott Ferguson spin, before Balihu boss Daniel Wang steps up on the 30th to bring the curtain down in his own fabulous fashion.
RA pick: Ferrispark proprietor Scott Ferguson digging deep.
07. Ultra Music Festival
March 26 - March 27
Miami, United States
Day 1 | Day 2
Tiësto, Deadmau5, Carl Cox, The Swedish House Mafia and 85,000 people: Everything about Miami's Ultra Music Festival screams "big." Acting as the official swan song to Miami's annual Winter Music Conference, Ultra rounds off a week of pool parties, schmoozing and general debauchery by inviting some of the planet's most recognizable dance acts to the city's Bicentennial Park. The second phase of the line-up announcements have yet to be announced at the time of this writing, but if last year is anything to go by, Carl Cox's & Friends Stage will likely put forth the most enticing options. What we can tell you at this point is that Felix Da Housecat and Green Velvet are slated to play the Friday, and a particularly bass-heavy UK contingent consisting of Rusko, Benga, Skream and Caspa are shaping up for service on the Saturday.
RA pick: Major Lazer's brand of bleeps and bass seems like a good for this one.
06. Future Music Festival
February 27 - March 8
Brisbane | Perth | Sydney | Melbourne | Adelaide
Sounds of the future? Maybe not so much; but with this volume of marquee names and tried-n-tested crowd pleasers, it hardly seems to matter. Now in its fourth year, the Future Entertainment crew have opted to pare down their Future Music Festival programming to the essentials. David Guetta and Erick Morillo reprise their spots from the inaugural event in 2007, as does Sven Väth from 2008's line-up. Franz Ferdinand and Does It Offend You, Yeah are the lone axe-wielders amongst ol' faithfuls The Prodigy, John Digweed, Get Physical's Booka Shade and electro house champion Boys Noize. Kicking off in Brisvegas, the traveling festival caravan will circle the wide brown land for five dates that wrap up in Melbourne.
RA pick: Empire Of The Sun. The local lads' intriguing take on synthpop defined new Australian music in 2009.
05. 5 Days Off
March 3 - March 7
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5
Originally conceived as an off-shoot of Belgium's 10 Days Off, Amsterdam's 5 Days Off acts more as a springtime counterpart to the city's autumn staple ADE with room afforded for more niche programming over a number of days and venues. Focusing on the one-two punch of favoured spaces Melkweg and Paradiso, there's something for everyone: Detroit-influenced tech and house (Redshape, Keith Worthy, Patrice Scott) indie dance (Hot Chip, Bloody Beetroots), dubstep (longstanding local night Oi! with Rusko and Joker), electro (Vitalic, Fake Blood), future beats (Flying Lotus, Bibio, Floating Points), plus the DJ elite (Paul Kalkbrenner, Pantha Du Prince, Dixon) and surprise acts (hip-hopper DOOM, on his first European tour).
RA pick: Floating Points. He's been floating our boat (ahem) with his sweet electro-soul.
04. Resonance Ghent
March 5 - March 6
Day 1 | Day 2
Although not quite on the same scale as its summertime peer 10 Days Off, Resonance Ghent provides the Belgian city's electronic music community with a more manageable springtime equivalent on the canvas of a single March weekend. The action will centre on Ghent's popular Vooruit venue, with a palpable emphasis placed on quality over quantity. Details of every event have yet to be unveiled, but for the time being count on nsi. and Snd easing attendees in on Friday evening, before Scuba and his Sub:stance bash take over for the nighttime session with Untold, Scuba, 2562, Slugabed and Paul Spymania supporting. Saturday meanwhile flattens the time signature to four-four as micro house craftsman Bruno Pronsato and Berghain boy Marcel Fengler both spin.
RA pick: nsi. narrating the sit down portion of the festival.
03. Time Warp
Sixteen years to the good and Time Warp's place in the hearts of European festival goers shows absolutely no signs of receding. Cast an eye back over the event's history, and you begin to realize exactly why: Time Warp is the festival equivalent of a safe bet. You always know for example, that one—if not all—of Sven Väth, Ricardo Villalobos, Richie Hawtin and Laurent Garnier will account for the bill's upper echelons. And it's also pretty safe to assume that the supporting cast will be no slouches either. So in addition to the four aforementioned titans, visitors to Mainmarkthalle's cavernous confines can look forward to 2010 appearances from Dubfire, Ellen Allien, Dixon, Loco Dice, Magda and Reboot with further announcements scheduled for the coming weeks. Predictable never sounded so good.
RA pick: Marco Carola—the Italian jock did a fine job at blending last year's Time Warp compilation.
March 12 - March 14
West + Wales, United Kingdom
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
Although it may be only entering its fourth year, Bloc has already positioned itself as one of the premier indoor festivals for electronic music in the entire United Kingdom. While early headliners such as Salt-N-Pepa and Ms Dynamite may have worried the hardcore Bloc regulars, there's still plenty of techno (Surgeon, Derrick May, Planetary Assault Systems), dubstep (Joker, Kode9, Peverelist) and drum & bass (D-Bridge, Instra:mental) lined up to satisfy the most hardened dance music aficionados, while UK funky and grime get a look in for the first time courtesy of Roska, Marcus Nasty, Wiley and the Boy Better Know crew. Couple the diverse and impeccably selected line-up with the chalets, indoor water park and other amenities that the Butlins complex has to offer, and you've got yourself quite the adult playground; one that should see its fair share of debauched action come mid-March.
RA pick: He doesn't come to the UK often, so attendees up for a bit of rolling junglist techno should make the most of Torsten Pröfrock's live set as T++.
01. Winter Music Conference
March 23 - March 28
Could it be anything else? Over the past 25 years, Miami's Winter Music Conference has grown to become one of the most important dates on the dance music calendar. Labels plan releases around it, artists hope to be asked to play there and punters are happy to finally have a chance to dance outside again. Whether you're interested in massive names like Deadmau5, Tiësto or Danny Tenaglia or prefer up-and-coming labels and promoters, there'll be plenty to keep you occupied throughout the course of the week. Your best bet, though, is to simply float from event to event. WMC is less about doing business these days, and more about the experience of hanging out with friends and searching for the next great party. Wherever that may be.
RA pick: There's something for just about everyone in Miami. Stay in touch with the latest developments at RA's guide to WMC.