|Top 10 October 2011 Festivals
Come in from the cold as RA's monthly top ten festivals feature shifts the focus (mostly) indoors.
Although only two of our ten reside south of the equator, the Southern Hemisphere most certainly has bragging rights this month—the warmer weather is all still to come. We touch down on four continents in pursuit of October's foremost festival experience.
10. Lake of Stars
September 30 - October 2
Over 3,000 people are set to descend on the shores of Lake Malawi to take in over 70 acts, including theatre, spoken word and dance (as well as music of course) for Lake of Stars' eighth consecutive year. This year's festival, headlined by Foals and South African group Freshlyground, is perhaps the most diverse to date. Festival founder Will Jameson was previously involved in Chibuku Shake Shake in Liverpool, and although dance music is dear to Lake of Stars' heart, their musical scope is broad—from kwaito to indie and reggae to dubstep—and celebrates a fusion of talent from across Africa, in particular from Malawi itself, together with a variety of international artists.
RA pick: Malawi's DJ Sonye, one of the country's most prominent all-rounders.
09. Treasure Island Festival
October 15 - October 16
San Francisco, US
Day 1 | Day 2
Treasure Island, the "artificial lily pad" that sits at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, hosts its fifth annual festival this October. For those who are too impatient for the weekender, a preview concert by Jens Lenkman on the mainland in September should satisfy indie appetites. The standalone gig will set the tone for the festival's overall sound aesthetic, with further dreamy pop ditties coming from drawcard acts Beach House, Steven Malkmus, Warpaint and Explosions In The Sky. As with previous years, Treasure Island's electronic acts will be frontloaded into the first day of programming, which will see Aussie freak pop act Empire Of The Sun joined by their countrymen Cut Copy, Chromeo and YACHT mining retro sounds, and Aloe Blacc and Dizzee Rascal examining hip-hop from opposite sides of the Atlantic. The presence of Friendly Fires, Flying Lotus and Battles should provide a seamless segue between the more introspective guitar-driven sets and the hands-in-the-air moments.
RA pick: Buraka Som Sistema's progressive kuduro ought to shake things up a bit.
08. Iceland Airwaves
October 12 - October 16
Iceland Airwaves ordinarily skews indie in its focus, but these days indie looks as much to electronic music as anywhere else for inspiration. That's why acts like Active Child, Beach House, Glasser and K-X-P feel like part of the RA world. Closer to home, GusGus and SBTRKT will take to the stage with pop nous and full live shows throughout the five day festival, while Dustin O'Halloran and Johann Johannsson will offer the sort of hushed classical-tinged performances that elicit goosebumps. Did we mention this is all in Iceland, one of the most picturesque countries in the entire world? Reykjavik is a mighty small town, so it's hard not to see a little bit of the countryside while you're there—even if you don't leave the many bars and small venues that host so much of the festival's goings-on.
RA pick: Hit the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa, on your way to the airport before you leave Iceland.
September 23 - October 3
Various Cities, Australia
Melbourne | Perth | Brisbane | Sydney | Adelaide
The biggest is back: Parklife makes its annual return to the Australian festival calendar. The outline is the same as in recent years: Take enormous names, mash 'em together and see what happens in all of Oz's major cities. Things kick off in Melbourne, end up in Adelaide and hit everything in between. This time around, those names include a bit more dubstep than usual: Magnetic Man, Joker and Katy B will all hit the stage. Electro, however, makes a strong showing as well: Australian regulars Digitalism, SebastiAn and MSTRKRFT are high on the bill. For those who favor melody over bass, Tensnake and Little Dragon have your number. As always, it's brought to you by veteran promoters, Fuzzy.
RA pick: Simian Mobile Disco can go techno, electro and even further afield.
06. Time Warp Milan
Can you envisage a Time Warp party taking place here? It's not hard to, is it? The crew behind the long-serving Mannheim event will have 345,000 m2 of the Fiera Milano exhibition hall to play around with as they set up for their first event on Italian soil. That the country has been selected (following in the footsteps of Time Warp parties in Holland, Austria and the Czech Republic in recent years) also makes perfect sense. DJs like Sven Vath, Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice and Magda (who all appear) play some of their biggest shows in the country, while events such as Movement Torino have engendered a successful blueprint for large-scale arena events upon the scene. As with its parent party, Time Warp Milan goes down across a single night. Carl Cox, Chris Liebing and Ellen Allien will also make appearances, ensuring that everything about Time Warp's Italian debut will be in keeping with its foremost principle of bigger = better.
RA pick: Carl Cox: If reports from Ibiza are to be heeded, he's owning the island this year.
October 05 - October 09
Pittsburgh , US
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5
The city-wide, weekend-long collaboration of audio and visual arts known as VIA returns to Pittsburgh for its second year. Along with events at traditional venues, two days of the festival will take place at a collection of pop-up spaces covering a city block in the up-and-coming East Liberty neighborhood. Leading a diverse lineup is the UK's Four Tet, along with live bands Trans Am, Battles (who will play an audio-visual set) and Mike Banks' Interstellar Fugitives, from Underground Resistance. Toy Selectah, FaltyDL, Walls and Dam-Funk (a veteran of last year's VIA) also feature on the bill, along with Tim Sweeney and Rvng Intl. artists Pink Skull and Blondes.
RA pick: The combined sounds of Sutekh, Donato Dozzy and Nuel should make for a proper ambient techno journey to end the weekend.
October 20 - October 26
Although it's not widely regarded as an epicenter of the scene, the Austrian city of Graz (and specifically its club-inside-a-hill, Dom im Berg) does more than its fair share to prove that electronic music can stimulate both the left and right side of the brain. May's Spring Festival draws electronica and future-oriented art ever closer each year, while Elevate moves the danceable stuff outwards, towards progressive social and political discourse. As with every year an overriding theme is in place, and this year's programme of panel discussions, film presentations and workshops will be dedicated to hashing out the somewhat cryptic concept "Elevate the 21st Century." For the earholes, only the first round of names have been announced thus far, but they include youngbloods Kyle Hall, Hype Williams, Space Dimension Controller and Pearson Sound, and veterans like Morphosis, Mark E and DMZ's Loefah.
RA pick: Planningtorock's performance art.
03. Movement Torino
In the six years since its inception the Turin leg of Detroit's annual Movement festival has established itself as one of Europe's premier "mega-raves." If this term seems a little reductive then it's important to remember the context in which this event is staged—anyone who's visited the city's Pala Olimpico Isozaki will attest that the word "mega" could not be more apt. Movement Torino will again take over the colossal venue for a single night this year, with a series of pre-parties getting locals and out-of-towners alike suitably warmed up for the finale. Of the events announced so far, Space Dimension Controller and Kyle Hall play Thursday's club-based opening party, while Circo Loco host Stacey Pullen, DJ W!ld, Tania Vulcano and Davide Squilace on the Saturday. Come Monday (the next day is a public holiday in Italy) the thousands hitting the Pala Olimpico can anticipate sets from Carl Craig as 69, Green Velvet, Laurent Garnier's L.B.S., Visionquest, Derrick May, Damian Lazarus, John Digweed, Steffi and Cassy. Turin is a surprisingly elegant city (given its place at the heart of Italy's automotive industry) so if you're down with these types of large-scale events, Movement should be high on your to-do list.
RA pick: The more wide-screen end of Digweed's range could go down nicely here.
October 09 - October 16
Krakow seems like an unlikely flashpoint, but since 2003 Unsound Poland has been among the most creative and tightly curated events in the world of electronic music. Even when you get artists you know—Ben Frost, for instance—you get performances you don't. Last year, Frost debuted a piece with Krakow's 28-piece Sinfonietta Cracovia. 2011 is no different, with Ricardo Villalobos leaving the decks behind for a live collaboration with Max Louderbauer and Christian Wallumrod that interprets their recent ECM release. Morton Subotnick, meanwhile, will be in attendance and performing his late '60s composition for Buchla, "Silver Apples of the Moon." Per usual, there's also club-related acts to sink your teeth into as well: Kassem Mosse, KiNK, Morphosis and Joy Orbison are just a few of the names that have been announced thus far.
RA pick: The slow-burning acid of Tin Man.
01. Amsterdam Dance Event
October 19 - October 23
There's a fundamental problem with electronic music conferences: when so many amazing parties are happening, who wants to wake up early for a panel? Somehow Amsterdam Dance Event beats the odds. Even with its glut of nightly goings on, most delegates still lurch back to Felix Meritus each day, functional if not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. This year the program is more distracting than ever, with 52 of the city's venues hosting performances from Plastikman, Carl Craig as 69 and roughly 700 others, with showcases from Innervisions, Kompakt, CLR, Fachwerk, Ostgut Ton and more. And though the weather might not be as perfect as in Miami for WMC or Barcelona during Sonar, Amsterdam's canals and cobblestone streets make an unbeatable backdrop to the weekend.
RA pick: Our tenth anniversary celebrations finish with bang at the final edition of RA X, taking place at Trouw on the Saturday.
Published / Friday, 02 September 2011
Photo credits / Header - Elevate Festival
Lake Of Stars - Steve McInerny
Treasure Island Festival - Paige K. Parsons
Iceland Airwaves - Ãrni Torfason
Timewarp - Simone Rogora
Via - James R Southard
Elevate - Elevate Festival
Unsound - Anna Spysz
Amsterdam Dance Event - Mike Breeuwer