|Top 10 May 2012 Festivals
RA counts down ten of the best festivals taking place around the globe this May.
This month in festival land sees the Ibiza season get underway, two North American heavyweights take place on consecutive weekends and a French favourite celebrate its tenth anniversary. In other words, there's plenty to get stuck into.
10. Villette Sonique
May 25 - May 30
Parc de la Villette
Founded in 2003, the annual event has spent the past nine years playing host to a mixture of indie, electronic and hip-hop acts, many of them with an experimental edge. Subsequently, it's one of the few festivals in France where you're able to see the likes of Nick Cave and Ariel Pink stack up against John Talabot and MF Doom. This time around, over 30 acts have been locked in for slots over six days at the Parc de la Villette, with it all getting underway on the 25th. Flying Lotus, Francois K and The Field are among the bigger names set to appear, while the likes of I:Cube, Ital and Julia Holter will deliver their sound from Villette Sonique's smaller stages.
RA pick: DJ Rashaad and DJ Spinn will reprise their back-to-back relationship.
09. Southport Weekender
May 11 - May 13
25 years ago in the far-north English town of Berwick upon Tweed, Alex Lowes began a festival. Or rather, a weekender. UpNorth was created to showcase the best in "real soul and real jazz," and after staging events in Blackpool and nearby Morecambe, settled into Pontins in Southport. Two-and-half decades later and Southport Weekender is no longer in Southport, and feels very much geared-up towards house music. But there's a distinct sonic lineage that can be traced through all of Southport Weekender's bookings. These days, though, the names don't necessarily make the party: All 6,500 tickets for this upcoming Weekender sold out without a single artist being announced. For those that did grab a ticket, you can look forward to sets from Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Danny Krivit, Kenny Dope, Kerri Chandler, Julio Bashmore and Floating Points, along with countless other names who like their dance music with some soul.
RA pick: Gilles Peterson is an absolute Southport mainstay.
08. International Music Summit
May 23 - May 25
Ibiza Gran Hotel
Five years in and the International Music Summit has emerged as a real force for electronic music discourse. The five-star Ibiza Gran Hotel will again host the intimate (500 delegates) three-day event, which brings together speakers from all walks of the scene and beyond. Key note interviews with Nile Rodgers, Luciano, Diplo and Cream's James Barton are all on the program, while representatives from Twitter, YouTube and Boiler Room will be giving addresses. Although one of IMS's chief selling points has always been its business-focussed agenda, the event now unofficially marks the kick-off of the party season on the White Isle: the Grand Finale at Dalt Vila will feature sets from Carl Cox, Loco Dice, Seth Troxler and IMS founder Pete Tong, while that weekend also sees the opening of David Guetta's F*** Me I'm Famous party at Pacha on the Thursday and the Space opening on the Sunday.
RA pick: Azari & III's live set at the Grand Finale should get the summer underway nicely.
07. Primavera Sound
May 30 - June 3
Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five
For many festival goers, Barcelona in the early summer is intrinsically associated with Sonar. However, the city houses another music festival giant at this time of year—Primavera Sound. And yes, there may be some overlap but Primavera consistently holds its own. Its appeal lies with a pristine indie line up that generally favours the band over the DJ, attracting attendees from around the globe. This year will see the likes of The Cure, Bjork, The Men, Grimes, Refused, Girls, The Weekend, Death Grips and OFF! head to the Parc Del Forum Leisure site. On a dance tip, meanwhile, you get the likes of Jackmaster, Oneman and John Talabot representing European club sounds.
RA pick: Death Grips: Shouty hip-hop/rock/electronic with as much energy as their names implies.
06. Life Festival
May 25 - May 27
When Life began in 2006 there was hardly 500 people raving behind speaker stacks set on the back of a truck. Six years later the Irish festival has found a home at the Belvedere House Gardens and has turned into one of the country's most diverse electronic music festivals. Its seventh edition will host the bass music of Synkro and Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka, the techno of Cosmin TRG and the house of Jamie Jones. And for all the high-flyers on the bill, Life has kept the organic sensibilities of such humble beginnings. It celebrates an alternative culture with visual installations, arts and crafts workshops, new age therapies and eco-documentary screenings.
RA pick: With his new album still doing the rounds, make sure to catch Luke Slater's Planetary Assault Systems.
05. Rainbow Disco Club
Harumi Port Terminal
Japan has developed quite the reputation as a favourite destination for DJs and punters. If you've seen footage or photos of the Rainbow Disco Club it's not difficult to see why. The Harumi Pier Terminal lies isolated on the edge of a Tokyo bay and its views of the city's skyline are as pretty as any postcard. The lineup is a winner too. AtomTM will be counted on for more experimental sounds, while Greg Wilson, Jamie Jones and Prins Thomas will turn the pier into a proper disco. Funktion Ones are also billed for sound duties.
RA pick: Jeff Mills + Japan = Love
May 16 - May 20
There are few festivals that are able to back up their multidisciplinary credentials better than FutureEverything. The annual Manchester event is about to step out for its 17th year, again proffering four days of "art, music and ideas" at venues throughout the northern English city. The Museum of Science and Industry in Castlefield will host discussions under the theme "FutureEverybody," focussing on the hyper-connectivity of today's internet and social media age. There are of course some beats as well. Club-orientated sets come from the likes of Andy Stott, Szare, Marcel Dettmann, Levon Vincent and John Talabot. Meanwhile on a more conceptual tip, Amon Tobin will be showcasing his jaw-dropping ISM show at Manchester Academy; Matthew Herbert performs One Pig at RNCM; and Tim Hecker and Forest Swords take to Salford's St Philip's Church.
RA pick: Amon Tobin ISAM is likely to be the festival's must-see show.
03. Nuits Sonores
May 16 - May 20
"Nuits Sonores' success seems to lie in wholly integrating itself into the city of Lyon," noted Christine Kakaire in her review of the French festival last year. Even a cursory scan of the venues Nuits Sonores will utilize in 2012—their tenth year in operation—illustrates her point. The daytime portion of proceedings will see New Order perform in an old sugar factory, and Maya Jane Coles, Modeselektor, Joy Orbison and DJ Koze play records in Hotel-Dieu, a former hospital. The night-time portion of the event, meanwhile, will be centred on the three-roomed Anciennes Usines Brossette (an old brush factory) with James Murphy, Seth Troxler, Flying Lotus and MF DOOM among the many high-calibre names, while Circuit Electronique on the second night sees ten simultaneous events taking place in venues right across the city. Mix into this offering the workshops and lectures, one of which will feature local legend Jean-Michel Jarre, and more grade A headliners than we have room to mention, and you've got yourself an essential European festival.
RA pick: Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer's live performance of their 2011 work Re: ECM.
May 30 - June 3
Société Des Arts Technologiques (SAT)
It's easy to take Montreal's Mutek for granted. You shouldn't. The festival has consistently tweaked its formula, and gotten better with almost every successive edition. Mutek specializes in interesting pairings and premieres, and this year will be no different. Tim Hecker and Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley are set to do both when they meet in a local church. Minilogue and Mathew Jonson will do the same—although we're willing to venture that one will be in a nightclub. Live performances are also expected from the likes of Monolake, Nicolas Jaar, Shackleton, Roll the Dice and KiNK. It's all "per usual" for Mutek, but per usual that means anything but.
RA pick: Will the mystery of Ursula Bogner's identity ever be solved? Probably not. But go see the work performed by Jan Jelinek anyway.
May 26 - May 28
Taken as a whole, Memorial Day Weekend in Detroit is a pretty special thing. You have the obvious history—a celebration of the city that birthed so much of the electronic music we hold dear. You have the festival—an event that somehow strikes that careful balance between pleasing the masses as well as earning respect from heads. And you have the afterparties—a collection of events that will remind anyone of just how special an intimate gig with an enormous soundsystem can be. Where (or when) else are you going to go into a record store and see Mad Mike talking to DJ Harvey and Serge from Clone? This year, the festival proper will once again appeal to fans of all genre affiliations: Do FaltyDL, Damian Lazarus, Todd Terje, Photek, Marcellus Pittman, Juan Atkins and Carl Craig whet your appetite? No problem. There are more than 50 other names to choose from.
RA pick: See some of the artists that featured in our Real Scenes: Detroit documentary. Mike Huckaby, Kyle Hall, Rick Wilhite and Jay Daniel are all on the bill.
Published / Tuesday, 03 April 2012
Photo credits / Villette Sonique - Claire Na
Southport Weekender - Martin Clark
International Music Summit - White Ibiza
Primavera Sound - Michal Jaskolski
Life Festival - Life Festival
FutureEverything - Pete Birkinshaw
Movement - Christopher Soltis