10. Life Festival
County Meath, Ireland
For most of the year it's an unassuming medieval town, but next month Athboy will become the home to the fourth annual Life Festival. Originally held at Galway's Lough Cutra Castle, this year the organisers are venturing east for three days of electronic music and wild partying at Ballinlough. Musically speaking, Life's remit is wide, meaning you'll get the chance to get down to dubstep from RSD and Caspa, techno from Carl Craig and Luke's Anger, and even some hardcore rave from everyone's favourite boiler-suited party starters, Altern 8. There'll even be a rare chance to catch Neil Landstrumm and Tobias Schmidt's techno team-up as Sugar Experiment Station on Irish soil, as well as Future Sound of London's first Irish gig since their recent return to the live arena.
RA pick: Green Velvet jacking the house (or is that the castle?) on the main stage with one of his mind-blowing live sets.
09. Chemical Music Festival
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The fifth anniversary of the Chemical Music Festival might just be its biggest yet. Great Dane Trentemøller, Booka Shade and Gui Boratto? It's practically the holy trinity of underground beatsmiths gone mainstream. With blog faves The Twelves, 2020 Vision's Audiojack and the brutal acid of Robert Babicz set to fire things up as well in Rio's mammoth Rio Centro convention center, it's likely that this is going to be yet another Brazilian big room bonanza.
RA pick: Trentemøller live show lends itself well to the big stage.
May 14 – May 17
Inox Electronic Club / La Dune
Clued-in clubbers and weekend ravers will descend on Toulouse next month for Inox's annual four-day event. Why? Each year the planners take advantage of the venue's two separate clubs and bring in a solid mix of mainstream and underground acts. As such, you'll no doubt see different crowds heading to Inox and La Dune each night. Just compare those headliners each night: 2 Many DJs vs. Fedde Le Grand (Thursday), DJ Hell vs. David Guetta (Friday), Richie Hawtin vs. Eric Prydz (Saturday) and David Carretta vs. Bob Sinclar (Sunday).
RA pick: Oxia and Agoria play a vs. set on Sunday at Inox.
May 1 – May 2
Laboral Ciudad de la Cultura
Now in its third edition, the Laboratorio de Electrónica Visual (Visual Electronics Laboratory) aims to do exactly what its name would suggest: The sleepy Northern Spanish coastal city of Gijon will once again become the bubbling, steam-soaked test center for some of the planet's foremost exponents of forward-thinking audio and visuals. One such nutty professor is Aphex Twin who will make his first live performance on Spanish soil since Sonar 2003 and will be joined by, among many others, Moderat, Nathan Fake, Isolée, Daedelus, Alva Noto, Byetone and Peter Greenaway.
RA pick: Who else? An opportunity to hear one of Aphex Twin's devilish live shows is never one to be passed up.
May 28 – May 30
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3
For the last 30 years, the village of Wiesen in Austria has been home to so many large-scale events, it's become somewhat of a staple on the country's festival scene. Next month will see the Urban Art Forms festival return to the forested area for their fifth year running, with space for 8,000 people to let their hair down to a myriad of electronic styles. There are dedicated arenas for both drum & bass and psytrance, but the other stages have plenty to offer for techno and electro-house fans. Booka Shade will bring their energetic live show to the main arena, whilst SIS, Digitalism, Turntablerocker and Monika Kruse will all see some action behind the decks. Papa Sven will also bring his Cocoon circus to Wiesen for the final night, hosting DJ sets from Dubfire and Berghain resident André Galluzzi, as well as a live set from melodic techno duo Extrawelt.
RA pick: Don't miss Kraftwerk's mesmeric audio/visual performance on the main stage.
May 14 – May 16
Manchester, United Kingdom
Play word association with "festival" and more than likely an overpriced, grandiose, heaving behemoth will come to mind. Manchester's 14th Future Sonic event however is a much more refined affair than most, taking place (musically speaking) in a mere six small scale venues across the city. No one genre will be given preferential treatment as a pick-and-mix selection of DJs and performers will be accommodated over three evenings: Hudson Mohawke, Daniele Baldelli, Kode 9, Philip Glass, Move D and Efdemin will all be on hand to provide the ear candy.
RA pick: Get a disco history lesson from Daniele Baldelli.
May 20 – May 23
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Ingrained in the very urban fiber of France's second city, Nuits Sonores has annually pervaded Lyon's clubs, bars, museums and theatres since 2003. Attendees in 2009 can potentially look forward to four consecutive days of electronic music shenanigans as DJ heavyweights Ricardo Villalobos, Carl Craig, Laurent Garnier, Josh Wink and Erol Alkan all descend upon the city. A different international location is honoured each year, and after Berlin's turn in the spotlight in 2008, a London themed event will kick off proceedings on the Wednesday, with Gilles Peterson, Padded Cell and Hot Chip all representing.
RA pick: Dave Clarke's Sunday night closing set should be a giggle.
May 8 – May 9
Palazzo dei Congressi
Perhaps more of an all-encompassing, two day club event than a festival, the wonderfully cavernous Palazzo dei Congressi will once again be the Roman venue housing the ninth Dissonanze gathering. A typically disparate array of talent will frequent the lush space's many nooks and crannies over the event's two day duration, with laptops, turntables and microphones all being abused at some point or another. The headliners will be skewed depending upon your musical persuasion, although Bat for Lashes, Flying Lotus & Samiyam, Moderat and Buraka Som Sistema could all lay claim to the title.
RA pick: Samiyam bending Flying Lotus' sound even more out of shape.
May 23 – May 26
Detroit, United States
Despite the late line-up announcement, Paxahau have clearly come through again with a stellar line-up that balances the economic realities of running an electronic music festival in America with a city that is exceptionally protective about its storied past. But with acts like Mike Clark, Delano Smith, Marc "MK" Kinchen & Scotty Deep, Al Ester, Rick Wade, Norm Talley and more Detroit originals set to perform, who's to complain? Couple that with a rare US appearance from the Wighnomy Brothers, Loco Dice vs. Luciano and Innervisions Live, and we can't imagine anywhere we'd rather be on Memorial Day.
RA pick: DJ Godfather for a taste of Detroit's bass heritage.
May 27 – May 31
Montreal's Mutek Festival always seems to have something special up their sleeve, and their tenth edition is no different. Wolfgang Voigt's Gas project will make its Canadian premiere, Akufen will be performing new live material for the first time in what seems like ages, Ricardo Villalobos will be making a rare North American appearance and that's seemingly just the beginning. With RA pitching in for a very special night at Metropolis on Saturday with the likes of Mathew Jonson and Dandy Jack, dOP, Moonstarr, tobias. and Carl Craig all set to perform, this should be one to remember.
RA pick: Aside from our night? Be sure to check out some of the more experimental A\VISIONS showcases that the festival has to offer.