London, United Kingdom
What exactly constitutes a festival? A tent? It's name? Modeselektor? Well, in the case of London's Rabid, it's a club night—albeit one with five rooms, 40 DJs and a mission statement that includes the words "winter festival." Dubious titles aside, the Mexican Icona group behind the event will have their promoter prowess swelled by local party starters WetYourSelf, Lost Souls, Ketoloco, Trailer Trash and DJ Magazine, who all pitch in with room hosting duties. The agenda is looking pretty techno-centric from where we're standing, with Umek, Peter Van Hoesen, Paul Ritch, Ambivalent, Fabrizio Maurizi and Mike Dehnert all toughing it out, although, the inclusion of Matthias Tanzmann, Scuba and Sigha on the bill, will at least keep people guessing.
RA Pick: At the risk of sounding predictable, Peter Van Hoesen can do no wrong right now.
"Massive Moments." Has the Mayday theme ever had a more apt title? After the, well, massive sister events in Dortmund and Budapest earlier this year, the scarily big Spodek in the Polish city of Katowice is next up to feel the force of this long-running European favourite. The platoon of DJs booked will no doubt be armed to the teeth with big room sounds; any harboured desires for musical subtleties should therefore be left at the door. Among those packing will be Cocoon overlord Sven Vath along with imprint subject Gregor Tresher, Chicago's king of no-nonsense techno DJ Rush and Mannheim house practitioner Nick Curly. With the larger entity now in its 19th year of service, Mayday is as intrinsic to the European circuit as overpriced beer and bad weather.
RA Pick: Home-grown talent in the form of another Cocoon man, Jacek Sienkiewicz.
November 13 - 14
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Day 1 | Day 2
Artists that have "produced outstanding work in the field of research into sound"—quite a mission statement when outlining the bill for a brand new festival venture, but it is nonetheless what the organisers behind the first Hypersounds event are aiming for. So what does that translate to on the ground? Well, if you're thinking in such terms, Speedy J would have to be a name that immediately springs to mind, and that's exactly who tops the bill on the Friday. The Dutch technician will reinstate his relationship with long-term collaborator Scott Pagano under the banner of their A/V surround sound collaboration project Umfeld. Also joining the pair that evening at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, will be Radio 1's first lady of bass Mary Anne Hobbs, the folk fusion stylings of Various Production and local techno act Svreca. Day 2 meanwhile reverberates to the sounds of Rustie, Shit & Shine and D1. We should also point out at this juncture that entire thing is free and works on a first come, first served, pre-book basis. Not bad Madrid, not bad.
RA Pick: If Sonar is anything to go by, Mary Anne Hobbs should fit in rather snugly at this latest Spanish festival.
07. Southport Weekender
Pontins Holiday Centre
North, United Kingdom
You'll hopefully forgive us for scratching our heads a little bit at the enduring success of an event that's been running for 22 years and 44 events, with a line-up that's been mirrored pretty much each time around. But, it's more of a case of "how the heck do they do it" than anything else. 2009's Southport Weekender cast list reads much like that of past parties: tried and tested veterans that fit snugly into the festival's "soulful" mantra. Frankie Knuckles, Gilles Peterson, Dennis Ferrer, Kerri Chandler and Recloose all spin, while Planet Mu's Floating Points prop up the new school end of the deal. Betting on Southport Weekender reaching 100 begins here.
RA Pick: We'd love to know what Kiwi producer Recloose has been up to this year, so please fill us in if you see him.
November 28 - December 6
Perth | Adelaide | Melbourne | Sydney | Brisbane
November's edition of the distinctly Australian phenomenon that is the circus festival (i.e. many towns, over many days) is Stereosonic, and much like its peers, the wagon rolls with an entourage of mass-pleasing international headliners. As was the case with Brisbane and Sydney last year, the event will take place in both Melbourne and Adelaide on December 5th, so an early arrival is advised to avoid screwy set times and missing out on any favourites. Deadmau5, Fedde Le Grand and Axwell will be doing things stadium-sized, but casting an eye further down the roll call makes for an unpredictable (in a good way) read. Appearances from Laurent Garnier, Hudson Mohawke, Tim Sweeney, Marco Carola and Zombie Nation allow us to hoist the cliqued adage that there'll be "something for everyone."
RA Pick: Tim Sweeney. We never could say no to a man in spectacles.
05. Groove City
Ten years down and all appears to be well for Belgium's Groove City; booking James Holden, Sven Vath and Jeff Mills for your anniversary party will do that for you. The event once again holes up in the rather large Brussels Kart, and will once more split its efforts between house, techno, drum & bass and electro. Bob Sinclair, Jesse Rose and Felix Da Housecat will be on hand to smooth off the rough edges of the DJs mentioned above, while veteran drum & bass selectors Fresh and Shy FX will take things in the opposite direction.
RA Pick: Jeff Mills is one of the only guys you'll ever see billed above Sven.
04. Creamfields Buenos Aires
Autodromo de Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Sixty thousand people. That's a lot of collective enjoyment of electronic music when you think about it. And that's how many the Autodromo has welcomed for Creamfields in Buenos Aires in the past. With the reservations surrounding the impact of the country's economic meltdown on the festival a thing of the past, it should be full steam ahead for 2009. Local legend Hernan Cattaneo of course tops the bill, and will have fellow big-room boys Armin Van Buuren and Paul Oakenfold around for company. Now is not the time to panic, though: On closer inspection the event is actually shaping up to be a bastion of house and techno: Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola, Danny Howells, Josh Wink, Guy Gerber, Ellen Allien, Loco Dice and Joris Voorn all fly south.
RA Pick: We like the idea of Ellen Allien's moody techno at a Creamfields event.
November 19 - 22
Centrum Targowe Park & Klub Mózg
Toruń and Bydgoszcz, Poland
Between Audioriver, Unsound and Plateaux Festival, Poland is becoming quite the hotbed for a different breed of European festival. And in the case of the latter two, a strong emphasis on the engagement of one's brain through lectures, films, panels and workshops only serves to reinforce the appeal (if that sort of thing takes your fancy of course). Plateaux returns to the cities of Bydgoszcz and Toruń for a second year, spreading itself over four days with a program rich with audiovisual and multimedia content. Ambient and experimental will pretty much be the musical watch words for this one, as Fennesz, Deaf Center, Byetone, Ezekiel Honig and The Sight Below are all set for appearances. Bodycode, Akufen and Lusine meanwhile, take care of the more dance floor end of things.
RA Pick: Fennesz—we're still regularly indulging in The Black Sea almost a year after its release.
November 25 - 29
Ah, the old boat party concept. Who hasn't been stuck aboard a creaking vessel for six hours, wishing the ear-splitting breaks soundtrack would cease, or alternatively the thing would sink. No? Brazil's Houseship does away with all that by treating revellers to a five day cruise aboard a luxury liner, sailing in and around the idyllic Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago of 21 islands off the country's north-east coast. Sound good? We thought so, which is why we're set to host a party on the Saturday, featuring sets from Will Saul, Dubshape and Phonique and Vincenzo playing back-to-back. And as this is Brazil-style clubbing, expect a plethora of beautiful people in attendance (us excluded), and you won't be disappointed.
RA Pick: Will Saul. Nice and Simple.
01. Club to Club
Italy's own motor city has been steadily proving that it can hold its own as far as large electronic music festivals are concerned, with Club To Club now entering its ninth year of operation. The event takes place during Torino's annual Artissima festival, giving attendees the chance to check out a wealth of local and international artists exhibiting their work in various locations around the city. But that's certainly not the main draw. The organisers are eager to book a wide range of acts that are currently setting the underground alight—be it Culoe De Song's tribal African house or Hudson Mohawke's colourful beatsmithery—while still managing to host bigger names such as Detroit luminaries Carl Craig and Jeff Mills, who will both play the final night in the huge hangar-esque Lingotto Padiglione venue. Seth Troxler, Optimo, Laurent Garnier and DJ Pierre will also spin, while Shed, Steffi and Marcel Dettmann host a special Ostgut Ton party on the Friday night.
RA Pick: Moritz von Oswald teaming with Carl Craig and Francesco Tristano for a mouth-watering live show.