10. Great American Techno Festival
September 13 - September 15
Great American Techno Festival is a lot more laidback than its name might imply—the title is a cheeky riff on Great American Beer Festival, which happened at the same time as the first GATF back in 2011. There are no heaving stadiums here, just intimate club events and some great afterparties in a city whose underground scene is too often overlooked. This year's program has a few slam-dunk guests—especially Jeff Mills—plus a smattering of local and West Coast artists that are sure to lure Denver's heads out of the woodwork. Small and independent electronic festivals are few and far between in the States. This is one of the best.
RA pick: LA's Droid Behavior crew know how to work this crowd.
September 27 - September 28
The Hague, Netherlands
Day One | Day Two |
Taking place in the former Ministry Of The Interior and Kingdom complex in The Hague's administrative centre (think embassies and palaces), TodaysArt is a festival that takes experimental music just as seriously as the stuff aimed at the dance floor. This year, all things noisy and broken-beat have been given a Friday slot, with Raster-Noton's Atom TM and Diamond Version topping a bill that also includes Jackson And His Computer Band, Morton Subotnick and Sweden's Andreas Tilliander as TM404. Saturday will be a little more light-hearted courtesy of sets from Ivan Smagghe and a Kompakt vs. Comeme showcase featuring Justus Köhncke, Barnt and Jennifer Cardini. We guarantee you'll never have more fun inside a government building.
RA pick: Diamond Version's high-octane live show is up there with the best of them.
08. Unsound London
September 26 - September 29
Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four
Unsound's tentacles have already stretched as far afield as New York and Adelaide, and this year the Polish festival will debut in London with a weekend-long series of events. The modest scale of Unsound London—just a handful of artists at four separate showcases—makes it a curtain-raiser to Unsound proper, which takes place in Krakow the following month. Running from Thursday through Sunday, you can catch the electronic sorcery of Demdike Stare at BFI Southbank, check Lustmord at LSO St Luke's, and see former Napalm Death man Nicholas Bullen in the cosy confines of Café Oto in Dalston. In keeping with the festival's remit, Unsound London also offers Polish artists some time in the limelight, with Anna Zaradny, Robert Piotrowicz and BNNT all billed across the weekend.
RA pick: Forest Swords' live show at the BleeD event will offer a taste of the rarely spotted artist's new album for Tri Angle Records.
07. Reworks Festival
September 20 - September 21
Day One | Day Two |
This time last year, the future of Greece's Reworks Festival was unclear, to say the least. "We have no idea what's going to happen," festival director Anastasios Diolatzis told RA. "That's a big problem in Greece: there's no sign, not of what will happen next year, but even next month." The epicenter of a global economic crisis is not an ideal place to put on an electronic music festival. Still, they pulled through—in fact, based on this year's program, they didn't even break their stride. Reworks' 2013 lineup is possibly their most ambitious yet, running the gamut from marquee acts like Paul Kalkbrenner to Phon.o, Function and John Talabot. And at just 50 euros for a three-day pass, it's got to be one of the cheapest festivals in Europe.
RA pick: Take a break from raving with Murcof, the underrated ambient artist with a stunning A/V show.
06. New Forms Festival
September 12 - September 15
Centre For Digital Media
Like MUTEK, Vancouver's New Forms Festival takes dance music very seriously—but that doesn't mean they don't know how to get down. This year they've returned to the Centre For Digital Media, a huge hangar space that's one of the best rave caves in the city. This darkened hall will host everything from the chilly electro of Dopplereffekt to Kahn's killer dubstep and grime. You can also expect an array of installations by artists from all around the world, and a party in the park like only Vancouver can do (trust us—you'll have to see it to believe it).
RA pick: Balihu boss Daniel Wang spinning blissful disco as the sun sets in New Brighton Park.
September 5 - September 8
Robin Hill Country Park
Isle Of Wight, United Kingdom
Did Elton John play your luxury ocean liner-themed tenth birthday party? No? Thank God for Bestival, then. Rob Da Bank and friends have been throwing one of the UK's most unique festivals for a decade now on the Isle Of Wight, and they're not slowing down. This year, you can take in Wu-Tang Clan and the Flaming Lips, pop over for a genre-hopping Oneman set, bump to Eats Everything and go way out with Hieroglyphic Being. Not bad, right? Play your cards well and you'll still have time for a transcendental meditation sesh with the David Lynch Foundation. It's that kind of weekend, and one unlike any other on your summer festival calendar.
RA pick: Things getting a little light-hearted for your taste? Let Marcel Dettmann paint it black with one of his usually superb festival sets.
04. Unknown Festival
September 10 - September 14
It might seem odd to include a festival that's never happened before, but Unknown's credentials are pretty unbeatable: the four-day event in Rovinj, Croatia is a joint venture by the people behind The Warehouse Project, Field Day and another of the Adriatic Coast's finest, Hideout Festival. It's also hard to argue with the lineup, which blends big names like Disclosure and Jessie Ware with laidback, summery acts like Todd Terje, Tim Sweeney and Floating Points. Unknown's tagline is "celebrate the last days of summer." It's hard to think of a better way to do precisely that.
RA pick: See what Trevor Jackson pulls out of his ever-unpredictable bag.
September 25 - September 29
There's something very special about Decibel (just ask the regulars), but it's tough to pin down exactly what that is. It could be how Seattle, a bit of an underrated American city, seems to come alive for the entire week. It might be the quality of the venues, boosted with extra sound and visuals, not to mention their proximity to the city's great restaurants. It could be all the loyal attendees traveling from all over the West Coast (and the rest of the continent) every single year. Or it could be the programming—Ben Klock, The Orb, Machinedrum and Kyle Hall being just a few of this year's highlights—spread out between evening audiovisual events and rare all-night afterparties.
RA pick: Nils Frahm, the German composer and pianist who wowed us at MUTEK this year.
02. Outlook / Dimensions
August 29 - September 9
Fort Punta Christo
There are so many festivals happening in Croatia over the summer that it can be hard to remember which one is which, but sister festivals Outlook and Dimensions stand out for one key reason: their killer lineups. The two events run over consecutive weekends at Fort Punta Christo, an abandoned 19th century structure on the bewitching Istria peninsula. Outlook is devoted to bass, hip-hop and dubwise fare (Joey Bada$$, Talib Kweli, Goldie and Digital Mystikz), while Dimensions has more of a focus on house and techno (Three Chairs, Model 500, Derrick May, Pantha Du Prince, Ron Morelli and Ben Klock). There's some crossover, too, which means you'll be able to check Boddika, Mala and Kode9 at both events.
RA pick: Three Chairs, AKA Moodymann, Theo Parrish, Marcellus Pittman and Rick Wilhite, are the crown-jewel of this lineup.
September 14 - September 16
Conjure it in your mind's eye: the teepee DJ booth, the elaborate Funktion One stacks, the luscious natural surroundings. Squint hard, and you might see Donato Dozzy in the throes of a million-hour kosmische set or feel Peter Van Hoesen's forceful techno pushing your eardrums to their limit. Your heart rate rises, your arms start to rise—and you realize they haven't even announced the lineup for this thing yet, right? Labyrinth is a known quantity at this point, but that doesn't stop the Japanese weekender from eliciting wonder from a certain kind of enthusiast. With just one stage and a lineup tailored for a flawless start-to-finish experience, it's just the sort of shared musical journey we're always aiming for.
RA pick: There's no better place in the world to see Donato Dozzy.