Here are our favourites from around the world in March.
Days Like This Festival
Randwick Racecourse, Australia
It took a while for organisers of mainstream Australian electronic music festivals to figure out that, yes, the average raver can get down to DJs more nuanced than an EDM megastar or Ibiza regular. Days Like This is an example of a trickle down effect whereby Sydneysiders can now catch the Klocks, Rødhåds and Dixons of the world in the blazing expanse of Sydney's Randwick Racecourse, a setting generally reserved for standard stadium-fillers. With headier fare infecting bigger events, Days Like This could be a gateway drug for audiences who wouldn't otherwise be exposed to European techno's leading lights.
RA Pick: Sydney has a soft spot for Omar-S.
Big Ears Festival 2017
March 23 - March 26
Consciously or not, many of us go to festivals in search of new sounds we might not have otherwise discovered or appreciated. Few events foster this experience as directly as Big Ears, a festival "named for someone who is capable of discerning and perceptive listening, who has the ability to use the ears as a creative tool or who hears things many may miss." Like every edition since 2009, this year's Big Ears has exploratory acts of all styles, from indie (Blonde Redhead, Deerhoof) to electronic (Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, DJ /rupture) to contemporary classical (Jóhann Jóhannsson) and beyond. Taking place at the foot of the Smoky Mountains, with a stunning 1920s-era movie theater as its central venue, Big Ears is as rich on charm as it is on outré sounds.
RA Pick: Magnetic Fields performing Stephin Merritt's next magnum opus, The 50 Song Memoir.
March 21 - March 25
If you had a friend visiting from overseas and you wanted to show them London's electronic music scene in all its glory, Convergence would be a good choice. The roving, five-day event series runs the gamut from banging club nights and immersive gigs to sit-down concerts, showcasing some of the capital's most iconic venues. This year, you could catch Sunn O))) and Manuel Göttsching at The Barbican, watch Andrew Weatherall DJ at The Jazz Cafe, or head to Village Underground in Shoreditch, where Actress, Raime and Squarepusher's Shobaleader One are all locked in for performances. If that's not enough, there's also Convergence Sessions, a two-day programme of talks, workshops and screenings focussing on the intersection of music and technology.
RA Pick: Actress, Randomer, Raime and Mica Levi at Village Underground—this is the kind of lineup that makes Convergence such a hit.
Dom Im Berg, Austria
March 1 - March 5
A March festival in the picturesque city of Graz, Austria, could be about blissed-out beats and ski holiday vibes. After all, few cities suit the cozy winter months like Austria's. But at Elevate, which has moved from October to March for the first time, the focus is on cutting-edge sonics, delivered by a cast of forward-thinking techno and experimental acts at unique venues—clubs, concert halls, arts spaces—throughout Graz. In addition to a bold program of talks and lectures, A Made Up Sound, Ancient Methods, Lorenzo Senni, SØS Gunver Ryberg and Shackleton are on the bill this time around.
RA Pick: A Sunday morning afterhour with rising Offenbach house producer Markus Sommer at the controls.
Zeezout Winter Festival
Zeezout, Move D's "favourite party series in the Netherlands," only entered the festival game in 2015, but by the looks of things, they caught on fast. In fact, the summer edition proved such a hit that the team launched Zeezout Winter Festival, a one-day spin-off held at quirky Amsterdam spot Het Rijk van de Keizer. This year's second edition features the usual mix of left-of-center live acts and club DJs, from Awesome Tapes From Africa and Barış K to Samo DJ and Lory D. If you're still looking for somewhere to go once doors shut at 11 PM, head to De Marktkantine for the festival's Italo disco carry-on.
RA Pick: Hashman Deejay and PLO Man dishing out the oddball bangers.
Pitch Music & Arts
March 10 - March 13
Not so long ago, Australia's doof scene was characterised by ramshackle organisation, loads of pystrance and a genuine feeling of being off the grid. Nowadays, larger promoters are trying to latch on to that rare sensation, while upping the production specs and booking savvier artists. Describing themselves with adjectives like "brut-tropical" and "neoteric," Pitch Music & Arts is the latest to join Victoria's budding scene of chic yet rural electronic music festivals, booking sure shots like Paula Temple, Mike Servito and Head High at the disarmingly beautiful landscape by the Grampians Mountain Range.
RA Pick: Donato Dozzy thrives in natural settings.
March 24 - March 25
It's now common practice for festivals to host satellite events in cities across the world, but few names carry the prestige of Sónar. In 2017 the Spanish festival is dropping anchor in Reykjavik, Stockholm, Hong Kong and, for the first time, Istanbul. The lineup reads like a baby version of the flagship Barcelona event, with Moderat, Róisín Murphy, Floating Points, Clark, Nina Kraviz, Prins Thomas, Matias Aguayo, Kode9 and Nosaj Thing providing the balance of experimental and direct electronic music that Sónar has always specialised in. And, like its parent event, it'll go down at a striking venue—Zorlu Center, a performing arts complex on the shore of the Bosphorus.
RA Pick: It's always good to know what's in Floating Points' record bag.
Various venues, Barcelona, Spain
March 9 - March 11
MUTEK.ES is unique in Barcelona's crowded festival landscape for a couple of reasons. Over the past eight years, it has fostered relations between its adopted Catalan home and its original HQ in Québec, booking musicians and visual artists from both regions alongside its international programme. It has also cemented its niche by booking the kind of artists who are equally at home in a darkened club or an elegant theatre, and this year's lineup contains some of the most thoughtful artists working in electronic music—Actress, Dasha Rush, Avalon Emerson, Bjarki, Aïsha Devi and Demdike Stare to name just a few.
RA Pick: Don't pass up one of the first opportunities to hear Actress play music from his latest album.
March 10 - March 19
Perhaps more than any other festival, it's smart to go to SXSW without a plan, because, quite honestly, this thing is dizzying. The 2016 edition featured around 2,200 "official performers" (a number that swells considerably when you include the unofficial shows) who played in bars, clubs, churches, hotels and other wacky events spaces. For seven days, Austin takes on that quality you get at ADE and Sónar, where it feels like the city has become a single giant gig space. SXSW is of course known as a hotbed of indie rock (hip-hop has also been a dominant sound in recent years), but electronic music is now an established force at the festival. In the spirit of disorientation that marks SXSW, showcases tend to be announced pretty late, but Ninja Tune, ADE and LuckyMe were there last year, and the likes of Marie Davidson, SURVIVE, Dubfire, False Witness, Christian Löffler and Lady Leshurr are part of the official programme this year.
RA Pick: We told you not to make plans.
The Hague, The Netherlands
March 31 - April 2
The Netherlands is home to plenty of festivals heavy on ice cannons, confetti explosions and booming techno beats, but in The Hague they take a subtler approach. Rewire, returning for its seventh edition over one weekend in March, puts the focus on what it calls "adventurous sounds." In 2017, that means Carla Dal Forno, Swans, Jessy Lanza and a range of artists covering neo-classical, jazz and pop, who will be playing in churches, theatres and clubs. If you're into electronic music's fringes and crossovers, Rewire is not to be missed.
RA Pick: A collaborative live set from techno pioneer Jeff Mills and Afrobeat legend Tony Allen sound adventurous indeed.
See our full festival listings for March right here.