Being able to break away from Sónar too experience the OFFSónar parties at Poble Espanyol this year proved to be a thoroughly rewarding experience. Thanks to the number of insane parties hosted by top-notch promoters, OFFSónar, or Anti-Sónar as it was called back in the day, is one of the best excuses to visit Barcelona during its popular city festival of advanced music art.
For us, it kicked off with Marco Carola's epic night "Its all about the Music" at Plaza Mayor, a replica of the Castilian square of Riaza in Segovia. With Apollonia, Mr Carola and Paco Osuna all billed to play for the day, the scene was pretty much set for a cracking night.
Paco Osuna was top class, as usual, he kept it bouncy and energetic and the crowd were impressed with what I could see and hear. Marco Carola didn’t disappoint either, and for us, the best track of the night had to be the classic, "Unfinished Sympathy" by Massive Attack with a little Carola remix which he played at the end of the night! The crowd went mad and we all totally lost it within the music at that point, reminding us why Mr Carola is still one of the most respected deejays on the circuit today.
As for the rest of the venue, the drinks queue was ok, to be honest, we didn’t wait more than 2 minutes at any time so nothing to gripe about there, and with abundance of security absolutely everywhere, we felt safe even though they did, at times, come across as quite intimidating. But overall nothing to worry about and it didn't really spoil the overall mood and atmosphere.
Trying to get some rest at Sónar is pretty much impossible given the excitement and entertainment on offer. Day 2 took us down to Plaza Mayor for Elrow and their flagship "Singer Morning" extravaganza for a chance to experience the award-winning party brand on its home turf.
The feeling of being hit by a ten-tonne truck due to a heavy first day quickly passed once we heard the Elrow long-time golden boy, Toni Varga, take control. Exquisite as always, bringing that special Spanish flavour to his performance. Striking up a conversation with one of the locals who frequents OFFSónar every summer, he told me that one told me that OFFSónar itself is as popular and important as the main Sónar night and day festival, as it encompasses the independent spirit of the Catalonian people due to OFFSónar being started by a group of like-minded people keen to protest against the rising costs of Sónar ticket prices.
Elrow by evening saw Solardo and Eats Everything on disc jockey duties and were the stand out selectors of the evening for me... not that am being patriotic in any way! These guys definitely know how to bring the vibes to any party and are never ones to be left out of the fun. For me, they have got to be one of the hottest musical exports out of the UK in the last few years. Again Elrow didn't disappoint with is usual fanfare and inflatables, and a "up for it" audience who are always in good spirits, so much so, that we quickly forgot about going over to Secret Sundaze, even though we planned exactly when we would leave and who we wanted to catch the day before. I think dancing under the trees at Secret Sundaze like some "bohemian hippie from Ibiza" will have to wait until next year eh?
After a slightly better day of rest, recuperation and wholesome Spanish food, we felt like ready to tackle Drumcode heard on. Adam Beyer has taken his formidable brand around the world and with it being an official "Off Sonar" event, this one proved to be an absolute belter. We managed to catch Pan-Pot, the Berlin-based techno duo who of late have been busy touring the globe, brought an understated yet enthralling set for the Drumcode Off Sonar faithful. Highlights of the evening were witnessing the chemistry between a B2B between Adam Beyer and Joseph Capriati, which was a little short of magical. Both styles seemed top fuse and work well together As Capriati is definitely the “heavy hitter”, who brings the darker end of the spectrum which is complemented well by Beyer's edgy selection. I wouldn't have thought these two would gel with each other as much as they did with the crowd giving a far-reaching roar of approval once they were finished.
Even though we didn't get to as many parties as we wanted to, the ones we could muster delivered a great Sonar experience and captivated us with their levels of production and entertainment value. Going to Sonar, and partying at many of the Off Sonar events is all part of the magic when in Barcelona during this crazy time. The OFFSonar parties at Poble Espanyol have to be high on the tick list of any reputable raver when visiting Sonar, something which you won 't regret, no matter how broken you might feel on the way back home.