Every year thousands upon thousands of rave-hungry dancers embark on Barcelona for Sonar. It's a festival that delivers a sense-assaulting three days that are jam-packed with the best artists in the world and then there are also the hundreds of parties taking place around the illustrious city in its wake.
Just one glance at the list of parties on offer is dizzying. It took us weeks to work out which spots we were going to hit as both day and night events are always in abundance and the talent on show is outrageous. We tried to hit as much as possible to deliver you the goods so sit back and enjoy the delights that Barcelona had on display last weekend.
Trust us. It was big.
10 Mixmag Party @ Pacha Barcelona
As we landed on Thursday, there was no time to take in the city's famed architecture. It was straight to the beach and to Pacha for our Mixmag party. The open-air venue was right by the sea and featured and all-star line-up including Kevin Saunderson, Patrick Topping b2b Waff, Kölsch and Oliver Dollar. Also playing was Citizenn b2b Ejeca and their opening set warmed things up just right. How can you go wrong with this Soul Capsule classic? You can't.
9 Heidi's Jackathon @ Razzmatazz
Once we'd wrapped things up at Pacha, it was straight in a cab and off to the revered Razzmatazz for Heidi's always bumping Jackathon party. Performances from Derrick Carter, Heidi b2b Tom Trago and Carl Craig were all of a gold standard but Kim Ann Foxman's early doors set took us by surprise in the best way possible. Gone was the light and airy warm-up, in was the acid-twinged banger hour. This Trevino remix shook the room and raised a few eyebrows in the process.
8 Beats In Space @ Vetro Club
Three parties in one day you say? That's just how we roll and as big fans of Tim Sweeney's Beats In Space radio show, we just had to check out his party at Vetro Club. As far as venues go Vetro was one of the best we went to. Giant windows behind the decks revealing a beautiful wooded area complete with garden and moat surrounding the club. The visuals were as trippy as you like and the power combo of Prosumer b2b Tama Sumo was excellent. Boss man Sweeney stole the show though and 'Strandbar' was the song that summed up an epic end to Thursday's festivities.
7 Watergate @ Fact Pool Party Series
After a much needed rest and a waltz around Barcelona centre it was time to party once more and we ended up in the hills at the Watergate rave. Fact were hosting events here all weekend, including the Mixmag party on Sunday, and once again we were stunned by how good the venue was. Envisage a giant pool with people swimming, surrounded by hills with ravers sitting and smoking, rounded off with a giant stage and huge dancing area in front. We saw Marco Resmann b2b Stassy before Pan-Pot closed off proceedings with a furious tech house set. We were of course delighted to hear Anna's remix of Nervo getting a resounding cheer confirming we only premiere that good shit...
6 Klockworks @ Salamandra
As darkness fell, it was time for some techno and where better to get that than at Ben Klock's always slamming Klockworks party. We arrived to the sounds of Steve Rachmad and after his recent In Session mix, we knew what to expect; side-winding tech and tracks that fucked with your brain. It has to be said that Salamandra had the most pumping Void soundsystem, possibly the best all weekend and in that dingy, dark warehouse, the bass was something else. At 3am it was time for daddy Klock to take the reigns and after an hour he dropped this classic Kalkbrenner track. Of course faces were melted and madness ensued. God damn it Klock you're good.
5 Dekmantel x IR @ Plaza Mayor El Poble Espanyol
El Poble Espanyol is one of the busiest and most popular venues in Barcelona during Sonar weekend. The giant park complex houses about four parties at any one time including raves at the highly-revered Monastery and Plaza Major. The Dekmantel party took place at Plaza Major, a large open courtyard that is a reproduction of the Riaza Castilian Square in Segovia. Perfect for a pummelling techno rave then. Dixon, Levon Vincent, Ben Klock and Joey Anderson put in strong sets but it was Nina Kraviz that really wowed us. Always with a skip in her step and smile on her face, this newly re-released track by Barcode Popularion, out on her трип label, did serious damage.
4 Sonar By Night @ Fira Gran Via L'Hospitalet
Saturday evening meant Sonar by Night, our first taste of the actual festival and what an experience it was. If you haven't been before it really is a sight to behold. Expect giant, vast and steely spaces where the music is thrashing and the atmosphere is intense. Over 70,000 people found themselves lost every evening in the cavernous air hangars and open air spaces. Duran Druan hit us with a barb of nostalgia, Cashmere Cat got bassy and trappy and The Chemical Brothers blew us away with their spell-binding new live show and psychedelic new material. The session was all about one man though and Laurent Garnier's sunrise set has become a thing of legend. Three hours of incredible stadium techno as the blue sky of Barcelona drenched the sweaty ravers still standing at 7am. Last track? This classic from Rolando of course. We love you Laurent.
3 Sunday Breakfast @ Atlantic Club
The madness of Garnier left us pretty dead to the world but this is Sonar weekend and you can sleep when you're dead as some of the lads on the plane expertly pointed out to us. Once again the 30 degree heat was beating down and it was up to the hills for some Ibiza-styled tech-house at the Sunday Breakfast party. The line-up boasted the likes of Premiesku, Bella Sarris, Alexkid and TiNI so chunky, rolling beats were the order of the day. We got there early doors and caught Fuse shining light Archie Hamilton. With a steady amount of hype building around him, he didn't disapoint and this stomper from A.Scott and Chad was a delight. Sunday was looking very good.
2 Secretsundaze Day @ Picnic Area, El Poble Espanyol
It goes without saying that Secretsundaze is one of our favourite London parties so we had to go and see what Giles Smith and James Priestley were bringing to Barcelona. Located in the Poble Espanyol complex, Picnic Area is a small yet beautiful spot for a dance in the sun. Ryan Elliott, Derrick May and Funkineven were fantastic but it was resident Priestley that ended the day event in style. We'd never heard 'Freq' by Xirtam before but it blew our socks off. Ten minutes of deep, rolling pace perfectly encapsulated the ever-changing mood of the party.
1 Secretsundaze Night @ La Terrazza
And this was it. The last party of Sonar for the Mixmag crew. There were a few options of where to end our stay but after the Secretsundaze day party had us loose and limber, we knew the night party would be just as good. It was. Once again every selector on the bill smashed it. Jeremy Underground laid down some serious rolling house, Amir Alexander dazzled with a set you couldn't put your finger on and despite some vinyl troubles, Giles Smith smashed out the closing set with ease. Delano Smith was the highlight and his remix of 'Dirtiest Clean' by Daniel Solar went down a treat.
So that was Barcelona. An abundance of sun, a shocking amount of taxis, a hell of a lot of dancing and some of the best party vibes we've experienced abroad. Sonar, you were a beauty and we can't wait to see you next year.
[Photo credit - Sonar: Ariel Martini, Fernando Schlaepfer and Bianca de Vilar]