Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Sonar. In the months prior to the festival, I tried and failed to obtain press accreditation. Something it turns out that never actually works for me. My salvation came in the form of a synth-playing friend. A friend called Kemsley, from my pub-working days gone by. Playing the festival on the Friday night, he offered me a complimentary ticket. Lush.

I knew a few other groups of people going to Sonar and managed to meet up with none of them. After spending many a festival juggling social circles, I simply couldn’t be bothered.

I arrived at the hotel to collect my ticket and do a catch up. Kemo introduced me to his gang; Ben, Lauren and Karen. I managed to wrangle a lift to the festival with them, which in turn meant a sneaky backstage entrance and a sneaky backstage pass.

The backstage pass means free beer from a fridge all night. Which for me, is all it needs to mean.

In the dressing room, I felt fairly uncomfortable. Not really knowing what to do or say, I wobbled around for a bit, and after making sure nobody was looking, did some light snacking from the food spread.

Kemo et al were scheduled to go on stage in a short time, so I pocketed some beers and we left the dressing room.

They went on stage, and we advanced towards the lighting controls area. We had a good view of the action from there. We being Karen, Lauren and I. I took a few photos and tried/failed to join in with some dance routine the girls had conjured up. When the gig finished we ran and caught the end of the Grace Jones, not before losing the female half of our party to a real life horse.

After Grace, we went back to the dressing room. Kemo introduced me to some friends of his, a band called Heartbreak and they were nice. Then we saw them play their set, which was more than enjoyable, we also caught a bit of Buraka Som Sistema.

Lights. I cannot help but remember an insane amount of bright lights at this festival. Was it necessary? I don’t know. Maybe.

Bumper cars. They were fun.

I ran off solo to catch the beginning of the Crookers set. Now I know that “Day ‘N Night” is the most played out song since Jack Johnson found a ukulele, but I am a sucker for fidget-house. Smash some pills down me and prop me in front of one of their sets and there is no way I am not going to have a good time. I bopped around for about twenty minutes, on my own, doing my own thing, looking like that weird guy you always see dancing on his own in the corner of a club. I only managed to stay for a couple of tracks before I got a text from my lost friends and hustled over to Erol Alkan.

We retired back to the dressing room for more chitchat. Being slightly upset at missing Late of the Pier I saw fit to say “hola” to the long haired one as we crossed paths, that went a little way to repairing my upsetness (I am aware that “upsetness” isn’t actually a word, but it fits really well) at missing their slot. Someone later said that they had walked off after two songs or something anyway because the sound wasn’t very good. I bet they would have played the whole set if I was there, definitely.

Then it was time to leave.

As we were bundling into a taxi, Crookers pulled up in a taxi adjacent to ours. As they got out, I saw this as a great opportunity to try out my Italian. “Wå Fra, como estai?” Regional slang only spoken in Napoli, if they knew what that meant perhaps they thought I was a well-travelled vagabond at best, more likely than not they just thought I was a bit weird. We shook hands and I felt like a bit of a dick the next morning. But that’s okay, as soon as they start making music with Kanye West I will get my high horse and no longer think they are good.

We arrived back at the hotel and said our goodbyes. I nervously squeezed through the ticket barriers to catch the metro, because I’m too cheap to pay seventy euro cents.

The following day was largely spent doing a lounge-off at the beach. Everybody won. Lauren and Kemo got sweaty five euro massages from Asian women probably owned by the mafia or Burger King. We made sandwiches and Lauren ate some lard. Magic times.

Again we met later that night on a terrace for dinner and some sange-cava. For the most part the topics of conversation were music based, an arena where I can usually hold my own, rather well. Not this time. Names were being thrown about and half the time I wasn’t sure if they were discussing bands or just saying random words, it wouldn’t have mattered either way, I was out of my depth. I let my concentration wander to a house party across the road and stared at their balcony. There was a man and a woman sat outside talking to each other, obviously I had no idea what they were saying. So I scripted it in my head instead. We’ll call the woman Ramira and the man David.

The best years of David’s life are behind him. He can’t hack it in the fast lane anymore, he needs to slow down, needs to think about knocking someone up. Step up Ramira, eight years his junior, a viable candidate. They both sit on Ikea fold up chairs on the balcony.

David: Ramira, you look lovely tonight. Like a really shiny bottle.

Ramira: David, your words are kind. But you are notorious for your playboy lifestyle. I can’t get
involved with a man like you.

David: I’m a changed man. I have a bible and everything.

Ramira turns to gaze at the world beyond the balcony. David puts his hand on her thigh. Ramira quickly gets up, scowls at David and storms inside. David is left alone with his thoughts.

That only took about ninety seconds in my head, if that. We were at the dinner table for a much larger amount of time.

One of that evening’s main problems was that I didn’t actually have a ticket. Pablo to the rescue. On our way to Sonar we had the taxi stop at the sound man Pablo’s dwelling spot and pick up his pass. I promised it would get back to him after he told me he collects them. Kemo said he’s been on the road for like ten years, he should probably think about recycling them. The pass had a photo on it, and although we had completely different hair and skin tones, I thought the fact that he was wearing sunglasses in the photo could only be a good thing. It wouldn’t matter, nobody even checked, I could have been Chinese. Maybe I will be next time, that’ll be really hard though.

By the time we finally arrived, I had missed Animal Collective, another one of the bands I had really wanted to see. We watched a bit of Orbital, none of us were really feeling it. We went to some office and convinced a woman to give us backstage passes for that evening aswell. Then we drank the free beer and discussed all things topical.

Things get hazy from then on, later that evening I spent about six hours in a hotel room and got mocked for not knowing about some lady disease called “the beast”.

Another beach day followed as did the goodbyes. An enjoyable weekend.

I like English people.

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