a.k.a. Presenting a dazzling live show increasingly feels like a requirement for electronic music artists.
Aphex Twin played at Sónar last Friday night, and I didn’t go.
That wasn’t some grand statement on my part. I like the music of Richard D. James as much as the next person, and given that he was essentially the Barcelona festival’s headlining act—or at least its most anticipated performer—I was a little curious what he and longtime collaborator Weirdcore would come up with. At the same time, Sónar by Night, which takes place across multiple, hangar-like halls in a sprawling conference center outside of the city proper, is also just a bit too massive for my tastes. (No shade to anyone who feels differently; the sheer insanity and sensory overload of Sónar by Night is unique, and undoubtedly part of the appeal for those in attendance—not many festivals specifically set up a stage alongside a bumper car arena—but I personally tend to prefer more intimate raving experiences.)
Moreover, I knew that even if I didn’t see Aphex Twin with my own eyes, I’d not only hear all about it the next day from friends and fellow Sónar attendees, but I’d also see plenty of clips and photos on social media. Those things actually started to appear online before his set had even finished, and after giving just a few of them a look, one thing was immediately clear: it was a spectacle.