A Taste of Sonar in Cape Town| Review

When I received a copy of the 2012 Design Indaba programme and saw that A Taste Of Sonar had been added to the list of events list, I almost had a mini-breakdown. Sonar is one of the World’s biggest electronic dance music festivals that takes place in Barcelona and now Cape Town (even though as the event name suggested, it was just a taste).

Friday finally swung around and I made my way to MCBN headquarters having just filled up my brain with Design Indaba Conference creative tidbits, for a little bit of a warm-up session with Kreg and all of the crew. For the uninitiated a warm-up session has nothing to do with limbering up your muscles. It is instead a way of saving money by getting drunk before getting to the party as well serving the purpose of getting everyone hyped up about the evening ahead. We were all fairly excited to see what had been done to the beloved Cape Town City Hall to make it an adequate venue for something like A Taste of Sonar. We were expecting something a little bit special considering that Design Indaba had wowed us with machines that made it possible for men to feel the pains of their female counterparts during menstruation. Thankfully, there were no such machines in the venue on the night.

Massive spotlights combed the air around the historic building and City Hall itself was illuminated by a rich yellow light, which gave a slightly less eery feel (you don’t normally want to hang out in those corridors at night, it’s some freaky deaky shit). City hall traditionally plays host to classical music and it was amazing to see it reimagined to house electronic dance music and lovers of design.

Entry to the venue was pretty seamless and once I got inside I was really amazed at all of the work that had gone into prepping for the event. All of the chairs were removed from the concert hall to make space for all of the peeps, which in it self is quite amazing (I’ve never seen that done before and I’m sure it wasn’t cheap to do). There was an upper level overlooking the hall with a very simple white balloon installation that made shapes on the walls behind, as they were hit by the lights. It was on this upper level that I saw some of the best lazer projections ever (And I have been raving for ages)- Multi-colour with some of the most complex shapes and imagery I’ve ever seen put out by an argon lazer. It was a nice addition to go with the mental stuff that was going on behind the dj set up.

There was a short break inbetween each set, which although slightly different to most electronic parties it did give everyone an opportunity to go and grab a drink or smoke outside before the next act came on. Given that it was in city hall it was fairly difficult to arrange for a smoking area and bars that didn’t involve a bit of a walk, but it really was a small price to pay considering we got to run amok in Cape Town’s City Hall. While exploring we came across a couple of design installations and the Design Indaba Filmfest room, which really added to the whole atmosphere and feeling that everyone was there for more than “just” the music.

We had taken bets beforehand on whether Massive Attack would play the epic Teardrop in their set- and nobody was more surprised when they kicked off their set with that very distinctive Teardrop baseline. I think it was interesting to see them play a dj set instead of a live set (although I would have LOVED a live performance) as they literally split their performance into two with 3D and Daddy G taking turns to play some of their tracks. It was a cool mix of dub, jungle, techno and some other stuff I don’t even have a name for- All I was sure about while standing in front of the speakers was that I really did love the bass.

The next International that I had to see was the German duo known as Modeselektor. After walking out blowing a vuvuzela these two were absolutely wild behind the decks and put out a set that consisted of some epic tunes from the last couple of years, almost a “greatest hits” if you will.  One complaint that I had about the evening was the heat, but then again this was essentially a rave inside a venue that was used for orchestras and the occasional politician. Raves are hot. And the hotter the rave, the harder the … um yeah moving on. I really enjoyed running around city hall with my mates trying to find the different rooms and dancefloors and once I had found everything, navigating it was hardly a mission (even for drunk me).

Unfortunately by the time French DJ and producer Brodinski started playing the venue had emptied quite a bit, but I really think that this was due to the crowd makeup, who were mostly there to see Massive Attack. I only spent a little bit of time on the Redbull floor, which housed a selection of local up and coming stars including names like Das Kapital and Richard The Third. I think the positioning of this floor next to the smoking veranda contributed to the lack of people on the dancefloor, as you could pretty much hear the music while you enjoyed the fresh air and your cigarette outside with mates.

This evening really was about more than just the music. It was about incorporating elements of design and social involvement into the party. All I’m sure of is, after having A Taste of Sonar, MyCityByNight has got to Sonar in Barcelona. Just think of the craziness we could get up to in Spain!

Check out the full event gallery below:

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One Comment

  1. I hope they bring more acts to City Hall with that sound system. I can’t make Sonar in Barcelona on 16 June, but I will likely be at Awakenings June 30. Let me know if you want a correspondent.

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