Welcome to Drowned in Sound's festival preview week. It being March, you probably already have a rough draft of how this summer's going to pan out sketched in your head but, helpfully, we're here to pour more options and opinions in; cluttering your glad brains with insider tips and revelations, offering our take on the bands you should endeavour to see as well as reviews tackling last year's festivities.
There are practical reasons for beginning our festival preview week with those events rooted overseas - travel arrangements are going to have to be prepared further in advance, companions gathered, routes through foreign cities plotted so as to imbue a weekend away with the pleasurable carelessness of a summer holiday.
Logistics aside, foreign festivals are almost invariably better than their British counterparts. They go on later and the weather is (usually) warmer, meaning that their atmospheres are more genial and relaxed. Furthermore, they aren't ridden with the festival goer tribalism that tends to plague those held on Blighty's sodden turf, meaning no having to endure the inane hootings of day-tripping beer boys or the wacky young suddenly confronted with parentlessness. Despite the cliche's surrounding the traits that comprise our national identity, I have never been offered a 'free hug' by anyone other than an inebriated Englishman.
With this in mind, DiS implores you towards two courses of action: the first being that you consider attending one, some or all of the below, the second that you leave your own tips and hints, your insider knowledge if you have any, in the comments section. If these articles are to act as helpful indices to the best the musical summer has to offer, your help will be invaluable.
Saturday March 7th
The Recyclart & Faro, Brussels, Belgium
Line-up highlights so far: Ame Son, Ken Butler, Valerio Cosi, El-G, Fabulous Diamonds, Kurt Vile, Wavves, Headwar, Ice Bird Spiral, Kohn, Geoff Leigh, Alan Silva and Burton Greene, Vomir (latest full details)
Rumours, hopes et cetera: We’re pretty sure the line-up is finalised – so hope should be placed in remaining variables, like the weather and currency exchange rates.
What to expect: Spread across two venues in the Belgian capital, Kraak mixes a few names you probably know already (Kurt Vile, Wavves, Fabulous Diamonds) with a load you probably don’t (‘70s French prog/free jazz/psychedelia heroes Ame Son headline, Valerio Cosi brings his transcendental sax drone). You can expect, though, that every act on the bill will be doing something interesting in Brussels next month, which can only be said of a micro-percentage of festivals to take place this year. Well worth the punt at $15, ideal for those who want to escape to Europe for the day.
Links: Home | MySpace | Last.fm
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Friday April 17th – Sunday April 19th
Indio, California, US
Line-up highlights so far: Morrissey, Leonard Cohen, Beirut, The Crystal Method, Patton & Rahzel, The Bug, Gui Boratto, TV On The Radio, Hercules & Love Affair, Liars, Glass Candy, Gang Gang Dance, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, The Cure, My Bloody Valentine, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Throbbing Gristle, X, Antony & the Johnsons, Roni Size Reprazent, Public Enemy, Lykke Li, Sebastien Tellier, The Horrors, Supermayer, No Age, Vivian Girls (latest full details)
Rumours, hopes et cetera: Though the organisers haven’t validated it, Flying Lotus announced last week that not only he but the rest of the LA beat crew will be in attendance; Samiyam, Gaslamp Killer, Ras-G and Daddy Kev joined by London’s bassland baron Kode9 on the Saturday night. The Bomb Squad and Daedelus are also rumoured to be playing the same stage, the whole thing prompting mass debate on the Coachella message boards about what ‘dubstep’ is. There are also murmurings that Depeche Mode will be making an appearance.
What to expect: In the words of DiS scribe/Thrash Hits Ed Raziq Rauf, “heat, hippies, Californian students and drinking pens”. I’d also like to remind readers that alcoholic oblivion will not be an option to those yet to breach their 21st birthday.
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Thursday May 28th - Saturday May 30th
Parc del Forum, Barcelona, Spain
Line-up highlights so far: A Certain Ratio, Aphex Twin, Ariel Pink, Bat for Lashes, Black Lips, Crystal Stilts, Dan Deacon Ensemble, Deerhunter, Extra Life, Fucked Up, Gang Gang Dance, Ghostface Killah, Jarvis Cocker, Jay Reatard, John Maus, Lightning Bolt, Magik Markers, Michael Mayer, My Bloody Valentine, Neil Young, Ponytail, Shellac, Sonic Youth, The Bug, The Jesus Lizard, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Soft Pack, The Vaselines, Vivian Girls, Wavves, Women, Wooden Shjips (latest full details)
Rumours, hopes et cetera: We’ve not caught wind of anything that has yet to be announced, but with Primavera being the dream festival we’ll allow our minds to wander into visions of Abe Vigoda and Caetano Veloso joyous in the Iberian sun, El Guincho returning to a festival he lit up last year and us, sipping beer with Matthew Mondanile after Ducktails/Real Estate have played a hazy, early evening set. You can usually rely upon Primavera to pick some names adrift from the usual hipster milieu, so we’d like to see Kode9, Joker and Actress added to an already impressive list, as well as someone or something completely unexpected like a collaborative set from The Belleville Three or new Beat Happening material.
What to expect: Europe’s best festival ten minutes from the centre of Europe’s best city. Lo-fi luminaries on the cusp of the Mediterranean and revelry without the 'Brits Abroad' element traditionally attracted to Benicassim. The Auditori venue tends to house some of Primavera's 'Heritage' acts - DiS scribes have been charmed by the likes of Billy Bragg, Young Marble Giants, Throbbing Gristle and Jonathan Richman there in recent years. Tickets cost about €2 and are sold in limited amounts on the day of performance, so it's a good idea to get yours early if you want to be one of the 3,000 to see My Bloody Valentine indoors.
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Thursday June 18th – Saturday June 20th
Various venues, Barcelona, Spain
Line-up highlights so far: Orbital, Grace Jones, DJ Mujava & MC Mzura, Fever Ray, Micachu & the Shapes, Deadmau5, The Gaslamp Killer, Joker, Martyn, James Pants, Bullion, Shed, Onra, Dorian Concept (latest full details)
Rumours, hopes et cetera: We can only hope that the quality of the line-up continues to arc up into the cosmos. DOOM becoming the vagabond king of Catalonia’s gothic clubland? We’ve got no reason to believe it will happen, but it’s a nice thought. Word is Ricardo Villalobos and Richie Hawtin may be in, too.
What to expect: To be found in the early hours of the morning, footing it from club to club in twisted delirium and T-shirt weather.
Links: Home | Last.fm | Facebook | Flickr
Friday July 17th - Sunday July 19th
Ferropolis, Gräfenhainichen, Germany
Line-up highlights so far: A Critical Mass ft. Henrik Schwarz, Aphex Twin + Hecker, Bloc Party, Caribou, Diplo, Foals, Hudson Mohawke, James Yuill, Kasper Bjørke, Klaxons, Luke Slater, Matias Aguayo, DJ Mujava, Oasis, Tobias Thomas, The Whitest Boy Alive (latest full details)
Rumours, hopes et cetera: Santigold was apparently due to play before realising she’d double-booked (though she’s seemed otherwise comfortable with ubiquity in recent months) while there’s Teutonic chatter on the Melt! forums that The Prodigy and Fatboy Slim will be in attendance. Melt!’s main dragging point, though, isn’t the line-up but the setting – ‘Ferropolis’, roughly translating as ‘City of Iron’, is a fallen, skeletal herd of coal excavators that sit beside the poisoned Lake Gremmin; some reaching as high as 100ft, all among the largest vehicles ever to have moved. With that in mind, bands to suit would seem to be those with a particularly dystopian, post-apocalyptic disposition – say HEALTH, any of James Ferraro’s projects, These New Puritans, SALEM, or a Chrome with the late Damon Edge reincarnated on a screen or something. Not Santigold, then.
What to expect: As everything in the above paragraph is conjecture, it’s safe to bank on an above-average blend of electro and indie rock, with Kompakt as well represented as ever and the British contingent swollen by the addition of the brothers Gallagher. You can read a two-part review hacked together by the gentleman Samuel Strang and I back in 2007 here, if you're into that kind of thing.
Links: Home | MySpace | Flickr | Ferropolis