Night two of Sónar is a very different experience from the first night. If the opening night was experimental music with a lot of physical breathing room for the audience, then night two is closer to a rave with wall-to-wall people wanting to dance. In some ways it’s more of a festival — longer queues for drinks and to get into rooms to the see different acts — but there’s also just the feel of it being a Saturday night, and of everyone abandoning themselves to whatever consequences will come Sunday morning.
— Words by Amanda Farah and Alex Maenchen.
October Dance — 19:30
The ‘80s were kind of cool, you guys. It’s a secret that everyone knows and it’s the basic ethos by which the fresh-faced youngsters from October Dance live and die. Stuck in the early 19:30 slot on the SonarDome stage Saturday night and fronted by Michael Cera’s mustache from Youth in Revolt, these guys have no right being as good as they are. The Danish trio, supported by rhythm keys and bongos, serve up big art pop straight out of the Peter Gabriel school of sledgehammer synths, with frequent, feverish detours into back alleys in search of manhole covers that gush out the most steam. After the fourth modulated keyboard solo in as many songs, however, a lyric by Echo and the Bunnymen comes to mind: “First I’m gonna make it/then I’m gonna break it/till it falls apart.” It’s dance. Dance. Dance. Dance. Alternately, you can put on a headband and watch a tennis ball machine spit balls at a wall for 40 minutes and you get the same effect. —AM
Kwamie Liv — 20:00
Kwamie Liv’s set is a lot like 5 a.m. The stage is washed in an opaque, bluish light and someone’s left it to the iTunes visualizer to run the show. It feels like the wrong time to show up, but there’s a sizable crowd. Liv is barely a silhouette in the fog, which suits her just fine. The soulful opener is almost heightened by it, which she sings solo. As she breaks into “Lost in the Girl,” the keyboardist and drummer make their presence known. It’s a big number, and the minimal setup really doesn’t do it justice. But Liv prefers to saunter through her songs. “All I want to do is just take you a little higher,” she sings on “Higher.” And she does, a little. And yes, Kwamie Liv has a song called “5 a.m.” but even George Michael knew not to take “Careless Whisper” so literally. —AM
Taragana Pyjarama — 20:25
There isn’t yet a name for the electronic equivalent of surf rock, but there’s plenty of the summery, breezy music to go around. Taragana Pyjarama is tapped into those sunshiny, sparkling feelings that make them kindred spirits of Brooklyn’s Blondes. The mood of the songs is heavily dictated by the drums, which either are really chill electronic beats or heart-pounding smashes, both of which give an unwitting shape to the more ambient songs. There are some live, super-vocoded vocals, and a handful of pre-recorded vocals that hint at some pop ambitions. Pop or ambient, they manage to bring a sense of spontaneity to a set with a lot of samples. —AF
Factory Floor — 21:30
We’re big fans of Factory Floor, but their Sónar set was not the best we’ve seen from them. Reduced to a duo without live drums, guitars or vocals, there was something definitely missing. Their hypnotic beats still attracted a huge crowd of furious dancers, far more than when we saw them at Lille Vega at the end of 2013, and there was plenty to love and recognize in their metallic beats. But while you can recreate drums and guitars from samples, there is no substitute for Nik Void’s distinctive, atonal voice. Give the girl back her microphone and it would make all the difference in the world. —AF
AV AV AV — 22:05
There’s a line out the door at the tightly packed SonarDome to see ELOQ, UNKWON, and DJ E.D.D.E.H bring some domestic, name-brand electronica for their first ever show together as AV AV AV. Their set highlights a slick mix of glossy melodic productions à la Purity Ring and stomping club beats. Amazingly, each contributing component retains its identity in the performance. The gorilla’s unmasked in DJ E.D.D.E.H., who gets the crowd going with a nice bit of run and rip showmanship, while ELOQ and UKNWON look to be cooking with as much focus and intent as Jesse Pinkman and Walter White. Some songs turn out to be little more than monochromatic shapes built to show the integrity of their design. Still, AV AV AV know how to please a crowd, and they’re not shy to let us have it, so it’s “All Good”. —AM
Brynjolfur — 23:10
Copenhagen’s Brynjolfur stood center stage surrounded by synths and a laptop on three sides. His bright dance music has a very 80s, New Order feel to it, a vibe aided by the live drums and guitar. There were pleasant, predictable patterns throughout the set: Slow descents into lulling valleys that freeze with seconds of surface tension and then erupt into massive banging beats. The ecstatic reaction that follows every time is just as pleasantly predictable. Brynjolfur maybe lacks some of the direct engagement of a pop star, but he’s still highly recommended if you ever wonder what “Blue Monday” would sound like if it was written today. —AF