Sonar 2010: 19 June

As the lights dim on Sonar festival, Fuck Buttons and Jackmaster continue to shine bright

Feature by Chris Duncan and Ray Philp | 08 Jul 2010


Oh shit, someone just rocked up on the stage with a keytar, this does not bode well. The last time someone employed this instrument on stage was Kap10Kurt, and they hardly set the world alight. After a pointless and self-indulgent introduction where Mr Keytar coos down an effect heavy mic and asks, repeatedly, if we’re “ready to Uff?” the Parisian enfant terrible finally appears on stage. Credit where it’s due, Uffie’s vocals manage to fill the large courtyard confidently, but this doesn’t really matter when your lyrical content amounts to nil. She asks the crowd to join her in a celebration at the fact that this week her debut album finally got released, before adding “about fucking time”, a reference to the fact that this record has arrived around two years after the world’s brief love affair with Ed Banger ended. With shallow lyrics that sometimes even have the audacity to refer to Uffie’s own awareness at the fact that she doesn’t have much skill as an MC (“If I get popular/then that ain’t fair”) it’s easy to see that if it wasn’t for her connections to Ed Banger and good looks then there would be no way she would be at Sonar, or indeed any sizable stage. She sings that we should “hate the player not the game”, but when so many MCs with greater talent that Uffie go unnoticed you’ll forgive me if I hate both for the time being. 1/5


You can imagine why Jackmaster’s Sonar debut might be a rather deflating experience for certain sections of this evening’s crowd. Jackmaster, yet to hit his mid-twenties, has both considerable skills and chutzpah to spare. Fusing contemporary classics (Windowlicker and Positif are notably popular choices amongst this year’s setlists) with the sort of hen night house that you’d find straight out of a Destiny playlist, Jackmaster’s track selection is both courageous and impeccably sequenced, and it’s all delivered with an insouciant, I-don’t-give-a-fuck swagger. So, why deflating? Most of us watching know that we could never, ever hope to be this good. 5/5


Fuck Buttons evidently remain in the midst of a gestation period. Andrew Weatherall’s decisive contribution to their exemplary Tarot Sport longplayer may have added the propulsive edge that their live shows were previously lacking, but this evening suggests that they are still mulling the fork in the road before them. Oscillating between the warbling synths and industrial 808s of Surf Solar and the distortion laden post-rock of cuts from Street Horrrsing, what their set lacks in thematic cohesion it more than makes up for in the sheer exuberance of their amp-bursting explorations. They may not yet know where they’re headed, but in this instance, the journey is as much fun as the destination itself. 4/5


Pfffffttt, when you're appearing at Sonar, a festival well known for pushing the audience's expectations of AV shows, simply projecting a wild eyed image of your mug on the screens and calling it visuals simply isn't going to cut it. Not that the crowd watching Dizzee Rascal cares, as row upon row of people go wild, bouncing as one organism whenever Dizzee commands. By the time he drops Bonkers the entire front of the hanger is going apeshit in the way only white people at a rap gig can. Read into that what you will. 3/5


Filling in for LuckyMe-man-down Mike Slott is the wonderful showboater Lunice. A straight up entertainer in every sense of the word, Lunice manages to hold a crowd with a varied song selection ranging from unreleased exclusives to Beyonce's Diva via Soulja Boy's All Black Everything. Ditching the turntable setup in exchange for a controller and Ableton instead of focusing on mixing the tracks he instead opts to launch a clip , run to the front of the stage and throw down some absurd dance moves. Witness the embodiment of hip-hop's swagger. 4/5


While The Chemical Brothers might not be considered a legacy act just yet, most would begrudgingly admit that their best days, in a creative sense, are behind them. Debuting their latest longplayer, Further (a conspicuously more elegant effort than their recent output), to one of the most rammed crowds of the entire festival, they remain demonstrably capable of wringing every last drop of ecstasy out of a febrile BCN public. However, a more enthusiastic reaction to a clumped together encore of their greatest hits suggests that they're still glancing anxiously over their shoulders at former glories. This prolonged wave of nostalgia, welcome as it is, betrays a rather disquieting subtext: that The Chems themselves tacitly acknowledge that they won't (or indeed, can’t) make anything as exciting or relevant as Surrender again. 3/5


At last tearing themselves away from the bocadillo stands and the fluorescent edifice of the dodgem arena (yes, we had a shot), a sweat-matted throng shuffle towards DJ Hell’s spacious set-up at SonarPub to see his second show of Sonar By Night, and the curtain closer on Sonar 2010. As sunlight begins to splinter the skies above, Hell opens with a dramatic and somewhat poignant Klaus Nomi interpolation that is quickly followed by an extended rework of the Bryan Ferry assisted U Can Dance, the latter of which somehow seems even more hedonistic and hypnotic than the original. Switching effortlessly between his formidabble Gigolo catalogue and a plethora of Detroit techno classics, leaden eyelids and the threat of slumber are successfully held off as we all dance in the daylight. 4/5