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It can all be a little overwhelming, the city may not be huge but the culture, activities, events, eateries etc. is vast. So we have taken it upon ourselves to amalgamate our local 12 years experience in the city via our blog. Whether you are planning on coming over for the festivals, want to find out vegan eats or general insider information, we will keep you in the loop.
Barcelona’s experimental music events
Sònar started out as something very different to the festival that folk who flock to it today consider it to be. For years it’s been considered the leading avant-garde and experimental festival in Europe and one of the best in the world. Forget the crowds and the techno attached to it. The truth is that in its 16 years of history Sònar has maintained an experimental roster and essence of the highest quality. The resulting fest is a great bet if you’re up for discovering amazing new experimental and unusual acts and for dancing your sweet ‘lil toosh off all day and night long!
When: Middle of June
If there’s one festival that people will associate with the words “Barcelona” and “experimental” it’s LEM. This festival’s approach in uniquely innovative on a number of levels: For a whole month it integrates itself with the lives of its visitors by programming one or two shows a day in intimate venues and, what’s more most of them are free.
What you’ll find at LEM is a much more laid back approach to the stereotypical festival modus operandi: instead of being on your feet all day trying to cram in as many shows as possible, LEM offers you the chance to sip on a glass of wine or a cold beer and devote all your attention to the show. The gigs are usually held in the Gracia neighbourhood, and the artists invited are the crème de la crème of the avant-garde. The music you’ll hear at this fest defies the very limits of music, sound and the imagination. It’s sound Jim…. But not as we know it; not as we know it…
The name of this festival literally means “sown” head, and no less avant-garde than its title is the festival’s motto: “weirder is better.” It’s therefore no surprise that this festival is a bit of a hit or miss thing. Some editions have been incredible while others have been a bit dense, but all come with the (non-refundable) guarantee that there’ll be enough noise to fry your brains good and proper if that’s what you’re after.
This festival was founded in 2005 by Arnau Sala and Sam Roig. Arnau also runs Ozonokids, a record label that has its name editing experimental and psychedelic music with an uncompromising attitude. Sam Roig is behind L’Ull Cec, which promotes incredible shows all year round.
The festival changes venue each year and while some have been really amazing locations, others left a lot to be desired. Still, there’s no disputing that over the years Cap Sembrat has gained a cult following on both a national and international scale.
When: There’s no set date or time of year for this fest, it changes every year; sometimes there are two editions per year.
Víctor Nubla, the creative director behind LEM festival and free improvisation band Aixònoéspanic have a residency in Electric Bar in Gràcia where they play jam sessions with various guest artists every month.
It’s an interesting experience, which can transport you to very different psychedelic landscapes each time. If you haven’t been up there yet, check, Electric Bar out: in addition to a spectrum of experimental and avant-garde music events, the venue boasts the best and most bizarre artistes including poets and storytellers. Who wants to live in the real world anyway?
When: Every third Wednesday of the month.
MP7 Music in Progress
BCN-mp7 is the CCCB’s surrealist but tuneful experimental music festival that runs seven sessions of creation, production and debate about contemporary popular music.
Besides live fusion and friction multiple music genre concerts, the cycle also involves colloquiums devoted to open critical reflection on the current music scene. New technology is also brought into the light, tried and tested.
When: Monthly from around March to November.