Travels In Corporeality by James B.L. Hollands

Love Is A Dangerous Angel – The Costa Duarada

“Never ever sterilise stethyscopes by boiling them, even if your intentions are good” Donald S.Passman.

Phrase of day one was ” Ask Keith “. Keith appeared to be the only operative within Heathrow Airport capable of getting me out of the country – it´s virtually impossible to travel without a credit card nowadays…but if that position should ever present itself to you, ask Keith. It works.

After some taxi driver cunt dumps us twenty minutes from our flat, we arrive, do stuff and hit Sonar. It´s the hottest June in Barcelona for fifty years. The Sonar Complex is in Hoxton, we´re staying in a cross between Beirut and Chelsea. The Runts have commandeered a building site behind our flat, and the sound of firecrackers beats a tattoo for the next three days. We-are-young-and-we-bring-war.

Sonar is gentle, an outdoor complex, one indoor tent, a few stages, some big white building. Not too busy, just right. Outside they´re playing acid and Clipse. We arrive too late for the Mute presentation so hang waiting for Paddy´s mate Tony to magically appear, as working a mobile is impossible. ( Hallo Motorola! Hallo 02! ) There he is. Tony´s mate Shaz tells us about some thing happening that night on Avenue Diagonal – blastbeats from people who weren´t invited to play Sonar, or who couldn´t afford to pay to play, which is the rumour.

At the Wrong Festival some industrial retards are angle-grinding a cow´s skull. Go on, impress me, suck its fucking eyeball out you wankers. They don´t, I´m rock gig bored until one of the bands, or someone in the audience, whatever, drops pepper spray or mace or tear gas into the crowd. It´s an aesthetic first for me. It clears the club except for some grindcore kids and yours truly, who by this time is on vodka and running towards the stage through the choking, tear-streaming crowd
” Give it some fuckin WELLY you faggot SLAAAAGS”.

Erm…DJ Rupture´s set was great, surf for him, leave then me n Pad stay up all night. Tony looks disgusted the next day at the empty bottle of brandy, but it tasted great and now I can slur in fifteen different languages.

We sweat heavily on the way to Sonar Day Two. Phrase of the day is “Que Sera Serrotta” – the feeling of ´Fuck It´ upon realising that one is about to greet one´s public with spunk stains around the fly of one´s trousers.

The Sonar Complex has turned into hell overnight. Human detritus – both organic and inorganic – is everywhere. A permanent thoroughfare feeling descends – or is pushed – upon us. Everybody in the world blah blah Miss Kittin someone else will tell you that.

Trying to find space, walk past that big white thing. It´s got this wall of white noise hanging outside it like an Addams Family cloud; we´re straight in, down the front, Black Power salute, catch the end of the Pita / Tina Frank set, give them money they rock.

Outside I turn to P and say “It´s about here that I´d expect to bump into someone I know” and Lucy and Matt Beat13 tap me on the shoulder. Great to see them.

Turns out the white thing is the Barcelona Mueum Of Contemporary Art designed by Van de Roehe. There´s some art stuff in it which we check on Beat13´s recommendation. Two guys from MIT have just done…it´s frosted perspex draughts which illuminate neon when moved on a frosted perspex board. Four sets of headphones; each counter is assigned different sound sources on an LED grid beneath the counter revealed when you move it. By
moving the draughts, free flowing music is possible by interacting the grids with each other.

But it´s too big to steal so we
oh, forgot to mention Datarock. If you ever see them advertised in your town, run. Run for your fucking lives as fast and as hard in the opposite direction as you possibly can.

Walk 15 steps and bump into Steve Sleeve. Fantastic. We settle, I go off to get drinks. There´s some shit tickets system and I don´t care. Bartender bloke takes my tickets, throws them on the floor and turns to serve the chick next to me. Don´t mess with me you fuckin Spanish cunt and within seconds I´m inside his neurons. His dreams are hideous for days afterwards. I have my first ” I hate festivals ” thoughts. After five attempts, he finally does the honour of allowing me some drinks.

Steve´s staying in Brighton with Tony Reynolds. Tony walks up looking like he´s gonna kill, all Cossack beard and ´London stinks of piss´ T-shirt. I love these guys.

Eat, sleep etceteraaaaa hit the road for Sonar by night. Sonar de Nit is existential; 100,000 people entertained by three sound systems in an aircraft hangar in Beckton. It´s so huge – and the sheer mass of people so overwhelming – that I´m actually scared. Suddenly our party becomes a single organism, melded for comfort.

It´s like that shit scene in Matrix 2. The factory is decorated in huge mobiles in the shape of ecstasy pills; Sonar´s logo is a man with pills for eyes. There´s no fucking way I´m psychically communing with this commercially crass drug industry bollocks so I do the whole night on two beers. Credit due, man, there´s 100,000 ( more like 7,000, says Sleeve later ) people and no hint of violence but it strikes me that the people are so dulled by the awful, AWFUL music they´re literally submerged in that resistance is futile.

There is nothing to do and we´re stuck in an aircraft hangar in Beckton all night. Great.

Richie Hawtin´s set is tired, I won´t even begin with that Mistress Barbara one and outside some twat is pretending to be a rock star and playing – Jesus – Goldfrapp. Fuck OFF Lowest Common Denominator Soundsystems.

Aphex Twin does a passable impression of a bottle of AmylNitrate for 15 minutes. By this point I´m feeling so old and cynical that I´m actually starting to enjoy myself.

Sonar is one huge body corporate; an egalite where the only right to exercise is the right to exercise; a decadance of corporeality. This is a festival billed as the 10th Barcelona International Festival Of Advanced Music and Multimedia Art. Advanced, my cunt. Don´t treat us like arseholes you fucking corporate wankers.

The evening ends and there´s 100,000 people on stupid drugs stuck on an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere. IT´S THE FUTURE, IT´S THE FUTURE. Give me strength. The bus queue is a voluntary Auschwitz; each time a bus randomly pulls up somewhere, the cram could – and Sonar are lucky it didn´t – have killed. It´s very, very frightening. We´re lucky enough to
a) be near a bus when it pulls up
b) have some quick thinking anarchist hop on board and open the back door of the coach 🙂
So we get away fairly quickly, but I hear horror stories of three hour waits to get out. Deeply unpleasant experience.

Wake up in afternoon, DARN, I´ve lost my ticket. Schlep to Sonar to see if I can get another one.
Fat chance. An hour and five ” No,you must go there ” laters and I give up.

“I fully understand your inability to print me another ticket due to the potential for abuse,” I paraphrase to the really sweet guy behind the desk, “but what about human error?”

The guy looks at me, please don´t do this.

“I fully admit it. I have committed a human error, how does Sonar account for this?”

The guy´s eyeballs pop out and ticker tape streams from his mouth.

Thank god for that then. Can´t get back in to Sonar ( and I know what you´re thinking; for the record I didn´t deliberately lose my ticket or use it to make roaches. Honest. )…relieved because the only way I could have done SonAuschwitz again was monged off me head.
Which, incidentally, Barcelona is flooded with so we neck a couple and wander the city by night instead. Party town.
Steve rings “You goin tonight, J? ” “Nah mate, lost me ticket” “Man, you could´ve had Tony´s; he just ripped his up…”

For at least four of us that weekend, Sonar was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.