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Lessons I learned at Sonar

18 Jun

I learned a few things at Sonar this weekend which may be useful to others. Each lesson has an anecdote, so bear with me.

Friday night

I was going to Sonar! Woohoo! It was all so exciting, until I reached the ticket checkers at the gate. Having scanned my print out, he then sent me along to the ticket verification office where a nice man told me that I had been sold a fake ticket. I wasn’t the only one. All around me girls and boys were standing around a bit shell-shocked, mumbling stuff about buying their tickets from the friend of a friend.
I was ushered along to the ticket office where I had to buy a one night ticket for the eye watering price of 65 Euros. Ouch!

Lesson number 1: Friends of friends can con you in Barcelona


Saturday morning

While recovering from a fantastic night, our friend calls us to assure me I will be getting my money back. She got them from an office colleague who she had now threatened with a severe head kicking unless he coughed up.

Lesson number 2: Don’t con people who know where you live and work


Saturday night

The ticket checker had told me my other ticket was probably fake, but he couldn’t verify it untill Saturday night. So I arrived planning to try the ticket and then if all failed, buying another painfully expensive night pass. But this was the last night of Sonar, and we arrived at 11:30 pm to the sight of heart sinking ‘Sold Out’ signs. I tried my luck with the fake one, which stubbornly refused to pass the scanner. A security guard was summoned and I was handed over. Putting on a brave face I said goodbye to wiser friends (who had the sense to buy direct from the vendors).

The security guy directed me down a passage at the end of which I was to go left and find the ticket verification office. I went down that passage, and at the end I found an entrance to Sonar on my right, and the exit on my left. I don’t know if this was a result of poor organisation or a kindly ‘look the other way’ approach by the guards towards duped schmucks like myself: both of which are equally possible in Barcelona.

Either way, the gods gave me a chance and I took it.

Lesson number 3: You don’t always have to turn left as instructed. Sometimes you can turn right and slip past the gate! Whoop Whoop!



Japanese artists Soubugen in Barcelona

5 Apr

From the land of perfection, control, rigid hierarchies and near religious protocol and etiquette, come the craziest, funniest artists I have ever met.

Soubugen are an art duo who play new and evolving sounds with traditional instruments. Hisao Suginak plays a traditional Japanese string instrument, the Shamisen. Hisao on his Shamisen is not unlike watching a lead guitarist in a rock n roll band go off on one! Think Japanese Jimmy Hendrix.

Sarya Yuko, is a Japanese dancer who also plays the Tambura, a traditional string instrument from India. Together the duo create a fantastic show.

The couple live in Sapporo a city on the island of Hokkaido and have been visiting Spain and Barcelona for the last 4 to 5 years. Speaking little English, less Spanish and the language of music, they make friends wherever they go and love nothing better than finding other musicians to jam with. Don’t miss them this season!

Soubugen performances:

1. Friday, 6th of April
Venue: Dos Trece, 40 Carrer de Carme, 08001
Time: 9 pm

2. Traditional Japanese dance workshop by Yuko
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Venue: Espai Ku, Canvis Nous 1
Two classes, both two hours long for 20 Euros. Ladies, you get to dress up in kimonos and dance about. To book your place, call the organiser at Ku -657 73 83 96

3. Tuesday 19 April
Venue: Espai Ku
Time: 8pm

For more concert dates visit their facebook page. Hanging about the internet and facebooking isn’t their thing, so if you have questions about any of their shows, get in touch with the venue.

It’s The Drinker’s Day today! Hooray!

21 Dec

Friend’s and lovers flying home to Christmas have left a little emptiness, a little quietness in the travellers camp of Barcelona. I can’t shake the ghost, real and imagined, of the kid left alone at the end of term. The one who wanders across empty playgrounds and kicks about deserted hallways.

But then again, this isn’t the Chalet School, or Tom Brown’s School, or even the Bridge of Allan student village in Scotland. Nah, this is Barcelona.

So instead of sentimental Christmasy moping, I’m gonna head out for some punky, Balkan gypsy, ska, reggae dancing madness, also known as the Always Drinking Marching Band. Lets dance till our legs scream for mercy!

The Drinker’s Day
Venue: Sala Apolo, Nou de la Rambla 113, 08004 Barcelona
Time: 9pm till late (5 ish)
Tickets: 10 Euros in advance and 13 on the door
Date: 21st December 2011

Welcome the king of dancehall: Beenie man in Barcelona tonight

14 Dec

He is a (reportedly ex?) homophobe.
He is a dirty pig.
He objectifies women.

But hell, he’s the king of dancehall man!

Come shake yer booty!

Tonight, Sala Bikini (547 Av/Diagonal 08029 Barcelona). Phone 93 322 08 00.

Tickets cost 22 Euros at the door. The show starts between 8:30 and 9 till 11 ish (Reggae/dancehall artists only do times in ‘ish zones)


Hunting the music of Manu Chao in Barcelona’s Mariachi Bar

27 Nov

I came to Manu Chao annoyingly late.

Have you ever discovered the next best thing, only to realise everyone else discovered it, bought the upgrade and are now actually saving for version 3.0?

Thats what Manu Chao’s music was for me. Regardless, I fell head over heels in love. In the years when we were working and dreaming of a move to Barcelona, if I ever had a day when that dream seemed too distant I would put my head phones on and listen to him. Although I didn’t realise it then, the wild, happy, slightly lost, multilingual street music embodied everything I would come to love in Barcelona.

And yet, I’ve never seen the man in flesh. Not attended one single concert. Que es una mierda! That is shit.

Long story short, last night I found out the best place to hunt the fabled Manu Chao (Magda, my Word On The Street, is back!). Like the man and the music itself, I am probably the last person in the city to find out about this bar.

In the heart of Barrio Gotico, you will find the bar El Mariachi (on Calle del Codols). This bar is a favoured hangout for musicians in general and Manu Chao in particular. Come down to this bar and you might find impromptu jam sessions, musicians letting their hair down, and most importantly  information about secret or illegal concerts. Concerts are mostly promoted through word-of-mouth and you can usually buy the tickets off someone in the bar.

But why am I bothering, you all knew this already didn’t you?

Here is a clip of Manu Chao jamming at El Mariachi

And here is one of my favourites, Beinvenida a Tijuana, Welcome to Tijuan: