Between the domestic rise of commercial "EDM" and recent extravaganzas like Miami's Ultra, New York's Electric Zoo and Las Vegas' Electric Daisy Carnival, there's been a lot of talk about what makes for a large-scale electronic-music event. Typically, in the U.S., it involves lots of lasers and fireworks, gaudily garbed kandi ravers, and a playlist heavy on dubstep wobble, trance stabs and Avicii's inescapable "Levels."
But anyone who has ever traveled to Barcelona for the annual Sonar Festival knows that there are other ways of doing things. For three days, the event packs a pair of contemporary art museums with a mind-boggling array of sounds, from way-out experimental fare to top-notch techno, electro-pop and bass music. But Sonar doesn't scrimp on the rave, either: The nighttime events bring together tens of thousands of amped-up fans in a hangar-like venue for an epic display of thump and throb that runs well past sunup.
This weekend marks the 19th annual edition of the festival, and the lineup represents one of the most diverse yet, including Hot Chip, Amon Tobin, Luciano, James Murphy, James Blake, Flying Lotus, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Squarepusher, Austra, Blawan, Kode9, Maya Jane Coles, John Talabot, Nina Kraviz, Julio Bashmore, Jacques Greene, Madeon, LA Vampires, Maria Minerva, Untold, The 2 Bears, Cooly G, DVA, Ital, DJ Harvey and dozens more. You'd be hard pressed to find that kind of lineup anywhere in North America. And the casual fans who come to see Deadmau5, Fatboy Slim and Lana Del Rey are far more likely to discover something new than they would at any domestic event booking their ilk.
We've put together a three-and-a-half-hour playlist featuring selected artists from this year's lineup; whether you're currently en route to Barcelona or merely dreaming about it, it's an expansive snapshot of the best and the brightest in today's electronic music.