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Sónar Reykjavík 2016 Wrap-Up

Reviews

Sónar Reykjavík 2016 Wrap-Up

Sónar Reykjavík Music Festival.

Photo: Sónar Reykjavík/Facebook.

Originally founded in Barcelona in 1994, and later expanded into a worldwide music event, Sónar is a vibrant transnational music festival, meant to showcase the absolute cutting edge in dance and electronic music. This year, the popular alternative festival returned to Reykjavík once more, bringing together a diverse line-up of international and Icelandic acts for a thrilling three-day concert series, hosted at Harpa Concert Hall. The result was a blissful blend of foreign and familiar sounds, with powerhouse artists like American rapper Angel Haze, Icelandic gay icon Páll Óskar, the renowned DJ Margeir, feminist rap collective Reykjavíkurdætur, and many more, packing the festival’s five venues with nearly 3,500 enthusiastic attendees.

Sónar Reykjavík Music Festival.

Photo: Sónar Reykjavík/Facebook.

Sónar’s strength lies in the creativity and continuity of the artists it attracts. Although each of the festival’s 70+ performers possessed a distinctive, original sound, they were linked by their desire and daring to push the boundaries of music and challenge preconceived notions of what it can (and should) be. Angel Haze, whose hard-hitting, raw rap beats have been earning her widespread international acclaim, was a case in point. Taking the stage in front of a packed hall of Icelanders and tourists, the up-and-coming rapper shouted profane and poetic lyrics to harsh and harmonious beats, romantically tossing red roses to the audience during and after every track. Artfully combining pop, hip-hop, hardcore rap and electronica, Angel Hazeʼs performance found an ideal home at Sónar, a place where music feels both fresh and relevant, sophisticated but still a tad rough around the edges.

Sónar Reykjavík Music Festival.

Photo: Sónar Reykjavík/Facebook.

The venue felt as boundary-less as the musicians who performed at the event. Attendees were free to move from concert hall to concert hall during performances, ensuring that everyone found a sound to suit their unique musical tastes. The attendees were a mixture of local party-goers, hipsters, European and American tourists, and music buffs—all of whom seemed to enjoy drinking beer and socializing while soaking in the experimental sounds of artists like German DJ Rødhåd, Icelandic rap duo Úlfur Úlfur, and Danish electronic musician Unkwon. Sónar, which is slowly becoming a staple of the Icelandic music scene, has already announced that it will be taking place in Reykjavík again in 2017, the lineup to be gradually announced throughout the year. If you’re interested in hearing an eclectic array of mold-breaking music in the heart of Iceland’s iconic capital, then Sónar might have something to satisfy your need for music without boundaries.

Elliott Brandsma is a journalist, writer, and educator based in Reykjavík. Originally from the US, he currently attends the University of Iceland, where he is writing his graduate thesis on the works of Halldór Laxness.

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