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The Odd Couples: 2015's Strangest Festival Bill Sharers

Sometimes the big summer festivals stop making sense...
28 January 2015, 6:42pm

As the entire record industry spends its days with a brow furrowed, desperately scrambling down the back of a sofa for 50p, festivals become a more and more attractive proposition for all involved. Artists get to bus round Europe sipping foreign beer after foreign beer in the sun; punters get to see their favourite artists while sipping beer after beer in the sun; promoters get to bundle their talent in one easily sellable package. It works for everyone. I get to see Bicep on a boat in Croatia. Bicep get to see Croatia from a boat. The person who booked Bicep to play on a Croatian boat gets to talk about seeing Croatia from Bicep's boat.

Today, left-of-centre Spanish dance event Sonar have announced the newest additions to their line up. The bill sees the expected combination of electronic experimentation, with appearances from Mika Vaino, Powell and Russell Haswell, some big room European dance music, courtesy of Maya Jane Coles, Roman Flugel and Ten Walls, and the kind of crossover acts that please Pitchfork as much as Popjustice – Flying Lotus, FKA Twigs and Hot Chip. Scan down though and things start to get odd. Die Antwoord? Just about makes sense. Yung Lean? Riiiiiight. Duran Duran next to Skrillex? DURAN DURAN? NEXT TO SKRILLEX?

Now, no one doubts that group's ability to play songs from 30 years ago to an OK standard, nor are they casting aspersions on Sonny Moore's crowd drawing credentials. Both will probably be great and those of us who give into snobbishness and pointedly miss them will kick ourselves the morning after, but the booking is indicative of an industry that's currently in a repeated cycle of throwing shit at an airport wall.  Things, in some way, have stopped making sense. Lets see that as exciting, though, lets see that as a breaking down of the imagined restrictions of genre, as a way of giving people what they want and expect at the same time as offering them the unknown, the unheard, the genuinely unexpected.

Given the recent wash of festival announcements, let's cast a glance over the odder juxtapositions set to share stage space in cities from Amsterdam to Zagreb this summer.


THUMP favourite Annie's first fully fleshed out festival looks like a real Maltese treat with the likes of Carl Craig, Kerri Chandler and Kaytranada joining the Radio 1 star for a weekend of pool parties and beach based frivolity. But imagine being the poor sod that stumbles, cocktail in hand, from Eats Everything's bouncy house to Mella Dee's sodden take on the hardcore continuum. Strawberry daiquiri doesn't wash out of a fresh white vest so easily.


One of the US' marquee music weekends – or, rather, two weekends – it isn't surprising that this one's full of not-quite-right pairings: Tale of Us and the Cribs, anyone? Stromae and Swans? Want to hop from Reverend Horton Heat to Ryan Hemsworth with me brah? Personally, I'm praying that Panda Bear doesn't clash with Porter Robinson, and more importantly that I can hop in my VIP golf cart and catch a bits of DJ Harvey, Drake, and Drive Like Jehu. Coachella: the one place in the world where you can draw a human venn diagram of people into both Ben Klock and Belle and Sebastian.


The benchmark for the modern European festival experience, this Barcelona based bash is one of the most consistently perfectly programmed events around. Though the headliners are usually of the American blokes from the 90s stood about with guitars variety, there's always been a dance element to their booking. Which leads to Ariel Pink rubbing shoulders with Underworld, Simian Mobile Disco throwing a pigskin to American Football, and Richie Hawtin stroking his chin to Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog. If nothing else, Primavera Sound 2015 gives us the once in a lifetime chance to see both Har Mar Superstar and Electric Wizard in the same weekend.


Alright, bit of a cheat this one as only two acts have been announced for the Belgian branch of the EDM superfest. But those two acts are…Sven Vath and The National Orchestra of Belgium.  Our prayers, answered at last.


Outside of a few events held in back gardens, played at by friends of friends with friends in equally mediocre pop-punk cover groups, Disclosure, with a combined age of about 31, must be the youngest people out there hosting their own festival this summer. Their Wild Life event, held, somewhat oddly, at Brighton City Airport, looks like it'll be a gem. The only reservation, at this stage is aligning Sam Smith with the Wu Tang Clan. The world wasn't made for this.

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