Top Ten June 2011 Festivals

>> Sunday, May 22, 2011

RA picks the June festival highlights from across the globe.

What do Austria, England, Japan, Holland, France, Canada and Spain have in common? Well, aside from all being countries, they all feature in this month's round-up of the planet's foremost festivals.

Urban Art Forms

10. Urban Art Forms - June 16 - June 18, Arena Nova Playgrounds, Vienna, Austria

Skimming this year's Urban Art Forms lineup, it's easy to see why it's become one of the country's best-loved festivals. Held at the Arena Nova Playgrounds in the Wiener Neustadt district, just a short drive south of Vienna, the festival draws thousands of dance-happy punters to the region every June. This year, the three-day event has locked in over 100 artists to perform, ranging from the stadium-sized sounds of Paul Kalkbrenner and Fatboy Slim, to the upfront techno of Carl Craig and Len Faki. Take a look a little further down the bill, however, and you'll be pleasantly surprised: Agoria, Marc Houle and Florian Meindl will all be on hand to helm the techno arena, while Modeselektor and Simian Mobile Disco will flex at the main stage.
RA pick: Len Faki's sound is more than festival-ready.

09. Glade - June 10 - June 11, Mansion House, Biggleswade, UK

Glade has always enjoyed a strong and devoted following, which is why last year's cancellation came as something of a shock. Police pressure and poor ticket sales were cited at the time, but perhaps in the long-term the setback could be viewed as a blessing in disguise. Glade have looked long and hard at the make up of the event and have opted to strip things back to a (sort of) intimate 5000 capacity. Gone are the big top tents and myriad headliners and in their place is an aim to get back to their more humble beginnings—plus more "sparks, flames, magic and markets." A total of eight stages will, over the course of two days, host the likes of Trentemøller, Adam Beyer, Andrew Weatherall and Global Communication, all of which will journey to Mansion House, a 75-acre park in Biggleswade.

RA pick: Check the recently resurgent Global Communication.

08. Taico Club - June 4 - June 5, Kodamanomori, Nagano, Japan

There's a real sense of whimsy about Taico Club, from the cutesy cartoon unicorns and flying dragons that adorn its website, to the promise of 24 hours camping among the misty green hills of Kodama no Mori. Capacity again is limited and likely to sell out in advance to a crowd that is reputedly mostly made up of diehard repeat attendees. Musically, Guy Gerber, Ricardo Villalobos, Rolando and Motor City Drum Ensemble will make up the house/techno quarter, former Battles frontman Tyondai Braxton will fly solo and Japanese microcomposer Ryoji Ikeda will team up with Raster-Noton founder Carsten Nicolai for a performance under their collaborative cyclo banner.

RA pick: Toro Y Moi's lush sound among the rolling green hills.

07. Parklife - June 11 - June 12, Platt Fields Park, Manchester, UK

As the saying goes, teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success. The collective of established Mancunian promoters who pooled resources for the inaugural Parklife in 2010 are a case in point, returning for a beefed up two-day version after last year's debut. Taking over Fallowfield's Platt Fields Park again, day one of the Parklife weekender will feature songstresses Kelis and Katy B, plus Hercules & Love Affair, Art Department and Mount Kimbie, while we will do our best to keep everyone on their toes by locking in Adam Beyer, Simian Mobile Disco, James Holden and Moodymann for the RA stage. The following day is to be headlined by crossover double acts Chase & Status and Skream & Benga, with DJ Shadow, D/R/U/G/S, Mark E and brostep poster boy Skrillex also appearing through the day.

RA pick: Come join us and self-described "Irish techno nerds" Psycatron.

06. Awakenings - June 25, Spaarnwoude, Amsterdam, Netherlands

We hope you were able to snare tickets to this year's Awakenings festival—it's completely sold out. Having stamped its name upon The Netherlands' dance music calendar over one decade ago, it has seemingly gotten bigger and better with each edition. The latest instalment is no different, scheduled to play host to some of electronic music's most renowned names. Techno is out in full force, represented by the likes of Ben Klock, Sandwell District and Jeff Mills, while Ricardo Villalobos, Reboot and Henrik Schwarz will also be on hand. As always, it'll all be going down over one day, with the music kicking off at 11 AM sharp.

RA pick: Pantha Du Prince's live show has been in fine form ever since he dropped Black Noise.

05. Springfestival - June 1 - June 5, Various Venues, Graz, Austria

Ten years in and despite their ongoing success, Austria's Springfestival has decided to shake things up a bit this year with the introduction of the Springsessions conference. The discussions, which will run alongside the usual array of nighttime shenanigans, will focus on all things digital, bringing together leading figures from the electronic art, technology and design sectors. Sundry Graz spaces will host Spring's parties—caves, fortresses and man-made islands have all been utilized in previous years in addition to more traditional club spaces. And the music program seems equally as wide-ranging. Tensnake, Hercules & Love Affair, Atari Teenage Riot, DJ Koze, Martyn, Apparat, Jungle Brothers, Caribou and Isolee—not too many lines to be drawn between that little lot, which is a good thing of course.

RA pick: If Jackmaster's set is half as good as his fabric mix...

04. Glastonbury - June 22 - June 26, Worthy Farm, Glastonbury, UK

If you were one of the hundreds of thousands sat at their computers hitting "refresh" this past October, the following will either feel like a victory note or a slap in the face. The scramble for Glastonbury tickets felt even more frenzied than usual this year, perhaps due to 2010's idyllic weather and general good vibes generated from the event reaching its 40th anniversary. Pyramid headliners this year are U2 (after last year's cancellation), Coldplay and Beyoncé, who represent just the very tip of an iceberg which boasts almost 30 different music and entertainment stages. Dance fans will want to concentrate their efforts on East Dance, Oxlyers in West and Wow in the main, although crossover acts like Nicolas Jaar, The Chemical Brothers, Hercules & Love Affair, Jamie Woon, Caribou and James Blake will perform alongside their indie/alternative/hip-hop counterparts.

RA pick: Catch DJ Shadow headlining the John Peel stage on the Friday.

03. Nuits Sonores - June 1 - June 5, Marché Gare, Lyon, France

An opening night performance by Tarantino-approved surf rock trio 5,6,7,8's, and a closing night orchestral concert by Chilly Gonzales illustrates the indie cred of Lyon's long-running summer festival. As with every year, 2011 will offer a range of daytime options—including sets from dOP and Battles—but true to the English interpretation of its name, Nuits Sonores is all about the "night sounds." While the second of the five nights of programming goes for a wander around the city, setting up in club, galleries and arts spaces for Circuit Electronique, the majority of all after-dark action will take place at Le Marche Garde. Therein, among the rock, electronica and no wave, you'll find US jocks Kyle Hall and Levon Vincent, Black Devil Disco Club and Nicolas Jaar, Ben UFO and Lorn, and label nights hosted by Cadenza and Infine.

02. Mutek - June 1 - June 5, Society for Arts and Technology, Montreal, Canada

World premieres, North American premieres, Canadian premieres. MUTEK counts them up each year after they have their lineup set, and it usually takes them a while to do so. That's because the Montreal festival has been committed to bringing its audiences something they've never heard before. In its early stages, the festival helped further propel emerging talent in Montreal like Akufen and Deadbeat to worldwide audiences. These days, it's transitioned to a place where its reputation speaks for itself: Plastikman, Four Tet, Amon Tobin and James Holden will all perform at this year's event, with the aforementioned Akufen (under his lesser heralded moniker Horror Inc.) and Deadbeat (along with visual artist Lillevan) are set to reinvent what they do yet again. And, to top it all off, it's a rare festival where the artists more often than not stick around for a few days to check everything else out. In other words, don't be surprised if you see Badawi's impressive hair all around the city in early June.

RA pick: With enough experience under his belt this time, Plastikman's MUTEK return should be a triumphant one.

01. Sonar - June 16 - June 18, Various Venues, Barcelona, Spain

Thursday (Day) | Friday (Day) | Friday (Night) | Saturday (Day) | Saturday (Night)

Much like Movement, one of our other favorite weekends of the year, Sonar is something that the word "festival" doesn't do justice to. It's more like a citywide orgy of parties that just happens to have one of the biggest electronic events in the world at its center. Some industry type things (SonarPro) are thrown in for good measure, plus a satellite event taking place simultaneously on the other side of Spain (Sonar Galicia). As for the bill itself, it's basically a cross-section of electronic music's myriad sub genres, from witch house to dubstep to straight up techno, with an impressive focus on the pioneers (as if Aphex Twin and Underworld weren't enough, they went ahead and got the godfather of minimalism, Steve Reich). And that's just the official bill—hundreds more acts appear around the city all weekend, in clubs at night and on boats and rooftops during the day. Just go easy on the sangria if you want to make it through the whole thing.



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