Category Archives: Festivals

Music by Bergman: Orquesta Akokán

The lost paradise of Latin music pre-bogaloo and pre-salsa is the dancehalls of Havana and New York in the 50s and 60s. Orquesta Akokán, twelve outstanding Cuban musicians of different generations led by the singer José “Pepito” Gómez, in their debut recover the styles that swept through those dance temples like a Caribbean hurricane: mambo, chachacha, Latin-jazz… Their desire to recover those sounds, as old as a well-matured rum, is an injection of traditionalism that is not so different from the impulse which drives the most traditional Americana artists. But reproducing the sound (long live variety!) of those Latin big bands is much more demanding: you have to have experience, to sing like a star, to have a special rapport, and basically you have to give it your everything. Well, Orquestra Akokán is the sort of band that puts its heart into every note it plays. Because in Yoruba that is what Akokán means: heart. This next friday in concert at Sala Apolo, Primavera Club.

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AMFest 2018

Setena edició d’aquest imperdible festival abans conegut com a Festival Instrumental de Barcelona, meca de la millor música intensa internacional i nacional, que enguany es trasllada de la [2] de l’Apolo a la Fabra i Coats, on del 12 al 14 d’octubre instal·larà 3 escenaris sense cap solapament que barrejaran estils que van del post-rock a l’electrònica, del rock progressiu a la música experimental, de la psicodèlia a l’ambient.

Els japonesos Mono, grans mestres de l’escena instrumental mundial seran un dels cinc caps de cartell d’aquest edició, al costat de l’únic concert a Barcelona dels madrilenys Toundra aquest 2018 presentant ‘Vortex’, el retorn als escenaris dels alemanys The Notwist després de deu anys d’absència, els belgues Amenra i l’estrena de l’espectacle ‘Decomposition Theory Show’, dels britànics 65daysofstatic.

La barreja única d’estils del festival es podrà comprovar amb la delicadesa dels nord-americans Owen o Emma Ruth Rundle, en el que serà el seu debut a Espanya, l’originalitat de la joveníssima holandesa Eevee als comandaments del seu Roland 404, els decibels dels alemanys My Sleeping Karma, els australians Caligula’s Horse o els nord-americans A Storm of Light; l’experimentació neoclàssica de la britànica Jo Quail, l’alemanya Lisa Morgenstern o els noruecs Soup, una de les apostes del festival. L’escena local estarà ben representada per noms com Za!, Playback Maracas, Thermic Boogie, Blood Quartet o la Son.

Favourite Gig: Mercury Rev

Back in 1998, after a turbulent start, with changes to the band and success that had never came, threatening their survival, the North Americans Mercury Rev released their magnum opus, Deserter’s songs. A beautiful album halfway between orchestral pop and a grandiose dream pop, built on melodies as simple as nursery songs, which turned the tide of their fortune and this year celebrates its 20th anniversary (2018). As this is an iconic album, in an era of retromania and nostalgia, we’ve had more recent opportunities to hear them live in all their splendour. So, to celebrate the album’s anniversary, the group are proposing to revive it now in a more intimate and acoustic format, with the whispering and scratching they were born with. Tonight in concert at BAM Festival.

The muses of La Musa: Katie Melua

Her tender and wistful singing  will create an incomparable atmosphere on the 13th  July.  At the age of only eight years old, the artist moved to Northern Ireland, and a few years later settled in London where she was discovered by Mike Batt, the producer and composer known for creatingThe Wombles, who introduced her to the British music scene.  This singer from Georgia rediscovered her traditional, sensitive and delicately passionate style;  elegant pop  with hints of jazz and blues which will leave no one unmoved. Tonight at Festival Jardins de Pedralbes.

Festival Cruïlla 2018

The eclectic Cruïlla music festival is a favourite for locals in the Barcelona summer festival season, and it celebrates its ninth year running on July 12, 13 and 14 in the Parc del Fòrum with a line-up of some 40 performances featuring all kinds of musical styles, and featuring veterans as well as up-and-comers.

One of the headliners is the great David Byrne, who not only was the frontman for the legendary Talking Heads but has also enjoyed an extensive and fruitful solo career and is one of the first English-speaking stars to open up his sound to include Latin and African rhythms. Fans of rock rooted in Americana are excited about the addition of Jack White to the line-up, with his third solo album, ‘Boarding House Reach’ (2018), and of bluesman Seasick Steve. For fans of rap and urban music, don’t miss The RootsN*E*R*D (Pharrell Williams among them), Prophets of Rage (the supergroup made up of members of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, Chuck D and DJ Lord Public Enemy, plus B-Real from Cypress Hill), and British outfit Bugzy Malone, showing off the harder side of hip hop.

Electronic music fans won’t be disappointed either with the French duo Justice, British duo Orbital, drum & bass duo Chase & Status, and Norwegian producer Kygo.

Look forward to roots music from Brazil’s Gilberto GilFatoumata Diawara from Mali, and American reggae band Soja. In addition to Diawara, Cruïlla’s other important female voices are English singer-songwriter Jessie Ware, and French musician Camille, who’s comfortable with both pop and the avant-garde and whatever lies between.

Reggae heir Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley is back at the festival after his 2015 performance, and now he presents his latest album, ‘Stony Hill’ (2017); Colombian duo Bomba Estéreo, one of the most internationally well-known groups on the new wave of alternative Latin American pop also takes to the stage.

More locally, Spanish and Catalan performers include Núria GrahamThe New RaemonMi CapitánBelakoLa PegatinaEls CatarresLa M.O.D.A., the Always Drinking Marching BandLori MeyersElefantesBlaumutRamon Mirabet and Joan Dausà, Madrid’s Izal with their epic pop, and from nearby Vic Joana Serrat.

Completing the line-up are LP, the alias of American singer-songwriter Laura Pergolizzi; English singer-songwriter Ben Howard; New York rock band The Last Internationale; and Peruvian folk-pop group We the Lion; as well as Fura dels Baus and Aquelarre de Cervera, who add a stage-performance ingredient to the festival cocktail.

Local Bands: Mourn

Mourn began their career in 2014 and, after the release of their self-titled debut, they became one of the sensations of the season inside and outside the national borders. With a brazen and powerful guitar rock influenced by the sound of the 90s, the Cabrils-based youth quartet returned last year with a new EP titled Over The Wall (Captured Tracks, 2017). Tonight at Vida Festtival.

Vida Festival 2018

The Vida festival has become one of the musts on the Catalan summer music festival calendar in record time, and it celebrates its fifth anniversary this year with a line-up that’s got us all ready to get to the Masia d’en Cabanyes just down the coast in Vilanova i la Geltrú from June 28 to July 1.

St. Vincent is one of the headliners this year, as she presents ‘Masseduction’ (2017), the latest album from the American singer-songwriter and guitarist also known as Annie Clark; Scottish band Franz Ferdinand also present their new effort, ‘Always Ascending’ (2018); and Of Montreal, American indie artist Kevin Barnes’s project, also debut tracks from their album ‘White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood’ (2018); English singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey presents his second solo work, ‘Wake Up Now’ (2017); and the legendary band out of Arizona Calexico, led by Joey Burns and John Convertino, take to the stages once again with their ninth album, ‘The Thread That Keeps Us’ (2018). Other international acts to check out include singer-songwriters Elvis PerkinsBart Davenportand Josh Rouse; noise from Hookworms; krautdisco from DBFC; and guitar pop from newcomers out of Norway, Great News.

More local acts include Los Planetas, one of the biggest bands on the Spanish music scene, who come along with their ninth album, ‘Zona temporalmente autónoma’ (2017), under their arm as well; El Petit de Cal Eril, the band led by Joan Pons, bring their metaphysical pop and the psychedelia of their live shows to the festival with their own ninth album, dubbed ‘Δ’ (2018); the six-piece Oso Leone from Mallorca also present a new, and much-anticipated, album, which is released this year and shows off their more electronic and R&B sides; and the mathrock duo ZA! also have new music to show off.

You can also check out fast and powerful pop from young Valencian band La Plata; the mix of krautrock, metal and pscyhedelia that Medalla have for you; punk from Galician outfit Novedades Carminha; and from Murcia it’s Perro, among others.