April 6, 2011

Top 10 May 2011 Festivals

Top 10 May 2011 Festivals

May is the month in which the humble festival-goer knows that they've got it all to come—if you live north of the equator of course. That said, Australia does still get a look in this month, while elsewhere we visit Ireland, France, Spain, UK and the USA in search of the finest May festivals.

10. Groovin The Moo
April 30 - May 14
Various, Australia

Groovin The Moo is the type of festival that can only happen in Australia: A five-date regional tour that stops off in the kind of country arenas that usually miss out on headliners reserved for the stages of larger cities. This time around, Groovin' The Moo will touch down in Bendigo, Townsville, Maitland and Bunbury, along with a showing at the University of Canberra. And while the electronic lineup may be relatively light, Groovin The Moo's sheer quirkiness is its draw. On the tour, Cut Copy will play their first Australian festival shows in some time, while Modular label mates and fellow Melbourne residents Architecture in Helsinki also make their return to the outdoor circuit. As far as internationals go, you can catch UNKLE playing live among a host of indie rock names, with Datarock, The Drums and The Go! Team all down to do their thing.

May 4 - May 6
Lyon, France

Once referred to as a "no man's land" for electronic music, Lyon has undergone a considerable renaissance in its nightlife over the past decade. It's been the launch pad of Agoria, the founder of the annual Nuits Sonores festival, and this May the southern French city debuts the Rumble Festival. Bringing in a bill of UK grime, drum & bass and dubstep, and held over a period of two nights at Le Transbordeur, Rumble features lineups that generally alternate between the aforementioned genres. Across the venue's three rooms, the first evening kicks off with DJ Hype, Mala, Plastician, Concord Dawn, MJ Coleand Bok Bok, while day two features a similarly themed roster, with sets from Shy FX & Stamina MC, Emalkay, Roska and Hemlock's Untold.

 08. International Music Summit 2011
May 25 - May 27
Ibiza Gran Hotel, Spain

It's harder than hell to get a seat at the International Music Summit, as conference organizer Pete Tong will proudly tell you. He's more than happy to keep things limited so that some of electronic music's most influential people can actually speak to one another and trade ideas. This year's keynote interview will see Tong talking to Pacha's Sunday success story, Luciano. Call it exclusionary, but the concept has worked: Now in its fourth edition, the event is quickly gaining a rep as the spring version of the Amsterdam Dance Event. Musically, IMS boasts a star-studded finale of a party. This year, 2 Many DJs, Hercules & Love Affair, Dubfire and Tong himself take to the stage.

 07. FutureEverything
May 11 - May 14
Manchester, UK

Now entering its 16th year of operation, FutureEverything returns this May to once again offer a glimpse of the future through "music, art and and ideas." Operating similarly to a conference, the four-day festival encompasses a number of club shows, exhibitions and discussions, with a festival pass the best way to see it all. Representing the techno contingent, Alex Smoke and Tolga Fidan will both play live shows, while indie rockers Warpaint, Gang Gang Dance and Radio Dept. are also billed. Delving into modern classical, Radio 1 host Rob da Bank and 65daysofstatic will perform film scores at RNCM Concert Hall. However, by far the biggest guest is American Steve Reich, recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and hailed by many as the world's greatest living composer.

 06. Southport Weekender
May 6 - May 8
Minehead, UK

Southport Weekender has always given off a bit of a grown-up vibe, with its self catering apartments and strong contingent of 'mature' British selectors like Gilles Peterson, Norman Jay and Kev Beadle. Having evolved out of a soul music festival, there's still a discernible link to R&B, broken beat and acid jazz, and this year as always, it's complemented by top-banner house DJs. 2011's gathering has shifted down the coast from the town that gave it its name to Butlins in Somerset, and will feature Teutonic house devotees Dixon and Motor City Drum Ensemble, party jams from US pioneers Grandmaster Flash and Jellybean Benitez, among other danceable allsorts from David Rodigan, Kenny Dope and Joy Orbison.

 05. All Tomorrow's Parties
May 13 - May 15
Minehead, UK

Back in 1999 London events organisation All Tomorrow's Parties developed a concept that has served them soundly throughout all of their festivals up to the present day: allow a much-loved act to curate the lineup. That's typically meant giants of indie/alternative given the nod to program the mainly UK-based event—and although you could place this year's hosts, Animal Collective, in such a bracket, their choice of acts is about as dance-friendly as an ATP weekender has been. What that means is Omar-S, Actress and Floating Points setting up at Butlins alongside experimentalists Oneohtrix Point Never and Vladislav Delay, and indie headliners Gang Gang Dance and Ariel Pink.

04. Primavera Sound Festival
May 25 - May 29
Barcelona, Spain

Although the impulse association between "festival" and "Barcelona" is summertime favourite Sonar, the city is well and truly broken in each year by Primavera Sound, which eclipses Sonar in terms of scope, stretching out over five days and pulling in around 100,000 punters. The sheer scale of Primavera Sound and its air of aloof indie cool ensures that there's something for anyone who prefers to stay off the musical beaten track. This year will see Atlantan hip-hop figure Big Boi, psychedelics from Animal Collective and Caribou, up-tempo dance fare from Matthew Dear and Simian Mobile Disco, and pensive bass music from James Blake and Darkstar, in and among indie darlings like Mogwai and Belle & Sebastian.

03. Life Festival
May 27 - May 29
Mullingar, Ireland

Irish festival Life deals in the magic of hedonism under a cloak of seclusion—the site is located 14 miles outside the town of Mullingar in Co. Westmeath, nestled away among the trees on the banks of Lough Ennell. For another way of looking at it, click here. Performers, art installations, workshops and camping also feed into this feeling of alternate living—the hints section of their website advises attendees to bring condoms and an open mind, although we're not sure if the two things are related. Musically speaking, you'll get techno from Jeff Mills, Sandwell District and Slam; bass music from Youngsta, Ramadanman and Pinch; and in keeping with the event's green-awareness policy, Dr. Lektroluv.

02. Bang Face Weekender
May 13 - May 15
Rye, UK

There's not a whiff of coyness about May's silver medallist: Bang Face Weekender is only concerned with fun by the bucket-load. With this year's theme, "Horror," assuring plenty of fake blood, rave zombies wigs and glow-in-the-dark poltergeists, ribald beats will be provided by Atari Teenage Riot, DJ Godfather, Chris Clark with a special MPC rave set, and an 'avin-it appearance from The Happy Mondays' Bez. The festival's three days of all-out mayhem will, however, be given a little musical texture in the shape of bass-heavy goings on from Untold and Africa Hitech, a full live Leftfield show, and appearances by Gonjasufi, Jeff Mills and Luke Vibert.

01. Movement
May 28 - May 30
Detroit, USA

Surprised? You shouldn't be. Movement once again takes the crown for our May feature due to their effortless mix of mainstream and underground acts. Few other festivals will have Claude Young and Cio D'or rubbing shoulders with Fatboy Slim and Skrillex. This year boasts the world live debut of Carl Craig's 69 alias, as well as a rare American visit from Cocoon boss Sven Väth. There is also a strong Desolat contingent coming to town: Loco Dice, Martin Buttrich, Pulshar, Guti and Livio & Roby will all perform. And then there's DJ Harvey, Dam-Funk and Echospace. At no other festival does this sort of variety seem to make as much sense. But that's the beauty of Movement over the past few years. It's got something for everyone.

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