Crack Magazine's Festival Guide 2023
A rolling, regularly-updated directory of essential events in the UK, Europe and beyond – handpicked by Crack Magazine. Check back in monthly for new line-ups, eye-opening curation, stunning locations and good value for money, all recommended by us.
Titanic Slipways, Belfast
Line-up: Eliza Rose, I. JORDAN, Central Cee
Belfast’s AVA Festival is renowned for showcasing homegrown talent. That’s not to say it’s not tuned into the artists making waves on the international circuit – with this year’s event a neat display of this keen dual focus. Staged at open-air venue and heritage site Titanic Slipways, line-up standouts include rapper Central Cee, chart-topper Eliza Rose and DJs I. JORDAN, Sally C, Or:la and tons more.
Read our review of last year’s edition here.
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We Love Green
Bois de Vincennes, Paris
Line-up: Yves Tumor, Sudan Archives, Pusha T
Many festivals combine star-studded line-ups with eco-friendly practices, but few do it better than We Love Green. For 2023, the Paris event, which is spread across the large and leafy Bois de Vincennes, will welcome Yves Tumor, Pusha T, Caroline Polachek, Sudan Archives, Tems and more across a bill that skews from rap to pop via experimental electronic. When we’re not front left, you can catch us dropping in at festival’s new skateboarding space, the Playground.
Read the Sudan Archives cover story here.
Arganda del Rey, Madrid
Line-up: Kendrick Lamar, Rosalía, Turnstile
Primavera Sound is a festival brand that needs little to no introduction – so we’ll cut to the chase, shall we? For its next Madrid chapter, taking place in early June, Kendrick Lamar, Depeche Mode, Rosalía and Blur are just some of the names topping the impressively stacked bill. Elsewhere, former Crack Magazine cover stars PinkPantheress, Caroline Polachek, Baby Keem, Rema, FKA twigs and more – including Alex G, Turnstile and Sparks and plenty, plenty more will touch down in the sun-soaked Spanish capital for a proper good knees-up, Primavera Sound style.
Listen to a podcast episode with Primavera Sound’s Pau Cristòful here.
Line-up: LSDXOXO, Erika de Casier, Skin On Skin
By now, Melt is the stuff of legend. Set in the post-apocalyptic surroundings of Ferropolis, a surreal open-air museum of 20th century industrial machinery, the gathering has garnered a solid reputation for tasty line-ups that seesaw between stamina-testing electronic music and bewitching live acts spanning pop, indie, rap and more. This summer’s outing lives up to those expectations. Prepare to get in your feelings with Erika de Casier and Piri; get lost in the pit with Bakar; and get deep down with Joy Orbison, Manuka Honey and Skin On Skin.
Read our review of Melt 2022 here.
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Villa Arconati, Milan
Line up: upsammy, Hudson Mohawke, Batu
Terraforma thrives at the intersections of music, design and sustainability. Nestled in the woods of Villa Arconati, just outside of Milan, its low-impact site is adorned with architecture and installations that juxtapose the dancefloor with visions of the future. On this year’s line up, you can find Timedance boss Batu alongside HudMo, upsammy, Deena Abdelwahed, Nkisi and Dennis Bovell MBE – big! Away from the electronic umbrella, there’s Glaswegian experimentalists Still House Plants, Viennese new-wave artist Salò and Exotic Sin accompanied by TYSON. Lush.
Parco Esposizioni, Milan
Line-up: Yu Su, Yas Reven, Objekt
This year Polifonic is really pulling out the stops – from its European club tour to summer outings in both Puglia and Milan. For the latter, the Italian label and festival is putting on a tip-top spread of talent from its home turf, such as Yas Reven and Simone De Kunovich, as well as international names including Helena Hauff, Ben UFO, Perera Elsewhere, Yu Su and Objekt. All of that combined with a trip to the chic surrounds of Milan.
Heaton Park, Manchester
Line-up: Aitch, Little Simz, Overmono
Each year, thousands of music fans flock to the northern edges of Manchester for Parklife. A quick glance at this year’s line-up will reveal why. For 2023, the festival has locked in hotly-anticipated headline performances from Manchester’s own Aitch and The 1975, alongside Wu-Tang Clan and Nas, Little Simz and more. Look closer and you’ll see that the festival has also knocked it out of the park with an electronic bill featuring UTOPIA boss Jaguar, brotherly duo Overmono, Chicago house hero Honey Dijon amongst a slew more names – and that’s barely touching the surface.
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Fira de Barcelona, Barcelona
Line-up: Aphex Twin, Ryoji Ikeda, Little Simz
Since its foundation in 1994, Sónar has successfully established itself as one of Europe’s most forward-facing festivals, inspiring promoters across the world to merge music with digital art and technology. Now, the time has come to celebrate this feat (and, more imminently, its tremendous 30th anniversary) with an eye-wateringly stacked musical programme featuring – and in no way limited to – Fever Ray, Aphex Twin, Anz, Little Simz and Ryoji Ikeda. A special birthday celebrated under a warm Barcelona sun.
Revisit the festival’s 2022 edition through pictures. Read the Aphex Twin cover story here.
Poble Espanyol, Barcelona
Line-up: Romy, Carlita, Jennifer Cardini
Barcelona’s OFFSónar takes place in Poble Espanyol – an open-air museum situated in the gorgeous surrounds of Montjuïc. Built upon a series of events from labels and parties dedicated to the kaleidoscope of shades that make up techno and house, next month the likes of Circoloco and Brunch Electronik come together with artists such as Carlita, Romy and Jennifer Cardini across three balmy nights.
Worthy Farm, Somerset
Line-up: Arctic Monkeys, Elton John, Lizzo
Back to the farm we go. It will be hard to beat the sheer ecstasy of 2022’s return after the festival’s multi-year hiatus, however the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Elton John, Guns N’ Roses and Lizzo will definitely make this summer’s Glasto one to remember. As per the Worthy Farm way, it would be impossible to list the wealth of artists, sounds and spectacles announced (and yet to be announced, at that) for this year’s outing, but when dusk falls, you’ll find us at a revamped Silver Hayes area – and, of course, at the inimitable Block9. Now we just pray for the sun…
Read our review of Glastonbury 2022 here.
Ortigia Sound System
Line-up: DJ Plead, Moin, Bitter Babe
Ortigia, which sits on the tip of Sicily’s southern city of Syracuse, provides a picturesque backdrop for Ortigia Sound System festival, which is staging its ninth edition this July. Touching down in the Mediterranean for a weekend of sun-soaked merrymaking are the Hyperdub crew, locked in for a label showcase, alongside dizzying club producer DJ Plead, London outfit Moin and Colombian sound artist Lucrecia Dalt. Nick León, whose track Xtasis was our 2022 highlight, will go head-to-head with fellow Miami mainstay Bitter Babe across a weekend that’ll combine excellent B2Bs, stunning vistas and the odd spritz or two.
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Manchester International Festival (MIF)
Various venues, Manchester
29 June – 16 July
Line-up: Afrodeutsche, Ben UFO, Yayoi Kusama
Taking place all over Manchester, including a new purpose-built arts space, Factory International (which is soft launching for this year’s festival), the biennial MIF is set to be a doozy. The multifaceted programme has real strength and depth, delivering art, theatre and a musical contingent that includes Afrodeutsche, Sanam Marvi, Anna Meredith and Ben UFO. Though it’s the mixed-reality concert experience from the late, great Ryuichi Sakamoto and production studio Tin Drum, and an installation from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, that we expect to be the talk of the town.
Read our tribute feature to Ryuichi Sakamoto here.
Nature Loves Courage
30 June – 1 July
Line-up: Abyss X, Juliana Huxtable, Rui Ho
Nature Loves Courage returns to the Sougia, in southern Crete, for an emosh two-day soundtracked by what the festival has evocatively described as a line-up of experimental “sonic shamans” from all corners of the globe, including the likes of Juliana Huxtable, Rui Ho and event founder and artistic director Abyss X. It’s easy to have a good time in a location as picturesque as this, and Nature Loves Courage really does tap deeper into the free-spirited, erm, nature of its home with each new edition.
Listen to a SOPHIE tribute mix from Abyss X here.
Montreux Jazz Festival
30 June – 15 July
Line-up: Caroline Polachek, Bob Dylan, Rema
There’s more to the Montreux Jazz Festival than meets the name. Founded in June 1967 on the shores of Lake Geneva, the annual celebration has grown into one that encompasses soul, rock, pop and hip-hop, with each new iteration deepening this love affair with forward-facing eclecticism. A broad bunch of acts make up our 2023 highlights reel too, from Bob Dylan to Janelle Monáe, and everything in between (read: Caroline Polachek, Wet Leg, Rema, Overmono, Lil Nas X, and many more). Idyllic scenes and some of the world’s biggest stars.
Read the Caroline Polachek cover story here.
Parco Dora, Torino
30 June – 2 July
Line-up: Ricardo Villalobos, Sansibar, Carista
Turin’s Kappa FuturFestival is something of a techno extravaganza. Lighting up Parco Dora – an impressive city park built on a former industrial complex – across a balmy summer’s weekend, the festival’s 10th anniversary celebrations are shaping up to be a masterclass in the heads-down, arms-up imperatives of the rave. Experts teachers, including Ricardo Villalobos, Black Coffee, Carista and LP Giobbi, will deliver some lessons of their own as they lead revellers through all shades of house and techno alongside Vladimir Ivkovic and Lena Willikens, I Hate Models, and Finnish DJ and producer Sansibar.
Read our review of the 2022 edition here.
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Passeio Marítimo de Algés, Portugal
Line-up: Rina Sawayama, Arctic Monkeys, Angel Olsen
Taking place on the western outskirts of Portugal’s sun-soaked capital, Lisbon, NOS Alive spreads itself across the Algés riverside for three days of music, cuisine and culture. Sure, the bill is topped by Sheffield legends turned global rock stars Arctic Monkeys, but there’s plenty to be enjoyed away from the headline gigs, as the likes of majestic singer-songwriter Angel Olsen, R&B storyteller Yaya Bey, musical chameleon Rina Sawayama and composer Kelman Duran take to the stage across an unforgettable few days.
Read the Angel Olsen cover story here.
Novi Sad, Serbia
Line-up: Rico Nasty, Wu-Tang Clan, The Prodigy
Serbia’s storied Exit Festival, which takes place in a 17th century fortress, started life as a student protest against the government and has long been a must for ravers, pop fiends and rock fans alike. That being said, it’s Wu-Tang Clan and Rico Nasty who majorly caught our eye on this year’s programme, appearing at the festival as part of some celebrations for the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. When it’s time to get back in the rave, however, Avalon Emerson, Ben UFO and The Prodigy are among the chosen primed to keep you dancing through the Novi Sad nights.
Merritt, British Columbia
Line-up: Batu, Yu Su, Bianca Oblivion
With a core ethos that encourages artists to “share their hard work without fear of judgement”, Bass Coast is a key destination for electronic music fans to discover their new favourite artist and seek out the next big trends in the scene. Across five stages, the Canadian festival provides a platform for both established and emerging talent, with this year’s bill featuring the likes of Batu, Yu Su, Bianca Oblivion and Interplanetary Criminal alongside a wealth of rising artists. And it doesn’t stop at the music – with art installations, workshops and a wide array of extracurricular experiences to enjoy, from astronomy and cooking to booty-bass aerobics.
Parc de Choisy, Paris
Line-up: Eris Drew, SHERELLE, Bambounou
As Peacock Society heads into its 10th year, the French event is demonstrating just how it has shored up its reputation as one of the country’s leading electronic music extravaganzas. How? With a birthday blow-out at Paris’ Parc de Choisy, of course. Hard-edged provocateurs Cera Khin, KI/KI and Gabber Eleganza will join DJ Python, Juliana Huxtable, SHERELLE and Eris Drew at the festival, where we’ll be securing a prime dancing spot for a Bambounou and Bradley Zero back-to-back set. See you there.
Read the Eris Drew cover story here.
Line-up: Helena Hauff, SPFDJ, Anastasia Kristensen
Stone Techno returns to Zollverein – the former coal mine turned impressive UNESCO World Heritage site in Essen, Germany. In one of those rare collaborations between a heritage institution and full-tilt rave promoters, this is a festival laid on by the Ruhr Museum and promoter-slash-label The Third Room. And let’s be real, the event’s name does a lot of the work when it comes to signposting the cavernous and pummelling sounds the event specialises in. This year, surefire highlights will be coming courtesy of DJ Gigola, SPFDJ, Anastasia Kristensen and Helena Hauff. Four floors, some 50 artists, and a rather unique location.
Line-up: Yung Lean, Aphex Twin, 070 Shake
To the south of Belgium we go for the next edition of Dour Festival. Swapping rural Scotland (where he supposedly lives) for rural Belgium is the uniter of dads-lads-and-everyone-in-between, a certain Aphex Twin, who’ll close out proceedings with a show some 14 years on from his last appearance at the event. He’ll be joined by rappers 070 Shake and Yung Lean, darkwave duo Boy Harsher and hardcore trio Show Me the Body alongside club provocateurs Hudson Mohawke, Lyzza, and Grove – plus Overmono, Caribou and stacks more – at this summertime campout.
Listen to the Caribou mix takeover.
Line-up: Shanti Celeste, Call Super, Pearson Sound
A full week of music set on the gorgeous Adriatic coast of Croatia, Love International hosts music across a handful of stages, as well as boat parties, beaches and an open-air nightclub. For those on a budget, a jaunt to Love International wraps up both summer festival and holiday plans into one neat and memorable bow, with a wide span of genres on display too. For 2023, the event lives up to its name with a line-up of newcomers, long-standing returnees and bucket-loads of B2Bs – think Shanti Celeste, GIDEÖN, Peach (who’ll step up to the controls with Pearson Sound), Eliza Rose, Batu, Josh Caffé and Hannah Holland.
Ribble Valley, Lancashire
Line-up: Bad Boy Chiller Crew, BCUC, I. JORDAN
What do I. JORDAN, Skream and Gerd Janson have in common? Well, they are all lined up to play the next Beat-Herder festival, returning to the Lancashire countryside this summer. Beat Herder has a reputation as one of the friendliest festivals in the UK, shaped by community and a shared commitment to having a good time. It’s also gained a reputation for its independent and alternative spirit, as its bill – which also includes the likes of SHERELLE, BCUC and Bad Boy Chiller Crew – certainly adhere to as well.
Boston Manor Park, London
Line-up: Midland, Jeff Mills, Helena Hauff
After its cancellation due to transport strikes last year, techno fans are no doubt brimming with excitement for Junction 2’s imminent return with a rich line-up of electronic acts. One of the country’s most prolific events amongst techno fans, Junction 2 invites artists and attendees down to Boston Manor Park, for two-days of big names and even bigger sounds. On the bill this year are a revered bunch, including Helena Hauff, Charlotte de Witte, Jeff Mills, Midland and more.
Itria Valley, Italy
Line-up: Avalon Emerson, Skee Mask, Nu Genea
Polifonic’s July outing is the sort to unite a splintering group chat undecided on their warm weather plans. Equal parts scenic getaway in Italy’s gorgeous Puglia region and an intimate festival featuring some of dance music’s brightest, it really does have it all. Fresh off the back of her debut album under her new project and stylistic direction, Avalon Emerson will play the festival alongside heavy hitters Skee Mask, SHERELLE and Identified Patient. Elsewhere, techno whizz Marcel Dettman will treat revellers to a house set, while Naples’ own Nu Genea and Bulgarian favourite KiNK will play live.
Read our review of Polifonic 2022 here.
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Whole | United Queer Festival
Line-up: DJ Fart in the Club, DJ Gigola, Lolsnake
Whole returns for its fifth chock-full chapter this July. Set amongst the machines of repurposed German industrial mining machinery, Whole is the biggest LGBTQ+ electronic music-focused festival on the planet and boasts a bill of cultural talks, art installations and workshops alongside its music schedule. What started as a mission to improve inclusion locally now seeks to connect queer collectives, artists and dancers from all over the globe. On the bill for this year, you ask? The likes of DJ Fart in the Club, BADSISTA, Jasmine Infiniti, Cora and DJ Gigola, to name just a few.
Southwark Park, London
Line up: Princess Nokia, Loraine James, Wu-Lu
Debuting this summer, Rally is a new south London-based day event from minds behind the much-loved GALA festival as well as indie promoter Bird On The Wire. This collaborative spirit and DIY ethos runs deep through the festival, which is as focused on local and homegrown stars and movements as it is international favourites. The likes of Loraine James, Space Afrika and Princess Nokia – who’ll drop by for a European festival exclusive – are among the musicians set to bring the debut outing to life, alongside Wu-Lu, Kelman Duran, Leon Vynehall (who’ll go back-to-back with Yu Su) and Obongjayar. Don’t miss.
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Amsterdamse Bos, Netherlands
Line up: Avalon Emerson, Helena Hauff, MikeQ
All roads (or flight paths, perhaps) lead to Amsterdamse Bos this August for Dekmantel, a festival famed for its tip-top programming and gorgeous surrounds. The likes of Blawan, Shygirl, Anz, Avalon Emerson, Helena Hauff and MikeQ will take to a clearing in the heart of Amsterdamse Bos for the celebrated festival’s next chapter – with plenty of afterhours partying also lined up for those who still have steam left in the tank after a day in the meadows. If your second home is the club, Dekmantel may be just the ticket.
Viana do Castelo, Portugal
Line up: LSDXOXO, IMOGEN, Mall Grab
There can be therapeutic benefits to getting stuck into a quality techno set, so you should consider taking a few days out of your summer schedule to head to the port city of Viana do Castelo, in Portugal, to do just that among a sea of like-minds. This year’s Neopop Festival boasts a stacked line-up featuring LSDXOXO, Etapp Kyle, Daria Kolosova, IMOGEN and more, plus a live set from techno dignitary Surgeon, meaning there’ll be plenty to enjoy from all corners (plus the outermost edges) of this constantly evolving genre.
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Line up: Kelela, Kaytranada, Wizkid
If, like us, you’ve had Kelela’s killer comeback album Raven etched into your brain like a semi-temporary tattoo ever since its release, then you’ll be thrilled to hear she’s among the 150-plus artists tapped for Helsinki’s Flow festival. The event’s last hurrah at its Suvilahti power plant home will be a send-off soundtracked by Kaytranada, Wizkid, Shygirl, Jockstrap, Nala Sinephro and stacks more.
Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona
Line up: Jeff Mills, VTSS, Ross From Friends
Barcelona has always been a major travel destination for the festival-inclined. Renowned for its wide spread of electronic music gatherings – plus all of its natural charm – the city’s event circuit just got bigger with the launch of Brunch Electronik from hometown promoter Brunch. Highlights on the hefty line-up include previous Crack cover stars Jeff Mills and Eris Drew, as well as Octo Octa, Ross From Friends and VTSS – who’ll go back-to-back with Boys Noize.
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Secret Location, Norfolk
Line-up: Batu, Manara, DJ Stingray
Field Maneuvers is the kind of event which has people coming back every year for its amiable party atmosphere, no-frills set-up and respected selectors. The festival’s next edition celebrates 10 years of all this and more following a 2022 crowdfunder and fundraising party series launched to secure its future. Batu, I. JORDAN, Manara, DJ Stingray, Anu and more will venture out to a secret countryside location in Norfolk for this one, with stage takeovers from Black Artist Database, Bristol’s Mix Nights, Dalston Superstore and more. Family vibes and some of the world’s finest DJs.
All Points East
Victoria Park, London
Line up: Stormzy, Erykah Badu, Sampha
All Points East – which typically comprises two star-topped weekenders, a pick ’n’ mix selection of free activities, and a clutch of standalone headline shows – offers something for everyone. The 2023 bill is as vast as ever and boasts the likes of The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Haim on the live band tip, alongside Stormzy, Erykah Badu and Sampha – who just returned with a brand new single (perfect timing, if you ask us). Elsewhere, the All Points East-presented edition of Field Day will welcome Aphex Twin, Arca and more. See you in the park.
Victoria Park, London
Line up: Aphex Twin, Arca, SBTRKT
There’s really nothing better than having a banging line-up right on your doorstep, and, for the London crew, Field Day turns one out each and every year. Now part of the sprawling All Points East festivities, the Victoria Park all-dayer will see the previously teased return of Aphex Twin, following his 2017 appearance at the festival. There’s a slew of other UK favourites nestled within the impressive bill too, from Jon Hopkins to Actress via TSHA, SBTRKT and Mount Kimbie’s Kai Campos, as well as a plethora of international faves. You won’t know where to start.
Quartier des Spectacles, Montréal
Line up: Tim Hecker, Eris Drew, Grand River
There’s a knack to pulling off multi-venue, multidisciplinary events, and MUTEK has it down to a science – not surprising really after 23 years spent platforming the most visionary artists working in digital sound, music and audio-visual art. This year delivers the goods yet again with six days of live shows, debuts, DJ sets and more in Montréal’s cultural heart, with a firm focus on future-seeking and globe-spanning. Expect immersive performances, eye-opening insights and bangers aplenty from names such as Tim Hecker, Eris Drew, Honeydrip, Salamanda, Grand River and µ-Ziq.
Line up: Erika de Casier, LYZZA, Marie Davidson
Rural villages on the slopes of active volcanoes don’t often play host to enviable electronic music bills, but Opera Festival proves unexpected pairings can also be the most charming. Among those set to touch down in picturesque Milo, on the eastern side of Mount Etna, this year are honey-voiced artist Erika de Casier, Helsinki selector Sansibar and Planet Euphorique’s D. Tiffany, with Mykki Blanco tapped for hosting duties, inviting LYZZA, Thoom and more along for the Sicilian ride. We’re expecting big things from the new HÖR Berlin party stage, too.
Lee Valley Showground, London
Line up: CASisDEAD, Soichi Terada, Jyoty
Maiden Voyage is an opportunity to experience some of your favourite dance music destinations in a festival setting. For 2023, Maiden Voyage will enlist venues like Phonox and The Cause for stage hosting duties, inviting the likes of Jyoty – who’ll play a rare London show – Sainté, Soichi Terada, CASisDEAD and Logic1000 to Lee Valley Showground over the August Bank Holiday weekend. We’ve heard the Plant Room, hosted this year by HÖR Berlin, goes off. Meet us front left.
Inota Power Plant, Hungary
31 August – 3 September
Line up: Overmono, Caterina Barbieri, Blackhaine
Something new. The debut INOTA Festival is set to curate an audiovisual experience from the heart of a defunct thermal power plant in north-west Hungary, around an hour away from Budapest. The line-up takes in more than 100 DJs, musicians and visual artists, from Nils Frahm to Caterina Barbieri via Space Afrika, Blackhaine, Paramida and KMRU and more – with plenty more, including a sprawling light art exhibit, in store. We’re expecting big things.
Line up: Mc Yallah, Backxwash, Shovel Dance Collective
MC Yallah has spent the last two decades setting the bar for Ugandan hip-hop, with more recent ties to the Nyege Nyege crew and a longstanding partnership with electronic producer Debmaster introducing her to new sounds and ears. For fans in the UK, a trip to the exciting Supersonic festival offers an opportunity to catch the two collaborators in action. Elsewhere, folk experimentalists Lankum and Shovel Dance Collective, horrorcore rapper Backxwash, and the mischievous DJ Bus Replacement Service will be dishing out plenty of unmissable moments of their own at the Digbeth get-together.
The Downs, Bristol
Line up: Aphex Twin, Erykah Badu, Raye
Following on from last year’s impressive debut, Forwards is pulling out all the stops for its eagerly anticipated second event. Not only will the two-day city affair be hosting Aphex Twin’s first Bristol appearance since 2006, but it will also bring the likes of Erykah Badu, Primal Scream, Leftfield and Arlo Parks to the Downs. In addition to the musical offering, Forwards’ The Information will see talks featuring Munroe Bergdorf, Jeremy Deller, David Olusoga and Danny Price. An ideal way to round off the summer festival season.
Line up: LSDXOXO, Nene H, DJ Python
Mischievous club icon LSDXOXO – who you may have spotted on the cover of this very issue – is among the many, many names confirmed for the forthcoming edition of Tilburg’s Draaimolen, which takes place once more at the lush and woodsy MOB Complex. Also gracing this tantalising line-up is a plethora of Crack Magazine favourites including (but in no way limited to) Nene H, Azu Tiwaline, TAAHLIAH, Blawan and Skrillex, and DJ Python – who’ll play with Nick León as well as with upsammy. A total no-brainer.
Line up: Jayda G, Courtesy, KI/KI
Voodoo Village returns to the grounds of Grimbergen Castle, Belgium, for its sixth iteration this September. Nestled against the picturesque backdrop of the historic castle, this two-day event is not just about the music: it’s a celebration of culture and spirituality. Beyond the captivating beats and melodies provided by a line-up that includes Courtesy, Jayda G, KI/KI, Mama Snake, Paula Temple and Moodymann, attendees can explore immersive art installations, indulge in culinary experiences and special sharing menus, and take part in workshops at an area dedicated to self-reflection through mindfulness, conversation and immersive experience. This one’s got it all.
Listen to KI/KI’s Crack Mix.
Kraftwerk Berlin, Berlin
Line up: Caterina Barbieri, Space Afrika, Laurel Halo
There’s something about September that signals a fresh start. The return of Berlin Atonal, which is back for its first full edition in over four years, fits nicely with this theory. For 2023, the long-established celebration of all things experimental is expanding to 11 days of programming including two full weekenders packed with world premiere link-ups and special presentations. The first features Caterina Barbieri and Space Afrika, Laurel Halo, Rainy Miller and tons more; the following weekend, it will be the turn of Persher, Blackhaine, and Pavel Milyakov and Perila. Your senses won’t know what’s hit them.
Camp Kennybrook, New York State
Line up: Batu, DJ Fart in the Club, Aaron J
A late summer weekender with a stellar reputation, Sustain-Release is back for its ninth edition. Taking place a couple hours outside of New York in the Catskills – at cosy local summer camp, Camp Kennybrook – the next Sustain-Release promises to be a special one indeed: a who’s who of underground innovators from New York, the US and around the globe brought together with a keen, attentive crowd drawn to the festival for its thoughtful programme as well as its open-minded, familial feel. Those in attendance at this year’s get-together include Aaron J, Ben UFO, DJ Fart in the Club and Sister Zo, alongside Darwin, Batu and James K.
Gunnersbury Park, London
Line up: Elijah & Skilliam, Surusinghe, Call Super
Waterworks made quite the splash when it launched in 2021. Created by London promoter Percolate and Bristol’s Team Love, the festival’s past editions have been praised for their carefully curated line-ups and impressive stage designs, with the Water Tower, a circular stage with a mighty 360-degree sound system, particularly mind-blowing. This year, it will be the turn of Eliza Rose, Louise Chen, SUCHI and more to bring the energy, with a stellar bunch including Eris Drew, Call Super and Amaliah locked for the Orbit, Cedar and Pressure stages respectively. All your faves, all in one place. It’s got to be done.
Listen back to a podcast episode with Eliza Rose, recorded at BIMM Bristol.
Prague, Czech Republic
Line up: Marina Herlop, CORIN, Otik
Prague’s Lunchmeat festival has always prided – and proved – itself an essential destination for cutting edge innovation within electronic music and digital art. This year’s outing speaks directly to this ethos – boasting a line-up that takes in everything from Evian Christ’s live audiovisual show (sunglasses recommended) to a collaboration between Slikback and Weirdcore, a show from experimental composer Marina Herlop, and a Zoë Mc Pherson performance with visual artist Alessandra Leone. Experiences to get lost in across the Czech capital.
Cockatoo Island / Wareamah
Line-up: TSVI, object blue, jamesjamesjames
Experience the vibrant cultural pulse of Sydney like never before at Mode. Set against the historic backdrop of Cockatoo Island / Wareamah, the festival returns to the UNESCO World Heritage site location for its second edition in October, which aligns nicely with the start of Australian spring. You could say there’s a dual focus at play when it comes to the programme, which prioritises its propulsive, peak-time soundtrack – supplied by Darwin, DJ Voices, Tzusing, jamesjamesjames, object blue back-to-back TSVI and stacks more – as much as its visual art offerings. A day you won’t want to miss.
27 September – 1 October
Line up: Martyn Bootyspoon, Loraine James, Kate NV
Pop Montreál is back in a big way. The annual non-profit cultural event is marking its 22nd edition with a long weekend filled with shows, art, exhibitions, discussions, film screenings and late-night parties for hardier festival-goers. Colourful, dynamic and independent, the festival will once again spotlight emerging artists from close to home and further afield, alongside established acts. Candi Staton – who will play as part of her farewell tour – is among those who fall into the latter category, while Gayance and Martyn Bootyspoon (as well as Loraine James, Kate NV and Junglepussy) are also locked for the autumn event. You won’t know where to start.
Listen to Gayance’s Crack Mix
Nuit Sonores & European Lab Brussels
Various venues, Brussels
Line-up: Amnesia Scanner, Skee Mask, Martha Da’ro
Nuit Sonores ups its game – again. Following the success of its 20th anniversary edition in Lyon earlier this year, the festival is teaming back up with European Lab – a project that has been connecting artists, activists and creative minds across the continent since 2011 – for this exciting Belgian iteration. Highlights promise to be plentiful, ranging from Amnesia Scanner and Skee Mask twisting minds in the dance to Caterina Barbieri and David August’s opening concert at Bozar’s grand Henry Le Boeuf Hall. Elsewhere, you can catch the likes of Nick León, DJ Gigola and Gavsborg at spots across the city, as well as Martha Da’ro, and Brodinski back-to-back with Slikback.
Line up: Loraine James, Beatrice Dillon, Nexcyia
Semibreve has crafted a reputation as one of the finest small festivals Europe has to offer, in a location that’s very easy to love. Come for the carefully curated line-up – centred on the electronic avant-garde – and stay for Braga’s picturesque architecture and cobbled streets. Among those nourishing our ears and eyes at this year’s iteration are Nkisi, Beatrice Dillion and Mumdance, alongside Maya Shenfeld and Pedro Maia – the composer and visual artist duo also lined up for a talk and a workshop – Loraine James, Kassel Jaeger and Norway’s Anja Lauvdal.
31 October – 5 November
Line up: Amnesia Scanner, KI/KI, PÖ
Based in Saint-Étienne, a former mining city that has since been designated a UNESCO City of Design, Positive Education connects the dots between the location’s industrial heritage and its culture-driven spirit. The festival’s seventh edition will play host to over 90 artists across both a late-night programme and newly added daytime format, with highlights coming from Dutch DJ Woody92 and techno provocateur VTSS, as well as live performances from Heith, Two Shell, Grove, Blackhaine, and a sure-to-be incendiary b2b set from Objekt and Skee Mask. You won’t know where to start.
Read the Blackhaine cover story.
Line up: Caroline Polachek, Flying Lotus, King Krule
Curating its programme around bleeding edge electronic performers and mind expanding avant-everything, C2C festival has earned a reputation for star-topped line-ups and impressive acts from all corners of contemporary music. For its 21st iteration, the multi-venue affair has locked in Italian debuts and festival firsts from the likes of Caroline Polachek, Rachika Nayar and Tzusing. FlyLo will also drop in for his first European show in five years, with ample space on the bill for the likes of King Krule, Yves Tumor and Bambii. An autumnal treat in Turin.
Le Guess Who?
Line up: Nala Sinephro, Heba Kadry, Zakia
For a few days each year, the Dutch city of Utrecht plays host to Le Guess Who? – a diverse and genre-spanning gathering that sees organisers handing the reins over to musicians to guest curate part of the line-up. This year Heba Kadry, Nala Sinephro, Slauson Malone 1 and Stereolab got the call, and the resulting programme is every bit as intriguing as you might expect. Think Model/Actriz, Zakia, Moin and aya plus a collaborative performance from Catarina Barbieri and Space Afrika with visuals from MFO. What’s more, Le Guess Who? is bringing a new performance format, the Anonymous Project, into the fold – essentially, artists will perform in a concealed structure, their identities withheld from their audiences. You’ll want to be there.
Boiler Room Festival
Line up: LSDXOXO, Kelman Duran, Golin
Boiler Room is going big in the German capital this month with a three-day edition of its flagship event – and it’s a suitably stacked affair. Eschewing headliners, these three days and nights will present a heady mix of live shows and DJ sets from a vast range of artists. Highlights are legion, but we definitely wouldn’t miss LSDXOXO, George Riley, Golin, Kelman Duran and serpentwithfeet. If you can’t attend in person – which you really should attempt – then tune into the action online.
EFG London Jazz Festival
Various Venues, London
Line up: Mulatu Astatke, Gigi Masin, Samara Joy
We enjoyed EFG London Jazz Festival’s 30th anniversary celebrations last winter, and a casual glance over its upcoming programme promises more of that same winning formula; jazz luminaries old and new hosted in some of the capital’s finest live venues, including the Southbank Centre, Green Note and the Barbican. It’s within the brutalist confines of the latter that you can catch Ethiopian musician and arranger Mulatu Astakte on the first of the festival’s ten days of incredible music, which will also take in performances by Samara Joy, cktrl, Alabaster DePlume, Midori Jaeger, Gigi Masin and more.
Some of the events featured here we work with – offering ticket discounts, for example, for our readers through our Supporters community – while others are unmissable festivals that simply caught our eye. Stay tuned for more – and see you out there soon.