Lyon, France

With stages across Lyon’s former industrial factories, railway depots and market halls, this year’s edition of Nuits Sonores cemented the festival’s reputation as a leading advocate for the underground scene.

For the ever-experimental festival Nuits Sonores, the search for new innovative party spaces comes naturally. For its 21st edition, the festival took over the La Mulatière district of Lyon, France for the first time to deliver its routine cutting-edge programme of genre-spanning music, art and culture. From a curatorial standpoint, one thing rings true: the team behind the scenes know their stuff. 

The timetable commenced on Tuesday 7 May, starting things off strong with a concert by electronic music dons Autechre. Across the rest of the week’s offerings, there were plenty of dance music’s latest icons: I Hate Models, MCR-T, Jayda G, Skrillex. But between these big hitters, there’s a concerted effort to make space for something more – from talks with some of the important voices from the musical programme, to collaborations with other EU festivals like Unsound and Elevate, who share the values of championing underground music culture. It’s these effortless connections to the wider community that make NS stand out and its dance floors feel inviting.

Let’s dig into 2024’s five key performances.

Marina Herlop

Already a Crack-certified favourite – see our Signing Off 2023 series – experimentalist Marina Herlop has a special way of connecting with a crowd. The Catalan multi-instrumentalist took to the Amphithéâtre stage on Friday evening just as the sun set, which provided a fitting backdrop for her delicate, ascending harmonies. The staging consisted of Herlop plus her band, who were equally as engrossed in the music making and put on a captivating performance. There is a strong visual element to her set – beyond the signature hairstyle and avant-garde get-up (the dress later revealed to be a birthday gift from friends Zora Jones & Sinjin Hawke), Herlop’s facial expressions play along with her songs. She’s an enchanting performer, and with eyes shut, it would be difficult to distinguish any difference from the live and recorded version of her musical catalogue. 


Mala is somebody it’s never worth missing an opportunity to catch, first and foremost because he is a man of legendary status. But also, because seeing him play in new countries and new venues is always exciting due to his remarkable ability to read the room, field, or, in this case, derelict railway depo. The exchanging of energy from the crowd to the decks is almost tangible as he chugs out wobbler after wobbler, finishing by ringing out the Trends & Boylan remix of Hear That (feat. Riko Dan) – a tune destined to be played out on such a system, in the sunshine, with a can in hand. It’s one of those perfect moments that leaves you with a warm feeling inside, reminiscent of the UK’s still-vibrant dubstep scene. 


Watching 33EMYBW set up prior to her performance, there was a gut feeling that this was going to be something to stick around for. It turns out it was even more than that and proved itself as one of the best sets of the whole festival. Hailing from Shanghai, Wu Shanmin, aka 33EMYBW, is a mainstay on experimental club label, SVBKVLT. Her performance was a spiralling sonic journey, biting on IDM elements interwoven with an underlying global club sound. People walking past the stage found it hard not to be intrigued by the glitchy vocals and cyber-core aesthetic she was sporting. Visually, it was a shame that this set was programmed on a stage still in the daylight as the lights behind couldn’t work to their full effect. Nevertheless, 33’s skill spoke for itself and needed little accompaniment. 

Mina & Bryte

It can be hard to keep up the energy whilst volleying from set to set at a festival. For any depleting spirits, head to your nearest Mina & Bryte set. Like a shot of espresso, this pair lit up the Soundsystem stage soaring through Afrobeat, UK Funky and other global club rhythms with Bryte’s vocals being the glue fusing it all together. It felt impossible to keep still, corroborated by the surrounding sea of beaming faces; a mirror to the stage. Bouncing from track to track, including some upcoming releases (hot tip: keep your ears on these two), 90 minutes seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.

VTSS b2b Evian Christ

Saturday’s headline act came in the form of two dominating figures of the underground joining forces for a two-hour blast of trance heaven. VTSS and Evian Christ arrived in Lyon fresh from their first-ever b2b at Christ’s iconic Trance Party at London’s The Cause the night before. Intense, sweaty and high-energy, the pair’s set was delivered just as ordered. There’s a synergy between them and track after track, it was almost as if they became one entity, disguised behind a curtain of thick smoke. Nuits Sonores’ NEF stage, the largest of the festival, was made for this. The tall arched ceilings inside a former market hall were filled with reactive lighting, and it’s here where the organisers’ dedication to finding spaces that transcend the listening experience became apparent. 

The venue and its euphoric dancers eased as the last track played out and it was time to say goodbye to Les Grand Locos for 2024. Like each night of the whole festival, for those who wish to keep the party going, heading to Lyon’s most treasured clubbing destination, Le Sucre, seems the only option. Here’s to the next!