Mas i Mas FestivalFatima Spar: August 21st, Luz de Gas
Time was, they say, that during August, the whole of Barcelona shut up shop (and newsagent, bank and hairdresser) to decamp to cooler confines. In recent years, however, with the flood of summer tourists becoming an apocalyptic torrent and more commercial interaction with countries that don’t bring down their shutters for a whole 31 days, Barcelona is no longer the wasteland it once was during the eighth month of the year. Many businesses keep working; it is possible to get a decent café con leche; and you might even find an open kiosco in your neighbourhood.
However, there is one sector that apparently didn’t get the memo (or, in more 21st-century terms, the Twitter tweet) that August is practically just another month nowadays, and that is the entertainment sector. After May, June and July, when the city feels like it’s on a non-stop roller-coaster of festivals, outdoor cinema fun and beach parties, August is a very half-hearted affair when it comes to organised going-out events. The exception to this rule is Mas i Mas, which is huge: it locks down the main venues in town, stuffs them with around 140 concerts that cover every genre and gets itself sponsored by one of the biggest local beer-makers, San Miguel. That, my friends, is what we in the trade call a monopoly.
But this is no time for quibbling over such details. More fun would be to take a glance through this year’s programme; except a glance is impossible, because the list of acts is far too long and eclectic for a glance. Instead, to give you a taste of what Mas i Mas is all about, here’s a selection, chosen almost totally at random, of what you can hear at this year’s festival.
Let’s start, paradoxically, right at the end of Mas i Mas with J4F (or Just4Fun). The group may have one of the more dubious names at the festival (apart, perchance, from DJ Skinny Banana—seriously, where do DJs get the ideas for their stage names?), but with a creative-sounding mix of beat-box, cajón (box drum often used in flamenco) and djembé (a West African hand drum), as well as more standard instruments like guitars and the human voice, this show promises to be rhythmic and wide-ranging (August 30th, Jamboree, €10). Phat Fred are teetering on the edge of having a dubious name, but that hasn’t stopped musicians including Brian Jackson, Charlie Wood and Hook Herrera from working with the foursome, made up of Dave Wilkinson, Caspar St. Charles, Tito Bonacera and Arecio Smith (August 16th, Jamboree, €10).
La Pedrera already has a lot going for it, but this month it will be a mini-Mecca for classical music fans thanks to the three half-hour concerts being performed there every single day. It’s mainly piano music with the odd violin, castanet, cello and soloist thrown in for good measure, but there’s a promising selection of music by both local and European composers being performed (daily at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm; €7 or €5 for senior citizens; the only exception is the concert on August 31st which costs €12 or €10, starts at 8pm and lasts an hour).
If it’s good, honest flamenco you’re looking for, the place to head is Tarantos, which is hosting Sara Flores for the first half of August and ‘El Duende’ (Joaquim Gómez) for the second, both established and popular performers of the genre (three concerts daily, 8.30pm, 9.30pm and 10.30pm; tickets cost €7 each and give you access to one session only).
Finally, for those who only get going when it’s good and dark, the mid-week electronic music concerts at Moog kick off at midnight and will see you through to 5am. International names visiting include the historic Scan 7, who helped created the Detroit scene in the Eighties, and whose members are renowned for hiding their faces with masks and hoods (12th, €10).
San Miguel Mas i Mas Festival Agost ‘09
Ticket prices vary according to venue
Until September 4th