The STRØM Festival has slowly but inevitably cemented their reputation as one of Europe’s most important electronic music festivals. An exceptionally tight booking policy, ambitious, cutting-edge events held in off-kilter locations, and, of course, attractive, with-it, festival goers are part of a deftly curated package that grows in both quality and scope with each passing year.
STRØM is sort of the serious yin to Distortion’s hedonistic yang. Where Distortion goes heavier on the flamboyant performance art rap, STRØM is more about timeless techno vibes and moody, subterranean Demdike Stare gigs. You will, in other words, be more likely to strike up a conversation about Ableton live or Slavoj Sizek’s latest Guardian piece than going full PLUR and hugging every wacky headdress-wearing stranger you meet.
Word on the Copenhagen street is that this year’s line up just might be their best ever. Read on for AIAIAI HQ’s tips, recommendations and enthused observations.
Everyone knows Mancunians are a moody bunch. These particular Mancunians, however, take this time-honored tradition so far out that it lands in another pitch-black dimension and becomes a kind of growling, visceral intensity stripped of all that is pure and holy. Set in the backdrop of Cisternerne, a ‘grotto-like former water cistern’ this ambitious, conceptual show should make those of the darker persuasion wet themselves with gothic glee.
Electronic music is essentially about transportation. The propulsive beat and the gliding, atmospheric synthesizers ultimately promote one thing: movement. That’s why the synth-heavy soundtrack works so well in Drive and why Kraftwerk made an album called Autobahn. Realizing this (and drawing inspiration from Arpanet's dystopian conceptualism), the savvy, switched on event-makers at STRØM moved some of their artists down into the Copenhagen Metro to play while the train is moving through the urban scenery of Copenhagen, creating the perfect fusion of sound and movement. This year, Kasper Marott, Thorsteinssøn, Supertonic and AIAIAI friend Samuel André Madsen will be delivering the beats. We really can’t recommend this event highly enough.
AIAIAI favorite and Ninja Tune mainstay Bonobo is ageing like a fine wine. Hell, come 2050, he’ll probably be best consumed with a piece of nice roquefort cheese, or something. But next Tuesday the best way to immerse yourself in Bonobo’s affecting sound will be to get your sweet ass down to Vesterbro’s Vega where he’ll be supported by none other than the excellent Copeland (Hype Williams), making this a seriously great double whammy of essential music. See you there!
The festival really hits its stride come mid-week. You’ll be faced with a few near-impossible choices, but to be honest the vacillation that you will no doubt experience is just a sign that the bookers know what they’re doing.
In the end there can be only one. We’ve chosen Leisure System because it features the incredible Holly Herndon as well as Blade Runner-inspired, footwork futurist Kuedo and the dark lord of instrumental grime known as Visionist. This all-powerful threesome is, in our humble opinion, one of the best line-ups that our fair city has seen for quite some time. Don’t misss.
Wednesday's Honorable mentions:
Our buddies from Tartelet are having a choice little event at Copenhagen’s premier record haunt, Dorma 21, featuring Berlin beat maestro and young upstart (and AIAIAI interviewee) Max Graef as well as our old friend Emil AKA Muff Deep. Should be very good indeed.
- feat. none other than Dance Mania’s ghetto-house don, Victor Parrish Mitchell. If you like to go hard all night, this is the one for you. Chicago’s Dance Mania Records’ influence on contemporary dance music cannot be overstated, making this a great opportunity to learn from one of its old masters and dance around like you’re bigger than Prince.
We’re a little biased here, but as it has been stated time and time again, our lists are always rife with unbridled nepotism. This time around, we’d like to big up AIAIAI’s very own rising superstar DJ/producer Najaaraq who’s having a ‘Pølsefest’, a party title, which can be directly translated to Sausage Party. Held by Najaaraq’s deck-rinsing DJ collective Apeiron Crew, this party is literally all about sausages, more specifically the eating of which will be carried out while listening to the best in house, techno, electro and various permutations of UK bass music. Start your day on a meat-filled tip at Najaaraq’s Sausage Party.
Looking at this year’s line up provides the occasional pleasant ‘WTF?’ moments and 808 State at Culture Box definitely resides firmly within that category. These seasoned caesars of 90s rave and danceable ambient are yet another of our absolute must-sees at this year’s festival. Moreover, we have a feeling that the crowd at Culture Box will get thoroughly riled up for it, creating the makings of a classic night out in ye olde CPH.
Still with us? If not, it’s time to straighten up and fly right because Friday is the night that IDM icons and Warp Records mainstays Plaid will be playing the Frederiksberg-based venue, Riddersalen.
But there’s also Detroit royalty in the form of legendary techno deity, Derrick May, who’s playing alongside everyone’s favorite Barcelona-based producer, John Talabot.
And, as our creative director points out, Copenhagen electronic hardcore in the form of Albertslund Terror Korps. Take it away, Mix:
Saw them at Roskilde back in 2008.
Crazy visuals. And music. This tracks is slightly bonkers, but still sounds fresh. Almost feels more hardcore or "gangsta" than the recent wave of ghetto boys like Sivas & Gilli - At least in my opinion.
If you’re a mature raver like some of us here at AIAIAI, navigating these week-long festivals is more often than not a tricky pursuit. There’s dehydradation, back pains, existential crises and a whole host of treacherous, unforeseen dangers lurking in the clubs and on the streets. What’s more, if you’ve partied like it’s 2099 at one of the previous gigs, the whole thing can at some point take on the character of a severely distressing miasma of impressions, all clawing their way towards your tender, frontal lobes.
Now, while we feel for you, sympathy for not showing up to Saturday's bash at the Enghave Park will not be given from our side. The line up is still packed tighter than World Wrestling Federations star The Ultimate Warrior’s spandex and you will be kicking yourself if you fail to show for these quality gigs and events.
Saturday’s line-up has the very important benefit of being contained within the green(ish) expanses of the Enghave Park, saving you the trouble of running around Copenhagen like a headless, rave chicken. You can basically arrive at around 5, sit your ass down in the grass and start getting drunk while listening to the very best the contemporary electronic music scene has to offer. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty much the perfect Saturday for us. Here are a few highlights:
Hyperdub bad gyal and AIAIAI admiree.
Rising, local Copenhagen lad whose lush, dense house music will undoubtedly get everyone good and excited.
Ninja Tune Artist with a capital A, whose new album ‘In the Wild’ is getting rave reviews from the likes of Resident Advisor
And that very literally isn’t even the half of it. We can’t wait spend our last tipsy night of STRØM at the Enghave Park in good company, surrounded by excellent music. Make sure you download the brand new STRØM app to keep track of the action.
That’s it for this year. Have an electrifying STRØM Festival!
- The AIAIAI Crew