Five reasons not to miss Nuits Sonores & European Lab Brussels 2018

Following an exciting first edition, the creative forces behind Nuits Sonores – namely the Lyon-based non-profit collective’s Belgian offshoot Arty Farty Brussels – put their restless minds together with Brussels’ BOZAR to bring back the promising electronic music festival to our vibrant capital. Over the course of four days and two nights, Nuits Sonores will be painting the capital city red with a wild assortment of parties and concerts. Yet decidedly more than just a music festival, Nuits Sonores also consists of the forum event European Lab Brussels, as well as sound art exhibitions with BOZAR Lab. With so much to cover, we distil five essential points to keep in mind for Nuits Sonores’ impressive feast on all things electronica between Thursday 27th and Sunday 30th September.

Nuits Sonores’ key event is easily their BOZAR Takeover: true to its name, the festival will be taking over one of Brussels’ oldest and grandest cultural institutions for an all-out shindig on Saturday night in the most spectacular way. Though BOZAR is no stranger to the electronic arts – as is made clear with their regular BOZAR Night and BOZAR Electronic Series – Nuits Sonores will be shaking things up in the space in a truly innovative way. Spread out over six sections of the grand Palais, the Takeover all-nighter sees over 20 names of some of the most important acts from today’s electronic music scene – regardless of genre – all assembled to one address. Hall Horta is dedicated to all things leftfield electronica, from Mehmet Aslan’s oriental Turkish psychedelics to Strapontin’s queerific sensual beats. The Terarken venue will venture into warmer waters, with Príncipe’s DJ Nigga Fox and Ugandan DJ Kampire. Through regular alternations, the Studio and M rooms will together offer five non-stop hours of contemporary jazz, ambient and experimental sounds. The Outdoor open-air space is a relatively new feature for BOZAR and will be handled by the boys behind Kiosk Radio. And for the final pièce de resistance, BOZAR’s hallmark concert venue Salle Henry Le Boeuf is to be transformed into a one-night club atmosphere –taking advantage of the already-present top-notch acoustic system and rethinking the main room’s scenography by removing the seats and reversing the configuration in a bold move  – and headlined by none other than Detroit Swindle and the electronic scene’s new darling Or:la. Yet fear not if you don’t want the night to end just yet, as C12 has all your afterparty needs covered. No sleep.

True to their word, Nuits Sonores is more than just an electronic music festival, as their complimentary European Lab Brussels forum proves. Exploring the infinite possibilities for an alternative future for Europe, this two-day affair sets to broaden Europe’s socio-political, cultural artistic horizons, and celebrate European di­versity and international cultural collaboration. Featuring the continent’s new generation of thinkers and makers, it’ll transform BOZAR into an agora for collective and participatory debate and reflection. The Word Ra­dio will be present too, having been granted a carte blanche, and will be moderating a roundtable discussion on Brussels’ nightlife with cultural actors from the scene on Thurs­day 27th. See you there.

With all of that in mind, Nuits Sonore’s The Loop night feels like an extravagant addition: Friday night will see the festival put their creative minds together with a plethora of Brussels’ key cultural actors, venues and party promoters. From Les Ateliers Claus’ sharp curation and Beursschouwburg’s swaying beats to Deep in House’s C12 and Under My Garage with a secret location; such a move cements both Arty Farty Brussels and BOZAR’s commitment to not only look further afield their artistic borders, but to also highlight the very real gems our more immediate surroundings have to offer. As is the case with their Extra! event, bringing together local creators and grassroots collectives and aptly subtitled The Great Collaboration. This is for Brussels, by Brussels.

The downtown cultural institution’s latest initiative BOZAR Lab is stepping up to the plate, presenting a selection of top-notch sound art exhibitions, sculptures and installations. Following in the 20th century’s trend’s footsteps of treating sound as a very palpable material in its own right, BOZAR Lab seeks to understand the crossovers between art, technology and science. In fact, the third edition of Tendencies will be featured alongside Nuits Sonores, this time curated by Kortrijk-native and Wilde Westen director Joost Fonteyne. Founder of the international sound art exhibition Klinkende Stad since 1999, he’s certainly most apt to direct this year’s Sound Edition.

Not only have Nuits Sonores put together these truly exceptional line-ups, forums and exhibitions, but three quarters of the entire programme are astonishingly for free, barring the BOZAR Takeover and afterparty at C12 on the Saturday. And even the Saturday night festivities are offered at a respectably affordable price: over 20 names for the mere presale price of 25 euros is not to be overlooked. Treat yourselves.

Running from Thursday 27th and Sunday 30th September, in various locations in Brussels.