The lowdown If you’ve been in Dubai for more than five minutes, you should have heard of Sandance. Since launching as a dance-centric event in October 2010, the brand expanded – and exploded – over the winter 2011/12 season with a string of six packed festivals headlined by acts as diverse as Fatboy Slim, Above and Beyond, Richard Ashcroft and Kaiser Chiefs. The team have revealed they will host just four events this winter, which, after a five-month wait since the last gig in May, makes this season opener extra special.
Factfile Capacity: 12,000. When: 2pm-2am, Friday October 12. Where: Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah. Price: Dhs275 in advance, Dhs300 on the door. Transport: Free shuttle buses to JBR, Dubai Marina, TECOM and The Greens. Stayover options: Overnight packages at Atlantis The Palm from Dhs1,775. See www.atlantisthepalm.com.
The Fray The US rock-poppers specialise in yearning, windswept rock balladry. Lurching onto the scene with five-times-platinum 2006 hit ‘How to Save a Life’, the Denver quartet have headed for rockier territory with their Brendan O’Brien-produced latest, Scars & Stories. Watch out for our interview with lead singer Isaac Slade next week.
Dizzee Rascal Dizzee Rascal has stepped into the breach created by injured Brit rapper Example at Sandance. UK hitmaker Rascal has four UK number one singles and five hit albums to date. As a pioneer of the burgeoning grime genre, he has picked up a string of awards including the coveted Mercury Prize, an NME Award for innovation and a Brit Award for Best Male. Ironically, Dizzee pulled out of Sandance in April this year because of medical reasons. He was replaced by Tinchy Stryder.
Frankie Knuckles While there are bigger-billed DJs at this Sandance, there is no one who has cast a larger shadow over dance music than this man. One of the forefathers of Chicago house in the ’80s and ’90s, his legendary remixes and productions remain cornerstones of the genre.
Matt Kearney This bill’s sunset slot goes to US singer-songwriter Kearney. With his last single ‘Ships in the Night’ picking up plenty of airplay, the Nashville-based star boasts a gravelly voice and chilled, chiming melodic sound.
DJ Fresh To quote his recent smash hit, DJ Fresh is undeniably ‘Hot Right Now’. Starring tipped vocalist Rita Ora, it became Fresh’s second UK number one in a row in February, following 2011 smash ‘Louder’. Both have become dancefloor anthems, but after years tinkering in the studio as an influential but underground drum ’n’ bass pioneer, Daniel Stein’s sudden fame is hard to comprehend.
‘I’ve always been in the background,’ explains the 35-year-old DJ. ‘I’m much more Daft Punk than Example, for example – I prefer to just make music and let that talk.’
Fresh hoped to make it three in a row with last single ‘The Power’, featuring Dizzee Rascal, but it charted at number six. ‘To do something like that and miss out on the top five by 100 sales – that’s annoying,’ admits Fresh. ‘When I first met Dizzee he called me up all excited, and was like [adopts an East London accent] “Bruv, listen bruv, I couldn’t believe you made all those other tunes. I was listening to those way back.”’
Those ‘other tunes’ he refers to are the underground productions Fresh created over the past decade, which have helped to shape modern drum ‘n’ bass. Understandably, some of Stein’s older fans feel short-changed by the commercial career path he’s taken, which began with 2010’s ‘Gold Dust’.
‘I think my journey with drum ‘n’ bass has been a long one,’ says the DJ in defence. ‘Over time I’ve changed my sound. I’ve always wanted to do something new and challenge myself. Having gone through most of the styles of drum ’n’ bass, the challenge [now] is to explore the mainstream.’