Everything you need to know about Red Bull SoundClash
© Mohab Magdy
As the ultimate battle of the bands heads into a new and exciting future, discover how we got here with this handy bluffer’s guide.
Red Bull SoundClash was inspired by the culture of competing soundsystems originating in Kingston, Jamaica, during the 1950s and subsequently spreading around the world.
The basic idea was for artists, MCs and DJs to challenge each other to create the ultimate party, whipping up the biggest crowd and walking away with the ultimate bragging rights. As clashes evolved over the years, Red Bull SoundClash was born to add wider scope to the traditionally dancehall and reggae-focused musical battle.
A Brief History Of… Soundsystems
Set over four rounds, bands and artists musically duke it out with the recipient of the biggest crowd reaction (captured on a decibel meter) crowned champion!
With more than 80 clashes now in the history books, Red Bull SoundClash is a unique live music experience that has come a long way since the first event was held in the Netherlands in 2006.
A bright future lies ahead for the roof-raising competition, so now is the perfect time to get up to speed with all you need to know about Red Bull SoundClash…
Where did it all start?
The inaugural competition took place on November 17, 2006, in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, with reggae-ska-funk band Beef and alternative hip-hop quartet C-Mon & Kypski facing off. It was clearly a great success, as the following year saw two further events in Amsterdam (Lefties Soul Connection Vs C-Mon & Kypski and Pete Philly & Perquisite Vs Beef) and a debut in Moscow (a gentlemen’s duel between Noize MC and G.D.R.). Subsequent years exploded in popularity with events as far afield as Sydney, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Lima.
How many SoundClashes have there been?
As of 2020’s face-off between Carnival Youth and Ozols in Riga, Latvia, there have been 85 SoundClashes around the globe. For comparison’s sake, there have only been 21 World Cups! That’s a whole lot of noise!
How many artists have taken part?
If you’ve got your two-times tables nailed, you’ll be well ahead of us here. 85 SoundClashes in which two acts battle each other? That makes a total of 170 acts. Include crew, band members and surprise guests, however, and there have been more than 600 participants! 12 of those alone comprise the Russian band Leningrad (Moscow, 2019), the biggest band to take part in a SoundClash to date. Another big line-up came courtesy of Erykah Badu and her ten Cannabinoids (Dallas, 2009).
Where have Red Bull SoundClashes taken place?
To date, there have been battles of the bands in a total of 33 countries – from Russia to Australia to Pakistan and Peru, Lithuania and the UAE. The USA has hosted the most, with 18 Red Bull SoundClashes. This is followed by the Netherlands with nine events, and Germany and Egypt with four each. 2009 saw the most SoundClashes taking place in a single year with 13 events scattered across the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and South Africa.
What was the biggest SoundClash event?
In terms of scope, you’d be hard pressed to find a more ambitious SoundClash than Cairo’s three-day noise fest. Day one saw indie boys Autostrad taking on grunge rockers from Akher Zapheer. Day 2 was the turn of Egyptian rockers Wust El-Balad and Jordanian band Jadal. Day 3 was capped off with local heroes Sharmoofers versus Jordanian balladeers Aziz Maraka.
What about the big-name stars?
Red Bull SoundClash is about bringing the best bands together, regardless of their household name status. However, if it’s big guns you’re looking for, there’s the aforementioned legend Erykah Badu, as well as the incomparable The Roots (Phoenix and Atlanta, 2010, and Dallas, 2009), rap legend Snoop Dogg (South Padre Island, 2011), Grammy nominee Mike Posner, hip-hop icon Ludacris (both Miami, 2011) and many more.
Who have taken part in the most Red Bull SoundClashes?
With a total of four(!) separate appearances, Egypt’s Sharmoofers are the most prolific Red Bull SoundClash stars. The Roots and C-Mon & Kypski split second place with three participations apiece.
Who has had the most opponents?
As 2019’s All Against Bausa SoundClash implies, the German rapper has taken on the biggest selection of opponents in one event. Singer-songwriter Lena, rappers Summer Cem, Juju, RAF Camora, Azet and Zuna and many more challenged Bausa in the Schleyer-Halle in Stuttgart.