Photo: Bart Heemskerk
For four days every January, the Dutch city of Groningen becomes the musical epicentre of Europe as crowds descend for Eurosonic Nooderslag: the showcase that can make or break an artist on an international scale. The city possesses the greatest number of live music venues per square metre in Europe, with 2013’s 27th edition offering fans and industry professionals alike an insight into who will shine in the year ahead.
Wednesday night was the European Border Breakers Awards (EBBAs), which saw C2C win the Public Choice award and also saw victories from Niki & The Dove and Of Monsters And Men. The show’s highlights can be found here, with Belgium’s Tomorrowland scooping the Best Major Festival award.
As for the rest…
As we stumble in and out of as many of the 27 (yes, 27!) venues spread out over the city, we become particularly entranced by Denmark’s Rastleklods, with their catchy-as-heck electronic hooks, inconceivably cool hair and a light show that must have featured every colour in the spectrum. The easiest comparison to make here would be to Crystal Castles, with the young male/female pairing stood behind keyboards and Macs, drenching our ears with their electro-club wizardry. But the duo offer us more than CC, both in terms of crowd acknowledgement and musical breadth, with the almost Editors-esque ‘Clouds’ juxtaposed with ‘Young and Dumb’, which is one of those simple electronic beauties you’d hear in the background at an East London bar.
Catchy synth-pop appears to be the order of the day on the festival’s first night, with Dutch songstress Krause (Susanne Clermonts) drawing us into the Energy Stage’s interior at a fairly early hour. With her debut album ‘No Guts, No Glory’ produced by drum n bass legends Noisia, we expect nothing less than a floor-shaking belter of a live performance; we aren’t disappointed. Dressed in a menagerie of patterns and colours, Clermonts and her backing band thunder through electro-pop wonder after electro-pop wonder. Even the most aloof hipsters in the crowd are wagging their heads to the beat by the end.
Having had praise heaped upon him by the mighty Flying Lotus for his debut EP, it is only right that we drop in to the Platform Theatre to see the work of Ireland’s MMOTHS. Jack Colleran’s beautiful brand of electronic chillwave is utterly spellbinding, with his musical depth drawing you into the kind of contemplation reminiscent of an Aphex Twin set.
Acid Symphony Orchestra
Witnessing Finland’s Acid Symphony Orchestra at the Stadsschouwburg is like sticking your head into a time machine vortex. Producer Jori Hulkkonen stands with his back to us, dressed in a tux, conducting a 10-piece orchestra comprised of men clutching Roland TB 303’s. Each member twiddles and tweaks their device, with Hulkonnen’s mixing desk allowing him to construct the sounds the audience hear. Both stunning and surreal.
Saturday heralds Eurosonic’s Dutch day, with the line-up solely comprising artists from the festival’s own country. With a plethora of acts to choose from, we decide to head to Daily Bread’s instore at Plato, where great swathes had already gathered. Part Goldfrapp, with more than a hint of The Knife’s Scandinavian prowess, the band have a stage presence almost on a par with the these formidable bands, helped by Kimberly van der Velden’s expanse of crimped hair.
Photo: Bart Heemskerk
Belgium’s 23-year-old Netsky (which, we’re told by his impish MC, is pronounced ‘NET-SKY, not NET-SKI’) is no stranger to chart success, meaning the top floor of Huize Maas is packed to the gills. We’re told at the start of ‘Love Is Gone’ that we should only our hands in the air if we’re ‘having a good time.’ Two bars in and the room is a sea of flapping arms. Success.
The Horse Company
Photo: Patrick Visser
Having already touted this Dutch band as one to watch, we make sure to make a beeline for the 3fm-sponsored stage on Saturday night to catch The Horse Company. The perfect band to ease us into the evening’s proceedings, we are treated to a 45-minute set of part indie, part country, with a band that could happen if you swirled Kings of Leon, The Lumineers and Arcade Fire in a melting pot.
The La La Lies
Photo: Sander Baks
If old school rock n roll is your bag, then The La La Lies are right up your street. With their denim jackets, remarkable quiffs and penchant for blistering guitar riffs, this band don’t offer pretension, just great fun, with a shot of headbanging thrown in for good measure.