ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag) always makes me feel a bit proud of Groningen. For those not familiar: Eurosonic is a three-day showcase festival for upcoming European artists. The festival takes place throughout the entire city centre! Noorderslag is a one day festival in De Oosterpoort showing upcoming dutch artists. Together, the two make up ESNS. Last year’s official numbers show that 382 acts performed in 48 venues (wow).
As opposed to last year, I ‘only’ visited the Thursday and Friday this year as I much prefer the Eurosonic-part over the Noorderslag-part. I love the fact that the entire city centre turns into a festival site! At the same time, non-visitors might not even notice that a huge festival is going on as it is all happening in small(ish) venues. Anyways, these were my favorite 5 acts of this years edition! I included some videos to give you an idea of what it was like (even though they were not recorded at this festival).
1. Pip Blom
Venue: Heerenhuis. Genre: indie poprock
Great way to start your performance: asking your band mates “Well, should we just start?” and then kick off the first song. Ok, allright, ESNS is not the place for great talks. The performance that followed gave me so much energy though! Amsterdam-based, Pip started her musical career as a 16-year-old singer-songwriter because she couldn’t find the right band. I’m so glad she found them now (age: 21) because the combination of their indie slacker tunes and her voice is great! The 2016 debut EP ‘Are We There Yet’ is currently on repeat and I hope she keeps the new singles coming! We walked away from Het Heerenhuis humming the song ‘I think I’m in love with you’. Catchy!
Venue: Stadsschouwburg. Genre: singer-songwriter
Wow. It took a couple of deep breaths before we were back on earth again and ready to take up the rest of the festival! This performance was intense. And the audience was so silent! Even in between the breathtaking songs we had to whisper. Half-Egyptian, half-Belgian Tamino just released his first EP and while he is often nicknamed ‘the Belgian Jeff Buckley’ that doesn’t mean his songs are unoriginal. His roots give them a unique twist. And what a huge range! I am very curious to find out how this performance will turn out at this summer’s festivals!
3. My Baby
Venue: Eurosonic Air (Grote Markt). Genre: psychedelic blues tribal
At first, we didn’t plan to go to this performance. It was at the Eurosonic Air stage which has free entrance and we wanted to make most out of our expansive wristbands (haha, Dutchies). But… when we found out that we probably wouldn’t make it inside in time for Iguana Death Cult’s performance as there were just too many people waiting in line we needed a back-up plan. Ended up at de grote markt and was absolutely surprised! Actually found out about this band recently (oops) and got to really like their recent album ‘Prehistoric Rhythm’. The tight live performance combined with a tonload of energy and psychedelic visuals made me wonder why I didn’t know them before?!
4. Colin Benders
Venue: Simplon. Genre: electronic
The diversity of the acts at Eurosonic can be funny from time to time. From the prehistoric rhythms of My Baby at de grote markt we went to Simplon to find ourselves in a Berlin underground kind of vibe. Known as the founder of Kyteman Orchestra, Colin Benders can definately be classified as being multi-skilled. His recent passion is the modular synthesizer which is completely different from the orchestra to say the least. Watching Colin plug in all different cables in the huge machine while the silhouette of his hair is going everywhere is incredible. Electronic, loud, and without any subtleties. Great to experience.
5. Canshaker Pi
Venue: Heerenhuis. Genre: indierock
One of my favorite Dutch bands at the moment. Energetic, fun, enthusiastic, great record and great live performances. Third time I’ve seen them in a year, wow. Noorderslag 2017, Lowlands 2017, Eurosonic 2018… where will these guys be next year? I’m still not sick of their 2016 debut, but all the more curious about the new record! I know, their songs are super shaky, nothing tight about it. These guys are all over the place, but in the end they keep your attention with some funny lyrics, a nice riff or a catchy refrain. In any case, they manage to make the audience as enthusiastic as they are on stage!
Conclusion: seems like I have a geographical preference! 4 Dutch artists out of 5.
Where else have we been? Our schedule. Thursday: Hater, Tamino, Theodore, Jo Goes Hunting, Canshaker Pi, Darling West. Friday: AVEC, Konoba & R.O., Luca d’Alberto, Ana Curcin, Elizabeth Balčus, Pip Blom, My Baby, Colin Benders, De Rooie Jager Roodshow (haha).
Did you also visit ESNS? Which acts were your favorites? Or perhaps your least favorites? Curious!