7 great things from Eurosonic 2014
What caught our eyes and ears in Groningen
(1) We’ll come to the 10 best acts we saw at Eurosonic 2014 in the next while, but Aufgang were one of the very last acts we saw as the three night bash came to a close and kind of summed up the Groningen experience this time out. They also provide a memo to self for future reference: always go with the tip passed on by a Scottish guy in a busy restaurant. A trio consisting of two piano players and one drummer, Aufgang have been putting on shows like this since Sonar 2005 and driving people wild with a sound which twists and turns between techno, jazz and classical. It’s vibrant, exuberant, swinging and wild.
(2) There’s always going to be a mention for the bikes. While the best way to get around any urban festival like this is on two wheels, the bike is an everyday experience in a Dutch city like Groningen. Even for bike fans, watching what occurs when the bike lane lights go green and hundreds of cyclists move off in a complex, daring ballet movement to move left, right or straight on never loses its buzz.
(3) It’s a mixture of coming across acts like Aufgang that you haven’t seen before and hearing tunes like this played in their pomp that bring you back again and again to Groningen. Friday night, the Machinefabriek is packed to the gills and the four-strong Klangkarussell live band bring an awesome set of pristine, bespoke, high-spec house to a close with this. Hands in the air, smiles on faces etc
(4) The Irish are here: over the last few years, we’ve watched on as Daithi has developed his smarts. Back when he was playing at various On the Record nights, such as this one in late 2010, the man and his fiddle were at that point where experimentation and electronica came together. These days, though, Daithi has hit the dancefloor and he’s hit it with a bang. His set at Eurosonic 2014 was perfectly suited and booted for the popside, a fantastic, glowing set of ear-worms which come with superb hooks and fringes. His album should be another of 2014′s Irish delights, a year which is turning out very well already with releases from The Gloaming, James Vincent McMorrow and September Girls.
(5) Unlike, say, SXSW, Eurosonic is a far more refined affair with the emphasis on quality as much as quantity. There are “just” 337 acts playing at the festival compared to the ’000s who spend cash and exert effort to get to Austin. It means that most of the action happens at the nighttime shows, but there are some free daytime gigs at the Plato record store and Coffee Company cafe nextdoor. It’s a good place to sample an act’s fare and sets from Danish noir-punk maestros Shiny Darkly and intriguing British rock act Lonely the Brave were what kept up in the record store aisles.
(6) The Irish are here: Girl Band are another homegrown act we’ve been tracking for what seems like yonks. But it takes time for an act to find their feet and get their sonic ducks in a row and that time seems now for Girl Band. Their set at the Huis De Beurs was a noisy, visceral affair, full of sharp shards, wonky basslines and superbly sloppy slaps around the face. You’ll want to be onboard for where the trip is heading.
(7) Apart from boasting the best selection of new acts on the continent, one of the other reasons why Eurosonic has become a must-attend event is down to the non-players who are there. It’s become the annual go-to for summer festival bookers and promoters, giving them a chance to come together, check out bands and exchange gossip about the acts to see and the acts to avoid. While there’s growing evidence that we’re reaching peak festival time, there’s still plenty of buzz around the live music industrial complex about what’s ahead and they certainly intend to do the dog with festivals around the place for another few years. That said, there were a few horror stories told in quiet corners about problems around events in southern Europe – it’s not all beer and skittles out there.