The 12 acts who made a sonic boom in Groningen
The annual Eurosonic festival in the Netherlands has become one of the key platforms for new European bands – and it’s where many Irish hopefuls aim to make a big noise internationally. Join us as we crack open some Dutch gold
Christine & the Queens
Mariam The Believer
It’s remarkable to observe Eurosonic’s rise and rise in recent years. This writer first visited Groningen in 2005 for its annual showcase of the best new European bands. Back then, on its seventh outing in the Netherlands, the festival was on a much smaller scale, with 178 acts and a couple of hundred music industry hardy bucks in attendance.
People knew about Eurosonic but MIDEM in Cannes was judged to be more worthwhile in terms of doing business and making deals. And, let’s be honest, in January, the south of France is much more alluring than northern Holland.
The weather situation may remain the same, but everything else has changed in the interim. In 2014, Eurosonic attracts bumper crowds at every turn. The number of acts has almost doubled – 337 this year – and there are around 3,500 music industry high rollers in town, as well as nearly 40,000 punters (up from 15,000 in 2005) checking out the acts in the fantastic venues and clubs around town.
Slowly but surely, Eurosonic has become a very big deal. Aside from the live music, there is now a significant music industry convention, a growing technolgy focus, the European Border Breakers Awards ceremony, where 10 European acts are highlighted for successful debut albums and tours outside their home territory, and the European Festival Awards, which pats the big cheeses on the festival sector on the back and sends them home with gongs for their shelves.
But Eurosonic’s real importance comes from how it has positioned itself as a hub for festival bookers and promoters. This year, there were representatives from more than 500 international festivals, including bookers from Irish festivals such as Body & Soul, in town to run the rule over acts with a view to future bookings. At a time when the live music business is the one seemingly with all the cash, a band who impress bookers at Eurosonic could well enjoy a busy summer on the festival circuit.
It’s something which the Eurosonic orgaisers have recognised and put on a more formal footing with the European Talent Exchange Program (ETEP). This scheme has been using European Union cash to send rock’n’roll bands all over the continent since 2003. ETEP acts get to play at foreign festivals and enjoy increased media support on the back of the appearance.
There’s a long-running Irish association with Eurosonic thanks to 2fm producer Ian Wilson, who was beating a drum about this event long before it was popular or profitable. Each year, the station selects and supports some acts for the event, but there is now an increasing number of Irish bands heading to Eurosonic under their own steam.
It’s certainly well worth the time, effort and cash and may well be far more benificial to acts than travelling thousands of miles to join the overcrowded cattle-market at SXSW in Texas. In the past, Irish acts such as Villagers, James Vincent McMorrow, Little Green Cars and Kodaline have all seen a rise in festival bookings on the back of a January gig in Groningen.
It will be interesting to see if 2014 Irish visitors such as Daithí, The Strypes, Hozier, Kid Karate, Girl Band, Daniel James, Hudson Taylor and Le Galaxie will see similar bumps in the months to come. That’s the real bellwether of Eurosonic success.
Vibrant, epic and euphoric sounds for the dancefloor produced by a French/
Luxembourg trio armed with two pianos and a drum kit. Francesco Tristano, Aymeric Westrich and Rami Khalifé are classically trained musicians making music which is an awesome, ear-catching blend of classical, electro and improvised post rock.