Live streams may have become the easy option in the midst of a pandemic. Plug in, mic up and go, right? Although that might seem straightforward, putting on an entirely digital showcase festival and co-ordinating performances across a whole continent is no mean feat. Massive credits to Eurosonic Noorderslag for managing to pull off an almost seamless first day of 2021’s (digital) edition. The Groningen bash, usually one huge industry piss up all day and all night, has this year migrated to the web in lieu of the ongoing pandemic. And yet still they’ve managed to put together as complete a festival as possible, with the main difference being that each performance (of fifteen minutes) has been pre-recorded back in the home country of the artist. Here are five highlights from the first day of a digital ESNS.

FAUX REAL

Three words: what the fuck? French duo Faux Real brought 80s electro pop vibes to our screens during their set, complete with cheesy choreography, VHS-quality cameras and music which took its cues from The Garden’s weirdness, Feng Suave’s smoothness and, well, we can’t quite put our finger on it.

NEWDAD

Irish outfit NewDad recorded their set at Dublin’s iconic Whelan’s venue. Their understated fifteen minute set featured the powerful I Don’t Recognize You at its close, standing out above the rest of set and – to be perfectly honest – most of the music we heard on night one. If you haven’t checked out NewDad and their slow-burning grunge pop yet then you’re doing something wrong.

YIN YIN

Because it wouldn’t be a proper festival without a good party. Yin Yin‘s thai funk brought the sunlight into our rooms, with their infectious fusion of hip-shaking rhythms and spaced out jam moments nearly enough to create a moment of ultimate sonic bliss. The bastard child of Khruangbin and Altin Gun, perhaps?

BEE BEE SEA

Fun name. Fun songs. Not much else to add about these happy Italian garage rockers: what you see is what you get.

INTERNATIONAL MUSIC

Although their name is as generic as it comes, German post-punkers International Music were far from straightforward during their set recorded at Groningen’s iconic Vera. Their German-language music was the perfect mixture of emotionally gripping, musically intriguing and unique to keep you on the edge of your set (or bed).

Honourable mentions on this successful first day of ESNS 2021 go to Discovery Zone‘s beautiful decor and sprawling sound, the energising Samba de la Muerte and jangly garage psych rockers The Goa Express. The second day of Eurosonic’s digital edition features performances by the likes of Meskerem Mees, Eefje de Visser and Altin Gun.