Come mid-January, you’ll find that the entirety of the European (and worldwide, for that matter) music industry has relocated to a rather unlikely hotspot: the Dutch city of Groningen, which will once again host the first big kick-off event of the year – Eurosonic Noorderslag. The festival-meets-showcase presents industry executives, bookers, the press and some 35,000 visitors with the best new music that this fine continent has to offer. Previous editions have lit the flame for the likes of Bastille, Nothing But Thieves, Franz Ferdinand and Enter Shikari, with coming January’s edition also possessing a line-up filled with some of the most intriguing, hotly anticipated bands of the future. We’ve scoured the finest musical experiences which Groningen has to offer between 17 and 20 January, and for the first part of our Eurosonic Noorderslag preview we’ve picked ten things you can’t miss.
If you like your grime served on the same plate as a hefty dose of pit-ready nu-metal, then Astroid Boys are most definitely your thing. Their vicious combination of the aforementioned hits you so hard that it may well be for the best that they’re one of the last acts to take to the stage at the classic Vera club, because the recovery will take quite some time. Friday, Vera, 01:15
ZEAL & ARDOR
There’s so much promise surrounding Swiss/American crossover sensation Zeal & Ardor that they’ll be playing not one, but two shows in Groningen next month. Manuel Gagneux is a musical genius, having carved his niche by fusing two genres whose roots couldn’t grow further apart from one another: black metal and classic blues. The pairing sounds ludicrous on paper, but onstage you’ll need to prepare to be blown away by Gagneux’s bluesy guitar licks and guttural howls. Wednesday, Huize Maas, 01:15 &
Thursday, Vera, 01:15
There’s not an awful lot about Manchester’s Pale Waves that will particularly surprise you from the outside, but as you delve deeper you’ll find yourself dealing with a band who seem to be slowly morphing into the next big thing. A close connection with The 1975 will have undoubtedly done Heather Baron-Gracie and co. a world of good, as will their extremely clear visual aesthetic and goth-infused indie pop. Allow Baron-Gracie’s voice to haunt your mind for days on end, and prepare yourself for a year in which the phrase “here’s Pale Waves!” will seldom leave the airwaves. Thursday, ESNS Play, 21:20
Now, Arcane Roots’ addition to the Eurosonic line-up is a bit of an intriguing one. That’s because the math-rock trio have been knocking around for a few years, with three studio albums under their belt already. This year’s Melancholia Hymns was a fine step forward, demonstrating progression which had slowly but surely been bubbling up during the few years prior. Their set in Groningen will take place within the absolutely stunning interior of Huize Maas, a grandiose location which couldn’t complement Arcane Roots’ in-your-face yet stunning sonic compositions if it tried. Wednesday, Huize Maas, 20:00
With just three tracks to their name, Superorganism certainly have a lot of impressing to do when they treat the continent’s most renowned tastemakers to their colourful live show. The UK/US collective have already bagged a spot on the FIFA soundtrack, having further been taken under their wing by London’s Jungle and releasing a remix courtesy of Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard. No mean feat for a band with a currently minuscule output! Something For Your M.I.N.D. has been hailed as one of 2017’s best tracks, and if you head to the quirky Machinefabriek on Eurosonic’s last night you’ll find out exactly why. Friday, Machinefabriek, 20:00
The fourth day of Eurosonic Noorderslag is generally reserved for Dutch music, but every now and then you’ll find artists who fare so well in foreign territories that they’ll also appear during the continental part of the week. Amsterdam’s Pip Blom is one such example, having toured the UK and received backing from BBC Radio 6’s Huw Stephens in the three years since she started recording and putting out her sweet, jangly garage pop. As Dutch acts go, Pip Blom seems to be making quite the impression outside of her home country (something which not every local act is capable of, so hats off to her). Close out your week in Groningen with a trip to the Heerenhuis and watch as Blom makes her mark. Friday, Heerenhuis, 23:20
Anglo-Danish trio off bloom are no strangers to the big stage, having spent large portions of the year touring with Eurosonic alumni Dua Lipa. Their highly infectious electro-pop is ferocious enough to set tongues wagging and groove-laden enough to fill dance floors the world over, and quite rightly so. Frontwoman Mette’s voice is like an earworm, remaining lodged within the confines of your mind for days on end as you try to figure out why you can’t get that tune out of your head. Not that you’ll have been unaware presence so far, though, because hit track Falcon Eye has already wormed its way onto the prestigious FIFA soundtrack. “Shake it like you want it all“, because that’s exactly what off bloom will do next month. Thursday, Grand Theatre, 23:00
Every year, the Eurosonic line-up reserves plenty of space for some of the best heavier bands to make their mark on European audiences, and in that 2018 that’ll be no different. One band who may prove to be a dark horse are Brighton’s YONAKA, a four-piece who effortlessly manage to balance intensity and ferocity. Once vocalist Theresa Jarvis has your attention, there’s little chance that she’ll let go until she’s well and truly done messing with your head. That can only be a good thing, right? Head to the Vera on the festival’s last night and see for yourself, because this time next year you might regret missing out. Friday, Vera, 22:15
This year, Eurosonic has chosen Denmark as its country of focus. This means that the festival pays extra attention to one particular nation, and that its line-up features more from that country than anywhere else. Leading the long list of Danish names present in Groningen next year are seasoned garage punk veterans iceage, whose fourth studio album Plowing Into the Fields of Love already dates back to 2014. They’ve not done an awful lot since then, but it seems to be the case that 2018 will be a big year for Elias Bender Rønnenfelt and co. Live, the band cause more carnage than you could possibly imagine, so if you don’t leave their set with at least one injury then you’ve probably done it wrong. Wednesday, Vera, 23:45
HMLTD are the kind of band who are extremely tough to pin point in a game of ‘guess the genre’. All six of their currently available songs follow extremely varying musical landscapes, with the Western-tinged To the Door, dubstep-infused Stained and downright obscure Kinkaku-Ji serving as good examples of what Henry Spychalski and co. are all about. Live, you’ll be sure to expect equal amounts of unexpectedness, because each set this European sextet play is extremely different to the one that came before it, or the one that follows it. From customised stage productions to outlandishly vibrant outfits (both of which have most definitely helped put the band out there into the public consciousness), HMLTD are the one band who everyone needs to check out at Eurosonic 2018. Thursday, Vera, 23:45
Eurosonic Noorderslag takes place from 17-20 January 2018 in and around the centre of Groningen. You can head to their website for more information surrounding ticketing, accommodation and all the conferences and showcases which take place throughout the week.