10 Things We Learnt At Eurosonic

Generally known as one of the best showcase festivals in Europe, Eurosonic starts the year off with a healthy dose of legging it around strange streets, trying to avoid queues to catch all the must-see bands from across the continent. Who wants to wait ‘til summer for festival season to begin anyway?! Featuring heaps and heaps of new artists waiting to be discovered, ones that haven’t quite made it over to the UK yet and a few established acts in the picturesque settings of the city of Groningen, Eurosonic 2013 didn’t disappoint. Here’s ten things we learned.


Palma Violets – still the best, even when the audience blows

Well, quelle surprise (or however you say that in Dutch), Palmas owned another festival. After what sound like two very sticky, very fun shows back here in the UK, the lads rolled in to Eurosonic on the last night and blew our minds all over again. They might have been a tad unimpressed by the mostly motionless crowd but, even if a little bit more atmosphere would have been nice, everything else was spot on. ‘Best Of Friends’ sounded as vital as ever, album tracks like ‘Chicken Dippers’ and ‘Johnny Bagga Donuts’ got at least some reaction from the crowd and Chilli’s finger-waggling exercise during ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’ did its usual trick of putting smiles on previously serious faces. One thing – don’t think you can get away with not joining in. Seems Chilli’s got a radar for those who think they’re too cool, as one man found out in Groningen as the bassist honed in on him, barking at him until he reluctantly participated.

Wanna cause a roadblock? Be a British buzz act

As you might expect, Jake Bugg and Sound of 2013 shortlisters Chvrches and Laura Mvula had hordes of people lining up outside their respective venues to see them but, such was the demand, a lot of them were left out in the cold. Eurosonic is one of the go-to showcases for festival bookers so expect to see these three on a lot of European line-ups this summer.

Jacco Gardner might be cool but his drummer’s upping the ante

We thought the Dutch baroque-pop protege was cool and then we saw his drummer. Jos van Tol looks like a beardier version of Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Joel Gion, wears sunglasses on stage and generally just does his thing whilst looking very relaxed and nonchalant about the whole performance – no Animal-style thrashing and bashing here. In fact, we bet he doesn’t even break a sweat. Ice. Cool.

For better or worse, battered pasta is A Thing

In Groningen, takeaway windows are fitted with vending machine-like slots. Put some money in and you’ve got yourself a burger to chow down on, no human interaction needed. Already sounds like a recipe for food poisoning, right? Add to that one of your choices being a weird concoction of battered pasta and some kind of unidentifiable meat and that 3am decision to finish the night with a kebab in Dalston doesn’t seem quite so dodgy.

Denmark is quietly developing a host of hot new bands

They might not shout about it but, quietly, the Danes are amassing quite a host of hot new talent. Their name might be terrible but all-girl trio Nelson Can’s Deap Vally-meets-Savages-meets-Yeah Yeah Yeahs howling post-punk sleaze-fest is chest-thumpingly thrilling. Mø deals in edgy electro-pop that’s heaps of fun and insanely infectious whilst, at the other end of the spectrum, Broken Twin is the most arrestingly beautiful songwriter we’ve heard in aeons.

Looking for the next Two Door Cinema Club? Go to Finland

Shrill tremolo guitar riffs and catchy vocal hooks about adolescent romance? The fresh-faced Satellite Stories have clearly been taking a leaf out of Two Door’s book and, if the packed room at Muziekschool is anything to go by, they’re getting a similarly warm reception to the one that greeted the Bangor boys on their debut album.


Phantom’s UFO theremin is the best handmade instrument we’ve seen

There’s making your own instrument and then there’s making a theremin that looks like a UFO. Finnish duo Phantom have succeeded in doing just that, adding spacey sounds to their songs (think Alpines and The xx) and a cool talking piece to their set.


There’s no end to Jori Hulkonnen’s talents

He’s gained a cult following on the electronic scene on the continent as a John Foxx and Tiga collaborating producer, DJ and member of synth-pop group Processory but Jori Hulkonnen’s got another couple of projects up his sleeve too. At Eurosonic, he manages to squeeze in two sets in one night, first conducting the ten piece keyboard group Acid Symphony Orchestra (quite literally an orchestra played via Roland TB 303s) before joining up with Villa Nah’s Juho Paalosmaa under their Sin Cos Tan moniker and bringing the spirit of Pet Shop Boys to the festival.


Record shops live on in Groningen

Groningen is marginally bigger than Wolverhampton, with just over half the population. Whilst Wolves’ indies are all but gone, Groningen’s seem to be thriving. We spotted at least six on our wanderings around the city, indicating that the physical market still has a place, even if that is in a peaceful city in the north of The Netherlands. They’re fully stocked up with all the latest releases you’d expect to find on the shelves in the likes of Rough Trade, so we’re not just talking prime spots for crate-digging for golden oldies either.

Villagers might have filled out their sound but they’re still at their best stripped down

Their second album ‘{Awayland}’ might see a development of sorts for Villagers – one that brings the rest of the band and a sense of subtle experimentalism to the fore – but they’re still at their best when ‘they’ is just ‘he’. Before the band’s full set at the beautiful Stadsschouwburg venue, Conor J O’Brien enchanted a coffee shop full of people with just his voice and acoustic guitar. A return to his early shows, it was an emotional reminder that, whilst it’s important for artists to grow, sometimes all you need to create a raw, intimate kind of hold on your audience is just the basics.