DAVID BOWIE is everywhere, also in Groningen. A big and friendly ‘David Bowie is…’-lettering is the first thing you see when you leave the train station of the Dutch city on the way to your hotel. It advertises a current exhibition that – once again – documents the brilliancy and artistic life of the pop chameleon. That welcome greeting seems a bit odd, following just days after the passing of the Thin White Duke but it also marks a good starting point for the content of Europe’s most important showcase event for up and coming artists. What does the future of pop music look like in a world without its most influential character?
Of course, none of the hundreds of artists can stand a comparison to Mr. BOWIE but all of them show more or less great potential while also showcasing that Europe’s cultural scene is as alive and vital as it has always been. So despite the fact that the idea of a political Europe is currently eroding, the people itself and especially the music industry are aiming for a more collaborative approach and could therefore act as a role model for a continent that is facing a certain indentity crisis right now. The stakes are high and so is the quality of these highly professional new artists NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION witnessed during those days in the lovely city of Groningen. We narrowed our experience down to seven performances that marked our highlights during those days. These are the Eurosonic Noorderslag 2016 discoveries that are likely to make their way into your heart in the next months as well.
Ten Fé (UK)
We already featured these two British lads before, thanks to the catchy singles Make Me Better and In The Air and their performance at Eurosonic proved that TEN FÉ have even more to offer in the course of 2016, it seems. Highly addictive tunes in the tradition of British guitar pop made us fall in love in an instant. Supported by their backing band Ben and Leo are able to pull off Glastonbury-fitting stadium anthems as well as funky Manchester Rave-infected floorfillers. And they even did the only BOWIE tribute we witnessed during the entire festival by performing a Let’s Dance snippet. Even more reasons to love these lads.
Hydrogen Sea (BEL)
We stumbled upon the performance of Belgian two-piece PJ Seaux and Birsen Uçar aka HYDROGEN SEA by accident but it turned out to be far more than just a fill-in. The duo never made us regret our venue decision and convinced us with their magnificent synthpop tunes, that are bound together by a certain sense of majestic darkness. It feels a bit as of the epic soundscapes of M83 clash with gentle songwriting of, let’s say, LONDON GRAMMAR. There’s just something quite haunting about these two from Brussels which will hopefully result in more music over the course of 2016.
Lea Porcelain (GER)
We’re not sure if the current political situation in Europe inspire artists to decide for the darker approach towards music or if it’s just our selective perception. But we were definitely glad that there’s been so much talent in that field at Eurosonic Noorderslag 2016. Another good example of that was the set of the Frankfurt based German duo LEA PORCELAIN. In good German tradition these crafted guys mix Krautrock with wavey pop and a little post-punk drive here and there. A really intriguing performance by them and a strong argument to always take a closer look, as we nearly decided to skip the gig of LEA PORCELAIN. It’s good we didn’t.
Sometimes, all it takes is the look of a band to tell you all about their music. That’s not meant to be superficial, instead, some bands just deliberately extend the lifestly of their music into their appearance. One good example we witnessed in Groningen was PAUW from the Netherlands. Their psychedelic rock would have left TAME IMPALA (pre-Currents, of course) pretty impressed we suppose. These four put on a rock show you’ll remember. And somehow, you even tend to forget which century you’re in. One word: Cool.
Alina Orlova (LIT)
It’s always nice to have a curch as one possible festival venue. Nothing beats that in terms of acoustics and aura. Of course Groningen has one in its catalogue: The AA church. So we couldn’t help to at least check out how that fits in. Luckily, we chose to attend the gig of Lithuanian singer ALINA ORLOVA with who we immediately fell in love with. Her songs just find that exact spot where art and pop as well as brain and heart meet: a little edgy, a little effusive but always captivating. Watch out for Miss ALINA ORLOVA!
Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation (SWE)
In the haze of long festival nights there are moments in which sleep deprivation, booze, music and the general vibe all melt into something like a tunnel of vision. It’s been on of these moments in which we stumbled into the set of JOSEFIN ÖHRN + THE LIBERATION. What a match! The Swede’s hazey, hypnotic set slowly dragged us into her world of contemporary psychedelic music. It’s been one of those gigs that leaves you wondering at the end how the whole thing actually started out – a nice and gentle trip. After we already featured the music of Josefin Öhrn & The Liberations, especially recommended their splendid debut record Horse Dance, we now also strongly suggest to visit one of their gigs. You won’t regret it.
Whenever people say ‘It sounds like the next/new XYZ’ there’s a natural amount of scepticism you should involve in your judgement. So, we’re not stating here that British singer/songwriter FRANCES is the next ADELE. Let’s just stick to the fact that she’s really talented, a very kind girl and even managed to let JUSTIN BIEBER sound cool during her performance at Eurosonic Noorderslag 2016. It’s that sort of sweet and honest piano-driven pop that is just destined to break big times pretty soon. Following the sweet first impression FRANCES left during her showcase we couldn’t be surer about anything…