Words: Barry Storm.
There’s a place in the north of Holland, a magical little city with a 25% student population and a 100% positive attitude. Groningen opens it city doors every year to the european music industry for a drink, a laugh and a series of very important meetings. Eurosonic is much more than a showcase festival, much more than a music conference and much more than an industry piss-up. It’s the ink on your festival line-up and the trading place for tours taking place in a town near you.
With a packed schedule of seminars and showcases to attend sleep was essential so drinking with the captain of my hotelship and his pirate friends seemed an obvious detour. These events are exhausting, the networking areas in the De Oosterpoort conference centre are a brilliant mix of music industry movers and shakers. Promoters from Ljubljana sell their city to agents from Stockholm. Festivals from Hong Kong seal deals with agent panelists. Government officials and public funders keep an ear to the ground and a hand set to shake whilst members of the media and press stand back and look for a story.
My search for something to do led me where any good hack would go. Straight to the free booze! Kindly donated by the country of Iceland, we were treated to two types of tree bark moonjuice and an array of stick based snacks alongside complementary Vedett beer. Iceland Music Export also provided us with a ten minute monologue from their Minister of Culture Mr.Illugi Gunnarsson. An excellent talker and now I’m starting to see why the drink is free and strong..! Junius Meyvant took the stage and brushed out 3 songs of Icelandic beauty which silenced the crowd and calmed the aggressive Australian booking agent in my company. One to watch from the volcanic isle.
The clawing for attention from bands at these showcase events is an obvious thing for them to do. In the run up we received dozens of messages asking for our attendance at this show or that. CHECK OUR BAND OUT! Usually these are the ones to avoid, it’s best to catch the buzz on the street and follow the agents to the actual next big thing. I made an exception this year for Miss Kenichi, a german songstress with a cool vibe and a nice publicist. A beautiful show in a beautiful giant church.
Drink is taking effect at this stage and the thirst for more scratches at my throat. The only thing to do is move on, head for the next venue and skip the queue to move to the front row. Hinds (fka Deers) are a 4-piece girl surf rock band. It seems to me that the bonnie guitarist (they’re all bonnie by the way) has just been given a Fender for Christmas. She’s picking out some notes ok but not really playing it. Ozzie agent says “they’re rubbish”, I say “they’re hot”.
“Let’s go to check out Years & Years…”
“I’ll get the drinks in”.
You might have heard of Years & Years, they just topped a rather London-centric BBC Sound of 2015 list. It was a bad list and apparently they sound like Wham! The singer was wearing a wife-beater, that’s when I left. I think I’ll actually quite like them. I like Wham!
Things are getting hazy now and I’ve met some new friends. We google map our way through the vibrant streets in search of a hotel. We’re going to meet some cool promoters guys from Germany. Someone mentions champagne and now I’ve started smoking, 2 bad ideas. I like German promoters, the way their language translates into English is glorious.
We miss Beatrice Eli, Sisters, Intergalactic Lovers and Twin Atlantic. We catch Urban Cone. We say hello to Urban Cone, I’m seeing 2 Urban Cone’s. Urban Cone are my favourite act of the festival. I’m going to my boat.