Last weekend the Eurosonic event engulfed the northern Dutch town of Groningen. Despite its location, 2 1/2 hours by train from Amsterdam and without an airport hosting commercial flights, Groningen is not a sleepy backwater. Instead the place is a thriving contemporary city with a vibrant student population and beautiful old architecture aligning cobbled steets and canals. Eurosonic is a blend of music conference, awards ceremony and festival. Festival bookers, broadcasters, publications and music technology companies flocked to Eurosonic from 11th – 14th January. Festival bookers were looking for hot new bands to book, media outlets were looking to break bands to their station or magazine audiences, whilst tech companies arrived to raise their companies’ profile within the European music industry.
I arrived via the invitation of the European Broadcasting Union, best known for their organisation of the Eurovision Song Contest. Despite their association with the kitsch geo-political sing-a-long, the EBU undertakes a vital role for European public broadcasters. Each of the EBU members share music recordings with each other to broadcast free of charge. This means there’s a ready source of live music for often cash strapped public broadcasters. The EBU also plays an important role in sharing knowledge on new technologies and advancements in the worlds of broadcasting and music. My role in bringing real-time interactive coverage of music festivals for the BBC, for instance, interested EBU members enough for them to invite me to Hamburg to speak to members and subsequently to a wider group in Groningen.
It was a flying visit, meaning I crammed in five bands in a four hour period on the Thursday evening and three panels on Friday day, in between catching up with a few folk.
Starting in the Vera venue, Danish band Thulebasen performed brooding shoe-gaze with a kick. Their track Gate 5 as featured on the Eurosonic playlist hooked me with its psychedelic rhythms and metamorphosing nature. Gate 5 is clearly their most interesting track although other tunes on the night still maintained a level of intrigue albeit in a less distinguished way. The three piece’s sound is best when it blends shuffling breakbeats alongside fuzzy phased out guitar distortion and a tighter lead guitar melody.