Groningen is a university town in the Netherlands with less than two hundred thousand inhabitants in which about every one out of five is a student. Groningen has a vibrant cultural life full of theatre, exhibitions, and concerts’ events. And yes, it plays a very central role in international underground music scene. Since the nineties, bands such as Nirvana and U2 have played on the Vera’s stage and other venues, such as Oosterpoort, are very active as well, offering various performances.
Also tracing back to the nineties is the Eurosonic Noorderslag Festival, one of the biggest networks and international showcases for emergent European music, which this year is the 27th edition. Three different parts can be extrapolated: Eurosonic, Noorderslag, and the Conference. Eurosonic takes place in Groningen every year in January, this year from the 9th to the 12th. It takes place each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, before the Noorderslag, which is the Dutch pop Festival. In addition, the Conference brings together professionals of the music industry. But let’s focus on Eurosonic.
In a way, Eurosonic can be seen as the ‘younger brother’ of Eurovision aiming at showing young talents, thus playing new and fresh music out of the box … but actually not: not ‘kitschy’ at all and it has the additional feature of being part of a network.
In fact, artists such as Mando Diao, Franz Ferdinand, Lykke Li, the XX, Ben L’Oncle Soul, and James Blake, have been discovered and appreciated thanks to this festival.
Eurosonic is supported by the European Broadcasting Union and Yourope, and is in collaboration with Eurosonic Radio Station, the public radio network, and the European Festival Association.
In general, the line up counts on an average three hundred artists. Each year Eurosonic is dedicated to a different country. In 2013 it will be devoted to Finland and, contrary to the message offered by the Finnish Touristic campaign that was stating “Welcome to Finland, the land of silence”, in this festival Finland will count on seventeen different artists and many genres to represent the best of new Finnish music scene and industry: Acid Symphony Orchestra, Death Hawks, Disco Ensemble, Don Johnson Big Band, Eva & Manu, French Films, Huoratron, Lau Nau, LCMDF, Mesak ft. Claws Costeau, Michael Monroe, Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, Phantom, Rubik, Satellite Stories, Siinai, and Sin Cos Tan. Without doubt, a very interesting performance will be the one of the Symphony Orchestra and their ten Roland 303 electronic equipment.
Moreover, worth of attention are the Holograms, four boys in their twenties who literally break the stage, the Greek Evripidis and his tragedies based in Barcelona, the songwriter Rover from France, the emerging Palma Violets from UK and The Honey and the Birdies with all their energy, funny show, with polyglot texts and the pop A Toys Orchestra from Italy.
Several prizes are designated within the Eurosonic Noorderslag. The awards refer to different aspects and realities of pop music, to mention some: EBBA Awards, The Pop Award, European Festival Awards, Interactive Awards, and Pop Media Award. In particular, the European Border Breaker Award is founded by the EU Culture programme, in collaboration with the European music industry and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Every year ten artists receive this prize, performers awarded in the past were Adele, Mumford and Sons, Damien Rice, and many others. Since 2010 the Public Choice Awards was created to choose the best one.
If you were not lucky with the tickets (which were sold out in only fifteen minutes) you can still enjoy the free stage of the Eurosonic Air at Grote Markt at the city centre of Groningen, of Gruunsonic, of the other events which are organised by other organisations, galleries, pubs or follow transmission from home through radio, Internet or television.
It might be interesting to discover the next ‘star’ of Europe, not the one on the flag of course…
If you liked Bianca’s article, also read Apartments become stages: a different way of performing and enjoying arts
Bianca Rubino, Exhibition Editor
Bianca is Italian with Swiss roots. She studied BA Humanities for the study of Culture in Modena, Italy, and went on Erasmus to Malmö, Sweden. She is now enrolled in MA Euroculture , which she studied in the University of Groningen and the University of Strasbourg. She is currently doing an internship at Interarts, based in Barcelona, Spain, in the field of cultural project management and cultural policy. Her interests are anthropology, sociology, artistic and cultural life and institutions, cultural management and policy, and many more. She has the smallest feet a girl ever had.