Eurosonic Noorderslag 2015 – Saturday
As Eurosonic Noorderslag 2015 draws to an end, Vic Galloway writes home on the merits of going Dutch
Eurosonic's 29 year existence is testament to its obvious success, and I now know that the town of Groningen is the perfect setting for it. A vibrant, colourful and extremely pretty student town, venues are apparently given tax breaks here and the local council and community encourage live music across center in a myriad of clubs, pubs and halls.
It's refreshing to have local government actively support alternative music and its trappings rather than attempt to quell it; something that our own local authorities could most certainly learn from. Groningen sustains a live music culture throughout the year, and generates a lot of money and opportunity for the local economy as a result. It wears this fact publicly like a badge of honour.
After three days of pan-European showcase gigs, the final Saturday night at the festival takes place in one multi-venue complex De Oosterpoort (where the conference has been) and plays host to Dutch acts alone. Not all the international delegates and ticket holders stay to the end and experience the last night, but those who do are in for a treat. In all honesty not all the artists I see are to my taste, or would even cross over to a UK audience, but the locals lap it all up and the sheer enthusiasm from room to room is palpable. If UK crowds often tend to be a little blase and stagnant, I can to report back that the Groningen people, who are well served by live acts throughout the year as explained, seem to delight in having the festival on the own doorstep.
Cutting from hall to hall, enjoying an truly eclectic mix of styles, I immerse myself briefly in the pulsating electronics of Binkbeats, witness José González inspired singer-songwriter Dotan and his band, before seeing one of the stand-out acts of the entire week in the eccentric, off-kilter shape of Snowapple. With a backing band consisting of the traditional bass, drums and guitar set-up, three statuesque women in white-witch-like flowing robes play acoustic instruments and harmonise flawlessly on a selection of songs that draw on classical music, jazz, medieval folk and indie-rock. This kind of description does them little justice, but suffice to say they were brimming with rich, luscious melodies and bizarre but beautiful chord changes. My mouth was left agape, and I duly rushed to grab copies of their two available albums... let's hope they match up to the live sound.
Taking me to the end of my Eurosonic adventure were the dancehall and dubstep-inflected stadium party antics of Skip and Die, whose performance would be guaranteed to get even the most geriatric onlooker busting a move or two; and the primal, garage and krautrock stylings of duo zZz, who are already legendary in DIY circles. Getting properly sweaty in what became a mosh-pit at the front of the stage, I danced into the wee small hours to their motorik beats, grinding organ and reverb-drenched vocals...
Whether you're a music fan, a musician or attached to the business in any small a way, I'd recommend Eurosonic as a great way to start the year. Despite the mostly driech weather and its early slot in the calender year; the lovely setting, kind Dutch hospitality and high quality of acts should be enough to draw anyone interested in. I for one certainly hope to back again next year, and I hope these daily blogs have potentially enticed you to possibly go Eurosonic yourself. Once again, dank u wel!