DAY 1 – Less is more and more is better
Kicking off with a quick visit to the European Border Breakers Awards, which culminates in French DJ quartet C2C pick up the ‘EBBA Public Choice Award’, we are off into the cold northern night to crawl our way from venue to bar to café to venue and everything in between.
In all the commotion of the first night of live music, we unfortunately miss ‘neo-psych’ guitar pop band Temples and have to quickly readjust our schedule. With so many clashes of interesting acts on at the same time, we settle for Mikhael Paskalev. Playing to a pretty size-able crowd, the Norwegian Liverpool-based singer-songwriter is just in the middle of his minor-keyed catchy tune called ‘I Spy’. Somewhere between indie folk and dreamy Norwegian pop, his compositions are reminiscent of Arcade Fire at times, though I doubt they would introduce one of their songs as kind of ‘cowboy disco’…
It’s worth noting that as Groningen has the most amount of venues per square metre for any city in Europe; I’d never have guessed a sweet little venue such as the Vera to be tucked away around the back of one of the main streets. But with that comes the hassle of running over to other venues, as with every road looking similar to the one next to it!
Over to a Portuguese fella called Frankie Chavez. And whilst the venue is called Huize Maas, which roughly translates to House of Maas, ‘House of Blues’ would be more appropriate. Think of Seasick Steve with all six strings and a thumping drummer and you pretty much got it covered. But whilst Seasick does this with a story to tell, Chavez unfortunately only gets us to bob our head to the rhythm & blues that he comes up with. Pleasant, but that’s about it.
We leave Chavez and make our way over to jazz café De Spieghel for the first time, to see one of our many preview-mentioned artists, Eva & Manu. Hailing from Finland (and France, but we’re told to ignore that part tonight), the duo have spent the past 6 months travelling across Europe in a campervan, looking for stories to tell and songs to write. It’s the chemistry of Rodrigo y Gabriela, but with a Finnish folk twist to it.
As the crowd is in awe of the ease and simplicity with which these sounds fill the room, their cover of The Black Keys’ Lonely Boy comes as a surprise and I’m sure I’m not the only one with a tendency to prefer it over the original.
Move over to French Films. As these lads come rolling in off the back of just having won an EBBA award, their already joyous surf wave pop brings some much-needed summertime feelings into the cold Dutch night. These Fins are keen to continue the trend of the Scandinavian take-over tonight as they thunder through a set of Surfer Blood/Drums-like tunes but with lesser cynicism. Definite highlight so far.
And finally, our debut Eurosonic night comes to an end. But what an end it would be as we stick around for Vera-closer Rangleklods: The Danish duo is as unpredictable as they are exciting. Esben Andersen brings Bowie melancholy to The Field’s trip electro. The dynamic ‘angst’ that his voice carries through songs such as ’Puzzlehead’ and opener ‘Clouds’ never gets boring. And when it’s the first night of Europe’s largest showcase festival with the crowd begging you for more freak-drops and a-rhythmic synth beats, you know you’ve done well. Best be hoping these lot make it across the Channel soon, ’cause this is one show you don’t want to miss.
Mikhael Paskalev – Jive baby
Eva & Manu – Lonely boy
Rangleklods – Clouds