I’m en route to the Dutch city of Groningen for Eurosonic, the annual festival for showcasing fresh artists from all over Europe. Over the next four days the festival is hosting over 300 acts from 25 countries and 4,000 delegates from 400 international festivals.
Chances are dozens of these acts will blow up in 2018 or over the next few years, and Eurosonic is a sort of launching pad for acts to break out of their domestic scene.
But it’s not just industry heads trying to make a few quid off fresh talent – it’s a proper full-on city festival in its own right, with around 30 venues around the city hosting gigs over the next few days, aside from the talks and workshops.
There are 10 Irish acts heading to Eurosonic 2018 – most of them familiar to festival heads and fans who’ve been following Irish music trends over the last few years. We’ll be reporting back soon on standout international acts at the festival, but in the meantime, here’s a list of the Irish artists hoping to connect. Weirdly enough there’s still a push for acoustic guitar folk lads, maybe after the lunacy of Picture This taking over everything last year.
Soule got her first radio play in 2016, and her debut single Love No More was nominated for a Choice Music song award.
An early standout member of Dublin’s Word Up Collective, her savvy pop and R&B follow-ups Troublemaker and What Do You Know, and high-profile ‘ones-to-watch’ slots mean she’ll pull a big crowd in Groningen. She was also in the first round of acts announced last year, so she’ll be lodged in the minds of punters.
From guesting at Word Up Collective gigs, to teaming up with MC Mango and singers Jass Kav and Erica Cody at the Story of Hip-Hop showcase with the RTE Concert Orchestra at Electric Picnic, Dublin rapper Jafaris hits the ground running with his Eurosonic spot. He flits between classic boom-bap to future-pop hooks on If You Love Me.
Dublin trio Bitch Falcon have been ‘ones to watch’ for a few years, initially for having one of the best band names in Ireland, and their effortlessly cool grungy alt-rock racket that doesn’t scrimp on big choruses. After a steady diet of Irish summer festivals, they played Canadian Music Week at the end of 2017.
Giving Bitch Falcon a run for their money in the killer name stakes, Belfast’s Robocobra Quartet play a thrilling clash of post-hardcore and skronky jazz, channelling Zu, Fugazi, Morphine and Mr Bungle. They’ve promised new music at Eurosonic.
Derry teenager Roe is a pretty safe bet to move up a few tiers in the next year or two – she’s already played the Great Escape in Brighton, Output in Belfast and the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury. She can turn her hand at melancholy guitar pop on Fake Ur Death, to biting electro-pop on Playground Fights.
Mayo man Seamus Fogarty plays a curious sort of folk music that clatters and fizzles way more than your usual acoustic singer-songwriters. His debut album The Curious Hand is a mix of skewed strums, strings, noise and electronics, earned him plenty of praise from the mainstream press, including a rare five-star review in the Guardian.
With tens of millions of streams and shout-outs from Taylor Swift, Dermot Kennedy seems like a fully-formed chart star. After getting a leg up by Glen Hansard with a 10-minute slot at one of his sold-out gigs, the word of mouth was all good – based on his commanding blues voice and dramatic arrangements on his debut EP Doves & Ravens.
Derry singer-songwriter Glenn Rosborough cites David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and Kate Bush in the first line of his bio, which is seriously aiming big. His disarming falsetto is as close as he gets to Bowie, and tracks like Burn Blue and In the Moment have a classic 80s clenched rock air while staying the right side of sensible.
Co Down man Ryan McMullan plays classic, wiry blues with a howling voice that aims straight for the classic 70s rock greats. Live he’s been known to cover The Streets of New York, Black Is the Colour and Maniac 2000, but we reckon he’ll stick to the serious business of the blues for the Dutch crowd.
Young Dundalk singer-songwriter Keenan is from the Picture This school of acoustic emoting. Like Picture This, he worked on a huge YouTube following before old school media copped on, and he’s just released his first six-song EP. He should be a big feature on festival bills this year.