In any other January, most of us are hibernating for good reason — after a few weeks of indulgence and wallet trashing. We don’t have a choice this year, though, we’re all hibernating together, trying to fill our lockdown weekends and evenings with anything other than pandemic figures and stress.
But don’t go rooting in the cupboards for that 5,000-piece jigsaw yet, as Europe’s biggest new music showcase festival, Eurosonic, is back this year for another edition, and it’s all online. Running annually since 1986, Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) usually turns the small Dutch city of Groningen into the centre of Europe’s music scene every January — with tens of thousands landing for the festival.
It’s a buzzing hub for labels, media, festival bookers and other music industry figures to get a heads up, network and hatch plans for the year ahead. Acts such as The White Stripes, The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand and James Blake played Eurosonic on the rise, so it’s generally an arms race for spotting future heavy-hitters.
It’s usually a big ask to fork out for an overseas music fest trip in the dead of January when you’ve got the fear awaiting your bank statement, but here’s a chance to catch up on some live performances from by some of 2021’s much-hyped acts from the comfort of your laptop. Who knows, you might even get to see one or two of the names at an actual gig before 2022.
For Digital ESNS 2021, a total of 188 acts will be streamed from next Wednesday, January 13 to Saturday the 16th, hosted by the team who took care of the first ever digital edition of the iconic Dutch festival Lowlands, so don’t expect many glitches.
Previous Irish acts at Eurosonic have included the likes of Villagers, Dermot Kennedy, Soule, Jafaris, Bitch Falcon and Fontaines DC, and the export strength is strong again this year. Topping off an incredible year, rapper and spoken word artist Denise Chaila is one of the high-profile names on the bill, with other strong hip-hop representation from JYellowL, Alex Gough and Tebi Rex. Belfast post-punk act Enola Gay also have a hip-hop edge to their politically charged fury, while Galway band NewDad will add some west coast alt-pop to the line-up, Limerick’s Powpig add some freewheeling Slits-style lo-fi garage rock, and Robert Grace is already a big hit here with his radio hits Fake Fine and The Good Place.
All the gigs are free, but the conference pass is €50, and includes talks with the likes of Steve Strange, top promoter Scumeck Sabottka and Dua Lipa’s manager Wendy Ong.
Digital ESNS 2021 kicks off tonight — stream it all on esns.nl