Review of Eurosonic Noorderslag 2012 in Groningen, The Netherlands.
Clump. Eurosonic Noorderslag 2012 ends bloodily and it’s all the fault of Iceage (7/10). That clump? The final collision of Elias Rønnenfelt’s microphone he’s flung across the crowd in the Vera bar. The resting place? A cameraman’s side. But let’s get to that.
Each year, Groningen in The Netherlands turns into a city-sized supermarket, full of isles of fresh, untapped talent for festival organisers to pick from. As bars and clubs and theatres and coffee houses and churches fill with new acts, it’s clear this is the only January Sale worth visiting.
Forget Tesco. The shelves here are priced up with everything from Scandinavian pop to Dutch noise bands and anything in between. In the VF trolley are Tribes (7/10), whose re-hashing of Pixies and Suede is more a lesson in nostalgia than some exciting future intention, and Theme Park (8/10) who jangle fizzily between Orange Juice and tropical pop.
Three hours north of Amsterdam by train, the city is ideal for a one-wristband, all venues festival as well: it’s flat, walkable and the pubs simply refuse to bolt up. Spector (8/10) are similarly stubborn about coming out of 2005. Their indie pop is well versed, nodding heavily towards The Killers and Kaisers, which matches their rehearsed onstage routine.
Lianne La Havas
Soul folkster Lianne La Havas (7/10) has a striking warble and impressive musical diversity but lacks lyrically, opposed to Daughter (10/10) whose considered heartbreak poetry and acoustic brevity simply stuns in a cathedral.
Fionn Regan (7/10) flies the Irish folk flag, doing his upmost to subvert the twee, dimple-faced stereotype with Tim Buckley sadness and bone-chilling lines like: “button up your hood we can sleep in the graveyard“. Whereas when The Cast of Cheers (6/10) appear without Ted Dansen, you know this is a hollow, reductive attempt to raise a glass to past indie-punk glories. The Futureheads should be spared the indecency.
Citizens! (8/10) have greater artistic merit: their hard and fast electro-indie could soothe any LCD Soundsystem fan in mourning and administer a strong dose of New Order, just for new wave revivalists.
Elsewhere, Russian producer DZA (9/10) is a rather more complex labyrinth of sounds, samples and perennial pandemonium. It’s a puzzle of cinematic lasers, soul claps crunches, video games yelps, and disharmonic hip hop beeeeeeats that stretch and climb and collide and fall. There are breaks and synths, triggered literally by a pink PS2 controller. He’s Gold Panda gone wonky in an addictive, A.D.H.D. sort of way.
He betters the punch of Denmark’s Iceage, who create violence ubiquitously. The four-piece mimic the punk godfathers, Black Flag, rather well, even if their baby-faces and faux-facist attitudes arrived late for the birth of hardcore. Still, mics fly and photographers topple, leaving moshers attempting presentability in the toilets afterwards, washing warm blood from their faces while running off of glass-in-the-face adrenaline.
The band’s stock will rise this evening as will Eurosonic’s reputation. It remains as relevant and musically influential as ever and is still the most assured start to the festival year.
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