Eurosonic Festival 2008

Going Dutch

Eurosonic Festival 2008

Photographer: Sara Bowrey12 January 2008

The cultured, northern town of Groningen is the setting for this annual sonic escapade, an event which puts new, breaking bands from across Europe in front of the people who make the continent’s festival scene truly tick – the bookers and promoters.

Last time VF ventured to Eurosonic, in 2006, the little known likes of Jose Gonzalez, Editors and Mystery Jets wowed audiences, winning them slots at various festivals across the continent and proving the career-changing impact that playing the event can achieve. This year there are more UK acts than ever before, but it’s not just breaking acts vying to impress. Bands who have already laid down their marker in Britain – The Futureheads, Reverend And The Makers and The Dead 60s for instance – are also here, presumably to further their chances of being booked at European festivals this summer.

But it’s the new breed we’re here to see and the buzz on the opening night revolves around two bands, The Ting Tings and Lightspeed Champion. Unfortunately, organisers have scheduled them on stage at exactly the same time in two different venues (there are more than 20 venues dotted around town) so having seen Dev Hynes’ new Lightspeed guise recently at Liverpool Music Week we opt for chirpy pop stranglers The Ting Tings.

We last saw the Manchester duo at V Festival and later made the mistake of trying to persuade them to hire an extra band member. It still remains impossible to ignore the fact that much of their live set is a backing track, and a keyboardist or another guitarist could help bridge the void. But, as they hinted to us back in August, they harness a unique formula that simply isn’t being done – and they do it so well. Jules is a man of Ray Bans and rhythm, pounding drums to the catty stalking and squawking of his stunning cohort Katie. But it’s the tunes that really stand out. Look out for forthcoming single ‘Great DJ’ but wait with baited breath for ‘That’s Not My Name’, which threatens to be this summer’s ‘Foundations’.

After The Ting Tings’ high energy performance it’s difficult to find anything remotely on par. Denmark’s The Kissaway Trail proved a worthy warm up beforehand, all blissed out, whispy lyrics followed by colossal build-ups of guitar fuzz but, lying awkwardly between Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene, they failed to successfully emulate either. Staying on a Scandinavian tip Norway’s Ida Maria lives up to her growing hype, pulling her hair out to songs about her car crash love life before finishing her set writhing around the base of the stage screaming ‘Oh My God’. Definitely one for the festivals.

We can’t see what all the fuss over Friendly Fires is all about. Their cover of the classic Frankie Knuckles house record ‘Your Love’ is a clever twist, as was Klaxons’ version of ‘It’s Not Over Yet’, but you can’t cover up an average body of work with an ‘old rave’ cover can you now, no matter how you dress. Blood Red Shoes, on the other hand, ooze class with their catchy but intelligently crafted tunes and could hypnotise an audience even without stunning singer Laura Mary-Carter. Does It Offend You, Yeah? are another band who manage to combine the right amounts of substance and style, generating Eurosonic’s biggest party atmosphere with their relentless robo-rock. We bundle out sweatily to watch another Danish bands in Boozed, but by this late hour we’re exactly that. Who knows what they sounded like.

Hopefully a few festival organisers did. Hundreds of bands played across the three days of Eurosonic, mainly Dutch artists and Swedish bands (Sweden were given the honour of being the highlighted country at the 2008 festival.) We saw too many to mention, and some we didn’t get into, like The Futureheads, but once again Eurosonic got the festival year off to a flying start by providing an international cross section of the best sounds flooding through the continent right now. Sadly, there were once again very few UK festival organisers, showing a reluctance by many to ‘shop abroad’, but those who did join the multitude of European bookers can look forward to a busy few weeks filling their stages with new, exciting acts.    

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