“We come every year, and it just never gets dull,” enthuses a Dutch woman who is queuing outside of Groningen’s Grand Theatre, one of the key venues at annual showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), which is taking place for its 38th time in early 2024.
It’s a good point. The four-day festival is packed with surprises, and there's a proper buzz about the idyllic city of Groningen, which is a well of cultural richness in January. There's more to this charming student city than meets the eye, and what’s on offer feels tempting enough to deal with the biting cold January temperatures.
Eurosonic is a quintessential part of Groningen’s identity. Its latest edition is, as it happens, bigger and bolder than anything that has come before, and as the number one destination for emerging European music, ESNS 2024 attracts 40,000 fans and industry professionals with an offering of close to 300 acts. As with every year since its launch in 1986, Eurosonic takes over numerous venues throughout the city, offering a hand to grassroots spaces.
Boasting an enviable track record of rising live performers (artists such as Sigrid, Fontaines D.C., Wet Leg, and Arlo Parks all played some of their first shows here), Eurosonic provides a launchpad for musicians on the brink of something bigger with plenty of success stories tracking back over the decades.
2024 is no deviation. Multi-venue, multi-genre: ESNS is a quality-led display, and the artists on the bill are chosen with careful curation. There's originality and uniqueness wherever you look, and a bank of independent artists proving why they're deserving of even bigger stages.
Read this next: The top 25 artists to check out in 2024
This year, a dominant trend in the artists selected to play is a hybrid approach to genre. We've picked out seven acts from Eurosonic's 2024 bill who highlight the quality and fluidity of music-making in 2024, alongside a run-down of what went down during their performances this year.
Irish-British producer, singer and instrumentalist Asha Catherine Nandy, also known as yunè pinku, steals the spotlight. Scooping a Music Moves Europe Award the day before is a telling sign of her prowess, and the Bermondsey-bred artist excels at ESNS. Fine vocals are enveloped around arresting sonic arrangements, and each ambient moment feels unrepeatable - but catchy. Clever and compelling in equal measure, yunè pinku is going places, and deservedly so.
Polish industrial wunderkind Natalia Zamilska offers an electrifying techno feast. Though there's an argument that the Zawierzie-born composer and producer is, strictly speaking, no new artist (she's produced several albums and gained recognition from the likes of Iggy Pop and Mary Anne Hobbs in the past), the impact of her performance feels raw and piercing enough to make it a fresh talking point of astonishment. Operating on the fringes of mainstream and underground and performing the majority of shows in her native Poland, Zamilska's ability to merge sonic patterns with signature production techniques can work magic and deserves recognition beyond borders.
Probing Spanish duo Dame Area are a force to be reckoned with. The Barcelona-based artists bring intensity, irresistibility and unflinching inventiveness. When a track begins, unless you know it already, there's no way of predicting the creative direction of travel. Explosive at times and tranquil at others, the blend of Silvia Kostance’s vocals and Viktor L. Crux’s percussion is invigorating, and they own the stage.
Guðlaug Sóley Höskuldsdóttir is the real name of Icelandic artist Gugusar, who has been writing music from a young age. Incorporating dance, movement and vocals during her performance, her stage presence is spellbinding. The vocalist and producer's body of work is at-once shy, intricate, and emotional, with electro-pop beats sprinkled across the setlist in a crisp display of imagination.
Ana Lua Caiano
The meeting point between traditional music and experimentation drives Ana Lua Caiano. The gifted Portuguese composer and producer writes complex compositions that reach beyond conventional definitions of genre, style and boundary, drawing on a wide palette of musical influences that have proven her a trailblazer for contemporary European music. Her live set is educational and entertaining, demonstrating innovation and inspiring ways forward.
Honesty’s eclectic brand of dance music is a treat. The Leeds collective understand how to work a crowd with their rugged live performance and unfiltered on-stage approach where genres like UK bass, garage, and shoegaze meet. Honesty are a product of real collaboration who carry themselves with ease and an enthralling stage presence, a vital one to watch.
Sisters Frida and Sirid Møl Kristensen front electronic indie duo Prisma, who have been making music together since 2014. The Copenhagen-based act grew into a unique force in a relatively short period, known for their experimentation with psychedelic rock, high-tempo sounds and anarchic vocals - notably screaming "fuck off" in the chorus of their 2021 track 'Seven Greedy Girls'. The duo are met by a warm, supportive cheer when they take the stage, with a set that has depth and range with introspection, proving an engrossing showcase.
Susan Hansen is a freelance writer, follow her on Twitter