ESNS17, DAY 4: THE DAY I DIE

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Friday night has turned into Saturday morning and I haven’t had any sleep. Therefore, Future of Media, a special programme launched by Eurosonic Noorderslag in co-operation with VPRO Medialab, didn’t look so bright through my sleepy eyes. I crashed in during BBC Radio 1’s keynote speech about digital music, but I couldn’t understand a lot of what their Head of Music Chris Price was saying. It was something about streaming services, playlists, their new discovery service and the role of the radio in the digital age, which is most certainly a very delicate topic in the music industry right now.

To make us all feel a bit more optimistic about rotting of traditional media in the modern age, organizers staged a meeting with some respectful media to share examples of their successful and innovative approaches. Case studies ranged from original uses of social media to guerilla marketing and a bit less attractive, but very important data analysis. I wasn’t feeling conscious enough to sit at the small table with other media workers and participate in a more intimate discussion, but I highly praise this concept. Next year perhaps.

After laying my hands on some free coffee (god bless), I decided to head downstairs for one of the last English speaking panels of 2017 edition: Festivals, Labels, Media & Managers. The purpose was to unite key players of the industry, start an open conversation about the issues of their collaborations and look at potential ways they could work together more effectively to benefit all parties in the future. Festivals were covered by Andras Berta, International Relations Director at Sziget Cultural Management, but his role in the Hungarian music scene reaches much further. The restless Ruth Barlow represented record label’s point of view and the loveliest multi-tasking Italian Katia Giampaolo stood up for artists managers. For some reason we all seem to hate media at least a little bit, yet we are aware it holds such a vital function for every sector within the scene. Ben Houdijk of the Dutch 3FM Radio was here to take the hit and tease us about the importance of live streaming.

So when festival season kicks in, managers, labels, media and festivals have to come together to make conflicting agendas work. The moderator Nikki McNeill explained how festivals and their media or brand partners often require exclusive artist content to boost ticket sales and reach target audiences both in the run up to and after their events. Festival coverage enables both the festival and artists to reach audiences ‘beyond the field’. But with the increasing number of requests for everything from interviews, social media takeovers, meet & greets, broadcast rights and live streams, coupled with the artists’ gruelling touring schedules, it is becoming more difficult for festivals to get what they require. And how is the future looking? Well, one panel will certainly not be enough, but I very much support Berta’s suggestion that ETEP should take this issue into their own hands.  

Saturday served with some more compelling talks, but I rather stormed to Gallerie Sign. My favourite independent Dutch music and art platform for promoting young artists and musicians Subbacultcha teamed up with local well-wishers Wham! Wham! Records and threw a bangin’ edition of their annual Day Party. From the r&b pop out of Oshlo’s bedroom to the hallucinatory chants of a Fickle Ghost and well, Korfbal and Nouveau Vélo again. These guys literally had at least three gigs a day, considering that all of them also play in other bands. But we will get back to this in a bit. I first have to take a nap…

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I actually went to my “Groningen home” (big thanks to the amazing Radost and Velizar for hosting me) and tried to sleep it off for a few hours before paying a visit to Coksonic, a little showcase event with ten amusing bands and DJs, presented by the Groningen’s residential COK Bookings. Instrumental psych trio 3times7 looked like they just came from Woodstock ‘69, but are still tripping so hard that they haven’t realized it’s already 2017. I mean this in a very good way… They fit perfectly with the extravagant-looking venue Lola, which gave this whole experience an even stronger spiritual touch. After four days of this musical mess, fuelled with a few thousand liters of beer, none of us was really there anyway.

And well well, guess who came up next… Creepy Karpis. I’m not sure if I mentioned this garage four-piece here before, but they are a part of the Korfbal, The Homesick and Yuko Yuko gang. All these bands are more or less a mixture of the same dudes with some upgraded forces. However, every of these music projects has its own unique touch with a different energy splash that makes attending every of their show absolutely undesirable.

Lola was a nice introduction to the Noorderslag 2017, which introduced the leading 56 acts of the Dutch music scene. This story finally leads up to the spectacle I was waiting for ever since I arrived to the country. It’s about young, funny and perky Dutch internet sensation. “It might seem like three guys having good fun, joking around with ‘Yung’ hiphop names and singing mainly about drugs, sex and afterparties. But just like the title of their album (Free Wifi), it’s spot on. It is what going out and life in general seem to be about for a whole generation of kids who feel like Yung Internet delivers the laid back hiphop soundtrack of their lives.” My Dutch is not so great. I can mostly just offend you in this language and I have to give some credit for it to this insane trap trio. The whole room was psychotically jumping, throwing their hands around like the biggest gangstas and shouting along to the lyrics. It was mental! And there you have some random Slovenian chick in the first row dancing like she has a freaking rabies! Say wooooot?! But no one cared how they looked. Nothing seemed to matter at that moment. We were one feral herd finally breaking free from everything that was keeping us caged.

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I was happy to finally see these dixie dudes. What an appropriate way to end Eurosonic Noorderslag 2017, isn’t it? Nevertheless, the night was not yet over. The first day of Euromoney was a total success, so I headed back to De Gym for another unforgettable night curated by the famous Amsterdam-based Red Light Radio. The gang-bang continued with hiphop masters SMIB, Sun Shy Boy, Dusty, Victim Victim and so on. In these three days, Euromoney created a whole new world behind the club’s walls.

After six days of roaming around the city of talent, I was bruised, broken and eternally sleep deprived. But oh boy, it was extraordinary! What they told me was true – you cannot be ready for what’s waiting for you at ESNS. I still need some time to process everything and try to make sense of this madness. On the other hand, though, it was such a beautiful mess that left me with the craziest vibes which shouldn’t be tamed. Eurosonic Noorderslag might be the climax of my Erasmus exchange, but I feel like things have just started spicing up…

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