I can’t remember the name of the band who were about to take to the stage. Judging from the queue of people I’d had to make my way past at the entrance, they must have been an act with a lofty reputation. I was feeling hot, bothered and on the edge of heading back to my rented apartment in the centre of the city. It had been a heavy weekend.
Two swaying women, probably more drunk than I was, came and stood in my general vicinity. One was very tall and the other less so. The shorter one said something to me in Dutch. At least I assumed it was in Dutch; this would have made sense as we were all in the Netherlands.
“I’m sorry. I can’t understand. I’m English”, I apologised. This was my first conversation with Jolene.
(Click on page 2 for more of this story)
I’ve had a ball – so much of a ball that as Friday morphs into Saturday, I’m at my lodgings feeling inspired to write.
I’d already had a couple of beers when I stumbled upon the Rockstone showcase. I guess that gave me the confidence to randomly wander into this hairdressing salon which was converted into a small gig venue. Well, it was that and the stunningly beautiful noise coming from inside.
I bought another bottle of beer for 2 Euros and watched, enthralled by the jazz-tinged tones coming from the small stage.
I was watching Lara Kroon. A TV screen above her head helpfully informed me of this. She was singing and strumming, picking at a guitar, whilst two backing singers helped her out with sugary-sweet harmonies. As Lara played, I did a quick, surreptitious search on my phone to find out more.
(Click on page 2 to find out more about Lara)
My legs are aching. I was standing on them for much of yesterday, either watching a show from the next bright young things or wandering around Groningen hoping to catch those next bright young things before they’re on the radar of everybody else.
A fuller review of yesterday at Eurosonic will surface on eFestivals in time but for now I want to focus upon one small part of the day.
It was about 5PM and I was wandering back to my fine room in the centre of this City. I needed to get ready for the evening – snow was forecast for the night and I wanted to add a layer or two (and an extra pair of socks).
A lot of activity takes place around the Grote Markt here; there’s a big outdoor marquee (Eurosonic Air) which hosts bands for free, lots of pop-up food stalls if you want a snack or two and many of the Eurosonic venues. This also seems to be the space where much of ‘Altersonic’ happens.
I’m guessing (my Dutch isn’t great) that Altersonic is one of the alternative spin-offs from the main Eurosonic. Eurosonic can only schedule a certain number of acts and others need opportunity to show off their talents as well. I like that Groningen has this festival within a festival even if it also means that my sense of overall confusion at the complexity of it all has heightened.
Anyway, I was walking past what can best be described as a pop-up radio station, a room with windows looking out onto the Grote Markt. A cheerful woman handed me a headset and said that I could listen live to what was being recorded within this room. I put the headphones on, watched and listened. Some sort of live lounge was in progress. An act who I didn’t recognise, just her and a guitar, was playing. “Sweet and solid folk music with a familiar twang”, I thought.
(Click on page 2 to find out who it was)
It’s been a long and exciting day. I write this as the wind outside howls around the dark and wet streets of Groningen. But I’m ok – AirBNB has worked wonderfully and I have a fab room in the heart of this fine city.
Regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will know why I’m in the Netherlands. I’m reviewing Eurosonic Noorderslag for eFestivals. The plane from Southend touched down just after 5 and since then it has been all systems go. In the space of a few hours this evening, I’ve seen much that a fuller review will warrant but for now I’ll pick a shorter tale.
I clocked the band on the train from Liverpool Street. I needed a wee and so walked up and down the aisles to try and find a toilet. These shuttles don’t seem to have them but I did walk through a carriage that was laden with trendy looking musicians carrying boxes of equipment. “They must be on their way to Groningen“, I thought to myself.
(Click on page 2 to find out which band it was)
We return to my itinerary for Eurosonic in Groningen next week, randomly chosen by Facebook friends. With Let’s Eat Grandma, they were already a name on my shortlist before Laura Horton, Chief Executive at Leicester’s Centre For Integrated Living, former Labour councillor in the Tory stronghold of Melton and all round lovely person decided to add the request ‘L7’ to my wall.
Aside from having one of the most entertaining band names across the whole festival (arguably the delightfully named Cocaine Piss are more of a draw), Let’s Eat Grandma crossed my radar last year when I saw the young duo’s mysterious, kooky and highly captivating turn on ‘Later With Jools Holland’. There was enough weirdness and off-kilter creativity on display to warrant another look.
(Click on page 2 for five more Sonic Breakfast reasons why I’ll be at the Stadsschouwburg at 8PM next Friday evening)
I’ll be heading to Groningen in the Netherlands in less than two weeks. Knowing this, I probably should have taken it a bit easier over Christmas.
Eurosonic Noorderslag has been a festival I’ve wanted to do for some time now. There’s something particularly attractive about the idea. Whilst others are finding ways to get fit and limit their expanding waistlines, I’ll be partying with festival bookers, up and coming bands and writers just like me in Holland.
This is apparently where the festival industry goes to do their summer deals. I’ll be doing my utmost to unearth the best rumours for eFestivals.
But, I’ll be honest. The scale of it all feels a tad overwhelming. 350 bands or so promoting their wares over a few days during which I’ll have to get my bearings in a strange city. It could be carnage if I had no plan.
And I have one (of sorts).
(Click on page 2 to read that plan)