Various venues, Groningen
Held at the start of each year in the picturesque Dutch city of Groningen, ESNS is a long-established pilgrimage for those on the hunt for new music.
It’s an event that sees keen listeners, festival bookers, journalists, record label A&Rs and industry execs convene from across Europe to look ahead and take stock of what’s in store for the year-in-music to come.
By day, the city hosts a busy network of conferences, panels and meet-and-greets, but ESNS is, primarily, an opportunity to discover new talent. Every evening of the dizzying live music schedule stretches late into the night, occupying more than a dozen venues dotted throughout the winding city centre.
As ever there was a dazzling amount of talent on display at 2024’s edition, with 280 acts booked from 40 European countries. Below, we’ve rounded up five standout performances from our trip to Groningen.
Sardinia’s Daniela Pes makes ethereal, classically-informed ambient-pop that occupies a similar heady world to established favourites like Marina Herlop and Lucretia Dalt. Already a rising star in Italy, ESNS marked the first of a string of dates outside of her home country this year and, based on her hypnotic performance in the upstairs room at Simplon, she seems bound to gather up new fans wherever she travels. Count us amongst the early adopters.
Born in Scotland and raised in Denmark, Clarissa Connelly’s music comes steeped in the pastoral charm and ancient mystique of the natural world she grew up around. A rich mixture of psychedelic folk, classical Scandinavian music and Kate Bush-school synth-pop, she draws on an unusual combination of acoustic and electronic instruments to create her uniquely timeless sound. Her first two LPs gained cult popularity among discerning listeners, eventually catching the eye of Warp Records, who signed her last year. Her virtuosic performance on the opening night at Groningen’s Municipal Theatre made it totally clear what the fuss is about.
Ana Lua Caiano
Singer-songwriter Ana Lua Caiano moonlights as a composer for film and this sense of drama can be clearly heard throughout her work. On stage, she marries traditional Portuguese music with contemporary, club-inspired electronics – her dynamic, layered vocals twinned with rich growling synths, and her claps and hand-played drums bolstered by heavy digital kicks.
The real charm of ESNS is seeing new, fledgling acts booked alongside legitimately ascendant stars with careers already at bolting-point. Malaysian-Irish artist yunè pinku falls clearly into the second category – a fact confirmed by the conspicuous rabble of A&Rs and bookers that piled into her show in Groningen’s Grand Theatre. Her glossy blend of hyperpop and UK rave aesthetics puts her in a similar bracket to artists like PinkPantheress and George Riley – although there is perhaps something more mature and refined to her approach. Already a regular on the European circuit, her show was polished and assured; she’s sure to be a name we’ll be seeing on plenty of sunny festival stages this summer.
Our award for sheer unbridled energy goes to Julie Pavon, a Denmark-via-Honduras act whose raw, hyperactive electro-pop stole the show at the Forum on Thursday night. Her vibrant stage presence was clear evidence of the busy few years she has spent touring Europe and honing her craft. All eyes on her to see where she heads next.