There's no denying the influence of the showcase and conference festival.
The amount of time and energy big festival bookers go to ensure a large part of the new bands on their line ups are picked from these events makes them influential. We rang up a host of different bookers to learn first-hand the significance of these industry events in a recent feature titled 'Why big music conferences matter more now than ever'. Then of course venue promoters are in the mix, too.
Ultimately, the likes of Eurosonic, Great Escape, MENT, and FOCUS Wales are a sort of oracle into the future big hitters. You only have to turn the clock back a couple of years to see the likes of Blossoms and Shame attracting numbers only in their hundreds at such events and now they're on to thousands.
With this in mind - and the fact Eurosonic kicks off today - we want to look at who stands out on as acts we think will stand out in this immensely high-octane, competitive environment.
Below are who you should see if you're out there traipsing around between venues. Or - it's a guide for discovering more music to listen to at home from bands that have a top chance of earning a lot larger fanbase in the coming months. We hope you discover something new you like below:
Bee Bee Sea
Gigwise caught sight of this Italian band's scintillating Oh Sees-eque garage rock at the insanely well curated Pickathon festival in 2018. Sounding like "speed fuzz that sounds like rock’n’roll being thrown down a very deep well," according to reviewer Steven Kline, they had one of the rowdiest crowds at any show we've ever seen. Italy's underground is going to a rich vein to tap into if these are anything to go back. Watch the clip below and see if you aren't tempted to get in that sweaty mosh.
Festival appearance: MENT (Ljubjana) - 30 Jan - 1 Feb
Socials: Facebook / Twitter
Blind Wilkie McEnroe
Formed by Carwyn Ginsberg (Hippies Vs Ghosts, CaStLes), Dave Elwyn and Mike Pandy, this new trio are set to perform FOCUS Wales in Wrexham. Wrexham may not be as trendy as Brighton, but it's quickly ganing a reputation to being host to the best alternative music events on the calendar in the UK. This band epitomise how much the festival has its finger on the pulse when it comes to the very best of new Welsh music. The track below is sung entirely in Welsh and mixes riff-driven indie pop with face-melting, fuzz heavy psychedelia. A fantastic new guitar band.
Festival appearance: FOCUS Wales - 16 - 16 May
Socials: Facebook / Twitter
St. Petersberg's Shortparis are coming to UK showcase festivals and will ignite the scene. We did a panel at Rockaway Beach (13 January) and played back a live performance of theirs to a crowd who'd come over to see the likes of Gary Numan and Echo and the Bunnymen - and they lapped up Shortparis. So much so, the crowd were egging them on to get booked by festival founder Ian Crowther who was sat there also singing their praises. Early days but here's to hoping the Russian speaking band, loved for their intoxicating mix of Belgian new beat, industrial electro, bayan ( a Russian accordion), electric guitars and falsetto vocals, conquer the UK. Watch their new video below to see what all the fuss is about. We have it on good faith they're playing, but exact details of showcase appearances are to follow.
Festival appearance: TBA
This accordionist who'll likely hold a room in complete awe, like Colin Stetson can do when he's in full swing, conjures saturated, haunting, intense soundscapes on his instrument. The live recordings we've heard thus far tear up all pre-conceptions of what an accordion-led band would sound like. Growing up in the British Isles we so often associate it with centuries old folk music that you'd likely buy with a plastic tin whistle in a shop in Galway. But this sounds so innovative and eschews tradition to the point you imagine Thom Yorke would be begging for a guest spot.
Festival appearance: MENT (Ljubjana): 30 Jan - 1 Feb / Eurosonic Noorderslag: 16 Jan - 19 Jan
Kukla (as it's translated onto an English keyboard) is an electronic artist that we can envision fitting well on to Sónar festival in the future. The artist who released her debut album Katerina earlier this month made a mark at last year at Tallinn Music Week and has now been picked up by Eurosonic and MENT. This solo artist, who bafflingly calls her music" Slavic Geisha pop", employs a justaposition of culture to ensure that her music eschews the pitfall of recycling old forms and lands herself somewhere unique. You can't dig around the rest of the line-up and find something more-or-less like this. The artist’s knack for designing unique videos to accompany her hypnotic songs adds to her appeal, too. Check it out below.
Festival appearances: Eurosonic Noorderslag 16 Jan - 19 Jan / MENT (Ljubjana) - 30 Jan - 1 Feb
Fusing the hotblooded, pacy rhythms of his native culture with distinctive modal harmonic flavours from the Moorish influence that’s abounded in Portugal since renaissance times , ‘Há uma festa aqui ao lado’ (meaning ‘There’s A Party Next Door’) is a wicked way into this homespun brand of hyper-local tunage. O Gajo’s solid stomping tempo and fizzing rockstar energy make for a corking pick-me-up playlist addition, while the accompanying film clip with its evocative ‘Vinho Verde’ colour palette and subtly-lit ceramic-tile backdrop are achingly, unmistakable Portuguese. Something wholly different to anything else you'll see at Eurosonic this year, too. (Words: Andy Hill)
Festival appearances: Eurosonic Noorderslag - 16 -19 Jan
Signed to the up-and-coming Mink Records label in Amsterdam, The Visual are playing their first ever festival at Noorderslag, the Dutch only event happening paralell to Eurosonic. The immediacy of The Visual's single 'The Figure' is what's likely going to draw a big crowd. Of that, reviewer And Hill said: "Anna van Rij’s voice, cool and evanescent as the morning dew, veers between melancholy lethargy and emotionally wrought upper-register bends. Partner in crime Timon Persoon does his ‘voodoo soundman’ bit on keys, crafting a proper three-dimensional sound landscape at the tender locus of soundtrack and songwriting." High praise, that.
Festival appearances: Eurosonic Noorderslag - 16 Jan - 19 Jan
Socials: Facebook / Twitter