Spotted at ESNS 2021
Jessie Atkinson
15:46 19th January 2021

A pandemic and a Brexit could not keep us apart. For many Brits, many musicians and for Gigwise, the United Kingdom will always be a part of a European Union, even if it’s not in the official one.

ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag) is our first taste of that enduring sense of unity. Taking place over the past week in its first virtual iteration, the festival and conference managed to show 189 acts from 36 European countries despite being unable to meet in real life.

Gigwise, as virtual attendees, picked out our favourites from a very impressive crop.


Country: Lithuania
For fans of: Fatoumata Diawara

Recorded in Mali and produced in Europe, Afrodelic are a funk/electronic/Malian group blending influences collected by band leader Victor Diawara (no relation to Fatoumata), who grew up between Lithuania and Mali. The result is a wildly enticing soundtrack of peaceful yet danceable tones.

Alex Gough

Country: Republic of Ireland
For fans of: Loyle Carner

Beaming to ESNS from Dublin’s Whelan's, Alex Gough brings his best existential hip hop, both from behind the drum kit and in front of the microphone. Last year’s ‘BACKSEAT’ especially hits home with the very impressive (very difficult) drum/singing Gough seems to pull off with ease.


ARP Frique + Family

Country: The Netherlands
For fans of: Chic

Infused with the ecstasy of first-wave disco with the added fun of a synthesiser, ARP Frique and Family make a big old mishmash of good vibes with their French language disco club night tunes.



Country: Poland
For fans of: Ezra Collective

It’s been all about the bass so far, and Poland’s EABS are no different. There’s a hell of a lot of juicy half-time in this gorgeous sound, which puts jazz through the prism of old school hip hop. Mega.


Global Charming

Country: The Netherlands
For fans of: Lewsberg

Holland continues to spew out darling post-punk band after darling post-punk band. To add to your list: Global Charming, who released their debut album Mediocre, Brutal last year. You may have post-punk fatigue, and to tend to that we recommend this band, who are a thing all their own.


Julia Bardo

Country: Italy
For fans of: Goat Girl

A past member of Manchester’s Working Men’s Club, Julia Bardo has been on our radar for a while, but it’s left to her own devices that she shines brightest. Mellow with a jagged edge, her sound is somewhere between the strangeness of Goat Girl and the familiarity of singer-songwriters of old.



Country: Spain
For fans of: The Runaways

Bands with true punk spirit can be hard to come by. Spain’s PINPILINPUSSIES have the je ne said quoi in spades. Their riffs are dirty, their lyrics scathing and their delivery caught between Patti Smith and fictional Freaky Friday band Pink Slip.



Country: France
For fans of: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

Now for some sludge psych. French band SLIFT are for you if you like the opaque playfulness of the UK’s own Pigs x7. Pedal porn. Face-melting guitars and some indecipherable backing vocals. Aural bliss.



Country: Belgium
For fans of: The Internet.

Brothers Yvan and Alban are a mesmerising duo, a fact that COLORS picked up on in 2019 when they featured YellowStraps on their tastemaking channel. The group show off their skills with panache in this ESNS performance, which was filmed in front of a real life audience and everything!

Photo: Jorrit van de Kolk