Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) 2023: 10 unmissable artists to catch at the new music showcase

After two years hosting online showcases due to pandemic concerns, Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) returns to Groningen this month (January 18-21) with a line-up packed full of 2023’s brightest talent to start your year right. Over the years, the likes of Sigrid, IDLES and Blossoms have won the ESNS Exchange program from the festival, with others to have passed through Eurosonic over the years including Wet Leg, Fontaines D.C., Black Midi, Squid and many more.

ESNS has traditionally provided festival bookers with a whole host of fresh new acts to book for their events over the summer. After playing in Groningen last year, Wet Leg went on to pack out Glastonbury’s Park Stage, secure festival bookings across the globe and support slots with the reunited Pulp, play on US television and beyond. Yard Act also began a huge 2022 at ESNS, ending the year by being crowned the year’s most-booked new act at festivals across Europe.

Across a number of venues in the Dutch city, all of 2023’s most exciting new acts will be starting their year strong. Here’s who NME will be rushing to catch across the festival…

49th & Main
Who: Irish pop duo making kaleidoscopic wonder out of hard times
When: Jan 19, 00.20, Palace
Look out for: A proper early hours knees-up. Putting this pair on after midnight is a stroke of genius, with their soaring and ecstatic beats perfect for the apex of the night. There are shades of Fred again.. in their sample-heavy tracks, and it will simply explode live. You’ve got to be there.

Girl Scout
Who: Swedish quartet with melodies for days
When: Jan 20, 22.15, Praedinius Gymnasium
Look out for: Superb Swedish indie goodness. Girl Scout met while studying jazz at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, but the music they make in the band just folds outwards from there. There’s hints of Japanese Breakfast and First Aid Kit in their folk-tinged indie-pop melodies, and it’s sure to be the perfect winter warmer for a cold January in Groningen.

Who: A look inside the dark and delicious mind of south London’s Jojo
When: Jan 18, 22.15, Mutua Fides
Look out for: An all-encompassing sonic assault. One of the newest signings to Speedy Wunderground (The Lounge Society, Honeyglaze), Heartworms is a poetry-inspired project that takes inspiration from the darker corners of indie history: The Cure, PJ Harvey, Interpol. The live show has been getting rave reviews as well, and is one to put at the top of your ESNS list.

KhakiKid Credit: Press

Who: A front-runner in Ireland’s burgeoning rap scene
When: Jan 19, 23.00, Der AA-Theatre
Look out for: A statement of intent from a rising star. KhakiKid’s music has been compared to Tyler, the Creator, and he arrives with the same disruptive manifesto, with an already distinctive flow and innovative production. His first project, ‘Elevator Music’, came out last September and presents a fascinating new voice set to have a massive 2023.

Who: Off-kilter and glamorous Norwegian pop star
When: Jan 19, 23.40, Praedinius Gymnasium
Look out for: Some late-night sweatiness. It seems fitting that Metteson’s ESNS set for 2023 takes place in a gymnasium, because the Norwegian’s music is that which you need to move and sweat to. With the energy and beauty of Perfume Genius set against the pure pop ecstasy of Robyn, he’s a new star in the making. By the end of 2023, this could be a huge ‘I was there’ moment.

Who: Irish punks with a fierce and fantastic message
When: Jan 20, 23.15, Werkman College
Look out for: Some righteous punk fist-pumping from a band making noise everywhere they go. On debut EP ‘Gender Studies’, M(h)aol ask you to forget what you know, and unlearn toxic behaviours that have been fed to you. Though it’s all pretty weighty stuff, but live it is also incredibly fun, with vocalist Róisín Nic Ghearailt adding humour and levity to the band’s cast-iron message.

Namasenda. Credit: Press

Who: Swedish punk-turned-PC Music adjacent star
When: Jan 20, 21.45, Palace
Look out for: Sticky pop music from a star with punk rock spirit. Another Swedish act to check out, Namasenda started out in Stockholm’s thriving punk scene before gravitating more towards pop music and meeting PC Music head honcho A.G. Cook. From there, she has started making hyper-modern, rule-breaking pop music while maintaining that punk ethos. Safe to say, this set will be a total riot.

Who: Sax and drums duo with rule-breaking DNA
When: Jan 20, 21.45, Palace
Look out for: A fascinating new band off the Speedy Wunderground production line. Playing baritone sax and drums, O. – aka Joe and Tash – began in lockdown after playing in bands across the hip-hop, jazz and pop scenes of London. Since then, they’ve supported Black Midi on tour, and put their enviable musical talent and knowledge into making complex but warming sounds that are confounding yet fantastic.

sans soucis
Sans Soucis. Credit: Press

Sans Soucis
Who: Fiercely independent Italian pop star with jazz leanings
When: Jan 19, 21.45, Forum Rabostudio
Look out for: A mish-mash of cultures and sounds. Italo-Congolese singer Sans Soucis, who is based in London, tackles generational trauma, searching for identity and more over music that leans towards jazz but is happier floating in the ether with no genre tags at all. Though the subjects she tackles are weighty, her voice floats through them with pure ease. It’s not hard to see why she chose the artist name Sans Soucis, a childhood nickname translated as ‘no worries’.

The Heavy Heavy
Who: UK duo drawing from the carefree vibes of the ‘60s and ‘70s
When: Jan 18, 20.20, Huize Maas Main
Look out for: A band whose sound is, in their own words, “The Rolling Stones meets The Mamas & The Papas”. ““We’re not trying to create a pastiche or make another sound that’s identical to something that exists, but to carry on what we believe is the greatest era of music,” The Heavy Heavy told NME last year, and their music – expansive, sunny folk rock – is a delightful and much-needed distraction from modern maximalism.

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