In a normal year, ESNS is a yearly excuse for Europe’s music industry to decamp to the Netherlands, jump out of the way of a city packed with more bicycles than seems strictly realistic, stick fritessaus on its chips and check out the most exciting new bands for the year ahead.
Like 2021, though, 2022 is anything but normal. For the second year in a row, our not-so-good friend Covid has sent ESNS online. But rejoice, all is not lost. Last year’s edition was one of the best digital festivals of a year packed with them – and with a line-up rammed to the rafters with some of the best new voices around, there’s loads to get excited about without ever needing to get the train from Schiphol.
We’ve picked out fourteen names from the bill you should make sure you catch when the festival kicks off on Wednesday, 19th January 2022. Want to delve deeper? You can find the timetable for all the live music – which you can check out free(!) – here.
Note: all times are listed in CET – if you’re in the UK, you’ll need to tune in an hour earlier. You do the maths, yeah?
Wednesday 19th January, ESNS 02 (21:30-21:40 CET)
With a Mercury Prize nomination already under his belt for debut mixtape ‘DEMOTAPE/VEGA’, BERWYN isn’t so much on his way to big things but already basically there. One of two mixtapes released in just under a year and with a top-three BBC Sound Of poll placing under his belt, he’s the kind of artist you shouldn’t pass up the chance to catch.
Check out: MIA
Friday 21st January, ESNS 01 (20:00-20:15 CET)
South East Londoner ENNY is already hitting it in the big leagues. Last year’s ‘Under Twenty Five’ saw her take up the cover star mantle, fast affirming her as one of the leading lights of an entire scene.
Check out: I Want
Thursday 20th January, ESNS 02 (20:00-22:10 CET)
Belfast post-punkers Enola Gay don’t hang about. Scattergun, in your face and incendiary, the four-piece draw influences from well outside of their lanes but bring them together for a fearsome full-on assault. A healthy wake up call.
Check out: Scrappers
Friday 21sy January, ESNS 02 (21:10-21:20 CET)
Florence’s debut collection ‘Out of the Blue’ has all the hallmarks of an alt-pop sensation – honest and raw lyrically, but melodically infectious. A lovely time all round, she’s more than worth keeping an eye on.
Check out: Out of the Blue
Thursday 20th January, ESNS 01 (22:55-23:10 CET)
Started as a bedroom project by solo artist Jana Bahrich, later complemented by drummer-slash-producer Chris Hewett, Francis of Delirium find a mix between grunge and folk that manages to be both strong and subtle at the same time. If you’re a fan of Wolf Alice, there’s plenty to love here.
Check out: All Love
Thursday 20th January, ESNS 02 (22:10-22:25 CET)
Four-piece Friedberg – the creation of Austrian-born, London-based Anna Friedberg – sit in that oft travelled space between pop and rough around the edges rock. Last year’s EP ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah’ might be a bit of a mouthful, but take it alongside its sort-of-title-track and it’ll become an earworm that refuses to let go for weeks. You’ve been warned.
Check out: Yeah
Friday 21st January, ESNS 02 (21:45-21:55 CET)
Shitboys in the house. Four bisexual vegan punks from the Faroe Islands, Joe and co exist to call out the bad guys and push for a better way. Short, sharp, righteous and brilliant, once seen they’re never forgotten.
Check out: Pull The Trigger
Friday 21st January, ESNS 01 (21:20-21:35 CET)
Priya Ragu’s mixtape ‘damnshestamil’ was the perfect showcase to an artist always thinking on the front foot. Bright, smart and cutting through the noise with ease, in a world of increasingly similar voices following the algorithmic norm, there’s something about Priya that feels infinitely fresher than her peers.
Check out: Chicken Lemon Rice
Wednesday 19th January, ESNS 02 (20:00-20:05 CET)
If you’ve paid any attention to 2021’s list season, Self Esteem needs no introduction. Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s second album ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ couldn’t have been more critically lauded. An honest, empowered and brilliant collection of pop that hides nothing but goes big, it’s one of the best modern pop albums in years.
Check out: How Can I Help You
Thursday 20th January, ESNS 03 (20:00-20:10 CET)
When it comes to breaking through in the increasingly picky UK music scene, Germany isn’t always the first place we look to for our future musical heroes, but Shelter Boy more than makes the grade. Mixing indie rock and dream pop, last year’s ‘Failure Familiar’ showcases an international talent worthy of attention.
Check out: Calm Me Down
Friday 21st January, ESNS 01 (20:15-20:20 CET)
Ireland’s Smoothboi Ezra has already made their bedroom-pop mark – offering up catchy, introspective but affirming music with a personal take. Last year’s EP ‘Stuck’ gives a perfect route in.
Check out: Stuck
Friday 21st January, ESNS 01 (21:15-21:20 CET)
Dublin four-piece Sprints know how to make the right sort of racket. Post-punky, indie-adjacent rock, they’ve got big things to talk about, and even bigger ways to deliver the message. A true gem not to be missed.
Check out: How Does The Story Go?
Wednesday 19th January, ESNS 01 (21:30-21:40 CET)
The most exciting band on the planet – we’ve said this so much it’s certainly true by now – Wet Leg couldn’t be carrying much more buzz right now. Second in the BBC’s Sound Of poll is a huge result for a guitar band in 2022, but it’s well deserved. Fun, sardonic, edgy and oh-so-cool, their self-titled debut is already one of the year’s most anticipated album. What a band.
Check out: Too Late Now
Friday 21st January, ESNS 01 (21:05-21:15 CET)
With their debut album about to land, Leeds’ Yard Act are both brilliantly unique and uniquely brilliant. Half best-in-class band, half performance art piece, on paper none of it should work. In practice, they’re one of the best new acts to emerge in ages.
Check out: The Overload
ESNS 2022 takes place between Wednesday 19th and Friday 21st January 2022. You can find out more at esns.nl here.