It’s May, glimpses of sunshine have been spotted across the country, and European elections are coming up, so we’re going to go ahead and say it’s probably time to get excited about The Great Escape now.
If anything in the news has got you particularly in the mood to celebrate continental culture lately, this year’s line-up is – as usual – pretty sensational.
But where to start with an event hosting great acts from over 30 different countries? That’s where Clash comes in.
Here are five Euro stars from beyond the British Isles that we’ll definitely be checking out.
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After proving to be one of the big hits of Eurosonic in January, the Netherlands five-piece are threatening to do what few Dutch acts have managed and become a bona fide success in the UK.
EUT have always had that scuzzy, slacker-rock thing down to a fine art, but lately they’ve been showing just how well the band know their way around a Rilo Kiley-style charmer too, particularly on ‘Sour Times’.
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One of four brilliant Russian Federation bands appearing at The Great Escape this year, headed up by the soon-to-be-ubiquitous Shortparis, Chkbns (pronounced ‘cheekbones’) seem to have slipped under the radar by contrast. Crafting understated dream pop that’s as dark and anxious as it is beautiful, their set at Horatio’s could be one of the unexpected highlights of the weekend.
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I know what you’re thinking: ‘This is all very lovely, Clash, but where’s the intergalactic Belgian rap?’ Fortunately Antwerp duo blackwave. are in attendance this year, and my god, they sound just about ready to launch into orbit.
‘Swangin’’ is a prime example, neatly wrapped up with a music video featuring the pair larking about while they’re “up in space like I’m Kuuu-brick!”. Having already been featured in Noisey and the Independent, enjoy the insanity while it’s still packing out small venues.
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Another Dutch act who sounds ready for imminent crossover, Rina Mushonga blends a variety of international styles – now living in London, her music also incorporates elements of Indian and Zimbabwean heritage.
With influences ranging from Yeasayer to Oliver Mutukudzi to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Mushonga’s performance at The Great Escape sounds like it’s going to be an absolute riot.
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Translating as ‘newcomers’ in Hawaiian, Italian duo Giampaolo Speziale and Federica Caiozzo already sound like pros when it comes to making sophisticated, bittersweet electronic pop.
After meeting in Rome in 2015, it took a road trip to Austria, Germany and Poland for the pair to finally put their musical heads together (Federica describes it, rather wonderfully, as a "moment of surrender"), and eventually relocate to the UK. Another act that emerged from the ability to travel freely and easily between European countries, and a reminder of what a beautiful gift that is.
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The Great Escape runs between May 9th - 11th.
Words: Matthew Neale
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