Three Reasons To Pick Belgium

Emerging talent, a vibrant live music scene and what many regard as the best festival in the world are three reasons why Eurosonic-Noorderslag 2009 will focus on Belgium.

With its location in the heart of Europe, the country forms a melting pot of cultural influences where bands such as Front 242 and TC Matic were inspired to create their unique sound, says Peter Smidt, creative director for Holland’s annual European live music business gathering.

“Many bands followed and gained international respect: dEUS, Soulwax, Girls in Hawaii and Ghinzu – to name only a few,” he said. “Belgium also stands for a vibrant live scene with lots of great venues, clubs and festivals and of course Rock Werchter, recognized as the best festival in the world.”

Belgian bands and solo artists will be among the 120 or so European acts performing across a dozen of the student city of Groningen’s live music venues, while doing business with Belgium will be the topic of some of the panels and meetings during the January 15-17 conference.

Eurosonic’s Belgian focus will be announced at a press conference and presentation at Pukkelpop – another of the country’s biggest festivals – August 14-16. Metallica, The Killers, The Flaming Lips, Serj Tankian, Dropkick Murphys and Plain White T’s are among Pukkelpop’s international lineup.

Belgian support from the project comes from Studio Brussel, Wallonie Bruxelles Musiques and Muziekcentrum Vlaanderen.

Eurosonic has previously used a national festival to launch its national focus at Arezzo Wave (now Italia Wave) in Italy and at Hultsfred in Sweden.

The European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP), which is the basis of the live side of Eurosonic, has just announced that 64 acts have secured festival slots from this year’s edition.

ETEP 2008 has so far produced 185 slots, with U.K.-based acts proving to be the main beneficiaries. Blood Red Shoes has done best with a dozen shows, followed by Does It Offend You, Yeah? with nine and Lightspeed Champion with eight.

Next to get a look in are the French and The Dø, which also has eight shows, and Yelle, which has seven.

The U.K.’s The Ting Tings and Sweden’s Lykke Li have six each, while Denmark’s Nneka, Surkin and Soko – both from France – and the U.K.’s The Futureheads have five.