Dutch pop is in exceptionally good shape after two poor years

The euphoria was restrained for a long time, but splashed to the ceiling when the Hague rock band De Rikkt suddenly appeared behind the stage curtain in the main hall of the Noorderslag festival for a surprise performance. After winning Popprijs 2021 – a rather glamorous moment in an online festival edition – this makes a lot of sense actually. In all shades of rock, flirting with blues and soul, de Rikkt now celebrates his appreciation at Groningen’s Oosterpoort.

In any case, it will be a pop show in The Hague on the main stage. Pop group Son Mieux, suddenly insanely big, redeems its glorious year early in the evening with a warm-blooded dance show. Frontman (Camilel Meiresonne) knows how good he can make a fire.

Then there are the new winners of the Popprijs 2022, in a shower of confetti: the three Hagenezen collections from Goldband. The audience happily interacts with the advertisement. The contrast could not be greater with the manner in which three years ago they presented themselves as lyrical plasterers more tender and playful than music. “It all went wrong then.” But according to the jury, Goldband is now a generic example of pop music “in reference to strong urges”. Inspired in part by the ’80s, kneiterhits like the coke-infused ‘Langste Nacht’, ‘Emergency’ and ‘Witte Was’ became summer festival sensations and managed to attract the most diverse fans in no time.

Popprijs Goldband winners at Noorderslag 2023.
Andreas Terlaak’s photo

Their performance is a lively edition of Noorderslag, on Saturday evening, with some fifty performances in nine halls in Oosterpoort. An enthusiastic audience for any work, as well as delighted artists who can once again prove themselves. After two poor years, Dutch pop music is in exceptional shape with new talents and names emerging in the time of Corona. Aside from Di-Rect, we’re seeing a few established artists with a new music project. Or it has to be a reboot of The Jordan, formerly Caro Emerald. Unfortunately a bit hesitant here on a stage that’s too big for her dark, intimate songs.

Guitars are back

Before Corona was still celebrating how big and popular Dutch hip-hop was – make no mistake, those streaming numbers are still high – now electronic pop and rock are doing well again. The guitars are back! It also showers female artists with an artistic vision. There are “bedroom” artists emerging with silently written songs, and “Difference” also lays claim to its stage: both in subject matter and performance.

A cute new name is rapper Babs. Disarming with her multicolored outfits and half-black/half-blonde haircut, she sings with fun, cheerfulness, and her infectious bouncy, about very serious issues: image, boxing misfits, gender diversity.

Concert by Joost Klein at Noorderslag 2023.
Andreas Terlaak’s photo

Music is more therapeutic than ever. Young artists are open about mental problems. How stormy she was in her head, Penty sang sensitively in the sonically difficult entrance hall. Colored rapper Just Cline has to deal with loss and labels. “I’ve talked to more doctors than girls in 25 years.” While he was stripping layers of humor on his album, his hard rock now came in a brutal, absurd turbo show.

Crowding

It is expected that the high-energy bands attract this aortic imbalance. Immediately Adopted: Nusantara Pete’s sexy interior rocks. And also the Brintex Collective’s jazz take on the soul/jazz scene: a heavily incised layered business card. But also beautifully melancholy songs of meditation, such as the New Zealand band De Toegift, which perform beautifully, or the quiet ballads of singer-songwriter Beto, make an impression.

De Ricket’s concert at Noorderslag 2023.
Andreas Terlaak’s photo

Does everything come out on this evening? number. Sometimes you see the talent, but it is not lost. Lead drummer Zep Barnasconi’s solo show rocks. And the popular grunge band Cloud Cafe, which has been on many lists since Amsterdamse Popprijs, is still very young and unsettled. Cosmic Crooner oscillates softly between a kind of campy feel and a deadly serious croon.

What we didn’t miss: crowding in front of the halls. But it’s part of it: the passion and hype around a new name. Sometimes this was a great surprise for the artist himself. Singer-songwriter Niomi, who had the misfortune to play in by far the most inconvenient setting – poor visibility and a low ceiling, was genuinely amazed: “What do you say, is there a line outside?” But how did she reach her multi-layered cloud of dreams.

A fabulously messy finale from Noorderslag delivers on Amsterdam’s favorite indie rocker’s personal trainer. The seven-piece band come, see and go into the hole with their frantic frontman Willem, who is very confused about what he will do to convey his sobering words. shoes in public? The shirt half over his head? While the sharp sound remains. In all his sheer passion for rock music, the personal trainer is already holding his place at festivals.

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