Predicting the future time and time again
15:50 24th November 2022

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Some festivals just seem to have a magic touch when it comes to predicting talent. People say it a lot about The Great Escape or Germany’s Reeperbahn festival - but ESNS must have a crystal ball. 

Connected to ESNS Exchange, previously known as the ETEP (European Talent Exchange Programme), the festival is essentially one giant showcase that will go on to decide which up and comers get booked and where.

Managing to be ahead of the game when it comes to some of the biggest names, booking acts early that go on to be in-demand household names, the Netherlands based festival is a one-stop-shop for future stars it seems. Taking place again in January 2023 around several venues in Groningen; who knows what star will rise from the pack.

Ahead of 2023, let's revisit some of the most booked acts from the last 12 years.


If you were at ESNS back in 2010, you might have stumbled across a tiny little band called The XX. Months before the band would bag the Mercury Award and shoot to fame, the band gained 10 european festival bookings through the ETEP (European Talent Exchange Programme) - everyone clearly saw big things in the band.


2011 was a big one. Vying for top spot, Anna Calvi, Crystal Fighters and James Blake bagged the most bookings of the year. Defining what would become the start of 2010s alt and indie sleaze, you can just imagine the outfits in the audience…


The year was 2012, Tumblr was at its peak, bands like Wolf Alice and Swim Deep are starting to spiral up to the top - but one band towers above them all. Gaining 10 bookings at the ETEP, Spector took their debut across the channel and ESNS knew it’d blow up.


2013 was a record breaking year for the programme, with over 300 shows in ETEP festivals, meaning a lot of stars were predicts. But the best of the bunch? Villagers, Palma Violets and Jake Bugg bagged the most bookings. Spotlighted right before they broke out, those europeans really have an eye for this thing.


If you had to pick one song to define 2014 what would it be? George Ezra’s ‘Budapest’? Jungle’s ‘Time’? Royal Blood’s ‘Out Of The Black’? As all three acts prepped to blow up in the UK, they were booked and busy over in europe, with Royal Blood racing ahead with 13 bookings.


By 2015, indie sleaze was out and alt was in. Spliting into two camp of mellow indie and indie pop, Soak and Years + Years went head to head in the battle of the bookings, while MO and Aurora repped the pop side. Ahead of their debut Communion, the ETEP saw something special in Olly Alexander, fighting his corner to secure 10 slots pre-debut.


Remember when Blossoms dropped their self-titled debut in 2016 and we all went mad for it? Yeah, ESNS beat us there too as the band already had 10 european bookings under their belt by then…


Rebranding to ESNS Exchange, the plan was still the same - bringing the best up and coming talent across the channel for a multi-national showcase of potential to get them infront of European bookers. And by 2017, the heavier side was starting to roll in. Predicting the power of IDLES long before their huge 2018 album Joy As An Act Of Resistance - the band booked 9 shows alongside their punky peers Shame.


What do you get when a rag-tag bunch of 8 musicians come together in london to make silly electro-pop songs? A european hit apparently! In 2018, Superorganism led the pack following their 2017 track ‘Something For You M.I.N.D’. Booking a huge 19 shows through the exchange, it was another correct prediction for ESNS.


Pretty sure ESNS predicted the post-punk revival back in 2019. As Fontaines D.C and Black Midi sprinted ahead as two of the most booked acts, other big names on the list included Sea Girls, Girl In Red and The Murder Capital!


Long before Elijah Hewson had about a million fan pages to his name, ESNS booked Inhaler for 6 shows even in the midst of Covid chaos. 2 years on, the band are at headliner level and a mainstay on the festival circuit UK and Europe wide!


Recently announced as our Issue 6 cover stars, it seems ESNS predicted Los Bitchos way in advance. Tied for top spot with Molchat Doma and Altin Gun, covid clearly didn’t event ESNS’ eye for talent.


They really outdid themselves this year. Fighting for top spot on the list of most booked, ESNS championed Priya Ragu, Mercury Nominees Yard Act and our Irish obsession, CMAT. Getting in there early to pioneer three acts that would define the soundtrack of our year - they never miss.

With the 2023 festival taking place this year, ESNS will go on to determine which acts gain support and bookings from the ESNS exchange programme. With a long track record of pioneering future stars from their infancy, this year's lineup has plenty of potential. But who’ll be next? Big Joanie? CIEL maybe? M(h)aol? Guess we’ll have to wait and see who blows up next.

To see them before stardom, grab tickets to ESNS festival, taking place January 18th-21st.

Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.

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