Concerts and Festivals
“Music/makes the people/come together.” This adage, popularized by Madonna in her song “Music,” is at the core of Groningen’s music scene. There are small stages where you’ll be able to find like-minded music lovers, for example on the special popular techno evenings appropriately titled Technootjes. But Groningen is also home to Europe’s largest showcase festival, Eurosonic, which will take place from January 11-13 next year, and many other festivals that bring together music lovers of all persuasions.
Eurosonic is the largest showcase festival of Europe. Over 200 bands give their all during the three-day festival, and Dutch media have hailed Groningen “the music capital of Europe” because of the wide variety of acts. Accompanying the event is a conference, where A&Rs and artists can mix and mingle, often with a record deal as reward. Noorderslag is the Dutch component of the festival, in which a variety of Dutch bands gets the opportunity to convince the world of their talents. Many Dutch artists have since propelled to national fame, and Noorderslag is the perfect way to sample everything that our small country has to offer—and trust us, that is quite a lot! You have to purchase festival tickets to witness all the goodness, but if your wallet doesn’t match your musical appetite, there are also other opportunities during the festival. In music store Plato and next door coffee place Coffee Company, many acts that also perform at the festival give free showcases. And if you’re simply to comfy in your room to go outside at all, the concerts are also broadcast live on Dutch television.
Noorderzon is a magnificent performing arts festival. The program includes all forms of art, from plays to sculptures to music, and most events are accessible for free. The festival spans eleven days in August, and over 120.000 people visit every year. Sit back in the park, bring your own picnic, and watch interpretative dance or a Tunisian play. Look at alternative American theatre, or listen to Dutch bands sweep up the audience. The mix of cultures and disciplines is what gives this festival such a distinctive atmosphere. Whether you’re a diehard theatre fan or a casual music listener, the festival can broaden your horizons.
StuKafest is the most original festival in town, as all of the action takes place in student rooms (studentenkamers in Dutch, hence the name). Bands perform in rooms made available by Groninger students, which gives an intimate and unique touch to the concerts. There are also plays and other art forms that showcase themselves during the festival. If you’re not willing to wait for the actual event, then you should check out brand new initiative WishfulMusic. This volunteer-based initiative organizes so-called ‘living-room concerts” on a regular basis, with national and international bands giving act de presence. And the best thing is, it’s—with some exceptions—all for free! Reservations are required, as capacity is not unlimited because of the setting.
U2 performed here in 1980. Urban legend has it that Kurt Cobain threw up here after Nirvana performed. The Simple Minds, The Libertines, Weezer, and Pearl Jam, they were all Groningen once. In short, Vera is the place where many world famous bands have started—or accelerated their career. It mostly hosts indie or still relatively unknown bands. This year, visitors of Vera voted Swedish act The Tallest Man on Earth and Ireland’s The Villagers as the best acts to have performed at the stage. Vera also hosts the monthly “Zienema” (pronounced as cinema), in which a film that revolves around a poignant social matter is first introduced by an expert and then screened.
Simplon is home to the aforementioned Technootjes, but in addition to this has evenings devoted completely to other musical styles, such as hip hop and Latin. It is also the prime location where local and national talent gets a stage to showcase their talents, as Simplon organizes many open nights and talent nights. So if you find a few others and form a band, it could be you on the stage!
The Oosterpoort is the largest pop music venue in the northern regions of the Netherlands. Located at the Trompsingel 27, the Oosterpoort is close to the central station and the city centre. There are two concert halls in the building, the 'Grote Zaal' which literally means 'big room', and the 'Kleine Zaal' which thus logically means 'small room'. Some famous artists that played here recently are Queens of the Stone Age, Band of Horses, The Wombats, The National and Wolfmother. Next to these bands, the Oosterpoort also has a lineup of many classical performances, cabaret and dancing shows.