‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the hottest spot in Groningen!’. In a tiny concert-room the band MOOON was ready to start their performance. The drummer had put on two different socks for the occasion and he had left his shoes at home. Also, he was wearing a beautiful shirt that would have fit perfectly amongst a South-American mountain-tribe. Behind him was a large rubber duck. The drummer took a moment to rearrange the peace-symbol on his drums and kicked off the song with his harmonica. Welcome to Zwemfest.
‘Zwemfest is a festival organised by four study-associations,’ explains Milan. Milan is a 19-year old history student who is part of the organising committee of Zwemfest. Together with seven other students of the study associations of Psychology, Human Geography and Urban and Regional Planning, Biology and Life, Science & Technology he has been preparing for this night all year. ‘The festival is not only meant to offer local bands a stage, but also to offer bands who are upcoming in the Netherlands a stage in Groningen. Furthermore, we want to show our members what the Netherlands has to offer when it comes to music. By the way, this festival is also open to non-members.’
‘As far as I know, Zwemfest is the only festival in the Netherlands organised by a combination of several study associations’ tells Milan. ‘Every Zwemfest committee can give their own twist to the festival. This year we went for a diverse line-up. Last year there was a lot of indi-rock music. The bands were great, but we thought it was much of the same music. We decided to do things completely different this year.’ What did remain the same is the location. For the second year in a row, Zwemfest takes place in Vera, an underground pop music stage where U2, Nirvana and The White Stripes performed in the past. The story goes that somewhere back-stage the words ‘Kurt Cobain puked here’ are written on the wall.
The biggest band that performed this year was the Mysterons. Glowing with pride Milan starts talking. ‘They are really booming at the moment. We booked them in February, when they weren’t as famous as they are now. Three months later it was announced that they would perform at Lowlands, they appeared on 3fm and they released their EP.’ The Mysterons was indeed one of the highlights of the evening. With their psychedelic rock they blew away the entire audience and the dreamy voice of the female singer will definitely have echoed through the minds of many Zwemfest-visitors the next day. Beside the four acts on the main stage, there was also a downstage, or ‘basement’ where three other bands gave their performances. This was a tiny hall where you almost hit the amplifier with your nose. As a result of the small space, the great rock music such as MOOON and Animal Antics and the table football game in the corner, the atmosphere over here was at least as nice as on the main stage. The festival ended with Yakumo Orchestra, a band which consists of two DJs who did an insane show with a bongo-player, several brass-players, a female singer and many others.
Back in the basement, MOOON started with their show. Despite his missing shoes, the drummer still managed to produce a large volume from his drums. The hairdos were flying through the air and the audience went crazy. That’s how the hottest spot in Groningen suddenly became the most magical spot in Groningen.