Vivid venues, glamourous gigs & magnificent music

As an Erasmus student in a foreign country it's difficult to know where the 'good music' can be found. I myself love music, going to see a band play or having at least some good (live) music in a bar. Since the only good way for people from a foreign country to find out where the bands play is to discover it by themselves, I decided to help you guys a little bit.

First of all I'd like to introduce you the biggest musical venue in Groningen: de Oosterpoort. This is a concert building where you can hear and see all different kinds of music, as well as theater, opera, dance and cabaret. Pop, rock, jazz, metal, Irish folk, you can hear it all in de Oosterpoort. The biggest bands won't come to the northern part of the Netherlands, they are likely to stay in Amsterdam, but in de Oosterpoort you can find artists like Bad Religion, Limp Bizkit, The Dubliners, 10CC and Scouting for Girls. There are a few podia, which aren't very big (since the bands aren't the biggest bands either and so is the public), so you can get to stand really close to the band. I once went to a concert of Limp Bizkit, and the singer said that all the girls could go to the podium. I was standing front row and climbed up the podium, and we danced and sang with a bunch of girls during one of their songs, I gave the singer a high-five and a hugg and was led back stage. This is one such thing that just doesn't happen in the bigger concert halls like the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam or the Arena in Amsterdam. Some of the upcoming bands that will be playing in de Oosterpoort are: the Kaiser Chiefs (October 24), Level 42 (November 1), Bear's Den (November 14), Dotan (November 19), UB40 (November 25), Madness (December 5), DeWolff (December 22) and Tangarine (March 4).

But as I said before, you can hear and see all different kinds of music. Which means: also classical music. I've been several times to a concert of the NNO, the Noord Nederlands Orkest, which means, 'Northern Dutch Orchestra'. This is a professional symphony orchestra in which several teachers of the conservatory of music play. Their homebase is de Oosterpoort. When I went to their concert, they played a.e. the Four Seasons by Vivaldi. For the lovers of film music among us: several times a year the Noord Nederlands Orkest plays special concerts with only music from famous movies, like Indiana Jones and Star Wars. The orchestra also plays with famous soloists.

If you're more into the underground bands or discovering new bands, you can go to Vera or Simplon, both venues are near the centre of the city. The venues look from the outside like normal houses, but when you go inside, you enter the world of underground music! Bands from my school (the conservatory of music in Zwolle) are also playing in these venues. Entrance prices are low: a maximum of €15 - €20 euros, and lots of gigs are free to attend.

If you're a musician yourself who thinks: nahh I don't want to hear and see anyone else playing except for myself, you can do one of the following things:

1. Are you a good piano player? In Huis de Beurs (on the Vismarkt, next to the Albert Heijn) is a piano. Sometimes outside, when the weather is good, sometimes inside, when it rains or when it's cold. You can ask anyone who's working there if you're allowed to play a few pieces on the piano. They'll say it's okay, as long as it's calm background music (when I play there, I often play classical pieces by, for example, Chopin, or old jazz standards). If you're lucky, they'll give you a plate on which people can give you money. (Last time I earned €2,50, wow!!!) But it's just a nice experience. By the way, if you can't play piano or think you aren't good enough, you can also just go in for a drink and listen to someone else playing the piano (if you're lucky; there's not always someone to play the piano).

2. About playing the piano, we have ofcourse the train station pianos! Also in Groningen. Also, a really good experience, kind of a bucketlist thing, though the piano is in really bad condition. And when I say really bad, I mean REAALLLY bad. Like, pedals don't work like they have to, as well as some of the keys which get stuck. I'd recommend de piano in Huis de Beurs more. xD

3. Don't you play the piano, but an other instrument? A classical instrument that could fit in an orchestra? Or do you like to sing classical music? In Groningen there are two student orchestras and two student choirs. Mira is a student orchestra which has her repititions on Thursday evening from 19.30 till 22.30. Bragi is a student orchestra AND choir which has her repititions on Monday evening from 19.30 till 22.30. I've played myself by both of them, but personally I secretly like Bragi more. (Don't tell the members of Mira. x)) Gica is also a student choir (without an orchestra). The orchestras give twice a year concerts: in December two concerts and in June two concerts. Mira gives one of the two concerts in half a year in de Oosterpoort, which I mentioned above.

4. If you don't play an instrument but would like to, or to do a workshop, you can take a look at the USVA. This is the cultural centre of the city. Think of guitar lessons, singing lessons, piano lessons, theatre, dance, body and mind, film and photography.

Festivals. That's the one thing we haven't talked about yet. Note: all of the festivals I will mention are yearly!

Last month I went to a small festival organized by the USVA. The festival is called USVA at the Park and is always at the end of June. This year it was on June 29, from 15.00 till 21.00, in the Noorderplantsoen. Three bands came to play, there were a few foodstands and you were able to decorate bags or do yoga. It was very small but free entrance and since the weather is always good, it's just nice to have live music in the park.

An upcoming festival is Noorderzon. During this festival there are different kinds of arts being exhibited. Theatre, cabaret, music, film etc. Although the festival is known in whole Groningen, the artists are not very widely known. For lovers of underground music is this a good festival! Dates: August 18 - 28 2016. Entrance is about €25, €30 a day, I believe. Location: lots of different locations! A.e. de Oosterpoort, Vera and Simplon. Ofcourse you can choose to attend the festival for just one day!

When I say Noorderzon, I also have to say Eurosonic Noorderslag. This is also a festival widely known in Groningen itself and a little bit more known then Noorderzon. Dates: January 11 - 14 2017. Entrance prices: I think about the same as Noorderzon. This is more of a competition. A few years ago the band Town of Saints 'won' the Eurosonic Noorderslag. Really good band. If you don't know it and you like Indie, look it up. Just like Noorderzon are the locations everywhere. You have to take a look on the website - the locations aren't known yet - to see where who is going to play.

Another upcoming festival is TakeRoot, which is a one day festival in de Oosterpoort on Saturday 10 September 2016. Entrance prices: about €40. We talk here about authentic music, like Sam Beam from Iron & Wine and the Ben Miller Band. De Oosterpoort provides food, since it isn't allowed to take your own food with you inside. 

If you're more of a dance/hardstyle person, you can attend festivals like PARADIGMDates: August 12 - 14 2016. Entrance prices: up from €42,50. You can see the posters hanging through the city, it's quite easily to find. Location is a little bit outside the centre though, I'd recommend to go there on bike or else to take a bus.

Guess you guys can handle your Erasmus (half)year by now, provided with good music! For more information about the concerts, venues, festivals etc. you can always search on their own websites. They're easy to find on google! Enjoy! xxx

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