Rotterdam, it’s the second biggest city in the Netherlands and also host to the largest and most important harbour in Europe. Since I don’t know too much about Rotterdam, this might have been the hardest Scene Report to find information about. I tried to contact locals, but did not get too much response, so I hope that this article gives a nice overview of what’s happening in Rotterdam.
There are several big venues, and some smaller ones in Rotterdam.
Rotown is one of the bigger venues; located closely to Rotterdam central station it’s a stage that hosts some of the more accessible names in music. With a mix of pop, rock, hip-hop, dance and everything in between, it’s a pretty standard music venue.
De Unie is the debating venue of Rotterdam. But between all of the debates, movies and symposium they also managed to make some time for music. The program is not a steady one, but most of the time worth you while.
Poortgebouw (photo) is a national momument located on the south bank of the river Maas. Today it’s inhabited by a collective of 30 people, organised as members of an association. In the ‘80’s they finally managed to legally rent the place, instead of squatting it. Most of the inhabitants are somehow connected to Rotterdam’s cultural or artistic community. Their music program features a lot of experimental music. With improv, experimental jazz, electronics, but also the occasional dance party.
Nieuwe Oogst is a multidisciplinary venue, which is located in the Maassilo. They organise concerts, club nights and expositions but also projects for photography, street art, dancing and more.
Worm is Rotterdam’s institute for Avant-gardistic Recreation and one of the city’s most interesting venues. As the name implies, their music programming and dance nights feature experimental and avant-garde music, very different from most venues. They also have the occasional expo, movie screening or workshop, where you can make your own electronic fun box, film or experimental guitar.
It is of no surprise than that Worm recently married with Roodkapje Rottterdam. Check out the amazing video for their ‘wedding’ below. Roodkapje is a centre for art, music and culture. Sometimes external partners curate the concerts, but with the Rottt project they also shine a light on Dutch bands every month.
BIRD is a jazz club. They focus more on soul, jazz, funk but also the occasional hip-hop or dance night.
Furthermore there is Baroeg a bar/venue that focuses on the harder music styles like rock, metal, hardcore, gothic, etc.
Besides all the venues you shouldn’t forget the Motel Mozaique festival in Rotterdam. This annual festival tries to connect the music and the audience with the city, by organising guided tours, camping’s on the roof of old train stations and using different parts of the city for the festival. The festival also incorporates art and theatre into its program, but music stays the biggest part.
TinyMusic is an initiative that tries to get musicians and the audience closer together by organising concerts on intimate locations. The concerts take place on special locations, like the deck of a ship, shops, galleries, churches, etc.
I will try to pick some interesting labels from Rotterdam, but to be honest my knowledge about the Rotterdam music scene is limited, and this time I didn’t get too much reply’s. One of Rotterdam’s newest music labels is Samling Recordings. This music label focusses on a group of musicians/friends. It’s not really a genre they focus on, but more a feeling. From the slowcore of Luik, to Eklin’s ambient pop music; it’s a certain atmosphere that seems to surround all these artists. You might call it hazy, but it carries a certain comforting feeling, although the music never gets dull. The latest release is one from Future Shuttle, this time not a Dutch artist, but a Brooklyn trio. Listen to a 48 minute live drone together with Bebe Fang (Incubate 2010) here.
PRSPCT Recordings is an Rotterdam-based drum ‘n bass label, that features a lot of Netherlands biggest names in the genre, as well as some prolific names from other places.
Clone Records is a record label and shop, which focuses on experimental/underground electronic dance music. They have become a big name inside and outside of the Netherlands and are also a distributor for a lot of other, smaller labels. Clone also have their own record shop inside Rotterdam.
To get some sort of overview, I tried to sort bands on genre. This didn’t really work out, but at least got it better sorted. Sorry if I offended or annoyed anyone with this.
Afka is a synthpop project between singer/songwriter/performer Aafke Kloppenburg and producer Adriano DiTamorra. They released their EP ‘Thunder in Our Heart’ in February, and make a strong first impression.
Wolf in Loveland is a folk/pop band surrounding singer-songwriter Jan Minnaard. This 19-year old guy knows how to create a lovely folksong.
Oliver Oat is one of my personal favourite discoveries. Intriguing folk songs that take unexpected turns while they unfold. Oliver definitely has good voice for this kind of music.
One of the bigger bands from Rotterdam nowadays is Rats on Rafts they played Incubate 2011 and since then they have been on a steady streak of success. After the release of their debut album ‘The Moon is Big’ on Subroutine and later on Topnotch, they played all around the Netherlands, supported The Minny Pops on their UK tour and got a lot of attention from national and international media. Their take on post-punk and new wave seems to work well, seeing that they will play the Primavera festival.
Crowds are one of the two bands to play at Incubate Scene Report: Rotterdam, on May 31 in Cul de Sac. Their blend of shoegaze and noisepop already made a good impression when they played Vera’s Kelderbar during Eurosonic, so we are excited to see what they can do in Tilburg.
Neon Rainbows is the second band to play at Incubate Scene Report. All members have been around for some time in the music scene. Having previously played in different bands and settings such as Feverdream, Model Fuckers and At No Bikini Beach, it’s no wonder that together they are a sure win with their mix of pop, shoegaze and noise. Take a listen to their debut album ‘An Idea For A Plan’ here.
AC Berkheimer is another shoegaze band that managed to intrigue with their album ‘We Tell Them Tonight’, released on Subroutine. With clear influences from Sonic Youth, Jesus & The Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, they are able to either blow away or pull in the listener.
S As in Assasins is an indiepop band who remind me a lot of Menomena. They are currently selected for Hollands Popronde 2012, so we’ll probably hear more of them.
Another must listen is the garagerock by Organisms with their distinct organ and howlin’ vocals. It’s catchy, energetic and doesn’t grow boring. The live shows are apparently even more energetic and crazy, will have to check it out some time.
Low Point Drains is another garage/trash rock band from Rotterdam that rage their way through the songs.
Surrounding Samling Recordings there are also quite some Rotterdam-based musicians. One of the more notable names is Luik (whom are playing Incubate 2012!), after releasing their album ‘Owls’ they played all over Holland and are getting good reviews for their live show and album. The music is a mix of slowcore, ambient and indiepop, slowly creeping it’s way in your ears.
The guitarist in Luik, Gerrit van der Scheer, also has his own project, called Herrek. It has undergone several transformations in sound and setting; the latest sounds can be heard on their Bandcamp, where their release on Samling focussed on noisy soundscapes, these are more song-oriented. Hoping to hear more of them.
But it doesn’t end there. Luik’s drummer Keimpe Koldijk (who also played/plays in Eklin and Fang, both former Incubate acts) teamed-up with Eklin band mate Michiel Klein to form Mike Koldin, synth pieces with a strong minimalistic approach. Slowly developing throughout the songs. Another outfit surrounding these bands is Woud, slow and dark ambient songs with haunting vocals.
On a whole other spectrum you have Albatre a free/experimental jazzcore trio. The music seems to go all over the place, though the musicians always now what they do. Like a schizophrenic jazz band gone wild on some very bad drugs.
But let’s not forget Harry Merry he’s been unknown to many, but very active in the music scene for a long time with a steady cult following. His music could be defined as ‘Outsider music’, like R. Stevie Moore or Ariel Pink. This distinct figure has made quite the impression on some people. He also played some shows with the guys from Rats on Rafts after their album release.
A band that has been on the scene for 16 years is The Apers. And they don’t seem to be calling it quits anytime soon. They will be re-releasing their debut album and releasing a live album called ‘Live at Eldorado’.
The Bat Bites are another straightforward poppunk band, which feature one steady member from The Apers. In February they released a free EP, appropriately called ‘Take It It’s Free’. And if you like them you should also take a listen to Accelerators. Full of energy they play their shows, fast punk rock songs.
It’s hard to believe that Machinefabriek is just Rutger Zuydervalt. If you see his latest batch of releases you might shit yourself. Not only his list of solo work is impressive, also the list of collaborations: Nils Frahm, Celer, Peter Broderick, Gareth Davis and much more. He has also created music for several art projects, making him a busy man. His music stands somewhere between ambient, electro acoustic, drone, field recordings and noise.
Also in the drone spectrum, we have Mono-Poly. Working with analogue and modular synthesizers, to create a tense layer of moody and heavy ambient-drones. Body II Body on the other hand, are more interested in making you dance. They already performed with their DJ-set on Incubate 2011, but are currently working on their own material.
▲NGST create a more haunting and dark kind of music. Call it which house, call it doom gaze, all I know is that this stuff is frightening. It’s definitely more interesting than most acts that came up during the whole ‘witch house’ era. ▲NGST already played Incubate once with his other project FFF. This music is a lot faster than his other project and more in the breakcore/ravecore corner.
Munchi is probably well known among the loyal Incubate or Generation Bass follower. He’s the Moombathon-pioneer here in Holland and put the genre on the map in and outside of our own country. He has already played Incubate two times in the past, so definitely someone you should check out.
Also be sure to take a listen to: Heiz Karlhausen & The Diatonics (jazzcore), Joensuu (prog-metal), Feaver (folk/pop), Misery Kids (psycho rock), Vanity & Jokes (indie-pop) and Michel Banabila (electro-acoustic).
Just as all the other times, there is way too much going on and way too little space in this one article. Also, my knowledge about the music scene is only limited. I try to get as many sources as I can get, but there are always some things that I manage to overlook. So if you have any additional tips for venues, bands or other music related stuff in Rotterdam, put it in the comments. You can also add bands to our list of bands and musicians in Holland on GetSatisfaction.