Eindhoven, it’s known in Holland as ‘Rock City’, so to live up to their name they should at least have more than a handful of interesting bands. Not all bands are ‘rock’ but I found out that Eindhoven certainly has its fair share of music that needs to be heard.
If you want to know more about the origin of this title you should read this article about Eindhoven’s route to becoming known as ‘rock city’, by former Incubate employee Tijs Heesterbeek on Kindamuzik.
But we are not here to reflect upon the past, but focus on the present. What’s going on in Eindhoven’s music scene today?
First off, let’s start with the music venues that are located in Eindhoven. The main and best-known venue is Effenaar. Their program is a mix of artists that are well-known, but not too big. The genres differ from rock to indie, alternative, pop, hip-hop and metal, mixed with the occasional dance night.
For a less standard-type venue you should go to Klokgebouw (photo). This building was once the Philips factory for Philite (Philips jargon for Bakelite), but is now host to a large amount of hotspots. One of them is AreaFiftyOne. It’s a giant skate park, with a skate shop, bar and a stage for live shows. The music programming is always affiliated with the skate-culture and goes from hip-hop to punk, experimental, drum ‘n bass and more.
Another venue inside Klokgebouw is Ketelhuis. Besides hosting a coffee shop (the normal kind), restaurant, foodlab, fashion atelier and a rooftopfarm, they sporadically host some parties, concerts, theatre, dance or expositions. Sounds like a busy place.
Klokgebouw also contains a rehearsal space annex small live venue under the name of PopEi. They have 14 rehearsal spaces, 3 dance spaces and a small capacity stage that is open for every kind of music, trying to give starting bands and artist a place to play.
And a place with some smaller and more unknown bands is The Rambler.
But that’s not all the places in rock city.
Dynamo is the biggest youth centre in the Netherlands and has a programming that focuses on ‘hard’ music, with a lot of metal, hardcore, punk, rock and hip-hop, but also some electro and dance music. Most of these are organized by volunteers who start their own initiative to support a certain subculture.
TAC (Temporary Art Centre) is an incubator for cultural innovation. Here starting cultural initiatives and artists are able to get a place to create and share their work. There are ateliers, workshops, exhibition places and a studio.
Mostly they host events that are in line with the companies that have a place the building, but sometimes they organize music-related events.
Stratumseind is a 225-meter long street and is filled with bars, pubs and whatnot. In this street you will also find some places to see live music.
Altstadt, for example, stands out between all these other places filled with alcohol, by having live music shows on Thursday, Friday or Sunday. Not everything is very interesting, but sometimes they work together with Effenaar and have some cool upcoming bands.
Another bar with live music is Kafee Aloys, who have smaller and bigger bands on their stage from time to time.
But the city is not only saturated with music venues, it’s also home to some interesting festivals.
STRP is a multidisciplinary art & technology festival that focuses on music, art and technology, fusing the different aspects into one experience. Each year they curate a ton of exhibitions, performances and show movies, but the main attraction are the big headliners. They are mostly big names from electronic genres, last edition they had shows by Aphex Twin, Amon Tobin and The Field. The festival manages to surprise every edition and is definitely worth a visit.
Cross-Linx is a travelling festival that also comes to Eindhoven once a year. This year, however, they decided to postpone to 2013, because the program could not suffice to their standards. The festival focuses on the borders between contemporary classical music, pop, avant-garde and indie. Let’s hope that they are able to surprise their visitors again in 2013.
A new festival on the block is Discovery Festival. It has nothing to do with Discovery Channel, but it does tries to enlighten it’s visitors about science, experiments, art and new music. Last edition took place in the Nemo museum in Amsterdam, but this year it will also expand to Eindhoven and Utrecht. It will take place on September 28th, so keep an eye on the website.
But the real reason Eindhoven got its title ‘rock city’ is not because of the venues or the festivals; it’s because of the artists!
There is a certain club of musicians who seem to share a lot of bands and dominate Eindhoven’s indie scene.
The Sugarettes is one example. They recently released their newest record called ‘Destroyers of Worlds’ on Subroutine Records, which got great press coverage. And that’s with a reason! It’s a great guitarpop record, filled with energy and catchy choruses.
Joep van Son is one of the members from The Sugarettes that managed to impress homeland and abroad with his own project Nikoo. This band is much more abrasive and could best be classified as noisepop. Although a love for guitar hooks can still be heard through the layers of fuzz.
But Joep is not the only Sugarette that likes to stay busy. Mariska Louman manages to make some music under the name Iskaa & The Red Cars, besides her work for The Sugarettes and playing in Nikoo. This busy lady creates guitar-heavy songs with powerful vocals, with hints of shoegaze and postpunk.
As if that wasn’t enough, some of the members from above bands (I’m not sure who, since everybody seems to play in each others band) came together to create music under the moniker [V], which is impossible to Google. The one song they have released so far sounds very different from all the other things that are going on. It’s a simple popsong with some nice backings and a certain lo-fi quality. They will be going back to the studio in June, so expect to hear more of them.
Another band that surrounds them is Klaus Womb & The Penny Super Pony Strip, a duo consisting of artist Liselotte de Groot and Mike Dobber. With their stomping beats, and punk simplicity they churn out a sort of electropunk that just screams for a thrashparty.
But they aren’t the only musicians working hard. Mozes & The Firstborn will play Incubate 2012 on September 16th. They have a perfect knack for playing the kind of rock music that was made in the ‘60’s, but they mix it up with the type of garage-rock, which is made nowadays by the likes of Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin.
Woody & Paul are (other than suggested) a quartet that play a modern adaptation of blues, or folk-rock. Whatever the name, it’s clear that they have been influenced by more traditional styles such as blues, jazz and folk, but combine it with a modern rock sound. They released their latest album ‘Heroes and Zeroes’ while ago, which got much critical acclaim. Currently they are doing pretty well for themselves, getting booked to play with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Man From The South is a solo-project bij Paul van Hulten from Woody & Paul. He played Incubate in 2011 and sings introvert songs full of melancholy.
But Paul isn’t the only one who has his side-project. Woody and Joshua from Woody and Paul also play (played?) in a band called Stereo Monster Men, which is apparently inspired by drawings and comics by Joshua van Iersel. The result is an EP filled with garage and surfrock that stumbles and rumbles it’s way into your ear and makes your legs bop.
Bird is the folk/singer songwriter moniker of Bardt van der Dennen. He played live with a trio for a long time, but is currently back as a solo artist. Beautiful songs to dream away to. He played Incubate in 2011.
Het Droste Effect put out a free EP very recently. Here they show that they are more than capable of making powerful, psychedelic stonerrock, or spaced-out fuzzrock as they call it themselves.
Radar Men From The Moon, however bring a kind of psychedelic rock that is lighter and is completely instrumental, with grooving basslines, steady drums and a good sprinkle of psychedelics.
Gingerpig is a hardrock formation. It started out with a Hammond organ and quickly turned into a real band, that draws influences from bluesrock, a little bit of jazz and reminds one of the sounds of the Summer of Love.
Komatsu are a quartet that storm all over you with a combination of stoner and metal. Raw, hard and loud.
The Dirty Denims are two girls and two guys who make ‘happy’ hardrock, as they call it themselves. Don’t think too much about it. It’s simple, catchy and fun.
The Risque also produce a fun kind of music in the form of catchy, fast, short and to the point punkrock songs.
Fourteen Twentysix is a more experimental band. The songs are beautiful, atmospheric compositions, with a very unique character. It could be best described as postrock, but goes all over the place. They also have a very open attitude towards their listeners. You can read all about their gear on the website, regularly stream rehearsals or shows and have a special VIP Lounge.
Capcap… cap stand out from the ‘rockcity’ crowd, by focussing much more on electronics. With a combination of synths, electronic drums and minimalistic use of guitar and bass they create dark and brooding sounds, which build up to epic postrock-y climaxes.
Daisy Bell weaves together vocal harmonies, samples, electronics, acoustic instruments and processed sounds to a coherent and intense package. Sometimes it’s ambient, sometimes it’s pop, but it keeps surprising all the time.
Strange Attractors is a trip-hop project by Niels van Hoorn and Richard van Kruysdijk. Having worked with several successful projects and bands and Richard as founder of the nu-jazz label Music For Speakers, they definitely earned their place in the music bizz. On their latest release they work together with big names such as David J (Bauhaus), Graham Lewis (Wire), Jarboe (ex-Swans) and many more.
Plus Instruments is a solo project by Truus de Groot, which was started in 1978. She met David Linton, the drummer of Rhys Chatham’s band, in Eindhoven in 1980 and two months later she came to New York to record music with him. Soon his roommate, Lee Ronaldo (yes, the Sonic Youth guitarist) joined in and this started Plus Instruments. After a short period of playing shows and recording an album they parted ways and Truus de Groot carried on in several line-ups. Now 31 years after it’s release they re-release the album she made with Lee Ronaldo and David Linton.
But it’s not just rock in Eindhoven. They also manage to keep up with electronic music.
Such as the scene around Adapter a collective of multidisciplinary artist who are looking for ways to promote their art and music and function as a platform for beginning artists.
Bliksem is one of the artists on Adapter. He started out by setting up legal and squat parties in the underground acid scene in the 90’s. In 2003 he started making his own music and in 2005 he started Adapter. He tries to use as much analogue equipment as possible.
MuRas is creating slow, weird electronic soundscapes, hard to define.
Ekman is the moniker of Roel Dijcks, who creates experimental dance music.
Or Ruistuin, who uses circuitbent electronics and live cinema to create an audiovisual experience.
If you want to hear more Adapter artists, check out this sampler:
Besides adapter there is also more stuff happening. Take Axxonlab, a duo formed by two friends with a love for electronic music who found a distinctive style mixing minimal and (dub)techno.
And let’s not forget the bands from Eindhoven that are still rocking out nowadays. Such as Peter Pan Speedrock, formed in 1996 and still playing today. They also got extra attention with their guestsinger/mascot Dikke Dennis, a tattoo-artist. Peter Pan Speedrock is a force to be reckoned with. They also organise their own festival, called Speedfest.
Another well-known (or notorious) band from Eindhoven is The Devil’s Blood. This occult rock group gained notoriety with their live shows, although they prefer to call them rituals. During these rituals they use litres of blood and satanic references. But besides of all the show, they are also really good at what they do: making occult rock, mixed with a bit of metal. Their latest album ‘The Thousandfold Epicentre’ made it to numerous lists and got plenty positive reviews.
As ever, there is so much more going on than I know and is able to fit in this article. So please feel free to add any bands, venues, festivals, whatever in the comments below. And add bands to the list on GetSatisfaction, so other people are able to see it too.