Nijmegen, the biggest city in its province and close to the border of Germany, is a city filled with music. Maybe it’s because of the amount of students, or maybe it’s just because there is something in the air. Either way, there is plenty to hear and see.
Nijmegen counts quite a lot of venues, ranging from normal venues, to music café’s and some more experimental hangouts.
The most notable name is probably Doornroosje, with a broad programming they make sure that the mid-segment of music has a place to play. Merleyn is part of Doornroosje’s organisation and as a separate venue they host the smaller bands and acts. Doornroosje also has some influence on the programming on festivals such as De Affaire, Fortarock and Music Meeting. Besides their regular locations, they also have some shows in the LUX theatre and concerthall De Vereeniging.
Extrapool gives a place to experimental performance art, music and visual art. With a focus on DIY-culture they try to give up-coming artist a chance to be seen or heard. Etalage Derde Wal is an artgallery that has several exhibitions. Occasionally these exhibitions will be opened with some musical guests.
NDRGRND is a music café that plays what they call ‘popular alternative’ music, with regular dance nights and live music for their visitors. Café Camelot is a bar that hosts some singer-songwriter music on a weekly basis. If you’re more up for some punk music, you should head to De Bijstand, this is a bar that raises money for action groups and initiatives that focus on social-political, cultural and environmental issues.
Waalhalla is a youth-centre that gives several lessons in stuff like skateboarding, DJ’ing, breakdancing, etc. Besides these lessons they also have a stage where they have DJ’s and bands playing. The music differs per organiser. De Grote Broek is a bar that gets youngsters to organise their own events. Their musical programming is mostly within the counter-culture or experimental corner. There is also the PLU an old squat place situated in an abandoned umbrella factory. There are several activities going on in this place, like an artgallery, barber,
That Nijmegen is a musical city also shows in the amount of festivals they have. Since there are too many I will only highlight some festivals here.
Festival de-Affaire is an annual, free festival accompanying the International Four Days Marches in Nijmegen. It focuses on all kinds of music, but mostly alternative, indie and some experimental music. It has three different locations with their own stage. The programming consists of some bigger international names, some unknown bands and local bands. The Four Days Marches always draw a lot of tourist and partygoers; this might be the most musically responsible choice you can make.
The Popronde is a travelling music festival, which was founded in Nijmegen and every year the first edition will take place here. This year however there will also be a closing edition in Nijmegen. During the Popronde there is a selection of 100 bands, chosen out of 1030 submissions. There will be 31 cities that host a selection of these bands on one day in venues, bars, artcentres and other places that will host a selection of these 100 bands. The concerts are free of entrance and a good way for bands to gain live experience and play outside of their own city. For the audience it’s a good way to see what’s happening in the Dutch music scene, with a wide selection of genres and experience in the bands.
Kids ’n Billies Festival is a happening for all ages, with a musical selection of surf, rockabilly, punk country and, of course, rock ’n roll.
FortaRock is a metal festival in Nijmegen that is partly curated by Doornroosje. The festival has existed for a couple of years and the last edition counted some big names in the metal scene.
Oddstream is a multimedia festival, which focuses on multimedia performances, video-mapping, interactive art installations and contemporary electronic music. This year the festival will take place on the 26th till the 28th of October.
Drift is a crossover festival that combines music, art and culture. The organisation aims to create a dance festival with a cultural spin that takes place in a sustainable environment.
Nijmegen is a city with a lot of students, which makes for an active music scene. A few years ago De Staat started getting attention with their debut album ‘Wait For Evolution’. When they started getting loving reviews and playing more they took some other bands from Nijmegen with them in the slipstream. Popronde organiser Timo Pisart tells us how De Staat played a role in the Nijmegen music scene: “After the release of Wait for Evolution they [De Staat] played on all the big festivals in the Netherlands, did major clubtours and took a whole bunch of bands with them. Suddenly all eyes were fixed on the ‘Achterhoek’ and Nijmegen, which led bands like Shaking Godspeed, Automatic Sam, Krach, Black Bottle Riot and Birth of Joy to a bigger audience.”. Their own sound lies somewhere in between stoner/desert rock and blues rock.
Shaking Godspeed is one of the bands that got some help from De Staat by playing support shows during their tours. But it isn’t without reason that they got some media coverage. It’s a great, energetic band that churns out garage-y blues rock. They add some organ to the mix to make it a little bit more psychedelic. They got raving reviews for their two albums and are a force to be reckoned with.
Automatic Sam is another bluesy-garage band, although they are a little less loud than Shaking Godspeed, but a whole lot more groovy.
Black Bottle Riot is a real bluesrock band. No tricks, no modern electronics, just downright sleazy tunes. They channel the blues with slide guitars, harmonica and heavy riffs.
Birth of Joy is a psychedelic rockband. They use heavy drums, a freaky organ and distorted guitars they switch between heavier songs and more down-tempo material. Having played as support on De Staat’s latest tour and more shows in line for the future, they are heading in the right direction.
Brat Pack is a punkband that interweaves the more melodic punk sounds with hardcore punk into a unique and highly energetic mix.
Antillectual makes more of a melodic kind of punk. Influenced by skatepunk, orgcore and some ‘00’s emo and stating political issues in their lyrics, this is punk how it’s meant to be.
The Gathering is an alternative-rock band. They use guy-girl vocals, trip-rock influences and epic build-ups to create their own sound.
Liquid Snow is a band filled with youngsters, who won a couple of local talent shows. Their quirky take on post-punk seems to serve them well. Although their influences are still quite prominent in their music, they seem to head into the right direction.
The Earphone Heads are an indie-rock band that is influenced by contemporary indie bands, aiming for catchy songs, guitar riffs a dance-able sound. Never a big fan of the ‘whoo-hoo’s’, but they are good in what they do.
Dead Neanderthals are a jazz-influenced grindcore duo, which played Incubate 2011 and managed to impress the audience with a 10-minute set. Their ferocious sound splits your ears. The drums getting a heavy beating while the saxophone drones, squeals and whips your eardrums. Like getting beaten-up by a gang of saxophone players, but they manage to do it with style. As you can see in the video below recorded at Incubate 2011.
Dead Neanderthals recently started their own record label called Norwegianism Records. On this label they release only stuff they like, so there is no specific genre. One of the bands that probably stay closest to the sound of Dead Neanderthals is Dystopian Architect, who released their album Krybbebod on Norwegianism. The album is filled with ear-splitting grindcore and noise pieces. Definitely not for everyone.
Donné et Desirée also draws some jazz influences, but their sound is less extreme, although it doesn’t really make compromises. The schizoid artrock goes all over the place, half improvising, adding some noise, some free jazz. Sometimes it’s minimalistic, but it can also freak-out at times.
Down in Norway is probably a newer name. I say probably because all I found about her (I think), is a Bandcamp. The songs are made with a keyboard, vocals and vocal loops. The songs get an eerie aura by creepy samples and childlike humming. It’s weird, but fun to listen to.
Belch Singersonggrinder creates deranged, crazy and distorted songs, like a madman/experimental singer-songwriter.
Sloth is a hardcore punk band, that manages to destroy your eardrums with songs generally won’t take longer than two minutes. The annihilating sound that come out of this band are not something you expect from a band with such a name. If it were a sloth it would be the most bloodthirsty, drug-filled sloth ever.
Hadewych creates an interesting mix of sounds. They mash up dark ambient, folk, noise and drones into a dark, horrifying blend of ritualistic music.
The Dear Listeners is a duo that use drones, electronics, Hawaiian guitar and field recordings to create a tense mix of sounds, slowly developing and opening up to you, dear listeners.
Aafke Romeijn is a singer-songwriter who will release an EP on Norwegianism Records in a while. Although she definitely stands out between the other, louder, acts on the label, the music has a knack for dark themes that definitely come out with the gloomy piano tunes.
Roel Smeets is another singer-songwriter from Nijmegen. With a bit more of a traditional approach, he makes beautiful folk songs.
OIIO is a folk band with a twist. Tough their latest release has more of a connection with the kind of indiefolk that has been doing well lately. Vocal harmonies, thumping drums and beautiful melodies create a sound that is more extrovert than their older releases. But it always keeps a certain intimate feeling.
Phantom Puercos create a kind of music that has been described as Country Noir. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I guess it’s a good name for their rockin’ Americana and country tunes.
Indasol is a singer-songwriter with some great tunes, which are backed by a fuller sound. His voice ranges between spoken-word and deep singing.
Altough the music under the moniker Indasol has a more traditional approach; Niek Pronk (the guy behind Indasol) also makes more experimental music under the name Los Adni. Using a guitar, voice and digital- and drum samples he creates a sound that is way different than his singer-songwriter output.
Okieson is a collective surrounding Sebastian van Bijlevelt, who crafts Americana songs that dare to poke their nose in different genres and sounds.
Grimm Limbo is the electronic solo-project of Frank Boeijen. It’s pulsating synths, deep beats and processed vocals make for a weird, but slightly danceable electronic mix.
Eigenheimer is a producer who creates wayward electronic music, with a hint of lo-fi. His latest release is called ‘The Year Layman Pang Died’, which references to the year 808, also the number for the legendary Roland drumcomputer, which is heavily used on this album. The album was released on Frietboerism, who will also host a couple of acts on Incubate 2012, including Eigenheimer.
Bertin is an electronic music project that extensively uses cheap Casio keyboards and some other electronics to create lo-fi pop songs.
Hoan makes relaxing and chilled-out electronic music. It’s almost loungy, but also makes sure you don’t fall asleep.
Darko Esser is a prolific producer in the dance scene. He is also the founder of Wolkskuil Records, dance programmer for Doornroosje and DJ. Between all this work he finds the time to produce some techno music. He is also active under the moniker Onionboy which focuses more on the experimental side of techno and house music.
Piet van Dongen is a dance producer who creates highly melodic, danceable and, sometimes, funky music.
Détaché is the moniker of Jelle Groen, a modern techno producer, who is inspired by new sounds that come from Berlin and Detroit.
Akadb is an artist who experiments and shifts between break-beat and idm. Sometimes it’s raw, sometimes it’s melodic, but it always stays exciting and refreshing.
HIPHOP / URBAN
Some notable names in the urban and hip-hop field are:
Zo Moeilijk, a hip-hop group signed to the prolific TopNotch Records. They put hip-hop from Nijmegen on the map, with their raw and unusual style.
The rap-duo Discipline & Rather Real has a different style. It’s more down-tempo and relaxed, breathing a certain laidback feeling.
Victoire & Raw Foodz are a rap and producer team, that combine African rootsmusic with classic hip-hop sounds and a lot of different styles, lending it a unique sound.
There are also plenty of other initiatives in Nijmegen that provide the city with music.
One example is Red Shoe Sessions, bringing singer-songwriter, folk and acoustic artists to an intimate location with a small audience.
Similar to the Red Shoe Sessions is Tjilp, also bringing music to a small location to enhance the listening experience and Kapelsessies, who make (semi-)acoustical recordings in and old chapel.
For electronic music there is Lomechanik an electronic collective and label that focuses on a group of people that love to experiment with electronic music.
And there is NEW (Nieuwe Elektronische Waar), a platform to supporting producers from the east of the Netherlands, by gaining more attention for them and sharing their knowledge and experience.
Elektrisch Kafe is a night in the Paraplufabriek, where people can come to enjoy experimental (electronic) music, video, performances and other art forms.
Nijmegen Rock City is an organisation that aims to promote rock music (the name says it all) from Nijmegen. They do this by creating online exposure; setting up shows, increase networking possibilities and other activities.
Nijmegen seems a great city for music. There is a great amount of music made and also places that are open for music to be played. There are tons of other initiatives, bands, bars, venues, festivals, etc. that have something to do with music in Nijmegen. Either I failed to include them, or I just don’t know them. If you miss anything, please feel free to add it to the comments below.