Vicious Vacation

AMSTERDAM’S BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUES

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Now obviously most folks associate Amsterdam with puffin some serious dank, but it’s important to mention that there is actually a pretty decent music scene there too if you’re lookin for it…

While being stuck in A-dam for the week I sought out plenty of live musical goodness; some of my favorite spots after the *cough cough* jump.

PARADISO

This converted former church turned ‘cosmic relaxation center’ is actually multiple venues in the same building (like a larger scale version of the old Knitting Factory on Leonard Street in Manhattan), and a great spot to try and book your band if you happen to be passing through on tour. There is a huge main stage where big acts perform — I happened to catch Larry Graham (of Sly & the Family Stone fame)’s Graham Central Station when I was in town, and his group’s uptempo inspirational funk blew my stoned socks off — but also a respectably-sized side room where independent touring bands can strut their stuff (the very same night I caught Caribou from Canada and Wooden Shjips from San Francisco). Plus if you pay for one show you can typically wander around from mainstage to side room to smoking lounge for hashin up…..and stick around after midnight when a DJ takes over the main room and TONS of young Amsterdamn locals come out for club night.

MELKWEG

Literally translating to “Milky Way”, this joint is much more than just a music venue — the self-proclaimed “cultural centre” also houses performances and exhibitions in dance, theater, film, photography, and media art in five different spaces and several more small rooms. When I was in town, the Artery Foundation tour was rolling through so I went to check out emo-core band Alesana to get a sense of the scene, and tons of kids were rockin, both in the moshpit and via impromptu teenage makeout swap sessions in the back….yowzer!! Along with Paradiso, this is one of the most-recommended spots in town because of its diversity and scope.

ALTO LOUNGE

If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, you may wanna check out this comfy jazz lounge in the Leidesplein area…..I saw a great jazz-funk guitar trio there one night, and was meaning to come back a few daze later for an afro-cuban group but……well, I got side-hashed.

BOURBON STREET

Also near Leidesplein, this blues/rock/reggae/soul/funk venue is full of good times and killer live bands…..a buddy and I were hanging there near the end of a raucous drunken night while a smokin reggae band was throwing down, and out the front picture glass window looking onto the street, I happened to notice what looked like a conglomeration of fire marshals/policemen/bomb squad folks gathered outside shining flashlights towards the roof of the venue. Oddly enough, it seemed that my friend and I were the only people in the stoned crowd who took this as a potentially bad sign, so we pounded our drinks and high-tailed it outside to find trucks and ladders and pandemonium…..I suspected a bomb threat, but later heard that there was a pretty bad fire in an adjacent building. The crowd at Bourbon Street had no idea how close they were to such imminent danger. Irie…

BIMHUIS

I didn’t make it to this place but I’m told this is the best upscale jazz club in Amsterdam, if you’re into that sort of thing. I believe the main concert area is an enclosed glass cube that hangs over a highway.

WINSTON KINGDOM

This divey rock club just outside of the Red Light District has played host to tons of interesting indie/punk/rock/hardcore/noise bands from all around the world — and doubles/triples as a haunt for lovers of dubstep and other various heavy electronica, and an eclectic artsy hotel upstairs…….good smallish venue, great bar, drunken debauchery and live music; win-win-win-win-Winston.

HIPPO STUDIO

This place is a bit off the beaten path, but most definitely worth the trip if there’s something going on there. I happened to discover it online when, being stuck in A-dam for April 20th, I figured there must be some tons of obscure 4/20 parties to check out in town. The truth is, why would Amsterdamians give a shit about a fabricated stoner’s tradition/holiday (not that I particularly do myself but hey, stuck in A-dam on 4/20 is obvs a rare occurrence so I was on the hunt for good times)…..and thus this was the only thing I could find that day — a cannabis cup style awards party with bands and old-school soul/funk DJ. I missed the actual awards (chose to go for a nearby Algerian cous cous dinner instead, amazing), but the party was a blast and the venue/recording studio/record label/staff is super chill.

Now smoke em if you got em!!

-KW

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