If you enjoy live music, Groningen is the place to be. Really any day of the week you can go out and find a place to either sit back and listen to some of the hidden talents – singers performing for the first time outside their shower, conservatory students to professional musicians – or join them yourself on the stage. We’ve compiled our favorite live music venues in the city, including intimate jazz clubs, bars with weekly jam sessions as well as big concert stages. Find live music of your taste in the ultimate guide to Groningen music scene.
Eurosonic – the largest showcase festival of Europe. Over 200 bands give their all during the three-day festival, and Dutch media have hailed Groningen “the music capital of Europe” because of the wide variety of acts. The next Eurosonic starts on the 17th of January.
Noorderzon – magnificent performing arts festival. The program includes all forms of art, from plays to sculptures to music, and most events are accessible for free. The festival takes place in the Noorderplatsoen park and spans eleven days in August, with over 120.000 people visiting every year.
StuKafest – StuKafest is the most original festival in town, as all of the action takes place in student rooms (studentenkamers in Dutch, hence the name). Bands perform in rooms made available by Groninger students, which gives an intimate and unique touch to the concerts.
Local bars with weekly jam sessions
The Crown – can be considered the international pub of the city. This cozy venue offers jazz on Mondays, rock on Fridays and jam sessions and open mics on Saturdays.
De Zolder – There is an open reggae jam session every Tuesday which has been running for fifteen years now and a blues jam on Thursdays which began eight years and a half ago. Live bands which play rock or heavy metal take over the stage on Saturdays.
De Smeredij – The former owner of the bar, a jazz musician himself, started the jazz music nights which have been taking place every Tuesday for 25 years now. The first concert starts at 22:30, often followed up by a session that kicks off at 00:00.
Vera – U2 performed here in 1980 as well as other big names like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Simple Minds, The Libertines, Weezer – they were all Groningen once. In short, Vera is the place where many world famous bands have started—or accelerated their career. It mostly hosts indie or still relatively unknown bands. Among others, Vera is currently hosting LOFT – infamous party on the 1st & 3rd Saturday of each month and you really shouldn’t miss it. Arrive early otherwise you might spend 40 minutes waiting in a queue.
Simplon – In the eighties, Simplon developed into the ultimate punk venue of the Netherlands, listing two punk concerts a week. Because of noise control regulations and threatened cuts in funding, Simplon almost had to close its doors in 1993. During the past decade Simplon has become transformed to a top-notch venue for pop music.
Oosterpoort – the largest pop music venue in the northern regions of the Netherlands. Some famous artists that played here recently are Queens of the Stone Age, Band of Horses, The Wombats, The National and Wolfmother. Next to these bands, the Oosterpoort also has a lineup of many classical performances, cabaret and dancing shows.
If you’re on the other hand interested to learn more about music or take up a new instrument (to later join one of the jam sessions USVA organizes monthly 😉 ), the student culture center USVA offers variety of courses that you can join: from guitar and piano lessons to songwriting and musical choir. The choice is yours!
ESN Live Music Night
Last but not least, ESN organizes each semester its very own concert, which is besides the Introduction Week the biggest ESN event! As Madonna’s song goes “Music makes the people come together” – this is very accurate for ESN music project, where students from opposite corners of the world come together and assemble and rehearse for weeks a fun set list that you most definitely shouldn’t miss on the 30th of November in Simplon! Save the date, I will see you there.
(yes, the atmosphere at the ESN concert is always so great that you might see people crowd surfing)