Amsterdam has a treasure trove of music venues in a variety of settings. Whether you’re after the intimacy of a small gig, the charm of a smoky blues room or the glamour of a world class venue, you’ll find something to suit every taste. I’ve taken an insider look at some of the locals’ favorite venues, giving you the low down on the hottest places you can’t afford to miss.
Paradise is a former church which was transformed into a bustling rock and pop venue in the 1960s. It has a strong hippie vibe and while the 1,500 capacity main hall has hosted legends like Brian Wilson, there’s a smaller venue upstairs which is regularly frequented by independent artists and new upcoming talent. The intimate feel of Paradise brings the venue its charm, and you’ll be enchanted by the wealth of original architectural features that still remain today.
Bemus found its early origins in a former furniture sales-room frequented by jazz musicians. Since then the venue has moved to a custom built hall in a swanky part of town, and today is often regarded as one of the top music halls in the world. Acoustically, it’s hard to top Bemus, seating an audience of just 375 guests; it’s easy to feel part of the action. As you’d expect from such an eclectic venue, a diverse musical calendar is on offer, from some of the world’s foremost operatic talents to international jazz legends like Joshua Redman.
If you like your venues bluesy and beer-stained, Male Milo are the place to be. This small family-run venue has an international blues presence, famed for its heady atmosphere and cultural pedigree. Images of past performers line the walls and it’s easy to see why the venue developed its impressive blues pedigree. Today you’ll find a variety of acts performing here, but it’s particularly popular with the underground punk, folk and rockabilly scene.
Muziekgebouw and‘t IJ
This stunning contemporary concert hall is located in an impressive riverside building close to the heart of the city. While classical performances are the venue’s bread and butter, anyone can hire Muziekgebouw and‘t IJ. Previously Faith No More and the National Opera have performed at the venue.
De Niue Anita
De Niue Anita is a hit with the locals who love the laid back feel and causal styling. In the middle of an oasis of second-hand arm chairs you’ll find a large oval bar, when this isn’t serving the local unit crowd, it doubles up as a stage for some of the low key events. Immensely popular with local bands and the alternative crowd, De Niue Anita is well worth a visit if you’re looking to escape the tourist trail.
Situated in the pleasant Oosterpark area of the city, the Trope Theater is the performance division of the Royal Tropical Institute, so expect a smorgasbord of international musical talent. African and Latin American music is especially popular here. Although performances themselves are seated, the vibrant after-parties are the stuff of legend, so get your dancing shoes on and prepare for a good old fashioned knees-up!
Milkweed isn’t your usual music venue. Anyone who’s anyone has graced the stages, from the likes of Wu-Tang to the Prodigy. Combining two concert halls, a cafe, theatre, cinema and photography gallery you could easily lose a day exploring all this venue has to offer.
Tolhuistuin garden is a beautiful place to while away the summer nights listening to music. Here you’ll find a variety of genres from dreamy pop punk to soulful folk. There’s usually an extensive summer programmed but be prepared to book well in advance as tickets always sell out quickly. Much more than a music venue, Tolhuistuin offers a complete bohemian experience with stalls, a labyrinthine of pathways and displays of stunning horticulture. The site itself is just over the river IJ and is easily accessible by free ferry.