As an entertainment mecca, Amsterdam certainly has an extensive variety of clubs, bars and concert halls where music can be heard. With everything from house, hip-hop, jazz and classical music on the menu, the city draws in culture fans from far and wide. Here are some must-try spots for live music lovers in the Dam.
Melkweg is much more than a music venue; it is a non-profit culture center for cinema, theater, dance and art near Amsterdam’s Leidseplein. The venue’s name, meaning “Milky Way” in English, is quite appropriate, as the building was a milk factory until the late 1960s. All kinds of great music can be heard here, although hip-hop and electronica have dominated Melkweg’s bookings in recent years.
Everything and anything can be heard playing at CC Muziekcafé, a new music pub in the de Pijp neighborhood of Amsterdam. Here, anyone is welcome within the cozy space, where the blending of local and global sounds compliments the bar’s inviting appeal. A wide variety of styles can be found here, but unlike other music venues in Amsterdam, CC Muziekcafé has an open mic regularly on the stage.
For travelers wanting that half-club-half-lounge feel in their next venture into Amsterdam’s nightlife, Chicago Social Club is the place to go. With a bar open until 4 a.m. every night, and a club open three nights a week, the Chicago Social Club has quickly become a great scene in the Leidsesquare. With many corners to relax in, a booming dance floor and an outdoor balcony to get some fresh air, this club is a great choice for a casual night out of dancing.
As a founding member of the Europe Jazz Network, Bimhuis is the venue in Amsterdam for all improvised music. From a distance, Bimhuis looks little more than the black box of the Muziekgebouw complex, being redesigned in 2005 from its original state as founded in 1974. With funding from both the city of Amsterdam and the European Union, this venue is incredibly important for the genre of jazz in Amsterdam today however, and also a recognized international cultural institution.
The elegant, all-glass architecture of Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ is telling of the contemporary classical music played here. Travelers don’t need to go far to find this venue, being a 10-minute walk from the Amsterdam Centraal Station. The Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ plays host to a variety of ensembles, including small chamber groups, large orchestras and everything in between.
OCCII is perhaps the most independent concert venue in the Dam, being completely run by volunteers. Featuring the best of Europe’s underground and radical music acts, this venue has made a real name for itself running on little but the trust of its volunteers. So far, this business plan has worked, even during the building’s renovation. The folk at OCII also often tour Amsterdam’s various other venues and clubs whenever their own venue is undergoing maintenance.
Situated in a 19th century religious building, with large, paneled doors, Paradiso operates as one of the most popular rock nightclubs in Amsterdam. Opened in 1968 as the “Cosmic Relaxation Center Paradiso”, the venue has kept its forward thinking values and became the first rock club to offer house music nights in Amsterdam. With legendary visitors like Al Green, Kings of Leon and Lady Gaga, Paradiso has continued to show its vitality with its ever increasing list of international bookings.
Schaakcafé Het Hok has a great neighborhood pub atmosphere that few other music venues can match. This brick, corner pub is completely vintage in design, with its friendly outdoor seating arrangement, paneled windows and its clutter of posters and memorabilia. Live acoustic sets pair nicely with Het Hok’s food, being just loud enough to still be able to hear everyone sitting at your table.
The blues are easy to find in Amsterdam, and are served straight, no chaser, at Maloe Melo. With live music every night of the week, and bar service open late, all music lovers passing through the Dutch capital are recommended to visit this Amsterdam landmark.
With its dim, cabaret seating, North Sea Jazz Club is one of the most legendary venues to enjoy a jazz show in Europe. With legends like Victor Wooten, and newcomers like Taylor McFarrin, the North Sea Jazz Club definitely gets the publicity it deserves. Its resident band, The Fresh Cuts, are also a formidable troupe in their own right, and inspire the club’s patrons to dance every night.