Leiden is often known a lovely student-town and we tend forget that there’s more than fraternities, parties and (drunk) students. Let me show you that this town has more to offer than meets the eye, and dive into the secret world of the music scene in Leiden.
The beginnings of the music scene in Leiden
It all began in the 1960s when the first musical initiatives started to be developed in Leiden. Open spaces and concerts venues were a good place for young artists to share their passion for music. One of the first poppodium was the infamous LVC, founded in 1969, was the heart of Leiden’s music scene for 44 years until it closed its doors in 2013. Over the years LVC had been a springboard for many groups, new musical concepts and organizations, such as KlikkMusic, Doorgedraaid and Leidsche Breakbeat Community (LBC).
At the same time, the Vrijplaats, then located at the Koppenhinksteeg, was the perfect spot for social and cultural events in Leiden. In the following years, many people gathered at the Vrijplaats: political associations, volunteers, feminist printing shop, and many idealistic movements fighting for all sort of causes. The Vrijplaats had always been a symbol of solidarity and independence where everything could happen. Since they moved to the Middelstegracht in 2012 the Vrijplaats is a meeting point for musicians, songwriters, actors, movie fans and for all organisations culturally and socially involved.
Another main spot is the Muziekhuis, a multifunctional music center, welcoming musicians since 1988. With its 11 rehearsal rooms and its main stage Qbus, the Muziekhuis is the place to be for upcoming bands. However, its future is today quite uncertain due to the decision of the city hall to close it down. This would represent a major threat to pop musicians and music lovers; a petition is being share to help save this unique venue.
From underground basements to brand new venues
To actually know where to go out and to listen to some good music when you’re not a student anymore can be difficult in Leiden. So I had to figure out a new way to keep up to date with the music agenda in Leiden. Digging a bit deeper, I discovered that a whole bunch of special performances were taking place quite often in Leiden.
Although the LVC closed, its spirit and atmosphere remain in Leiden, in the new poptempel Gebr. De Nobel. The former LVC programmer moved to De Nobel as well, and schedules various artists and events, from Rihanna to Slayer, attracting a varied public. Head to the Vrijplaats Middelstegracht for some social and cultural activities: vegan bistro, concerts, readings, screenings, capoeira lessons and much more are waiting for you there.
Since 2007 dubstep and drum and bass fans have found their happiness with the Leidsche Breakbeat Community, the result of the fusion of Kaputt and Champion Sound, who aim at increasing the dubstep and drum and bass scenes in Holland, and more specifically in Leiden. Finally, for an alternative, you’ll have no other choice than discovering the little known SUB071, located in the basement of a squat. Focussing on all sorts of music, the organisers welcome groups from the Netherlands to Brazil, from the UK to Slovenia. Foreign bands are probably more familiar with SUB071 than Leidenaars themselves!
Leiden, a place for jazz lovers
Besides a large choice of concerts happening in the above mentioned venues, Leiden is also bursting with festivals and various events of the year. The city has a special relationship with jazz music, and it would be impossible to miss it. Gigs at the Twee Spieghels, the Summer Jazz Festival in June, De Leidse Jazzweek in January, and the upcoming Rythm Grass Blues Festival.
New in the agenda, the RGB festival will take place from March 20 to 29 in no less than five big venues in Leiden. From masterclasses to pub crawls and from house concerts to big parties, the RGB Festival will surprise you by its outstanding and varied programming and well-known performers. Some of the big names such as Avishai Cohen, Raul Midón and Ray Anderson’s Organic Blues Quartet will share the stage with others like GoGo Pinguin, Ruben Hein or Ntjam Rosie. This is your chance to listen to some great music in Leiden!