A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
My desk has officially become my new best friend. Buried under a pile of books, I’ve been writing papers, preparing presentations, trying to keep up with a monstrous amount of reading whilst simultaneously trying to make sure I’m up to date with coursework and deadlines. Being a master student is definitely taking a toll on my social life. That’s why I was excited to rejoin civilization (and my friends) and go out for a night of cheap beer and live music at Popronde.
Popronde is an annual free Dutch music festival that travels through a bunch of cities (29 to be exact) and where different bands perform at venues all over town. The venues vary from small little cafés, to cool art galleries, dusty old music stores, to grand churches and funky clubs. It’s definitely not your average night out at the local bar.
Although I had heard about Popronde before, this was my first time going. And being an outsider to the alternative music scene, I had no idea what to make of bands named Hömpfdingå, Girl Beard and Sunday Sun. Clueless about where to start or who to go see, I was lucky enough to have my friend Tim to rely on. Tim is 23 and moved to Leiden this summer from Amersfoort. Tim does freelance PR and promotion work in the cultural sector and music industry. He is basically the go-to-man for all things new in music.
Popronde was a lot of fun but it was all new territory for me, which got me thinking – what if you just moved to the area, are a big fan but don’t know where to go or what to do. In light of this I wanted to make a blog about all things alternative in Leiden. And what better way than to interview Tim directly! Thankfully he was more than happy to oblige:
So Tim, what do you think of the alternative music scene in Leiden?
So far I’m loving it! I haven’t been out to shows or concerts much yet, but this summer I got to see Listener at Scheltema. After seeing him three times in previous years, it was great to see him play in my new hometown. Plus, Scheltema is a beautiful venue with a great atmosphere. Promoter Marcel van Wot did a great job, because the place was packed. He actually also organizes “Unplugged”, a semi-acoustic open-mic night at De Twee Spieghels, a great chance for singer/songwriters to get some stage experience.
It’s great to see that Leiden’s most famous venue, LVC, which has been around for more than 40 years, is upgrading this year to De Nobel. From 2014 onwards, this will be the new centre for pop culture, based in the city centre of Leiden. It’s wonderful that the municipality of Leiden is recognizing the need for this, and is willing to invest in the city’s cultural well-being.
What do you think makes events like Popronde special and fun to go to?
The concept of Popronde is exciting; on the one hand it gives talented bands the chance to play outside of their home towns and reach out to a new audience. Besides their normal touring schedule, they’re able to play over twenty (!) more shows throughout the Netherlands if the participants (cafes, venues, halls, etc.) like them enough. On the other hands it’s a great opportunity for the public to discover new bands that are possibly on the verge of breaking through. You basically go bar hopping with your friends, and find out about talented bands while having a good night out. The program tells you the genre of each act along with a brief description, so based on that you can plan your route. For people who are new in town, like me, it’s also a great way to get to know all the nice cafés and places where they have live music on a regular base.
Thanks so much! Any last words of advice for people that enjoy the genre and just moved to Leiden/South Holland? Any bars/places to check out or upcoming events we should know about?
On the website of Popronde you can find all the bars, cafes and venues that participated in Leiden. Many of them don’t offer live music on a weekly base, but it’s worth checking out their website or Facebook page to keep updated on anything that’s going on. Scheltema is a definitely one of my favorite places to get a drink or enjoy live music, but I’m sure De Nobel will appear in my top three in 2014 as well. My favorite acts last night were Twin Shades, Wolf in Loveland and Adam & the Relevants, so you might want to check them out as well.
Now that you’re a Popronde expert and want to join in on the fun, check out www.popronde.nl to see which city the festival will be going to next. And check out www.strivepr.org to see the projects Tim is currently working on!
*photos courtesy of Tim van Reyswoud