10 Best Venues in Amsterdam to Listen to Live Music
By Jessica Lipowski
Amsterdam Local Expert
Nothing beats live music. The performers fill the room with energy and beautiful melodic sounds, which creates a fun and lively atmosphere. The audience feeds off the band, adding to the overall experience. The drinks are flowing, and everyone is having a great time.
Amsterdam is definitely home to its fair share of fun nightlife venues. From classical and rock to jazz, underground and indie, the city is filled with an abundance of live music. For the best jazz in town, make your way to Jazz Café Alto or the Bimhuis. Casablanca Café is also a good find. It is one of the oldest jazz clubs in the city. The Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw offer a wide range of performances, including jazz and classical music. You will certainly surround yourself with sweet sounds. Places like Paradiso, Winston Kingdom, Melkweg and CC Muziek Café offer a little taste of everything. Make sure to check the agenda in advance, so you go on a day that hosts your favorite genre or band. Maloe Melo is Amsterdam’s “Home of the Blues,” while The Waterhole is known for its high-energy rock ‘n roll. If you love the alternative or independent music scene, OCCII is the place to be. Amsterdam has live music for everyone.
It is hard to be disappointed when the main focus of a venue is the music. At the OCCII in Amsterdam, that is the case; the music is truly the center of attention. OCCII, which stands for Onafhankelijk Cultureel Centrum In It, is a venue popular for its alternative and independent music scene. From indie and jazz to hardcore, punk and electro, the program is always diverse and energetic. OCCII got its start in the 1980s by a group of squatters. Today, volunteers run this now legitimate squat. Make sure to check the program in advance so you can see what's in store. (+31 20 6717778)
Winston Kingdom, an underground club situated in the infamous Amsterdam Red Light District, always offers a diverse and mixed agenda. The club boasts a variety of beats to move to, from indie, rock and electro to hip-hop, dub-reggae and retro-pop. The club is open daily and features both bands and DJs, who usually play late into the night. Minus The Bear from the United States of America and Paul Kelly from Australia are two of the numerous bands that have played here. Feel the rhythm and move to the music. Dance the night away at Winston Kingdom. If you need a place to stay, look no further than the Winston art hotel next door. Every room is decorated different. (+31 206231380)
Head down to The Waterhole and nourish your soul with a little live music. At this local establishment, you will certainly get your fill. The Waterhole offers live entertainment seven days a week, usually featuring blues, rock 'n roll or funk covers. The venue welcomes people of all ages, both locals and tourists alike. Enjoy one of the jam sessions during the week or watch one of the bands perform on the weekend. You can even play a game of pool as you listen or have a cigarette in the smoking room. If you're looking for a good drink deal, make sure to stop by The Waterhole during happy hour. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. (+31 20 620 89 04)
Casablanca Café, located in the heart of Amsterdam on the Zeedijk, is one of the city's oldest jazz clubs. The cafe, which features jazz artists and big band performers, welcomes a variety of visitors every night. The café is also quite popular because of the karaoke. Be sure to come ready with your best singing voice. The cafe offers an extensive list of songs to choose from, so you can pick your favorite and sing your heart out. Enjoy the relaxed yet lively atmosphere, and hang on tight for a fun night. Next time you go out with friends, you will definitely want to stop by Casablanca Café. (+31 20 7767407)
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ
The Muziekgebouw provides the perfect setting for an enchanting evening. Start with a sensational seafood dinner at restaurant Zouthaven, which overlooks the IJ River. Then, listen to melodic music at one of the Muziekgebouw concerts. The program focuses on contemporary music, everything from classical to jazz and electronic pop. The space is quite large, but the set-up can be adjusted for every concert so the acoustics are always optimized to the artist and type of music. You can order tickets online or stop by the box office. The venue even offers tickets for 10 EUR if you are between the ages of 13 and 30. (+31 20 788 2000)
Make your way down to Bourbon Street and brace yourself for a night filled with good music, good beer and good fun. The venue offers live music seven nights a week, which is often difficult to find in Amsterdam. The program presents both local and international artists, and the genre of music is varied, featuring a range of rhythm, blues, funk, soul and Latin. Sit back, relax and enjoy the magnificent music. Ricardo Reeberg and Bert Hendriks founded Bourbon Street Live Music Amsterdam Club on September 21, 1990, and since its opening, many famous musicians have stopped by, such as Sting and Jeff Healey. Please note you must be at least 21 years old to enter. (+31 20 623 3440)
If you are looking for the best blues music in Amsterdam, head to Maloe Melo, "Home of the Blues." This small, intimate place, which is actually located off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood, definitely presents a wide range of talented musicians. In addition to blues, Maloe Melo often features rock, ska and country music. They offer live music daily, so you can stop by any night of the week. The venue is not super fancy, but welcomes people of all ages and has a warm, friendly atmosphere. Plus, the drinks are cheap. You may even see someone famous, as the place is internationally renowned among blues lovers and other musicians. (+31 20 420 4592)
Alto Jazz Café
Café Alto, a jazz café located near Leidseplein, is definitely an Amsterdam favorite. This cozy little café has some of the best jazz music around. Alto offers live music every single night. Therefore, it doesn't matter if you're looking to relax one evening after work or go out for a bit of Friday night fun. It is the perfect place to tap your fingers and move to the music. Café Alto always promises a good time. The space is small, though, so it may be crowded and difficult to find a seat near the stage. Make sure to arrive early. The doors open at 9 p.m. (+31 20 626 3249)
Attend one of the many concerts at the Concertgebouw and lose yourself in the sound of sweet, classical music and modern compositions. Internationally renowned for being one of three halls with the best acoustics in the world, the Concertgebouw is a place you cannot miss. With three different halls, the main hall, recital hall and choir hall, the Concertgebouw program offers a wide range of shows, from piano music to chamber performances and jazz to children's concerts. Turn the experience into a complete evening out. Have dinner in the Mirror Hall before certain concerts or enjoy one of the many delicious restaurants nearby. If you don't want to go in the evening, try a Sunday morning concert followed by brunch or visit for free on Wednesdays at 12:30 -- the lunch concert series (queue early). (+31 20 671 8345)
Since 1968, Paradiso has been a location for creative talent. Now, Paradiso, once a church, has evolved into a concert hall, club and cultural center, attracting people of all ages. World famous musicians, such as Al Green and Lady Gaga, have played in the Main Hall, while several other artists, such as Franz Ferdinand and Kings of Leon, have made their start in the Small Hall. The entire music spectrum is covered: rock, folk, soul, country, reggae, eclectic and blues. Five nights a week, Paradiso is also a club, providing an outlet for people to let loose and dance the night away. The venue also offers non-musical events, such as lectures, fashion shows and dance performances. It's truly a place for everyone. (+31 20 626 4521)
About Jessica Lipowski
In more ways than one, Jessica has fallen in love with the Netherlands. She moved in 2011, seizing an opportunity to live abroad, a long-time dream. For two years, she worked for an online group travel and event planning platform. She understands the ins and outs of arranging anything travel related. Now she is working on a book. Jessica has always had a passion for writing. She also developed her love for travel early. She’s traveled all over the US and Europe, enjoying scenery, diverse cultures and delicious meals. She is sure Amsterdam is a city you'll never forget.
Read more about Jessica Lipowski here.