The Gashouder in Amsterdam has a solid reputation in the nightlife. For 25 years, the round hall has been home to the techno-empire Awakenings, with drums and bass pounding against the circular fuselage approximately every two months until dawn. The former department store at Westergasterrein is also ideal for tougher music styles: the glaring techno becomes even more beautiful when the square rhythms get extra reverberation and echo, in a round, concrete sound box that is almost an amplifier in itself.
Yet the hall also makes excursions as a more refined cultural scene. Holland Festival programs there every year. Latest edition e.g. the silent musical play time performed by Ryuichi Sakamoto. And even the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra played Gashouder during a screening of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey in 2012.
It’s actually weird that Gashouder does not act as a pop scene more often. Because Amsterdam has a great need for a room with a capacity of about three thousand: exactly the number of visitors that can gather in Gashouder. The main pop places in the city center, Paradiso and Melkweg, can accommodate up to 1,500 guests. The step to the larger halls is immediately a huge leap: Afas Live is good for five thousand visitors, Ziggo Dome for 17 thousand. In cities like Utrecht and Tilburg, these spaces with room for two thousand to three thousand people are accessible, so Amsterdam regularly sees larger artists come by, for whom 1,500 is too little and five thousand too much.
Then you should think: open these gates to Gashouder more often. And it’s happening now, at least this month. In the coming weeks, Mojo will program a number of concerts ranging from the London trio Above & Beyond to De Staat and the Belgian rock band Balthazar. And last weekend, Gashouder turned into a hip-hop temple with three sold-out shows by hip-hop duo The Opposites.
At the first of these shows, it seems that the raw factory hall is doing well as a stage for this band. Initially because Willem de Bruin and Twan van Steenhoven like to celebrate a solid party. Especially with their current comeback, which should breathe new life into the duo. The Opposites, which broke up in 2014, played legendary festival shows and in 2013, for example, lowered the largest tent Alpha to ashes on the Lowlands with very exciting party starts and a show that drew audiences by the hair.
This trick can be repeated in Gashouder, also because the arena in front of the stage is well suited for maximum audience participation. Due to the square, visitors are lined up in a circle and it already feels like a kind of snake pit before the show has even started. When the band then embarks on the well-known hospitable games – ‘Everyone: left, right’ – hardly anyone can avoid it. When The Opposites implement their big hits, the whole Gashouder screams passionately along. ‘Super for love, King of the nightclub.’
The sound also helps. Acoustically, De Gashouder is a difficult venue, and a show by the band Editors in 2013, for example, drowned in the hollow echo. But now it actually helps on the beats and basses of The Opposites. The band became so loved and big because of their special sound combination, of rap with hard-hitting trance and gabber. And it hits hard against the dome walls of concrete. found Judgment, Lomp and Famous get lured by an ending to a dance festival, just like the ending Thunder, a tribute to the gabber party Thunderdome. The hall explodes to the screaming lasers, hard-hitting techno and disarming, super-funny lyrics: ‘All night, we go thunder† Break it down, we’re going to thunder. That’s what I exist for. ‘
The question is whether Gashouder with a good acoustic plan can also handle the less brutal concerts in the coming weeks. But the sizzling shows in The Opposites have at least shown that the hall can be a festive addition to the Amsterdam offer.