When: 19th and 20th May 2023
Where: Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
There are iconic music venues, and then there is the Paradiso in Amsterdam. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the space when you step through into its main room. In the year of the Prague Spring and the Paris Student Riots, Paradiso opened its doors under the name “Cosmic Relaxation Centre Paradiso”. From that very first day, on 30 March 1968, it strived to bring together talent and public. But it is since 1982 that Paradiso has been the place in which DJs share their gospel to their dancing followers, contributing to its growing reputation as a nightclub alongside Amsterdam’s rising fame as the international capital of dance music.
London Calling is a two day music festival held twice a year at Paradiso in Amsterdam. The latest edition was held on 19 and 20 May. Arriving on day one it was great to see lockers in the venue, lugging around a big bag all day can be a nightmare. First stop was upstairs to the smaller room for The Tubs (Wales). It was already packed perhaps because it was a slightly later start for the first day. Strolling downstairs there was the first look at the main room itself – and I defy anyone to not have an OMG moment when they walk through the doors. The converted church is simply breath-taking. Sylvie (USA) were onstage followed by Hamish Hawk (Scotland) and Enumclaw (USA) but what was extraordinary is that in between the main stage sets a projector screen rolled down to show the upstairs bands performing. It was impossible to get back into the room for Shelf Lives (England) so to see them on the screen was the next best thing.
It was when Heartworms (England) took to the stage that the main room really came alive. Led by Jojo Orme, the Speedy Wunderground signee has had a meteoric rise since debut single ‘Consistent Dedication’ was released only last year. To see her crowd-surfing around the room with a huge smile on her face was an utter joy. The euphoria only increased as Glasgow based Vlure (Scotland) took to the stage next. Building a reputation for their live performances, the five-piece bring the club to their sets with wild electronica performed with passion by charismatic lead singer Hamish Hutcheson. They defy the rules, demanding your attention and their drummer Carlo Kriekaard is a Dutch native, which only added to the emotion of the set. The final artist on the first day was Joe Unknown (England), a drum n’ bass MC who continued the party until the final note was played. Already buzzing for what the second day of London Calling in this gorgeous venue will bring.
The second day had an earlier, but perhaps gentler, start as festival goers drifted in. There was food which could be purchased plus a merch desk was set up for bands to use, now a mainstay of income for artists. So it was straight upstairs to see Tchotchke from USA, Girl Scout from Sweden and the excellent Girl and Girl from Australia. So, yes, even though the festival is called London Calling it welcomes all nationalities. A dash downstairs to see the Bully solo performance (USA), with huge encouragement from the crowd before belting back upstairs again for Toronto’s Camcahim. Surely the most travelled band of the day, flying in and out for their 30mins set – yes, that’s right, from Canada! There was an opportunity to wander outside into the real world for a break from the festival and another advantage of Paradiso is its location, with plenty of options for food and drink nearby. The Golden Dregs from England were upstairs followed by The Lemon Twigs (USA) but it was Bilk (England) who set the main room on fire. A trio from Essex who did not pander to anyone, played their music and the moshpit did the rest. deadletter (England) took over the baton and continued the vibe, if anything the moshpit was in even more of a frenzy. The schedulers wove their magic as next onstage was Gurriers (Ireland) and the maelstrom continued. It was simply astonishing to see this run of artists one after another. The final leg was a scamper back upstairs to get to the front for Benefits (England) aka Kingsley Hall, whose angry political fury rails out at the powers that be. And so it was only fitting the rage simply increased still further by Enola Gay (Northern Ireland). By now the frenzy was real and the noise was simply extraordinary. A glorious finish to a brilliant couple of days of live music.
The next London Calling festival will be at Paradiso in Amsterdam on 29 and 30 October.
In case you didn’t guess, highly recommended. For more information please check here.