Jam @ Toekomstmuziek

Toekomstmuziek (lit. ‘Future music’. Expression used in Dutch to mean a development is too far in the future to take into account now.) is a relatively new place in the Houthavens area of Amsterdam West. Founder Kian is an active member of the music event app groups in which I learn about many of the jams I write about. He enthusiastically supports art projects whenever he can and an impressive number of events are being organized at Toekomstmuziek. High time for me to check out what it was all about.

Located in between industrial buildings, it can be a bit challenging to locate this cool place. A bit like the Helicopter, I suppose. For some reason, I hadn’t expected the underground vibes Toekomstmuziek gives off. It is a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere, but the place is huge, the stage, equipment and lighting are very professional. After I had enjoyed several bands and singers that the open mic attracted, Kian announced that the jam would start shortly.

I organized a couple of acquaintances to be the first formation, since it wasn’t clear who was leading the jam. I was used to there being some sort of house band to kick off the jam. We also recruited the barman on guitar. This jam was going to be very educational.

The first song went pretty well, mostly because I was playing with an amazing drummer that I had played with before. Already I felt people weren’t paying very close attention to each other and heading in different directions. Two songs later, about ten people had climbed onto the stage and we had a new drummer. My buddy Kai, who I know from the Afrogrooves jam, was itching to play some afrobeat. The drummer assured me he knew how. A new guitar player stepped onto the stage and suggested a bossa in A minor (we had just been playing in A minor for ten minutes).
Then we found out the drummer most definitely did not know how to play afrobeat. Bossa in A minor it was…

The whole thing was chaotic as hell, although we did sometimes manage to bring it together and actually sound good for a few minutes. I tried my hand at leading the jam, bringing down the volume when a singer stepped onto the stage, attempting to get us to stop at the same time, pointing people out for solos. I took a couple of solos too, which was fun (who was gonna stop me?). All in all, the audience was forgiving and generous with the applause and there were enough great musicians in the house for the evening to still be a great success. When the experienced rapper/singer ‘Chilly Red’ stepped on the stage, his charisma and commanding voice really brought the musicians on stage together.

When a bunch of strangers get together to make music, there really is no guarantee it will sound good. The priority of anybody jamming should be listening, and the golden rule is ‘less is more’. Having someone to call the shots is basically a prerequisite, unless everybody involved is experienced and pays very close attention to each other. You might be afraid to come across as a musical dictator, but in my experience, it is usually appreciated when someone takes the initiative to push the groove in a certain direction. Why? Because it makes the music better, and that is what everybody wants.

A week after this entertaining experience, I was back, this time to cheer on team Helicopter. Heli-bred bands are spreading across the scene like wildfire, with not one, not two, but three of our bands playing a set, namely, HUSS, There’s No Recipe and Magustry. All three bands absolutely killed it. There’s No Recipe had to deal with a vacationing band members and pulled off an acoustic set with only vocals, guitar and keys that laid out a very cool grungy sound. HUSS impressed me by performing with an injured drummer and debuting their first wacky Dutch language song about Sunglasses. Magustry… well, they are what they are and they do what they do. Which means they got the crowd moving.

Toekomstmuziek is a great place to check out if you are looking to play with your band. Kian is clearly a patron of the underground music scene and will happily accommodate you, with their lineup ranging from cumbia, to psychedelic rock, to rap and back. Jams are happening every third of the month (but sometimes more often) and they’ve got something going on most days of the week.