Photo: Benjamin Holm (via Raum Eins)
Let me be honest. This is a foreigner’s guide to live music in Aarhus. As a Norwegian student I spent a lot of time not knowing where stuff went down in Aarhus. This is for all of you that are new to the town and mildly interested in music of any kind, so you can drown yourselves in music already during your first weeks here. (PS: This is written from my perspective and I do not claim to be an expert, I´m just posting my opinion. If you strongly disagree or take something personally, feel free to send me a very angry letter.)
In Aarhus there are surprisingly many different places to check out music, a huge part of what makes this city what it is. Thereby it is inevitable that there are some places that are right up your alley and some places up a slightly different alley.
In order to make a more convenient read for you, you can skip ahead to a statement that is better suited for your musical taste buds. Furthermore, the price range is categorised in four categories, ranging from low SU friendly prices on one hand, to high prices way above average on the other hand. We have illustrated the prices on the right side of your screen.
In addition to the venue’s prices, we have included their physical adresses in google maps, as illustrated in the end of the guide.
“I love it when a bar has live cover music, and play hits like Wonderwall!”
For those of you that prefer live music but don´t have any specific requirements as to what you want to hear, there are actually several bars with live music sessions during the week. Many of these are in Frederiksgade (See the picture above), e.g. Tir Na Nog, Waxies, Bar Oops and Sherlock Holmes. Some of these bars might be a bit more pricey than other places mentioned in this guide, but you just gotta check out some places and find your special spot. Many of the artists at these bars are actually quite good, so it is time well spent to find a place you like if you´re tired of listening to the bar owners Spotify play list.
Price Range: $$ – $$$
Fatter Eskil is another option. The bar and venue is located in Skolegade and isn’t that hard to find. They have weekly jam sessions, often with quite talented musicians, and they play tons of covers of all different genres. If you´re really bold you can ask to sing a song along with the band, or ask if you can join the band on your instrument. They also hosts smaller concerts of different genres.
“I normally go to concerts I believe are going to be a huge party”
Everybody likes to go to concerts once in a while, and where some people like to really analyse the sound and the playing, some people just want to have a good time with bangers they know the chorus of. These differences can be easily spotted. You have the more nerdy type standing next to the monitor man with a beer in one hand and the other on in a pocket, maybe nodding slightly to the beat. The other type is in the front row jumping up and down and having the time of their life more visibly. This recommendation is for the latter.
I would recommend Train as the number one place to go for the bigger and more pop concerts. Train is one of the biggest concert halls in Aarhus, and does have a huge variety of artists coming and going. Artists like Tower of Power , Big Sean have played there and artists such as Dweezil Zappa, Mew and Talib Kweli are coming this autumn. It is not necessarily mainstream, but it´s more popular music than acid jazz and death metal. The goal is to combine both mainstream and niche artists, so they simply have a huge variety of artists. What makes it more of a pumped up concert location is the size and the club vibe. Train is also used as a location for some events and parties, like the annual Elefant bar.
“I like discovering new bands and dive into the local music scene”
If you are one of these, then there are plenty of places to have your eardrums massaged. One of the reasons I decided to move to Aarhus, apart from the general need to get out of my home town for a bit, was the rumoured highly active musical environment. Fortunately, the rumour was true and there are some main scenes for new up and coming acts. These are: Headquarters (HQ), Radar, Double Rainbow, TAPE, Ambassaden, Gyngen and Sway.
Headquarters is right by the Scandinavian centre and the music house in Aarhus, and is often seen as the Music Conservatory´s bar. This might be true, there are a lot of the conservatory students here both drinking/dancing and playing, but there are also PLENTY of other concerts. There are release concerts, normal concerts, festival concerts, after-parties, etc. of different genres. This year (2015) HQ was part of the Spot Festival as a scene, and featured both Hip hop release concerts and Heavy metal. Normally, HQ aims for two concerts a week, mainly local bands, but sometimes they have international acts as well. Along with the concerts, HQ has different clubs varying from Balkan nights to Motown nights.
Radar is located at Godsbanen, a place at the high seat of culture in Aarhus whilst at the same time being underground. There is a lot of different stuff going on here, and it´s awesome. Radar is a highly active concert venue with over a hundred concerts in a year. They aim for a very varied cocktail of genres and concepts, and are open to the mix of music and other art. Where HQ might be more of a local music scene, Radar is not bound to Aarhus and there are often international artists playing.
Tape is one of the newest concert venues in Aarhus. It is a venue that has managed to build up a significant amount of hype before it even launched. The cool thing is that Tape also managed to live up to the hype, and has become a must-see place if you want to dive into the Aarhus music scene. It is an independent and non-profit venue with plenty of gigs every month. Their goal is to become the center for Aarhus bands, and concepts like Raum Eins (explained further down) will be moved to Tape, along with Flux. Tape isn’t bound to any genre, but will be a venue for Jazz, electronica, pop etc. Because Tape is based on voluntary work it fits very nicely with your student budget, and it is a place where you can try to volunteer and dive head first into the Aarhus music scene.
Gyngen is located next to Tape. It is not only a scene, but a bar/café’/restaurant. Thereby it is not necessarily as filled with concerts as other places, but it is a very cosy location anyway. Gyngen is an older spot, Turning 28 years this year, and they normally offer cheap entrance to their arrangements. This is where Aarhus Big band has had some concerts, and it´s less likely that there will be Heavy metal and Doom here. They do however host plenty of concerts during “Aarhus Festuge” and they have quite an active program.
Both places are located in Mejlgade 53, and you simply have to keep your eye out for a sign. This goes for both places, they can both be kind of difficult to find the first time. With Gyngen you have to enter a back yard and then into a door and up some stairs, but once you find it you´re good.
Ambassaden is both a theatre and a concert hall, and it is another stage often used by conservatory students. As well as a variety of different concerts, the stage also hosts comedy, burlesque etc. Ambassaden is a café during daytime and is also driven by volunteers. This place is open for any form of creativity and is not bound to a specific genre. Raum Eins has also had concerts and arrangements here.
Sway is located amongst all the bars along the river (åen), next to the bar Shen Mao (the place to go if you want to listen to the Power106 kind of Hip hop). For people not used to Danish bars with in-door smoking, this place can be slightly intense because it´s normally really crowded. Sway prefers to stay within Indie/alternative/rock and to stay local. They also host weekly table football tournaments (which is a horrible idea to participate in if you are new to Denmark, unless you are incredible at table football).
Price Range: $-$$
Find Them: Facebook
Stakladen (Studenterhus Aarhus) is the venue located right next to Aarhus University, and is, beside working as a venue, also hosting a vast amount of other things like record bazars and secondhand clothing sales where students meet up and do business (or a least exchange some old shirts and stuff). At this very moment, the staff running the place is looking into creating a more inviting environment for non-students, as the place has been mainly visited by students in the past. Besides hosting concerts with both unknown hidden gems, and more mainstream acts, they host the annual Newbees Festival in the end of September. Go there to meet other students, bring your friends, and grab a beer in the bar below it all, or the café next to the venue inside the building.
“I prefer my concerts to be underground and mostly unknown.”
Double Rainbow Kakaobar is the place to go if you´re looking for Berlin techno/house and div. electronica. Located at Godsbanen (see the picture above), close to Radar, Double Rainbow is a low-key bar that can turn up that electronica if they want. They often have after-parties following bigger events in Aarhus.
Price Range: $
Find Them: Facebook
Raum Eins is a collective, floating punk collective thingy, that most people don’t really know what is (author included). Before, they usually hosted their events at Trøjborg Beboerhus in (yeah you guessed it) the Trøjborg area, but now they host at the new venue TAPE. Follow them on Facebook to find out when they host their next event.
“I like to stand still with a beer in my hand, nodding slightly to the beat”
Well, I know this is a mean stereotype, but I do plead guilty to the pretentious nodding once in a while. There are no venues that only host these kinds of concerts, but Fonden Voxhall (See the picture above) tends to host a few. Fonden Voxhall consists of two stages, Voxhall and Atlas. Voxhall is the bigger one, hosting approx.. 700 people, and Atlas can take 300. They really manage to have concerts of all types and genres. Fonden Voxhall is not aiming specifically for Danish acts, but this autumn they have everything from Fat Freddy´s Drop to Gramatik to Sòlstafir and Cynic to Mac deMarco. Fonden Voxhall is a venue and not a bar, so it´s closed when there´s nothing going on. Luckily there is something happening every week. Fonden Voxhall lies at Vester Allè 15, down the hill from the Aros Museum. If you want to get some free concerts and get into a cool environment, try to volunteer here.
Nye V58 is Aarhus´ oldest concert hall and was closed for a couple of years until this spring. This spring they opened up again, with new owners and a completely new program. The new program consists of so much different stuff that they can´t be labelled specifically as a concert hall, but definitely take a look through their program.
“I would pay a higher price to be able to sit during a concert, every time.”
Musikhuset is a huge house filled with different stages. It is located in the middle of the city, next to Rådhusparken. They have a program filled with Opera, theatre, classical concerts but also adult contemporary and the occasional revue. Their program is also super varied, but way more pricey than the other places mentioned in this guide. We usually only visit it when SPOT Festival is present in their facilities.
Scandinavian Centre cooperates a lot with Musikhuset and hosts some concerts once in a while, along with different conferences. Scandinavian centre was also used as a stage during Spot festival. Nobody really knows what going on in the whole building. The building consists of a hotel, gym, shops, offices etc. You have to do some research to find the program specific for the Scandinavian centre