On March 30th, 1968, Cosmic Relaxation Center Paradiso opened, a new cultural venue that was designed to nurture creative talent. You would be hard-pressed to ignore the Paradiso, an old, ominous-looking early 1900s church from Old Amsterdam, but even still, the faded red brick exterior hides a hub of musical activity.
Located just off the Leidseplein, a key nightlife hot spot in the Netherlands (yes you can find most things you are looking for around here), many of the surrounding buildings have seen modernization, but the owners of the Paradiso have been sensitive to keeping the original features intact. The best venues always have musical heritage; convert an old warehouse and you might have created a trendy venue, but the sound quality might be lacking.
The Paradiso is a cultural icon in the Netherlands, housing two halls and the 1500-capacity main area with a vaulted ceiling, large balconies, and stained glass windows framing the stage. It really makes for fantastic photos and an excellent atmosphere, but with an intimate twist. The second room holds 250, and is usually reserved the for the latest and greatest acts trying their luck.
Concerts in Holland can be an altogether different prospect, and the Paradiso was one of the first venues to tolerate the usage of soft drugs in house. Things moved on a bit, but these days the liberal atmosphere has tightened a bit (in line with the rules laid down by the government).
The venue’s sound was originally plagued by echoes due to the original acoustical design of the building, but improvements over the years now ensure that a crisp, even sound can be enjoyed by all. The walls are just as fond of the bass of rave parties as the eclectic indie and crossover acts that frequent the stage. Paradiso has seen established acts including Amy Winehouse, Nirvana, and Bloc Party, but has also helped to bring in the latest acts, including Lightspeed Champion, Kings Of Leon, and Franz Ferdinand in their formative years.
There have been dozens of legendary gigs, particularly from the Rolling Stones, who rank their Paradiso performance as one of the best they ever gave. And the Paradiso has always been on the edge of innovation, with initiatives such as Fabchannel — a now sadly defunct service that would allow you to watch concerts from the web, live and post-performance.
Fabchannels demise is directly linked to another worrying prospect: the future of the Paradiso. Cultural venues are expensive thorns in the local governments side, and the council have long been looking into relocating the Paradiso in order to redevelop the plot of land it currently sits on. The good news is that they are listening to all those who have enjoyed the Paradiso over the years: the fans. The future of the Paradiso is secure, for now at least. Cant stop the music…
Faith No More – “Epic” (Live @ The Paradiso)
1017 SG, Amsterdam,
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