Sunday, 9 June 2013

Rock Steady

Writing a thesis is a Sisyphean task – forever laboring to roll a rock up a hill only to have to roll right back down. One needs diversions, and what diversion is more apropos than – wait for it and groan– rock n’ roll! There are many small venues in Utrecht city center. To name just two, there is the Tivoli, which has a diverse agenda featuring everything from reggae to metal, and the Oude Pothuys, located in a werf kelder and featuring free local live music every night at 10:30 p.m. Being able to walk or bike home from a show makes for a very hassle-free outing. But what about big concerts at major venues? I recently ventured to two such events, one at the Amsterdam Arena, and one at the Ziggo Dome. Next door to one another, both venues are located a short walk from the Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena train station in southeast Amsterdam, less than 20 minutes by train from Utrecht Centraal station. 
First, Rush at the Ziggo Dome, a multi-purpose venue which seats 17,000. The acoustics are great, the food, from La Place, quite good, and the venue incredibly clean – so clean, in fact, that we did not hesitate to sit on the floor, which was spotless, with no sticky patches of undetermined origin. And, despite a sold-out show, entry was painless and buying food or using the W.C. entailed no long waiting lines. Like so much in the Netherlands, it was very well-run, well-maintained and very organized! I went with a friend by car. In the USA, leaving a show typically entails finding one’s car in an enormous parking lot with very few exits for thousands of cars all leaving at the same time, meaning you can spend nearly as much time getting home as you spent at the show. However, the parking garage at the Ziggo Dome was not the least bit crowded, likely because most people go by train, and getting in and out was a breeze. We made it back to Utrecht in record time – 40 minutes after the show ended!
Next, Muse, with Biffy Clyro and Bastille opening, at the Amsterdam Arena. A massive soccer stadium seating 51,000, the acoustics are mediocre and the food is typical stadium fare, pizza and burgers. However, despite the size of the venue and the crowd, getting in and out proved painless; there are specific entrances that must be used for each seating section and thus no bottle-necking at one entrance. Going by train this time, the post-concert exodus made for most crowded train station that I have ever seen! A tide of people all waiting to get through OV chip scanners, it was a surprisingly jocular crowd with no display of ill temper. In fact, the backlog of people waiting to go up two escalators to the train platform resulted in a few hardy souls running up a downward escalator, becoming a spectator event in itself with much cheering from the crowd! Once at the platform, we managed to squeeze onto the next train that arrived. The conductor cheerfully announced on the loudspeaker that the train was “lekker druk,” and we were on our way. It was a short 20 minute ride to Utrecht, and despite everything we were still back about an hour after the show. 
If only I could rock my thesis as easily! Alas, time to stop rocking and get back to rolling…  

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