Student - 5 april 2012

If you want to read, go to a café

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No more 'Sshhh...'from a stern librarian. 'Quiet is the new loud, baby!' Popcultuur Wageningen fills the library every month with its successful series of concerts.

Well over a year ago, Mart Schellekens, Lieuwe Brouwer and Marijn der Meij were looking for a new musical venue. And they found it in a pretty unlikely place: the Wageningen library. Singer-songwriters of the shoegaze genre can perform here. Anything goes, as long as it fits in the hushed atmosphere of the library. Even now that the novelty has worn off, audiences keep coming. In fact, they are growing, as the concert of 29 March made clear. Before the band started up we had a word with the trio behind it all.

Why do you choose the library instead of a cosy pub?
Marijn: 'In the pub, people are usually more interested in the beer than the music. Well, not always of course, but quiet music comes into its own better here.'
Mart: 'People here are genuinely interested in the music. In the pub, singer/songwriters often find it hard to make themselves heard above the noise.'
Marijn: 'Many bands think it's a great experience to play here. We even get emails asking if they could perform in the library.'

Did you expect it to be such a success?
Lieuwe: 'We didn't expect that it would be such a consistent success. On the other hand: it is Thursday evening and it is free, so why wouldn't you come?'

What is Popcultuur Wageningen's aim?
Lieuwe: 'To get more pop music, more performances, and more creative bands in Wageningen. We are concentrating on students to achieve that.'
Mart: 'Our niche is the alternative pop scene, not just banal entertainment like you get at student societies.'
Lieuwe: 'Maybe banal is not quite the right word.'
Mart stands his ground: 'As far as I'm concerned, you can leave it in.'

How is pop culture doing in Wageningen? Is there a lively scene or is there not much going on?
Mart: 'There is a lot going on in the Netherlands, and that includes Wageningen, but the bands here are little islands, and they don't really work together.'
Marijn: 'There isn't really a scene here like there is in Utrecht or Nijmegen. Good bands soon move to those places. Wageningen is somewhat out on the edge of things.
Lieuwe: 'Actually it's pathetic that a student town like Wageningen doesn't have a pop venue. Since Unitas closed down, there is really nothing in the whole town.'
Marijn: 'All the more so because there is interest. Just look at the library concerts; we attract bigger audiences than well-known writers.'

The concerts are free and yet the bands have to be paid. So who is your sugar daddy?
Lieuwe: 'The library pays us for this. They are keen to stimulate regional culture and we take care of the organization and getting an audience. We also get some funding from the province.
Marijn holds up a gold-coloured Miffy piggybank. 'Tonight we are going to go round with this for the first time. Maybe then we can sometimes bring in some of the more expensive bands.'

What sort of music are you looking for, for these concerts? Can we expect metal as well?
Lieuwe: 'We are mainly aiming at acoustic music, but the main criterion is that it fits the bill for this venue.'
Marijn: 'We have had plans for an acoustic metal band, but nothing ever came of it.'

Tonight's band is 'Eins, zwei orchestra'. The room is full and people are even sitting on the stairs. The counter where books are normally borrowed from is now full of beer, ready for sale. With his beard, tight trousers and slickly combed hairstyle, the singer looks the 'pop' part to a T. He shouts out in amazement: 'Wow, we are playing to a sold-out library!'

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