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a city by city guide to the best indie clubs, bars, record shops and local bands

Oslo, Norway
By Lars Kristensen

Oslo must seem chaotic to visitors, I´ve lived here my whole life and I still manage to get myself lost sometimes. This town is ”under construction”, and has been for as long as I can remember. Modern glass buildings happily sit beside 200 year old historic houses, and streets that were one-way last week could be closed this week, it´s ever changing. Parks are abundant here and people make the most of them in the summertime. Any sign of good weather and all parks are filled with beer drinking and barbecueing happy folk. Oslo is also host of Musikk Fest – a free festival for up and coming artists with live music all over town, which is always held on the first Saturday in June. The Oya festival in August is a big festival in a park in the inner city with a tradition of fantastic booking. Tickets are usually pretty hard to get for Oya. In February Oslo is annualy host to ”by:larm”, which is like south by southwest only in Oslo and in the bitter cold. There's usually lots of great shows to go to and definetely worth getting a cold for.

Visitors beware, because the inner city streets are cramped with pedestrians skipping between trams, buses and mad taxi drivers. The traffic can sometimes be quite creative as well, but I find that as fitting to this town. Its entire infrastructure seems unplanned and a little chaotic – but that only adds to its appeal for me. Generally thought of as being somewhat of a unaestetic town, the mayor's office has been busy renovating entire neighbourhoods since the Eighties. Old apartment buildings have been refurbished, and districts like Grunerlokka that was once quite run down, are now teeming with coffeshops and music venues. It's also the most relaxed and welcoming place in the inner city. A new opera was also built down by the docks to make the area more ”touristy” as well, but the area downtown around the docks isn´t really the place to go – as you will find out Oslo has quite a heroin problem and the area around the central station/operahouse is a little on the wild side. But do not fear my friends, Oslo is a treasure chest of hidden gems!


Clubs


Monodelica

Bla
Indiepop, shoegaze and Madchester club started in 2004 by two Italian immigrants as the first regular indie night in Oslo. You'll hear everything from the Stone Roses to the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart here. (IW)
(www.myspace.com/monodelica)

Kosmische Club
Revolver, last Saturday of the month
London's famous Krautrock club now resides in Oslo. Expect everything from Kraftwerk and Stereolab to Devo, Talking Heads and ESG. (IW)
(www.kosmische.org)

Klubb Contagious
Bla
Soul, funk and disco. (IW)


Venues

 

Revolver
Mollergata 32, 0179 Oslo
Small bar upstairs with a great selection of beers, you might just meet a Norwegian rockstar here. The basement is a 80 capacity rock venue with good booking policy and even better Dj´s. Revolver Kjokken serves you vegan grub at daytime. Very nice.
(www.revolveroslo.no)

Blå
Brenneriveien 9, 0182 Oslo
Initially started as a jazz /experimental club, Blå evolved into the place to be for the noise/ avantgardistic crowd. Great venue for both dancing and shows.
(www.blaaoslo.no)

The Villa
Mollergata 23, 0179 Oslo
This old gay bar was turned into indie rock grotto heaven with sporadic shows, but always great DJing. Dark, never cramped, always good. Hells kitchen is the restaurant/ bar located directly above Villa and has the best pizza in town.

Garage Oslo
Grensen 9, 0159 Oslo
This place was previously called SoWhat and is the place to go if you want loud rock music, whisky sour and the prettiest doormen in town. Rock shows and beers generally work very well together here.
(www.garageoslo.no)

Mono
Ploens gate 4, 0184 Oslo
Dark, flirty bar and venue with 60s memorobilia and old radios hanging from the ceiling. This place is always jam packed with beautiful people on weekends.
(www.cafemono.no)

Rockefeller Music Hall/John Dee/Sentrum
Torggata 16, 0181 Oslo
Calling itself a "music- and entertainment complex in downtown Oslo", Rockefeller consists of three venues. The 1350 capacity Rockefeller Music Hall, the 400 capacity John Dee and the 1750 capacity Sentrum. Everyone from Fairport Convention to The Offspring will have played one of these venues over the years. (IW)
(www.rockefeller.no)

Funhouse
St. Olavsgate 23, ing. Pilestredet, 0166 Oslo
Punk and rock'n'roll venue. (IW)
(http://funhouseoslo.no/)

Betong
Slemdalsveien 15, 0369 Oslo
Concert venue housed in the Norweigan Student's Society. The likes of Willard Grant Conspiracy play here. (IW)
(www.studentersamfundet.no/lokaler.php?lokale=Betong)


Bars


Internasjonalen
Youngstorget, Oslo.
Big bar, big windows. Take the spiral stairs to a big upstairs venue that looks like the backdrop from a skateboard film from 1987.
(www.sigarett.com/live/internasjonalen/)

Last Train
Karl Johans gate 45, 0162 Oslo
Has remained unchanged for 25 years. This small bar is littered with Norwegian rock history. A beautiful place.
(http://www.lasttrain.no/)


Record Shops


Tiger
Hammerborgsgata 17, 0179 Oslo
Simply the best shop in town, a small hole in the wall containing welcoming staff with an encyclopedic knowledge of music. They also run one of the best labels in town called Fysisk Format.
(www.tigernet.no)

Neseblod Records
Rathkes gate 7, 0558 Oslo
Metal in all shapes and forms. That Anthrax demo you wanted, that the band xeroxed themselves? They´ve got it.
(www.neseblodrecords.com)

Tronsmo
Kristian August gate 19, 0164 Oslo
Very good independent bookshop with a vast selection of art, music and prose. The comic section in the basement is amazing.
(www.tronsmo.no)

Vinyl & Sånt
Etterstadgata 11 c, Oslo-Vålerenga (ca. 15 min. by buss nr. 37 -direction Helsfyr- from Oslo Central Station)
Second hand record store with a large section of vinyl, some cds, dvds, books etc. They sell all kinds of music, but have much punk/hardcore/indie at reasonable prices. The atmosphere is quite relaxed, and visitors can grab a (cheap) cup of coffee, listen to music ...or just hang out and have a chat. The staff is friendly and makes you feel "welcome" (also to jam on the guitars they have). If you are lucky you might even be able to paricipate in a spontaneous party ...something that happens sometimes on weekends. (CV)


Local Bands


Lukestar

If Mew were better, they´d sound like Lukestar.
(www.myspace.com/lukestar)

Rumble in Rhodos
Great proggy post hardcore. These guys kill live.
(www.myspace.com/rumbleinrhodos)

Snøras
Intense hardcoreband with members from Lukestar
(www.myspace.com/snoras)

Le Corbeau
Jangly mancurian indie with french vocals. Very good band.
(www.myspace.com/lecorbeaurecord)

Serena Maneesh
Oslo's indierock popstars.
(www.myspace.com/serenamaneesh)

Årabrot
Evil trio. Just amazing.
(www.myspace.com/arabrot)

Next life
Commodore 64 having sex with metal played by two guys going absolutely mental. (www.myspace.com/next_life)

Arms on Fire
Very intense, but very catchy at the same time.
(www.myspace.com/armsonfiremusic)

Kambodsja
Chaoscore.
(www.myspace.com/kambodsja)

Izakaya heartbeat
Beautiul men playing beautiful rock.
(www.myspace.com/izakayaheartbeat)

Maribel
Take a good look at your shoes. But in a good way.
(www.myspace.com/maribelband)

Je Suis Animal
Part indiepop, part psych pop, and HDIF favourites. (IW)
(www.myspace.com/jesuisanimal)


Additional reviews by Ian Watson and Clemens Vieth


 

If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

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