5 bands from Amsterdam that won’t let you sit still

It is a mystery to me why haven’t I written about my favorite Amsterdam musicians before.

Good news number one: it’s never too late.
Good news number two: it’s not electronic music.
Good news number three: this is all very very danceable. In some cases, freaky-danceable (just invented the term, by the way).

Ah, bands from Amsterdam! Not the good old classics, not the über famous ones. Real bands that are composed of real people who make real music and play in real concerts that real people attend. Some of these musicians are folks whose activity I follow closely because I KNOW that whatever they are involved in, it’s bound to be good (or simply put, bound to make me happy). This is how I have seen a couple of these bands a few times already (Furake, Conjunto Papa Upa) and don’t seem to get tired of it. If you’re into dancing like a freak, this is possibly going to be your pool as well. Let’s jump right in.

Oh, also, there’s a giveaway by the end of this article.


Furake is an experimental project which has West African music at its core. It combines n’goni, balaphone, trumpet, electronic sounds, and drums. This mix makes for a reinterpretation of traditional African Malinke melodies, with a twist. I marveled at their dreamy musical atmosphere at the Magma Festival in Noorderlicht, last summer.


This band is a real energy injection. The first time I saw them was at Doka, on a Sunday evening in 2014, by complete accident. I had no idea who they were nor that a band was playing at the venue that night. Nine dudes looking no older than 20 playing brass instruments as if there were no tomorrow and setting the audience completely on fire: this is the image I have of that night. Their mix of afrobeat, ethiobreak, Turkish psych and cumbia is highly contagious, hence the popularity of these guys. They have gotten so big, they’re playing next in… Carré!


Technically this is a one-man rap / hip-hop / spoken-word show. I first saw Benjamin perform at SHFT Happens, and his poetry struck me. There is a realness to this rapper that is impressive. Not only do you feel his music & lyrics come from his gut, but you also see a musician who is giving his everything on stage, in all his vulnerability. That’s powerful. Later I saw him again at Paradiso, during the launch of his second album, accompanied by a band of young musicians that have totally enhanced his performance.


This band brings us a shake of the most perfected Afro-Caribean grooves with cumbia and psychedelia. I read that what they do is “Afro-Caribbean space disco”. Well, labels apart, just listen to this madness and try to stay still if you can. They are going to play tonight at Paradiso Tolhuistuin and I can take one of you with me! But please, listen and read further.


If they’re playing in Amsterdam I usually don’t miss their gig. Seeing Conjunto Papa Upa is a musical voyage of Latin American flavors, to a place where good old salsa meets samba, Caribbean rhythms, funk, surf, and psychedelic grooves. Their sound is innovative and ancient at the same time. For me, all of this means three things: dance, dance, dance. That’s what I’m going to do tonight because these fine gentlemen are playing at Paradiso Noord, Tolhuistuin, together with the Mauskovic Dance Band. And you are still on time to come with me. Find all you need to know by the end of this article.


WHEN: March 16, 20.30 (yes, tonight: I like last-minute plans!)

WHAT: The Mauskovic Dance Band + Conjunto Papa Upa

WHERE: Paradiso Noord (Tolhuistuin)

WITH WHO: In the company of yours truly


Via Amsterdive’s Facebook or Instagram (you have until 11.30 to participate!)

Want to read more stories? You can follow Amsterdive on Facebook for all updates. Note: I have been doing daily Instagram stories on adventures (and nonsense), which you can check out here.

2 thoughts on “5 bands from Amsterdam that won’t let you sit still

  1. Pingback: When What Where – August

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