Subculture Weekender: Oslo

The best music hang-outs in Norway's capital

Monday 8th January 2018

Cezinando performing at Parkteatret, Oslo. Photo: Jonathan Vivaas Kise

The capital of Norway, with its natural air of mystique, Oslo has a reputation as one of the best places to live in the world. Like any thriving city, the truly vital culture lies in its clubs, venues and hangouts. With the smaller ones often the most supportive and diverse when it comes to emerging movements and subculture. We take a trip and investigate some of the places that give Oslo its uniquely reserved yet modern Nordic vibe.

Parkteatret, Oslo

Parkteatret
Built as one of Europe's earliest cinemas in 1907, Parkteatret now boasts a bar in its foyer, a performance space in its screen room and a small recording studio in its projection room. The venue, based in Oslo's Grünerløkka district, is notable for having an 18 plus age policy for most of its gigs unlike many other clubs in Norway which have an age limit of 20 or 22+ years. The programming is a mix of national and international artists with UK bands on the calendar including The Hunna and The Vamps.

Cafe Mono
Opening in 2001 Cafe Mono hosts literary and political events as well as live music in its varied event calendar. Intimate gigs from local artists sit alongside book launches and debates in a schedule punctuated by visits from international artists.

"Oslo is a great city for music lovers cause you can catch big artists playing on relatively small stages and get closer to the artist and the music than in other places where they play bigger venues." - Stine, Cafe Mono

Cafe Mono, Oslo

Krøsset
Housed in an old mid-19th-century brewery Krøsset was opened by and is still run by musicians. AKA The Crossroad Club, the venue now has associations with blues and rock of all sub-genres but also plays a part in Oslo's world music festival, Oslo World. 

BLÅ
Located in downtown Oslo BLÅ hosts over 400 events a year, establishing itself as one of the leading hotspots in Norway within the alternative sector of the venue/nightclub scene. Recent and upcoming bookings include Norway's finest alongside international artists such as Sex Swing, Wolves In The Throne Room and Liars.

Råkk & Rålls
Oslo's mecca for buying and selling vinyl, not to mention books, films and musical ephemera. Råkk & Rålls is more than just a second-hand record shop.

The Villa
Considered one of the best places for house music and dance music in Europe, let alone Oslo, The Villa attracts dance music exponents the likes of Blawan and Bonobo, and its dancefloor was once graced by an off-duty Debbie Harry. 

Last Train
Arguably the current home of punk in Oslo, Last Train put itself on Oslo's musical map when its barman booked post-punk Television Personalities to play at the bar in 1990, setting a precedent for future billings. 

Hærverk
Sharing its name with a Norwegian punk band, both band and venue take their name from that of a controversial anti-establishment Danish novel published in 1930. Hærverk specialises in experimental and alternative music.

Gamla 
Originally an early 20th Century bowling alley, Gamla became a music venue in the 1950s, becoming known for country music in the 1980s, before diversifying into broader programming through the 1990s, eventually becoming a centre for Oslo's urørt movement of roots music (the word urørt translating as untouched).

Grünerløkka Lufthavn
Translating as Grünerløkka Airport, Lufthavn is a not for profit organisation that includes the management and booking at the Mir cafeteria as well as a gallery and workspaces for artists and providing access to equipment for musicians.


Some other fine Oslo venues of varying size and specialism include:
Herr Nilsen
- A place for Jazz and Blues, the Herr Nilsen Jazz Club is one of those venues that thrives on its niche status with its 150 capacity. 
Rockefeller - Three stage entertainment complex pulling in some of the bigger artists to pass through Oslo.
Revolver - Two venues in one with a main bar and basement stage.
Verkstedet Bar - A small, relaxed bar with live bands.

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