October 4, 2013
by Tjeerd van Erve
Here we are, Hall Of Fame; a youth centre, a hide out for the subversive, a skatepark – mostly a skatepark – and a small stage. Dogs wander in and out the old factory hall based on the defunct marshalling yard of the NS – still the biggest railroad company of the Netherlands – whilst skaters manoeuvre through them and their – mostly older – owners. Signs on the wall saying “Do Not Skate Here” are considered wall decoration to be ignored, as are the symbols telling you you have entered a non-smoking zone. Personnel, considered misfits, drop-outs or too subversive in other places, kindly remind the youngsters of the rules, which they then silently oblige even though you see the boys (and occasional rolling girl) think; Why walk, when you’ve learned how to ride?.
There is a hint of freedom in the air, like in those old cultural squatting centres. That feeling that any second something can, no will happen, almost an autonomous zone. A feeling cultivated by the architecture, which mostly left the old factory in tact, with the tow bridge still – dysfunctional, I guess – still floating in the air. A perfect hang out for adolescents to grow in to young adults that’ll make the changes in a later stage of the life. And a perfect backdrop for your better independent rock, away from the hassle in a place where pints of beer are still reasonably priced. “Berlin……, I heard people whisper during Incubate, with little sparks of love in their eyes. But this is Tilburg, a city which cultural life is typified by its citizens initiative. A city where top down is distrusted, not out of ideology but by nature.
An ideal climate for Hall Of Fame to flourish, you should say. But there is a downside to the story; to many people yet have to discover the road to Hall Of Fame. Many great concerts happen before too small a crowd, mostly due to lacking publicity. Surely it can’t be the price of the tickets, which never exceeds five euro (which equals three beers and some change at the bar) nor can it be the (live) agenda which has had great indie-bands such as Raketkanon, Reiziger, Nouveau Vélo, Space Siren and many other attractive (Dutch) names on the bill. But as with every youth centre, Hall Of Fame lacks the means to start a decent agenda-propaganda. And besides that, there is the location itself. It is just a five minute stroll from the lively centre of town, but hidden from view and only twenty metres on the “wrong” side of the tracks only those who pay attention and know, know how to find it. Especially now that the city is working on making the area more accessible, the skate park and stage an adventure to reach, keeping it kinda isolated for now. Of course the roadworks should change that and the coming of more cultural activities to the former marshalling yard will probably bring more people to the hall. Still, it is a pity – almost shameful – to see Reiziger play a kick as noiserock show in front of one lost dj, a likewise lost journalist, the opening act Nouveau Vélo and a handful of die-hard concert visitors and Hall-adepts (kudoos for Reiziger, though, for still giving it their 120%, whilst only a week later they’d play a sold out AB in Bruxelles, opening for The Breeders).
Still the cultural outpost deserves credits. Not only for the atmosphere, but mostly for the bookings. Even with the limited budget, the self chosen limit of five euro entree-fee and the relatively unknown name the stage has an on going adventures program going on, range-ing from tekno to reggae, hiphop to noise rock and even free-jazz and your regular elektronic noise party. All with a strong focus on local, regional and national artists that might not have another stage to perform because the miss the – now a days so much needed – commercial credibility. Hall Of Fame does not book to sell beer, but to be a platform of the unknown but loveable on a highly accessible stage whilst harbouring the outcasts and dropouts at the same time.