by:Larm Venue Guide
City guides normally start in the centre of town and circle out, or they circle in from the edge of town. Since, however, by:Larm’s conference is held at Vulkan, next to the Akerselva river - we’ll start our tour of venues here.
Vulkan Arena & Pokalen
Upstairs Vulkan Arena is no arena, but it does have a devoted live programme, while Pokalen is a football pub that holds sporadic concerts on the ground floor. Both places are used by by:Larm both as a daytime conference space and for the night-time live program.
Krøsset ("The Cross"), a music pub up the steep road from Vulkan, showcases a wide diversity of music, or at least the blues. And where do you set up a club highlighting the music that the devil sold to Robert Johnson in exchange for his soul? At a crossroad, naturally.
A short walk down the river from Vulkan is BLÅ (pronounced ‘blaw’, meaning ‘blue’), one of Oslo’s most prominent venues. The premises, inside an old industrial building, play host to a smorgasbord of musical acts, and its punk-picturesque outdoor space is situated next to the river. A guide to by:Larm’s venues could in fact start at this musical focal point, because Blå additionally hosts the delegate lounge, with its inner chambers a safe haven for festival VIPs to wine & dine in peace, away from all the music.
Next door to BLÅ is Ingensteds (“nowhere”), a big, high-ceilinged space, hosting all kinds of small-scale music events. Great outdoor seating with an adjunct bar.
Up the road from from BLÅ, behind a vandalized door, and in one of the city's last squats, lies a musical garden of Eden: Kafe Hærverk (“Café Vandalism”). The brainchild of Turbonegro co-founder and legendary noise rock/jazz aficionado Vegard Heskestad, it's a living proof that underground culture can still flourish in a well-groomed society like Norway, and a petite paradise for all kinds of accessible – and inaccessible – reverberations. Its tiny stage could remind you of the kitchen of a college dorm, and it's usually packed like a college dorm, too.
Hausmanns gate 14
In the middle of the ‘festival area’ lies Kulturkirken Jakob (Church of Culture). That this celestial venue, with its divine sound, makes for an otherworldly experience goes without saying. But listen, it’s still a church, with masses on Sundays, so don’t you dare swear in this venue, unless you’re a punk troll act on stage and it’s part of your routine. Then you’re forgiven. It’s a Church of Culture, after all.
Hausmanns gate 29
From ‘Kulturkirken Jakob’, take a 90 degree turn to the right or - if you’re used to navigating with a compass - west, where you’ll find Verkstedet opposite the church. A bar and venue with a laid back atmosphere, that puts on numerous concerts with underground bands and DJs. It shares outdoor tables in the backyard with its neighbour, the nitty-gritty Oslo stayer Café Sara.
If you follow Møllergata street westwards from BLÅ and Kafe Hærverk towards the Government Quarter - which is currently being rebuilt – you’ll pass Revolver on your left, Oslo’s main indie hangout since the noughties. There’s a bar on the ground floor – or actually two bars if you include Oslo’s main metal bar Kniven next door. Around the corner and downstairs you'll find Revolver's by:Larm venue with dancing and more concerts.
St. Edmund’s Church
It’s worth seeking out this little Anglican church, an occasional host of special by:Larm concerts, which is tucked away next to Revolver and built in the English style. A sanctuary for estranged members of the Old Empire, the C of E.
Rockefeller / John Dee / Sentrum Scene
Torggata 16 / Arbeidersamfunnets plass 1
If you take the semi-pedestrian Torggata street westward from Kulturkirken Jacob, you’ll find Oslo’s three main music arenas – two on your right, one on your left, all operated by the same company – just before you end up at Oslo’s main square, Youngstorget. Bands booked at the smallest venue, John Dee, can get their gigs upgraded to the most famous venue, Rockefeller Music Hall, while the biggest, Sentrum Scene, can hold around 1750 people.
Mariboes gate 8
Last, but not least, please meet multicultural art centre Melahuset, opposite the entrance of Rockefeller Music Hall. We think you’ll get on famously.