Living room concerts turn into a hype

Felix loves intimate living room concerts. So he organised one. And now, his Open Door Sessions are turning into a hype. 

Felix Virmani and his flatmates love playing music, so they organised a small living room concert for their friends one evening. They never expected it to turn into such a big success, with over 200 students attending.

The new flat they moved into last October had a big living room. Ideal for playing some music for their friends, they thought. Felix, an International Relations student from Germany, had been in a band before and enjoys singing and playing the guitar. He and his flatmates invited around thirty friends for a casual evening of live music. The get together was a big success.

It was by chance that one of the guy’s former flatmates attended and brought along his camera. It only had half an hour of battery left, but he filmed the performance and decided to put a video together. The teaser included a shot of a small polar bear at the end – it’s a toy which hangs on the boys’ living room wall.

One thing led to another. All of a sudden, they had a logo and from that point onward, students in Groningen would know their music evenings as Open Door Sessions.

‘It was all a big coincidence,’ says Felix, surprised by how it all happened. ‘Everything evolved really quickly without any plans.’

70 people crammed in a room

At the end of November, Felix and his flatmates sent out Facebook invitations for a second music session. This time, they told their friends they could bring along whoever they want. That time, more than 70 people crammed into their living room.

‘That was a bit much’, Felix laughs. ‘It got too warm and you couldn’t move anymore. But it was great. I loved the encouragement and feedback. People came up to me and told me how great the concert was.’ More and more people said they would like to attend the live performances.

Felix and his friends knew: if they wanted to organise it again, they had to relocate the event. They chose the Church Mansion, a student house and former monastery. Its old chapel, which is used as a common room, was an ideal venue.

Although they had to invest a bit of money for the stereo equipment, they wanted to keep the event free of charge. ‘The idea is to experience music for free.’ Around 150 people were expected but in the end, there was an audience of 250. ‘The chapel was incredibly full. It was amazing.’

Karawane, an indie band from Groningen, was among the performers, playing some new songs. At first, Felix thought they were amateurs as well. He liked their music and decided to ask them to perform. ‘I had no idea they had a record contract.’

Various other bands and musicians are now sending him requests to take part in the sessions. ‘There is no shortage of performers. The problem is, rather, that too many people are interested.’

Just for fun

It’s the audience which makes the Open Door Sessions unique. ‘Everyone listens and is really into it. It’s very special, and the performers enjoy that.’

Now, they try to organise their Open Door Sessions every two months. Their Facebook page already has over 460 likes. Even though Felix and his friends could extend the concept further, they want to maintain the living room atmosphere.

‘We never planned to make it into a session or to institutionalise it. It was just for fun.’

The next Open Door Session will be on the 22nd of May. Space is limited, so sign up on the website or Facebook page.