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Have a Cigar - Boerderij concert hall

Boerderij Concert Hall looms tall on the outskirts of Zoetermeer, in South Holland. Behind its patchwork exterior is an exciting hub of musical entertainment with a strong emphasis on the more progressive side of things.

There are two stages to cater for bands of different levels – the main hall holds up to 750 people – making it the Dutch venue of choice for so many prog bands; IQ, Spock’s Beard, The Pineapple Thief and Mostly Autumn have all played there. And it’s Arie Verstegen’s job to choose the line-ups.

He started working at Dutch music venues in the early ‘80s and spent several years handling prog bands for a booking agency in the ‘90s, before moving across to the Boerderij 14 years ago and injecting a hefty dose of prog rock into their schedule.

“Before I came along, the Boerderij were just putting on regular gigs and running at a loss,” says Verstegen. “I thought we should host different bands to attract a new audience. There weren’t many venues here that were booking prog back then so that was something that made the shows special.” The gamble paid off and the venue now has a loyal audience who travel from around the world to see their favourite prog acts.

But putting prog acts on in the hall wasn’t just about offering something different; the director’s choice of genre has a lot to do with his personal tastes. “I became a prog fan after hearing Genesis when I was a small child,” he reveals. “It’s my favourite genre and now I have the opportunity to book all these bands. I still get excited when I watch them and I feel a responsibility to put on the newer, smaller bands too, so there’s a new generation ready

to take over. Big Big Train and Knifeworld are among my current favourites. I love the way the genre is constantly evolving,” he adds. “But I have to have the right feeling about a band when I hear their music.”

The Boerderij is mostly run by volunteers, many of whom have worked there for around 10 years. “We’re like one big family,” says Verstegen. “We’ve got a very good team because we’re all so passionate about music.”** **

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Natasha Scharf

Dark prog (and chocolate) fan Natasha has been a Prog regular since 2009. News Editor between 2014 and 2019, now Deputy Editor, she is the only member of the team to have appeared on Prog's cover.