In Eindhoven Metal Meeting Part 1 the relationship between the City of Eindhoven and the Heavy Metal scene was clearly traced back to the Dynamo Club and the birth of the Dynamo Festival.
In 1981, at the tender age of 16, André Verhuysen and a friend founded the Hard Rock Cafe (notTHE Hard Rock Cafe!) within the Dynamo Youth Centre in Eindhoven and before the year was out, booked the first ever live Band to play the venue, Raven, who played a sold out Show to just 300 ecstatic fans. As time went on Live acts became the norm and in 1986, to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Dynamo Club, Andre put on the
first ever Dynamo Open Air ON THE CAR PARK outside the club. Bands such as Satan, Angelwitch and Onslaughtplayed to an audience estimated at 7,000, all allowed in for free.
The appearance of Testament, making their European debut in 1987 and the 15,000 who turned up to see them, proved a “Bridge Too Far” (anyone get that one?) for the small town centre of Eindhoven and the Festival was to move via the Skate Rink to the military base at the airport when the numbers began to exceed 30,000. In 1994 Dynamo Open Air entered the Dutch record books by achieving the largest and longest lasting traffic jam in the history of the Netherlands! At the same time, with a massive 70,000 attendees, it became the largest Metal gathering in Europe, possibly the world, a long way from just 300 less than a decade earlier. Check out the audience in the video below.
The demise of the Festival was really finally cemented in 2003. Having been forced to leave the airport site which was under redevelopment for housing, Dynamo was struggling to find a permanent home that could accommodate such large numbers for the three days the Festival had now grown to. After a disastrous 1999 at Mierlo (when Metallica headlined) when another huge audience had encountered horrendous sanitation problems and massive traffic delays, they thought, in 2001, that they had found a new home near Arnhem only to see the Festival cancelled due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in Europe. A subsequent U turn by the local farmers saw them homeless again.
In 2002 everybody was happy when Nuenen, adjacent to Eindhoven announced the development of a leisure park that would incorporate within this “Green Area”, an Event Arena with electric, plumbing for toilets, hard standing areas and plenty of space for camping. Dynamo was invited to make Neunen its new home in 2003. This was a dream come true, both for the Festival organizers and the local economies of Neunen and Eindhoven who had previously benefitted greatly from the massive influx of people attending the Festival.
Who could possibly have dreamt that a local ornithologist strolling in the park in the Spring of 2002 and who spotted a bird’s nest in one of the protected trees that grew within the environs of the proposed festival area, would lodge an objection to the planning committee in Neunen, stating that the level of noise and disruption afforded by such a large Festival, would drive the local bird population away from their desired maternal homes during the nesting season (which more or less ran alongside the festival season).
The objection was upheld and Dynamo Open Air was to finally to give up the fight. A return to Nijmegen in 2004 and the site of Dauwpop in 2005 both for one day Events saw the identity of Dynamo further diminish. André Verhuysen, the man who started it all would probably have laughed at the suggestion that nineteen years on, his 300 metalheads would turn into more than half a million adoring converts who to this day will tell you that there isn’t, never has been and never will be anything quite like Dynamo Open Air.
The Dynamo Club remains with the distinctive sign over the door reminding us of those heady days, and in December we’ll be there celebrating at the Eindhoven Metal Meeting “After Show Party” and enjoying its continued association with its musical roots.