One year ago, on a Sunday, somewhere in Oslo, I ran into a fantastic band. The band's energy, humor, and particularly its varied music, drew my attention. The musicians called themselves ‘Frank Znort Quartet’. A quartet? There were over 15 people on stage!
And although quartets are mostly found in jazz, this wasn’t particularly a jazz band. The concert started off with an ode to rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry, who had died a couple of days prior to the show - ‘Johnny B. Goode’. Halfway through the set, the band changed gears to some Dixieland, before ending with some rock 'n' roll classics, such as AC/DC's 'Whole Lotta Rosie'. I danced from the beginning till the end. I didn’t feel like leaving Blåh (the venue), and I especially didn’t want to leave the ‘Frank Znort Quartet’. Unfortunately, I had to return to Amsterdam a few days later.
I remember calling my father afterwards and telling him I had found my goal, my 'life goal'. In a few years I would return to Blåh and convince the members of the ‘Frank Znort Quartet’ that they should expand their (already rather sizeable) big band, and add one extra member: Frederike. However insignificant my role in the band might turn out to be, I felt I needed to become a part of it. But for now, all I could do was add them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram. Just a glance of their shows could make my day! I'd describe them as 'independent' and 'hippie' (don't those two words mean the same thing, in a way?), so I should have guessed they weren't as active on social media as I had hoped...
March 2018. One year has passed since the ‘FZQ’'s (Frank Znort Quartet) last sign of life. Yet – they suddenly start posting videos, stories, and live-streams on Instagram. Happy times are here again! And life couldn’t get any better when they, out of the blue, announced an international tour in celebration of their 20th anniversary! An international tour! But where to? Naturally, I do not only focus on FZQ, but also on work, my studies, and my band, so I wasn’t really aware that Amsterdam was on their itinerary. AMSTERDAM! That’s where I live, right? Before I go to bed, I usually check Instagram-stories, and so I did last Tuesday (10 April 2018). I read FZQ’s stories about sauntering the streets of Amsterdam (I think they were heading to the Red Light District, how unusual?). The first thing I did the next morning was to text them and see if they were planning on having a gig somewhere this week.
I don’t text via Instagram, not to ‘influencers’ or ‘bands’ or vice versa: they simply never answer. But that’s not how FZQ rolls. FZQ (almost) instantly responded that they indeed were in Amsterdam and were planning to perform at the hotel they were staying at. I texted everyone I know, telling them there was a FREE (who says the Dutch are cheapskates?) performance at Eden Hotel Amsterdam that they definitely needed to check out. I was at work while texting and calling all my friends. What...? No one wanted to join? Even playing the ‘free’ card again didn’t work.
I sighed... I took off my headphones and explained my frustration to my Stingray colleagues. Wait... My Stingray colleagues! They are into music, aren't they? Karen immediately answered she would love to join after her tennis workout. And so the journey to see my favorite band started.
The concert was scheduled to start at 8 PM, so here I was, 8 PM on the dot. I was waiting for Karen since she had to bike all the way from home. In the meantime, I awkwardly had a beer between all the FZQ members. I was the only guest – so far. They looked at me and said: “Hey kid, do you have any plans tonight? You should come watch our gig …” Before they even finished their sentence I called: “HAHA! I’m here for you!”. That look on their faces, haha…! Some band from Oslo comes to Amsterdam as an anniversary trip and all of a sudden they have a genuine Dutch fan standing in front of them. Karen arrived and one of the members, Daffi, told us to come back in half an hour as they weren’t really ready to play yet.
When we re-entered you could smell beer and weed, but that couldn’t stop me from liking them. After a few minutes, they started their show. Fifteen people on one stage. The hotel stage wasn’t that big, so they were standing throughout the venue. The horn section sitting at the bar (in-between songs they sure enjoyed their pints, them Vikings…), the rhythm section on stage together with a lost trombone player and two guitarists. On the edge of the stage were four others; two singers, a ukulele and another guitarist. The power they gave as soon as the first song began was what I remembered from Oslo. A – MA – ZING. Several hotel guests stumbled into the bar and watched the show. From their eyes, I could see they enjoyed it as much as Karen and I did. The music went on and on, and the band's Norwegian fan-gang also entered the room.
As the hours passed, we remembered that our alarm clocks were set for 7 AM. At midnight we decided it would be wise to go home and get some sleep (and water). I had loved the concert, again. I hope they decide to perform again today or tomorrow.
The next day, as I walked into the office, Karen shot me a grin. When I pricked up my ears, I heard the Frank Znort Quartet on the Sonos.