The Kazimier isn’t so much a club – but a way of life, Getintothis talks to those closest on their memories and reflections on Liverpool’s musical institution.
Now the madness, mixed emotions, pure anger and shock has died down at the unwanted news that the Kazimier will close its doors for the very last time on New Year’s Eve, it has given us time to reflect on what many consider to be the soul of the Liverpool music scene. We, like all involved in Liverpool’s music and arts scene, are saddened by the thought of losing such an important venue, but optimistic about whatever the team brings us next. It must be remembered that the Kazimier is only a building, and it is the creative, innovative, ambitious and imaginative group of people behind its conception that have inspired and built the community which has evolved from within the four walls.
The Kazimier has played host to an incredible variety of events, from the famous parties of the early days that so many still regard as some of the best nights of their lives, to the wide spectrum of gigs which take place today in one of the best live venues in the UK. It’s become the home of hip hop in Liverpool, hosted two spectacular GIT Award ceremonies, been a home to the hugely popular 10 Bands 10 Minutes nights and housed the best live gigs in the city, ranging from emerging Merseysiders to musical icons. Whether you’ve danced until the early hours at a Krunk party or lost your shit to Factory Floor at Liverpool Sound City, every music fan in this city and beyond has their favourite Kazimier memory.
It is a huge testament to the venue and the team’s impact and influence on the city that when we invited Liverpool’s musicians, industry figures and music fans to share their personal memories and highlights of the Kazimier with us, the responses we got ranged massively in length. We only asked for a sentence or two. Some sent a paragraph, but many took considerable time and thought and sent us full on dissertations, as you can see from the responses below.
Despite the various shades of disappointment, grief and sheer outrage that colour each response it has to be said that the overall feeling is one of optimism. Undoubtedly there will be tears shed when The Kazimier closes its doors in little over six months time, but it seems there are too many happy memories to recall to waste time in woe. It may just be bricks and mortar with a little strobe thrown in for good measure, but for many of us it has been a home, a place of worship, a Mecca and it will leave behind a legacy of Cavern, Eric’s and Cream proportions. It has become an integral part of this city and will live long in the memory.
But that sounds too much like an obituary surely? This is not the end of The Kazimier, just the first chapter. As the wise men and women of Liverpool’s music scene confirm below, it is the brains and the passion of the people at its core who carry the soul of The Kazimier. Perhaps, think of this tragedy then, as the Buddhists might, await the reincarnation, in whatever form it may come. An exciting prospect.
With half a year or so to go, there is still much to look forward to in its current, familiar state, with a full programme of events still to be announced. But for now, let’s look back on some of the finest years of music and arts in Liverpool’s history with the people who have all played their part. – Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson
Steve ‘Revo’ Miller – Club EVOL
I’m obviously saddened by the closure of the venue. It occupies a unique space and time in Liverpool as well as Europe. I remember the opening night – I’d never felt part of a free utopia before, no venue however good had ever given me that, but instantly that’s how it felt and was, and for near seven years it’s been like home, even when I was working with other venues.
The shows EVOL has done there have been unforgettable and will live long in the memory – FestEvol, The xx, Les Savy Fav, Battles, Local Natives, Fucked Up, Thee Oh Sees, Kurt Vile, Action Bronson, Caribou, White Denim, Metronomy, Sleaford Mods and so many more – in time they’ll be regarded as highly as Talking Heads playing Eric’s. We’ve been extremely lucky to have a venue that both the crowd love to go to and feel at home at, and one the bands love to play. A cultural hub.
There’s no place like it, you can’t replicate or replace it, it was created with love, and people don’t build with love anymore, and that’s why everything is beginning to look the same. The Kazimier will be deeply missed.
The Kazimier is easily one of the best venues in Liverpool, if not the best. The great thing about it is the fact that it’s run independently by people involved in the Liverpool scene. Having played there on more than one occasion and at some really great events, I will really miss it as will everyone else I’m sure.
Matthew Barnes – Forest Swords
I remember watching the very first gig at the Kazimier and it’s been great to watch it slowly transform into one of the best venues in the country. Although the loss of the venue space will be a loss to the city, I hope people will take the spirit that ran through it and channel that into other spaces and projects here. I’m really excited to see what the Kazimier team get up to next.
Victoria Smith – The Arts Club
We share in everyone’s sadness at the loss of our neighbour, and one of Liverpool’s great venues, but are glad to see one of our favourite drinking spots the Kazimier Gardens will remain. We have no doubt that the Kazimier owners and promoters of events in the venue won’t allow the loss of the building to dampen their spirits and will continue to bring fantastic events to the Liverpool gig and club calendar.
Chris Carney – Threshold Festival
The Kazimier has changed my life. It’s expanded artistic boundaries, revolutionised events, dangled drummers upside down from ceilings… and all the while it’s supported and nurtured the vast community that grew from it. Yet, ask the average Joe on Church Street what he thinks about the closure and he’ll have no idea where you’re talking about. That makes this special to the people who know how much this place means. It’s been fucking spectacular. What’s Next?
Christopher Torpey – editor Bido Lito!
Naturally I’m gutted that The Kazimier will be closing, as I’m sure a lot of people are. It’s inadvertently become the nucleus of Liverpool’s creative community over the past few years, in a symbolic way rather than a physical one. And that’s all down to the people who operate the building and come up with its amazing events – they’re the ones we should be sad for.
Buildings change hands and communities move around all the time, with the focus shifting periodically from one collective to another. As sad as it is to contemplate the end of this generation’s defining club, the excitement of developing something new is on the horizon.
Hopefully we’ve made the core Kazimier team feel welcome enough in town (since they rocked up here in 2007) to make them want to stay around and continue their madcap, inspiring adventures in another form and under a different roof.
The most recent time I was in the club I was forced to wear a cloak and was threatened with ritual sacrifice (by Impropriety at the GIT Award 2015 show) – so I’d rather forget about that. My most memorable visit has to be watching Nonni Dead paint some portraits during our PZYK NYGHT with Dead Skeletons and Follakzoid – or maybe when Adam Granduciel invited two fans on to the stage to play guitar with The War On Drugs when they first played in 2012. They turned the amps down of course…
It’ll be sadly missed, but it’s just another step on the road.
Chris McIntosh – Silent Sleep
When I went to The Kazimier for the first time, I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we’ve got something in Liverpool that you might find somewhere in Europe. A real one-off place.’ I’ve played and seen so many amazing gigs there. I’m really excited to see what they do next.
Jen Chapman – FACT
I have well and truly had some of the best nights of my life at the Kazimier, but it would still just be a set of walls and a roof if it wasn’t for the inspirational people who have injected life, music and art into it. When we think of the Kazimier, we should really think about the collective of talented people who have hugely influenced Liverpool’s cultural and musical landscape, and we are very lucky that they are going to carry on doing this at their new site.
Paddy Quinn – No Fakin’
It’s a damning indictment of our city’s politics and practices that this was allowed to happen to this creative hub in the name of progress. For me personally, The Kazimier, in its relatively short lifespan, established itself as Liverpool’s new home of hip hop. The team fully backed hip hop shows. Artists loved performing there, fans loved going there, shows felt right there…the Kazimier effect. But all things must come to an end. I’m certain the guys behind the Kazimier aren’t gonna disappear so I remain upbeat and look forward to their future endeavours.
Josh Miller – Tear Talk
There are few positive superlatives that are yet to be associated with the Kazimier and it’s impact over the last seven years, so rather than undermining a venue that is synonymous with the unique by simply regurgitating other people’s opinions, I won’t even try. RIP Kazimier.
Andrew Hunt – Outfit
It’s really sad thinking about the Kazimier shutting down. They did the unthinkable in Liverpool and created a sustainable and deeply ambitious scene. They inspired a lot of people and will continue to raise the bar whatever they do.
Dave McTague – Mellowtone
I would agree with most of the sentiment you’ve probably already read all over the internet. Of course, it’s very sad to hear the news – we’ve had some amazing times in there. It really is a wonderful, idiosyncratic and unique space, so it’s rather poetic that the venue will go out on a high with a final party on New Year’s Eve.
Sam Walkerdine – Married to the Sea
The Kazimier is really what brought me to Liverpool in the first place – well the people behind it to be more specific – Venya, Mike, Laura, Laurie and Sam. Through them I discovered an incredible city and was introduced to an amazing creative scene of which The Kazimier (and MelloMello) was always at the heart. It is a name I will forever associate with Liverpool and vice versa.
It might sound like a ridiculous thing to say (and I know I’m not alone) but experiencing The Kazimier for the first time did feel like a life-changing event – it was just so unlike anything I’d been to before that it just completely blew my mind.
My favourite memories are undoubtedly of the epic conceptual club nights – Imperium and the original NYE Kronos are two that stand out. Then there were the endless Krunk parties – none of which I really remember because, well, I was so goddamn krunked, but I know were up there with some of the best nights.
It quickly transitioned into the countries finest gig venue – still is. Standouts include LaBrassBanda (both times), The Phenomenal Handclap Band (first time) and Chali 2na (first time) – man that Chali 2na gig was so good – pure vibes! But there were so many others, every gig seemed special at The Kazimier, even the most average band would seem amazing, such was the magic of the place.
As they have said themselves, this isn’t the end, just the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new – they were doing cool shit before the club and they will continue to do cool shit after it.
Still, I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss it. I was there at the first event and I will be there at the last – Jah bless The Kazimier!
Al Groves – Motor Museum
For a long time the iconic Kazimier has been my favourite venue in town. The club has loads of character and sounds great, and I’ll be very sad to see it close. I’ve seen some outstanding bands in there, but few can top watching The Tea Street Band close FestEVOL 2012.
Change, they say, is inevitable, although when it doesn’t appear to be a force for good it’s rather difficult to embrace with open arms. The obsession with turning Liverpool, like many other major cities, into a temple to consumerism continues apace. The impending closure of the Kazimier, at this moment in time feels like another nail in the coffin of the local independent music scene.
And to the businessmen this is just another development, another chance to turn city real estate into a soulless corporate theme park.
Of course, this sort of gentrification is always dressed up as a force for good, it’s about giving people more choice blah blah blah.. pretty soon the only choice Liverpool will have is between the Echo Arena and the 02 Academy. How many upmarket, outdoor shopping malls and luxury flats does a city need?
Dress it up how you like, we all know it’s all about profit, which involves getting the current people out of the area and maximising rents. Liverpool city centre has lost much of its character over the years but there were still enclaves that did offer refuge and a choice and sense of diversity away from the chain-pub fuelled stag and hen night weekend apocalypse.
Samuel Garlick – Everisland
It’s hard to imagine what Liverpool’s going to be like with a Kazimier-shaped hole sitting atop Wolstenholme Square. It’s been THE institution of music on this side of town for the last five years.
It has birthed so many social and cultural scenes, been home to most of the best gigs, facilitated some of the most imaginative events and it’s been an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to work with them as an external promoter for the last three years and working in-house for the last year and a half. Without The Kazimier it’s really hard to tell whether I’d even still be putting on shows.
Almost all of my favourite music memories as a promoter or audience member have come out of The Kazimier; mosh pits at Les Savy Fav and Metronomy back in 2011, the imaginative Krunk Fiestas, everisland’s first proper event in 2012 with Capac and Sun Drums, mesmerising performances by Efterklang and Victor Wooten – the list could go on for a whole article alone.
Dave Pichilingi – Liverpool Sound City
The Kazimier has been a wonderful journey. There were some memorable Sound City nights in there. There are too many to recall them all but highlights for me included Thee Oh Sees, Factory Floor, Mixhell and White Denim.
However, I believe we have to be philosophical about this kind of thing. Some people fear change but unfortunately nothing lasts forever. I have been on the roundabout too long so I can recall the days of Eric’s, The State, Le Bateau, Mr Pickwicks, MacMillans, Mardi Gras and many more.
They all had one thing in common in that they all had creative, inspirational people at the helm who understood the zeitgeist and took the right drugs. Buildings will come and go but creative spirits will be the constant who will never be afraid of change and bring new ideas to the dynamic landscape of the city.
Mike Deane – Liverpool Music Week
It’s so hard to summarise just how I feel about The Kazimier, its importance to the city and creative community, and personally what this whole era has meant to me.
So often have we faced the closure of venues that have meant a lot to us and that are difficult to replace, but the Kazimier is and always has been more than a venue. So I’m just gonna write my take.
There is no doubt that The Kazimier has made the past eight or so years in Liverpool a very special time and place to be.
Following, growing alongside, and working closely in the early days with this collective, I’ve seen the journey that started with those incredible parties before the venue was ‘legal’ – arguably among the best and most spectacular parties this generation has seen in the city.
It was so new and fresh – The Kazimier quickly developed a loyal, solid and cult underground following. Everyone anticipated what the next announcement would be, the next party, the next journey they would take us on.
These parties were the (hugely elaborate) building blocks for the Kazimier to get the finances to get to each next step of creating a venue that would be the home to this movement.
Before and after each party, the building would take another step forward. A new coat of paint, a new set of speakers, a new quirky feature built by or bargained for by one of the collective. It was a gradual, fought-for, lovingly organic build. Each time I’d go in around then, I’d see significant progress.
The Kazimier, as a presence in the city, was the reason that so many creative and talented people actually moved to Liverpool, to work directly with the group, particularly around 08/09. Dance choreographers, artists, photographers, set designers, musicians, even creative individuals with accounting and legal expertise all moved and settled in Liverpool to form the seeming 1000-piece Kazimier jigsaw.
The Kazimier was creatively and curatorial cautious in translating its values and aesthetic into its show listings and live programme once it became a fully-flourished music venue. But it was also a welcoming and accessible venue, allowing and supporting young promoters to take risks that were otherwise out of reach at venues charging a standard several hundred quid plus VAT for a dry-hire.
The Kazimier cared about and fully embraced the scene it found itself at the centre of, rather than enclosing itself in its own bubble. Specialist nights & promoters such as Samizdat, UpitUp, No Fakin, Deep Hedonia, Speakeasy, Hive, Mellowtone, Abandon Silence and many others all found a home at the venue.
The venue also naturally lent itself to two of the best live regional promoters in the country, to co-exist and work side by side, EVOL and Harvest Sun. This doesn’t happen in many cities our size and I think the venue had a lot to do with this – resulting also in countless memorable shows over the years and also overturning the frustrated theme that Liverpool would often be missed on the touring gig circuit.
Liverpool has been truly spoilt over the years through Kazimier’s 460-capacity venue live music programme.
EVOL’s The xx to Caribou, the first War on Drugs show we did there with Harvest Sun, hip hop nights of No Fakin and Bam Bam Bam, from GZA to Chali 2na, to some of the most crazy shows there, Obscenic’s Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 at Liverpool Music Week and Thee Oh Sees at Liverpool Sound City.
But some of the most truly special nights at the venue were those that were produced by the core Kazimier crew and their friends and contributors.
The Krunk Fiestas, the NYE extravaganzas, the Krunk Dinner Parties and the themed events throughout the year, The Grand Opening, The Kronos, The Fantascopic Fair – all of which would sell out in minutes. Each show featuring differently disguised but familiar faces of this elaborate collective and expertly documented by the talented video makers and photographers who were also part of the core and extended group.
These were world-class underground events, the likes of which we’d not seen in Liverpool before and that we all knew at the time we were incredibly lucky to be a part of and to have on our doorstep – I don’t think any of us ever took for them granted.
There was almost a cottage industry centred around The Kazimier and its sister cafe and studios, Mello Mello. Between the venues and the studios and the people who were based or hung out at these two places, you had everything you needed to record a song, make a video, create a record, put on a show, or go on tour. Designers, producers, writers, photographers, PA hirers and costume makers in abundance all found home. The sound engineers at the Kazimier would be the first choice to go on tour with the best Liverpool bands, or to produce their records.
The time The Kazimier became an official venue also coincided with a number of other key moments that formed a new supporting structure for the Kazimier – with the start of solid Liverpool fanzine Bido Lito!, dedicated music blog Getintothis, incredibly talented film-maker Dr Treehorn, poster-artist The Horse; the birth of Liverpool Sound City and continued growth of Liverpool Music Week; and LIPA’s “Golden generation” including producer Joe Wills and musicians James Canty, Mikhael Paskalev, Tarek Musa of Spring King, also HapyTap and Electric Church Foundation that included members of bands that would eventually become Stealing Sheep and All We Are, all called Mello Mello and Kazimier home. Here was solid industry that the Kazimier was at the very centre of.
Both The Kazimier and Liverpool embraced, supported and thrived off each other. The Kazimier needed Liverpool and Liverpool needed the Kazimier.
This venue and collective gave people a reason to work hard and achieve. It was a platform, and a reason – from promoters to bands and beyond.
The venue itself matured into the best venue in the country – loved by Liverpool but renowned across Europe.
Following the show I did for American band Warpaint there in the early days, I heard the band saying it was undoubtably their ‘favourite venue in Europe, and best dressing room in the world!’, through to our most recent run of dates there for Liverpool Music Week’s 10th Anniversary – there’s a huge number of bands I’ve promoted there that have been blown away by it.
To a point where academy-sized bands who knew or had heard of the venue would jump off a 1000+ capacity UK tour to play Liverpool at this holy grail venue that was half the size. Foals and The Horrors were certainly two I knew of directly – but the Kazimier’s list of artists speaks for itself.
The final jewel in the crown was the eventual emergence of The Kazimier Garden, the fittingly beautiful legacy that will remain after the main venue is officially no more. We will look back on this time and realise just how much of a significant moment this was in Liverpool music. We all care so much about these times, the people behind them, and the venue that was at the centre of it all.
There is so much more I could say and so many more specific stories I could share. I’ve suddenly realised I haven’t even mentioned the live band at the centre of it all Dogshow, the time travel New Years Eve party which was one of the greatest and most enjoyable events I’ve ever been to, or the Kazimier crew’s largest most ambitious production to date ATALONIA, a Decent to Hollow Earth, which received glowing national broadsheet and art-world press reviews, that my wife and I were lucky to experience with long-standing Kazimier promoter Revo and his partner Pippa.
Nor have I even mentioned what a perfect setting that the venue became for the now firmly established annual GIT Award, that again, continues to receive solid national music press.
My wife and I even had our wedding party at the venue back in 2010 which the Kazimier collective fully got involved with and people still talk about as the best wedding party they’ve ever been to!
Maybe we can save more stories for another day… For many reasons, it will be a truly sad day when the Kazimier venue doors close for the final time.
But we should be happy they chose us as a city to settle in – proud that they stayed for so long – and privileged that The Kazimier has been undeniably a truly significant milestone in this city’s great musical and cultural heritage. Arguably this generation’s Cream, Eric’s or the Cavern.
Six months to go – we are living history now – The Kazimier – let’s celebrate it!