From The Cavern and Eric's to The Invisible Wind Factory. We take a look at some of Liverpool's lost past of quirky venues and newly founded musical hangouts.
The Cavern Club
It's near impossible not to mention The Cavern in a discussion about Liverpool's musical history. There's no denying the part the club had to play in The Beatles' story if nothing else, but it is possibly an unpopular truth that the current Cavern Club is not the original venue known for The Beatles' first UK gigs following their return from their residence in Hamburg. Opening as a jazz club in 1957, the cellar that housed the club was demolished in 1973 to make way for the Merseyrail Underground Rail Loop. In 1984 The Cavern was rebuilt in the image of the original, using bricks reclaimed from the original cellar with the backing of a Liverpool F.C. footballer. The new Cavern was closed due to financial troubles in 1989, but was reopened '91 and still functions to this day as a venue, but, despite famous performances by Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, and Paul McCartney, the club now leads a sort of dual life as venue and tourist attraction, with the latter function compromising the former.
Just around the corner from The Cavern, Eric's was the enterprise of Roger Eagle who bought a warehouse in 1974 and turned it into a venue, discouraging the bands that played there from comparing themselves to The Beatles and the preceding scene. Quickly becoming a countercultural hub, Eric's was hosting the like of The Clash and Sex Pistols by 1977. The venue sadly closed in 1980 amidst the financial and political turmoils of the time. The club was reopened under the name Brady's but closed within a year. Read more about Eric's in our feature by Josh Ray here.
More brand than venue, Cream was the famous club night that took place at Liverpool's Nation nightclub. Cream was the runaway success, and hence it's the name that has stuck in dance music culture's collective memory. James Barton, Darren Hughes and Andy Carroll (a former DJ at Brady's) were the DJs that instigated Cream. The events grew into one of the most recognised names in house music across its ten years (1992-2002) with visiting DJs including Paul Oakenfold, Paul van Dyk, Carl Cox, Roger Sanchez, Graeme Park, Brandon Block, Andy Weatherall and early sets from The Chemical Brothers. Nation was demolished as part of the development of 447 apartments taking its place in Liverpool's Wolstenholme Square, but the Cream brand lives on as Creamfields festival.
Falling foul of the same Wolstenholme Square development as Nation, The Kazimer closed its doors in 2016. The ambitious art scene driven club opened in 2008 taking over a previously run-down venue space and turned it into a unique nightlife experience with themed nights bringing together elements of clubbing, live performance, theatre, installation, fine art and more. The club was demolished in 2016 going out on a high with a Space age themed NYE party. Thankfully though this wasn't quite the end for Kazimer (more about that later).
The Invisible Wind Factory
After the loss of their venue, Kazimier Productions moved on from their Wolstenholme Square location to undertake an even more ambitious project. The Invisible Wind Factory is described by Kazimier as 'a cultural themepark of the future'. The North Docks factory building now houses a venue, a rehearsal space, a music studio, electronics workshop - the list goes on. Making use of the space afforded to them by the move IWF is a long way from The Cavern, and will challenge some people's ideas of what a music venue is, but with its vibrant unconventional approach it certainly stands out from the competition on a national scale.
For those that want something more Cavern like, EBGBS bears some resemblance to the aforementioned underground club, not least its cellar location and brick arches, though its name seems to make reference to the iconic New York venue CBGB. Pulled Apart By Horses, Whenyoung, Goat Girl and Twisted Wheel are just a few of the names currently filling the billings.
DROP the DumBULLS
A DIY creative space and studio housed in a previously unused 140 year old pub in Liverpool's North Docklands, DROP the DumBULLS' manifesto is to make unused spaces available to those wishing to make things of use. News stories recently put a question mark over the future of the enterprise, with some confusion as to whether or not the building was to be included in a redevelopment of the location aimed at encouraging creative independents to set up in the area.
24 Kitchen Street
Heading up the creative hub around Liverpool's Baltic Triangle, 24 Kitchen Street is a thriving multi-use space that hosts independent gigs, club nights, art exhibitions, spoken word nights and more. With its reassuringly informal warehouse feel it lends itself especially well to underground dance but the programming has something for everyone, from indie discos to theme nights celebrating key artists. You can also get a pizza there if you're hungry.
An outdoor space with a contemporary Berlin biergarten vibe, Constellations also resides in the city's Baltic Triangle. Its relaxed atmosphere has been the backdrop for recent events as diverse as exhibitions for North West photography collective Disparity, through to lending its space to the Positive Vibrations Baltic Triangle Reggae Festival, which saw Lee Scratch Perry grace its stage. The programming at Constellations goes far beyond just gigs. Its listings are the stuff that perfect countercultural summer evenings are made of.
The Shipping Forecast
While some have been judgy of The Shipping Forecast's enthusiasm for craft beers and Americanised menus full of Instagram ready burgers, the fact remains that this venue took back a space that was previously occupied by a nationwide chain of '70s theme pubs. The pub is now the kind of place where Goat Girl, the Wytches, Slaves and Don Letts have recently drawn crowds, and that is no bad thing. The Shipping Forecast might not be underground, but it's certainly a success of independence over highstreet homogeny. The flexible multi-levelled open space lends itself to different sizes and types of event - from gigs to DJ sets and more.