It’s a sad day when any live music venue shuts its doors and with Karova Lounge being the newest addition to the list of fallen venues, we here at Forté are getting a bit teary.
Probably Ballarat’s most iconic live music venues, this spot has attracted some of Australia’s most renowned musicians and performers over the years, including Okkervil River, Paul Dempsey, Birds of Tokyo, 360, Ben Kweller, Peking Duk, Josh Pyke, Ali Barter, Girl Talk, Wolfmother, You Am I, The Jezabels, Boy & Bear, Something for Kate, Art vs. Science, DZ Deathrays, Thirsty Merc, King Parrot, Set Mo, Augie March and Architecture in Helsinki.
Not only has the venue played host to a seemingly endless list of Australian and international talent, but Karova Lounge also prided itself on promoting the local acts that were well on the way to making themselves known across the country, including the likes of Epicure, Yacht Club DJs, Hunting Grounds, and Goldfields.
With the impending closure being a huge blow to both local musicians and fans, Karova will round out its 15th year as its last; with the venue scheduled for major renovations towards the end of the year.
But that doesn’t mean we have to be upset for the rest of the year. I mean, did you really expect Karova to not go out with a bang?
Got an interest in Stella Donnelly? How about the Melbourne prog-metal act Circles? If neither of them tickles your fancy what do you reckon about CJ Ramone? (If a Ramone isn’t enough of a selling point then just stop reading Forte now).
I’m pointing out a few things here, the first (if you hadn’t clued on) is to get down to Karova. Whether it’s to cherish memories, a final meal of sorts to truly embrace the venues final moments or because you have never been down to the ‘rat for a gig, now is your time.
The second reason is that I wanted to highlight the variety of acts that Karova has and will continue to offer until it closes its doors.
With an honor roll as big as Santa Clauses ‘nice’ list, I thought now would be a great time to head down memory lane with a few testimonials of bands who have some bloody fond memories of playing at Karova.
“I was touring when I was 17 so I had my brother’s fake ID and we’d be playing at the Oxford Arts Factory or the Corner and they just wouldn’t know or they would know and we’d get kicked out pretty quickly after the show. But Karova..um…I don’t want to say anything to get anyone in trouble but Karova man, it was just different. I think we started playing there when we were 14/15 which would have been like 2005.”
“We also played our final ever show there which was a fucking weird night. It got quite chaotic actually. Moz almost got arrested and it was probably the best show we ever played as a band, which kind of sucked because it was like ‘ah shit, we’re just starting to get good.’ But there were a few people who got kicked out in the middle of the show and one of those people was a guy who then broke into the building next door and kicked through the wall of the toilet in Karova to sneak back into the mosh. It would have to be some of the greatest security footage ever because he’s absolutely covered in plaster. It was just absolutely wild.” -Michael Balsar of Hunting Grounds (FKA-Howl)
“We just finished doing a regional run with a few bands and obviously we stopped by the Karova Lounge recently and did our last ever show there, which was fantastic.”
“I guess when we first started playing there, no one came because no one knew who we were but over the years, we’ve built up a great following in Ballarat and played some truly wild shows there. For some reason, the only times we find ourselves in Ballarat is in the middle of Winter when it’s freezing fucking cold but as soon as we get there we’re always really grateful and made to feel welcome. The people just come out in droves and the other night when we played was easily the best show we have played there, the energy was just off the charts.”
“Gary and all the staff there have always been so accommodating and welcoming of us. If we want to play a show they let us so the relationship’s that we have built up with them over the years is fantastic and it’ll be really quite sad to see it go.” -Matt Young of King Parrot
“I think the part of the Karova Lounge we’ll miss the most is the band dressing room. Luxuriating in that wide, open space was a rare moment of peace for a touring band. A place to stop, breathe and reflect, and get ourselves in the right frame of mind to play a gig. Which usually meant climbing over a speaker cab, knocking over an open beer or two, taking a soaking wet foot out of the rider bucket and squeezing ourselves onto the stage. Also, everything else about it ruled.” -Lindsay McDougall of Frenzal Rhomb
“Over the course of 15 years, you have fostered young talent, strengthened regional music scenes and hosted incredible acts. For that, we thank you immensely. The local music scene will suffer a major blow with your doors shut but we will continue to cherish the good times you have provided.” -Forte Magazine
Thank you Karova Lounge, for your continued support of the regional music scene, and helping to bring big-name bands out to Ballarat for many years. We will miss you.
Written by Alex Callan