A lost Liverpool music venue known for hosting up-and-coming and well-known acts was considered a ‘rite of passage’ for musicians in the city.
In September 2005 Korova opened in Liverpool city center and became a “cultural hub for musicians”. Located on Fleet Street in what is now the site of Black Rabbit, the venue was designed by Rob Gutmann, Evol promoter Steve “Revo” Miller and Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu of Liverpool band Ladytron.
The venue had many rooms, including a bar section and a basement for concerts, with artists like Klaxons, 2manydjs and Florence & The Machine performing there in its time. At one point, Korova also offered daytime food, and patrons could pull 60s-style televisions from the ceiling to watch old movies in their bright red booths.
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In the late 2000s Korova moved to Hope Street, but in 2010 the site was hit by a devastating fire. The venue later reopened as Frederiks.
With Korova’s first house, Rob Gutmann said the company’s “bread and butter” was not to focus on the city’s “underground indie-style bands”. Rob told ECHO: “I am just a huge music fan and i love going to gigs and it was just something i always wanted to do – open a cool music venue that played all types of bands i would want to listen to.
“I also thought that at the time Liverpool didn’t have many promising small groups. The name comes from AC Orange lock. J he movie is one of my favorite movies and there’s an iconic scene where the main protagonist is in The Korova Milkbar and it’s a very interesting place even though it’s not real. I thought it was the right thing to call a bar.”
Steven ‘Revo’ Miller, of EVOL Promotions was Korova’s promoter and booker and said the venue had been planned for a year before it opened and their ideas “started to come to life”.
He told ECHO: “I remember walking around the envelope of the hall before the work started with Rob, Richard, Danny and Reuben, and then once the work started it was a race for to be open for our opening night when To My Boy where the band first performed and The Rascals headlined The paint was still drying when we opened.
“There was a great vibe, Korova was designed to be a cultural hub for musicians and it worked instantly, we spent a lot of time on the playlist, lineup and aesthetics and it all fell into place. , and very quickly it felt like a community and there was a sense of belonging and pride among the crowd. I remember the first time I walked out of the basement and into the main bar and that I’ve seen all the rock ‘n’ roll faces, haircuts, jackets and scarves.”
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The design of the place was a collaboration between Rob, Richard Eastwood of R2 Architecture and Sam Weihl of Burn graphic design, who together wanted to create a “cool hangout” with a look that was both futuristic and modern. Rob said: “We had things like an old jukebox and we kind of juxtaposed some of the modern elements with more traditional things, like the bar itself was a Victorian bar and it looked a bit moved but worked fine.
“We had old movies back in the day and had these crazy ’60s TVs all over the building that you could pull out of the ceiling so you could watch them in your cabin. We did all kinds of weird and wonderful theme nights. “
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Up-and-coming musicians from all over the city and beyond came to play on site. Big names included Mark Ronson, and the location also appeared on the cover of Arctic Monkey’s debut album.
Revo said: “We had a lot of bands coming through, Korova was seen as a rite of passage for Liverpool, we had some standout shows like Foals, Friendly Fires, Reverend & The Makers, CSS, New Young Pony Club, Klaxons , The xx, 2manydjs and Florence & The Machine… It was the meeting place for the embryos of artists who could build up their audience in Liverpool before moving on to the biggest venues.
“The chaos of the 2manydjs party for Evol’s second anniversary and sitting there thinking about what we had done, the two nights with Ladytron and seeing them crammed on stage with all their analog gear and the New Years parties where we would have about 10 bands playing and a full house with a special atmosphere.There are so many moments that I remember, from the comments of the bands coming off the stage who loved playing there to the visits of famous Hollywood directors and bands and DJs more established.
In 2009, ECHO reported how Korova was to close its current premises and cross downtown to Hope Street, relaunching in the former Roadkill venue, next to the Philharmonic Dining Halls, which at the time had been targeted by Tesco. But the following year, the Hope Street venue was hit by adevastating fire, sufferingextensive water damage and flooding to main bar, ground floor and basement.
At the time, the p romoter frantically rearranged Korova-booked gigs and searched for alternative venues. In 2011, it was announced that the venue would reopen, but not as Korova and instead seek a new operator. And in 2013, the site reopened as Frederiks Bar and Restaurant.
Both Rob and Revo said the place is still known to this day and spoken of fondly to this day. Revo said: “Korova always seems to come up in conversations.
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“A lot of things came out of it, the shows influenced a lot of Liverpool bands and because it was a special time people have great memories. It’s always interesting to hear things from other angles. because you have your own memories, but there are stories that come back that even working there you don’t hear about until 15 years later.”
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Rob said he wishes Korova was still around in some form and talks about reviving him have been brought up over the years, but in some ways it’s good to remember and love him as he was in the past. He said: “The idea that we achieved something that people told us was special, that Liverpool musicians say ‘we were in a band when we were younger and we played Korova, we loved it this place” is more this broad sense of satisfaction. I think our aim was to create a venue that will be remembered for a long time in Liverpool.
“What made the hall not only beautiful – I still think the inside would look cool today – but it was the musicians and artists who played there that made the hall what she was and gave her the reputation that she endured, which is why she is still remembered.
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