KU Bar, based on Prince Regent Street in Stockton, was opened 15 years ago and has steadily gained a reputation as one of the best music venues in the North East for both live music and for its various club nights.
The venue, now owned by Jimmy Beck, has featured legendary acts such as Arctic Monkeys, Blossoms, Milburn, Pigeon Detectives, The Enemy, Wolf Alice, The Sherlocks and the 1975 over the years and also continues to champion local artists.
I spoke to some people involved in the local music scene who hold KU Bar very dearly in their hearts.
KU Bar co-promoter and organiser, Simon Shaw, explained the ideas that have made the venue a formidable presence on Teesside: “I believe it’s a big part of the ‘Teesside music scene’.
“Myself as a musician before I joined the team would always look at KU gigs as the ‘bigger’ gigs in the area (amongst a fair few others because Teesside has a lot of cool promoters and venues) because of the opportunities that can come from supporting/warming up for bands playing across the UK.”
“Bands have gained from just turning up to the gigs at KU and just talking and meeting the headliners/other supports – so it’s a healthy place to get involved in, plus we’re all dead nice.”
Charles Keen, who has performed at KU Bar in various projects, had only praise for the venue: “During the nine years of my time playing in live bands, KU Bar has proved itself to be my ‘spiritual home’ when it comes to gigging.
“For me, KU Bar is one of the greatest venues in the North East area. During the early days of my musical journey, I had become accustomed to playing back rooms of pubs to college mates and had no idea what difference a professional venue could offer.
“The first time I played KU Bar, I was drumming in Randy and the Handstand Band. I will never forget the thud around the room as I sound checked my bass drum – I felt like I had made it! I’ve also played with various other bands to which I can say I was a massive fan of, including Young Rebel Set, Fly With Vampires and Sound of Guns, to name a few.
“Live music aside, KU Bar also offers one of the best club nights around and you will regularly find me there on a Friday night with a soco and lemonade in hand.”
“KU offers the best music around during the club night, with indie bangers and a bit of everything else being played across 2 rooms. There really is something for everyone!”
Charles’ former band mate, Jak Benoliel, reflected on his experiences of KU Bar: “KU Bar was always the venue to play for any aspiring local act because you weren’t just guaranteed a good gig; you were guaranteed a good night.
“We played two or three Boxing Day bashes there, one of which was our reunion and (probably) last ever gig and they always sold out. It was packed from back to front every time and you’d be on a high all night after playing because the atmosphere was always top notch.”
“I’ll also never forget our first gig there supporting Goy Boy Mcilroy. We didn’t have a clue who they were at first but when we turned up we were all in stitches laughing at their singer, Dave, backstage (who’s a really funny guy) and then they got on stage and totally blew it out of the water. We’ve seen a few hidden gems of bands there over the years.”
KU Bar has clearly created some very memorable music moments over the years and I’m left with full confidence that it will continue to do so.
To keep up-to-date with KU Bar, and to see their upcoming gigs, head to Facebook.com/kubarstockton.