Few industries have been harder hit by the restrictions of Covid lockdown more than independent music venues and event nights. As so many platforms for artists to perform forcibly fade into obscurity, many young creatives have turned inwards within their artistic communities to create their own nights that showcase the work of emerging musicians and DJs. The entrepreneurial spirit of the UK’s underground event industry has allowed both artists and music nights to continue engaging with fans more flexibly and intimately, filling the void left by major festivals and clubs who still find themselves shackled by ever-changing Covid legislation.
Enter STAR-GO, the epitome of an artist oriented events community that puts the fans and the music at the heart of everything they do. STAR-GO was born during the first lockdown and was created by founder Hugo Theis to recenter the narrative of pandemic life back around the artists that needed new ways to connect with their audience. His solution was to build a brand from the ground up that merged the interwoven worlds of UK hip-hop and streetwear to create a space for modish fashionista’s and devoted hip-hop heads to congregate in a community of like-minded ravers and trailblazers. When asked about his motivations in starting STAR-GO, Hugo commented that “events always appealed to me because it is a very positive environment. The artists benefit from performing their music to their loyal fans, the fans are able to have a couple of hours of pure enjoyment with their favourite artists and the promoters benefit majorly from creating a positive environment.”
STAR-GO made their event debut on September 7th at Peckham Audio, reuniting a star-studded roster of artists like 5EB, Rushy, BlazeYL & Lano with their loud and proud fans for the first time since the pandemic began. What began as a one-act agenda quickly grew to a five as the anticipation of a new underground music night grew and the announcement of a STAR-GO streetwear label sent fans into a frenzy. This level of audience engagement and community spirit surrounding the whole STAR-GO experience is the real differentiating factor between independent event start-ups and corporate-funded large scale events.
Now that their first night is in the books, the future of STAR-GO is certainly looking brighter than that of many larger events companies as their culture of community gives them a more consistent attendance rate compared to events that rely on foot traffic and corporate promotion. When asked what the goal of STAR-GO is in the coming years, Hugo replies that “the future of STAR-GO consists of helping independent underground UK music artists get the recognition they deserve with more events. Eventually, there will be a STAR-GO venue with consistent events helping more and more artists grow in the music industry”.
Simply put, when you go to an independent event like STAR-GO, you are instantly aware that the organises truly care not only about the artists and the attendees but most importantly the music itself. Their objectivity is not thwarted by a pursuit of profit but rather revolves around the bolstering of underground artistry and the genres they originate from, building a community rather than cultivating a consumer base. STAR-GO is by no means alone in this noble and necessary endeavour as many other creatives up and down the country have invented new ways to support the music they love during this trying time.
The Manchester-based Drum & Bass events company Kodiak Productions have continued to support local DJ’s and DnB heads by partnering with small capacity venues to create a platform for artists like Data 3, Charlie Brix and Amoss to launch their new albums and feel the support of their fans, filling the void left by traditional festival outlets and disbanded DnB nights at larger venues. Similarly, the continued full-scale lockdown in many parts of Europe has birthed several independent music nights such as LadiesLoveHipHop, a Stockholm based event night that creates a safe and inspiring place for women to discover and support the leading ladies of global hip-hop.
Ultimately, when times get hard…creatives create! That has long been a truism worth repeating as difficulty more often than not inspires ingenuity in any number of artistic sub-cultures. No matter what the world is facing or what creatively oppressive measures governments introduce, musicians and their fans will always find new ways of crafting and engaging. The rapid rise of STAR-GO and numerous other independent music nights is indicative of the inability of anyone to separate artists and their fans for long and a sign that the medium through which fans discover new artists is shifting away from large scale platforms and toward the communities that have always supported them.