- See your hilarious and heartwarming memories of Karova Lounge at the bottom of this page
Tributes from some of Ballarat's favourite musical sons and daughters have come pouring in for Ballarat's premier gig venue after its closure was announced.
Owners of Karova Lounge revealed on Monday it would be closing in October, after it celebrates its 15th year bring music to the masses in July this year.
The venue was opened in 2004 by late Ballarat music identity Paddy O'Driscoll.
Gold Fields songwriter Mark Robert Fuller said the Karova Lounge stage was the first venue he ever played, and his "whole life has been shaped" by the beloved gig space.
"The whole reason we were able to play music was because that place was there, and they gave us as a chance and supported us," he said.
"It's one of those places that has a magic about it ... when we were touring and we said were were from Ballarat, everyone had fond memories of Karova."
Fuller said all of his memories of growing up happened inside the walls of the gig venue, and he met his partner, later the mother of his child, at Karova.
"It's hard to measure how much it means, because it's pretty much been everything," he said.
Fuller singled out a night in 2009 where American DJ Girl Talk performed to 300 sweaty punters as one of his favourites.
The Courier's journalist Meg Rayner reported Karova Lounge quickly turned into a sauna that night, with the "ceiling-fans doing little to cool the room, as security squirted water onto crowd".
It wasn't long before Gillis (Girl Talk) began to remove some clothing - a stage antic he's famous for - and the guys in the crowd followed suit, sweat dripping off them as they pumped their fists to the beats.The Courier journalist Meg Rayner on the 2009 Girl Talk show at Karova
Owner Gary Wilson told The Music in the wake of the closure that it was "getting tough" to run an independent live music venue.
He said the "perception from the outside is that all these places are doing well, but it's not so much the case".
"Maybe the cost of everyday living has affected what people can spend on things outside of their normal stuff," Wilson told the music publication.
"You can always argue that there needs to be more support from [government]...it's hard to really pinpoint why and how it's happened, but there are just a few factors that have lead to it."
Gaz from the Yacht Club DJs said on Facebook the "distance that this bar went in the creation and nurturing" of the group was unparalleled.
"I met all my best friends, forged a career and a future in this basement. I've left parts of myself in there forever. Not a day goes by that I don't have a conversation, professional or otherwise, that can't be linked backed to those days."
"We would have never existed without this place."Gaz from Yacht Club DJs
Art Gallery of Ballarat curator Julie McLaren told The Courier the gig venue was the scene of some of her favourite memories.
"It's revolting and gross and sticky and sweaty and I've had some of the best nights ever there," she said.
While being the spiritual home for plenty of up-and-coming Ballarat acts, such as Hunting Grounds and Yacht Club DJs, Karova Lounge has also played host to many popular Australian and international musicians. Angus & Julia Stone, Josh Pyke, The Jezebels, The Troggs, Gang of Youths, You Am I, Something For Kate... the list of killer gigs goes on.
Local musician Rhiannon Simpson said she cut her teeth on the Karova stage, playing her "first proper gig" there as part of The Mimes while in Year 9 at Ballarat High School.
"It was always a big goal of ours, when we started the band, and it was sort of the rite of passage for Ballarat bands," she said.
"Your goal was to play Thursday night slot at Karova. And you knew no-one would be there, and your parents would have to be in the crowd, but that was like the stepping stone.
"Once you did that, it was about getting a good support slot on a Friday night, and then eventually headlining ... your whole sort of career progression could have been contingent on Karova.
"But it's been the fate of a lot of venues lately ... it's not overly surprising when you look at the trends."
Kevin Mitchell, the front man for Jebediah, who performs his solo work as Bob Evans said, "The Karova Lounge always felt like a little slice of 90's Fitzroy whenever I walked down those stairs and in to the darkness. I think that's why I always felt so at home there. She will be missed."
Triple J presenter and Ballarat local Bridget Hustwaite said on Twitter she was "absolutely heartbroken" by the news of Karova closing after 15 years of bringing international acts to Ballarat.
"The backbone of live music in regional Victoria and a huge influence on me growing up as a music fan. Gutted!"
What do The Courier readers remember about Karova Lounge?
"Too many memories!
Sitting on the floor in the back room with Tim Rogers playing an impromptu acoustic set, then passing the guitar around.
Ben Ottewell from Gomez playing an outstanding solo set.
Standing with Paddy O, watching Even play." - Tim Baker
"Seeing 360 and Pez at all 3 shows....damn where's my cousin going to play in Ballarat now...so saddened with this news." - Michelle Reid
"Being able to play there surrounded by friends and family at such special and raw times." - Candi Wade
"I will always remember the beautiful familiar faces of karova. From my first to my last show and every time I partied, It was always like one very big family. Memories that will never be forgotten." - Ash
"As slightly older people it was just so amazing to see a mix of new bands as well as classics from the 90s such as the Cosmic Psychos, Hards Ons and The Beasts of Bourbon play in Ballarat. Walking down the stairs felt a little like descending into hell, but with big fans and beer!" - Clare and Duncan
"No matter who is playing or what event is happening everyone is a friend at Karova, you share connections through music and it will be sad to see that go." - Lauren Riddl
"Seeing Snake Valley cover Paul Kelly on Christmas Eve" - Lachlan Reynolds
"Coming in week after week to marvel at Rhysy's unquenchable thirst for pineapple cruisers, truely a spectacle as noteworthy as many of the performances that took place on the hallowed stage." - Gaz
"Spending all of my youth and twenties at this amazing venue. Plus all of the amazing bands over the years. Will be sorely missed!" - Waldo
"Seeing young people have an opportunity to perform on stage for Battle of the Bands every year." - Alex Williams
"Dancing like no one is watching. Grinding up on the speakers to the Saturday night DJs. Seeing Gang of Youths. Meeting the girl of my dreams." - Charles
"Playing to 200+ people at our charity show, April last year, it was one of the best nights of my life. I've had so many wonderful times at Karova and it makes me so sad to hear it's closing, but I wish them well, and I hope Ballarat's music scene can still flourish." - James Pedersen
"I met the love of my life at Karova at the Peking Duk street party! I love you Bec!" - Todd
"Joel Batchelor from butterfunked making sweet sweet funky love to the mic" - Caito
"Annoying Tristan and Mark by requesting 'Close to Me' by The Cure every single night.
Chucking My Generation and Dirty Old Town on the juke box every single night.
Being a rat bag with Kate and dancing like mad whether the room was packed or empty.
Walking up to the bar, picking money up from the floor and buying drinks with it.
When they got cider on tap but it wouldn't pour properly so you got 1 or 2 half glasses of failed attempts with every pint.
Feeling at home there, going 4 nights a week and being mates with all the staff, punters and regular acts.
Lock ins and skipping the line to get in through the back door.
Way way too many favourite memories!!" - Ellen
"Getting the chance to play shows with King Parrot , Hollow World , Amberyse and many more through the years getting to headline this venue was amazing it was home and some of my best memory's and friendships where created in this venue I'll miss it." - Brock
"Playing some ripper gigs there." - Jack Moncrieff
"I remember kissing a sweet girl named jaymie, but she was the one that got away!" - Matt Sandford
"An introduction to the Southern River Band last year, supported by Immigrant Union.
The Sunday arvo gig with The Supersuckers was great too. My one and only introduction to The Good Time Aussie Bogalars." - John from Geelong
"Playing gigs Diminished Reason and Kohl. Met my soon to be husband there and enjoyed many live gigs there. I will miss Karova dearly, it will always hold a special place in my heart." - Sarah Georgeson
"Being blown away seeing "Heaven the Axe" for the first time, and then a few years later, supporting their gig at Karova with "Infernal Bliss". - Brianna
"Seeing SAFIA the night of the 2014 grand final with all the boys, that was a sweaty one!" - Dylan
"Paddy O and his passion for nurturing Ballarat musicians" - Peter B
"Getting our fake IDs stolen by the bouncer when we were in year 11" - Gavin Byron and James Sullivan
"The ATM always taking ages to give out money" - Sarah
"DJing there 4 nights a week for the first year or so of the place being open and seeing more and more people come in on Friday and Saturday nights. Seeing The Presets play to a dozen people, then playing their tracks to packed dancefloors only months later. So many memories, they'd take days to recount them all!" - Tristan James
"There was this jerk called Trent there who kept p*****g in people's pints, hanging around the free drinks table and insisting to anyone foolish enough to listen that potatoes roll up hills?" - Jake Ewings
"King Brothers from Japan with locals Lymes and Yard Apes! What a great night!" - Mitch
"Meraki Minds with Rhiannon Simpson & The Triple Delta" - William
"The Peking Duk street party" - Nick
"When Nickos owned the room one balmy Movember night." - Freddie Mercury
"Lizzie Mcguire V Hannah Montana $5, 2017" - Tia James
"The Great Man, Paddy O, behind the bar." - Obe
"Travalley" - Lem
"Seeing Good Wives Live" - Matt Martin
"Playing support to BloodDuster" - Brad Hitchens