A storm has been brewing from event promoter and creator, Kevin Halpin of Shameless/Limitless, in the form of one mammoth DIY Berlin music scene book to rule them all, aptly titled “Please Come”. “I’ve been at work on a project which I’ve long dreamt of but never had the time for: a book which covers the high points of S/L’s last 12 years of DIY music scene nightlife (the operation is run fully independently, without any government funding or sponsorship money).”
Clocking in at an epic 536 pages and featuring design courtesy of Fertig Design, the book charts Shameless/Limitless’s event history through 225 selected posters, numerous event texts and 20+ guest text contributions from the likes of musicians (Molly Nilsson, Alex Cameron, Sean Nicholas Savage) and more. “Please Come” takes us on a colourful and wild ride through the sandglass of time of what is essentially the current iteration of the establishment of the DIY live music scene in Berlin. It includes events which spread across 45+ venues (from Loophole to Berghain and back again) and spans genres from ambient to punk to club to the backing track solo sound which S/L is perhaps most closely affiliated with.
Inside it includes poster artwork from an onslaught of highly touted designers such as Molly Dyson, Tabitha Swanson, Norman Palm, Johanna Dumet, Adrienne Marcella Kammerer, Jason Harvey and many more.
As well you’ll be able to find posters from the early or first shows from now well established artists including Alex Cameron, TOPS, Erika de Casier, Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Otha, Gents, Discovery Zone, Bad Hammer and many more. It’s completely jam packed of everything that we’ve been missing this yesteryear.
We caught up with Kevin to get the lowdown on everything Shameless and Limitless.
Hi Kevin, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into promoting music and events?
It was something I wanted to do for most of my adult life, but Berlin in 2008 was the first time and place that actually gave me the chance. There were a few key figures in the early days, including Twisted Robot, who used to promote shows at WestGermany and Festsaal Kreuzberg. I cold called them one afternoon and instead of brushing me off, they were actually kind enough to take note of my interest and eventually assist me in staging some of my earliest events. I’m forever grateful to them for doing so, and try to keep that open and welcoming spirit alive if ever people approach me in a similar way.
How long did it take you to put Please Come together?
I started working on the book during the first couple weeks of the spring lockdown. The general idea had been kicking around for some time, and a version of the book was actually made by a good friend as a surprise gift for S/L’s 10th birthday in Dec 2018. So, in many ways the groundwork had already been laid. True to the blur that is 2020, the book’s progress over the course of the year is difficult to track and recall. Things were pretty loose and free flowing up until mid September when the process of indexing, proofreading, and consulting with the dream team who worked with me on it became a near daily task.
What’s the most overrated aspect of your job?
You’ll have to first fill me in on the perceived benefits of it. If anything I feel like I have more people asking my why I do it than I do people wanting to be in my position, so I’m not sure if any aspect of it is especially overrated.
What’s the biggest mess you ever had to clean up?
I’m sure you’re looking for a funny behind the scenes anecdote, but I’m going to give you a dose of reality instead: the 550+ events that S/L has staged has obviously brought a lot of great times and positive memories (I wouldn’t have done it for so long if that wasn’t the case), but being in a position of striving to give people what they want over and over again, alongside the often-realized potential of disappointing them by not meeting their expectations, has been socially disorienting in a way that feels like its own mess which needs cleaning.
That, or, insert broken toilet at Loophole joke here.
What’s the biggest pre or post show crisis you have ever averted?
It doesn’t take a lot to dream up worst case scenarios. I feel pretty lucky about the way things have played out so far.
In the early days it often felt like a game changing crisis was all but a mere one forgotten email or misread tech rider away. As I gained experience, though, I realized for better or worse, that things basically always work out one way or another. The act of stressing itself, or responding to every issue that comes up in real time with acute urgency, has surprisingly little bearing on the outcome as experienced by the participants as a whole.
Order these from most to least important… Sound, venue, crowd, music
As we’ve learned from the past year, no crowd = no show, so at this point it seems like audience is the obvious answer. Music comes second. For people who have attended S/L events with any regularity I feel like it would read as disingenuous if I were to claim that sound was a top priority, so I’ll say venue — ideally with cheap drinks and friendly staff — comes third.
What’s your favorite artist quote from the book?
Like all things he sets out to do, Alex Cameron took the invite to contribute seriously and professionally. He submitted a piece of writing which reflects his desire to deliver quality no matter how big the stage or platform. It’s a unique trait, one which has brought him many deserved rewards. I respect the hell out of that, and so can comfortably state that his contribution is my favourite.
Another bit of writing which really stood out to me is that of Max Kaario, a friend who runs an event series not so dissimilar from S/L, called cmptrmtchmtcs in Paris. When visiting our respective cities he and I enjoy waxing philosophical over our pursuits and practices. I was impressed that he was able to boil the broad and often difficult to distill “action over application, community over commerce, fun over funding” essence of the S/L ethos down to three simple words: bros over pros.