22 Jun 2024

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It truly is the end of an era, the sun is setting on legendary New Zealand musical institution, The Kings Arms. The time has come for us to hold up our glasses and say cheers for a tonne of good memories - it's not a time that any of us ever wanted to see, but it is with a quiet resolute that we must say our goodbyes and allow the Kings Arms to breathe its last.

It is from here where a new chapter must begin, and where new stories will be created. We're looking forward to what the future will hold for live music in Auckland, but we will never forget the prestigious Kings Arms.

Some NZ musicians have shared their thoughts with us regarding the Kings Arms - thanks to everyone who contributed towards this.

"My most memorable memory of a Kings Arms gig was seeing The Bronx back in the 2004. I remember the singer spending 90% of his time in the crowd singing or crowd surfing and then the two guitarists got up on the speakers which are pretty much near roof height and they played their guitars while crouching down on these speakers for most of the song. It was so Rock n Roll and the KA was perfect venue for them. Also, it was pretty awesome when Ben from the Dillinger Escape Plan put his guitar through the ceiling at their last show. My thoughts on its closure: it's sad, and it makes me mad, it should have been made a historic building, it's a part of our culture, it's iconic, it's the perfect size venue for so many bands, I don't like anyone moving into the new apartments..."
Kris Raven - Coridian

"For me, playing at the Kings Arms was always a treat and never a chore. Great sound, great staff and most importantly, a great vibe.
Then of course there was the other side, as an audience member. Good golly I've been to some crackers at the KA. All of the above aspects from a performers perspective seemed to be magnified 100x, when at some point being in the audience transformed to being part of the audience, which then morphed into a collective surging (slightly drunken) entity with a singular purpose - to rock the fuck out!
The magic of those times will not be forgotten. RIP Kings Arms. You will live forever in our memories."
Sam French - Silence the City

"Back a few years ago, for a bunch of metalheads from the Waikato it was damn near impossible to get a gig in Auckland's legendary Kings Arms. We had seen so many of our favourite artists slay there. It was one of the holy grails of venues. It really helped motivate us to try harder and aim higher. Which we did. We busted our ass got a few opening slots then finally our own gig there. We were stoked and promised ourselves to use it as a foothold. It felt even better to outgrow the room and start playing big venues. Hats off to the Kings Arms!"
Paul Martin - Devilskin/World War Four

"I can’t think of many other establishments or institutions that are held with as much reverence in this country as the Kings Arms. It was beat down and dirty and the toilets smelt like vomit, but it was magical. It made no apologies for this and was as far from pretentious as you could get, which allowed anyone who walked through its doors to be whoever they wanted to be. It allowed us as music fans the opportunity to see bands we may have never got the chance to see and was home for almost every local band this country has produced.
Written by Wolves definitely wouldn’t be the band it is today without it and a big part of our following and live show can be attributed to it. Music in this country has definitely been hit with a huge loss but I know I can speak for the rest of Written by Wolves when I say that we have memories from that place - however foggy, that will stick with us forever."
Michael Murphy - Written by Wolves

"The Kings Arms was a home away from home for me, from going to some of my first gigs, to playing there and opening for some of my favourite bands like Between the Buried and Me, to putting on a show for another favourite band of mine The Dillinger Escape Plan, the KA is a place that I’ll treasure forever due to the many memories I have created there."
Bailey Roiall - Helgorithms

"Our DJ in Blindspott used to rap with Damian. Before the first album. He went into the crowd at KA and some guy punched him. (That one guy causing shit in the pit...) I remember seeing Damian’s feet jumping over me and a brawl broke out. We were banned. I thought it was great."
Marcus Powell - Blindspott/Blacklistt/City of Souls

"Kings Arms will be etched in my memory as one of the coolest rock venues in New Zealand, it was our Rainbow Room or CBGBs. Mark never discriminated between upcoming or established acts and pulled some huge mixes for local and touring bands of all sizes. KA had a good vibe, a great community and was an excellent local venue that will leave a huge hole in the scene. Thanks to Maureen and her whanau for leaving behind a rich local and international music legacy that will be talked about for many years to come."
Jason Peters - Hunt the Witch/Kong Fooey/Three Islands

"Coming back to NZ in 2005 the lively scene, people and enthusiasm I experienced at KA made it impossible not to dive in and make some noise as well. The wonderful sound wizard Mark Petersen not only made everyone sound great but was also the most accommodating and easy-going guy you could ever hope to work with.
Thanks, and rest easy Kings Arms, with love from The Quick and The Dead, Bearhat, The Lowest Fidelity and me. x"
Will Saunders - The Quick and The Dead/Bearhat/The Lowest Fidelity

"Standing in the garden bar of the King's Arms on its final night with a beer in hand, I realised how many of my formative moments as a musician occurred within its walls. Venues will forever come and go, but the King's Arms will always remain the ultimate venue in my eyes. Intimate but not small, big but not cavernous, a logistical and aural dream but a neighbour's nightmare, the KA is and always will be everything a venue strives to be. A special shout out to Mark Peterson, for everything he did for the bands and for us in Skinny Hobos, including still repping our shirt, and Danny Champion, whom I may never have met had she not been behind the bar one fateful Wednesday evening. May the King's Arms forever live in the memories of those lucky enough to walk through its doors."
Sam Holdom - Skinny Hobos

“I don’t remember the first time I went to the Kings Arms, or the last time I went, but god I know that those nights were good”
Ant Deane - Violet Highway

"The Kings Arms was always going to hold a special place in the history of Black Frog Management because it is the place that the first ever Black Frog event occurred. The name Black Frog only came into existence a few weeks before the show as I decided I needed some kind of name to run the shows under. That first show was the 10th February 2010 and it's now the official 'Black Frog Birthday.' It was also the first place I ran my first international event with the almighty Anvil in 2014. On a personal level I met musicians and people that became family. I've laughed and cried there, I've consoled people and celebrated lives, lost. I've celebrated birthdays, engagements and weddings. The Kings Arms to me was always more than 'a venue' it was a home. Being in London seeing everyone's posts about the end has been heart breaking. I was also here when Maureen passed away last year. While I'm here on the other side of the world, that magical place has always had a part of my heart. RIP majestic, rough majesty. You will live on in legends for decades more to come. To Lisa and the KA family, thank you for letting me part of the history, even if it was for a short time."
Sarah Sampson - Black Frog Management

"I've played so many gigs there in all the bands I’ve been in... including our first proper Stylus gig... I have such great memories of the place and it’s gonna be sorely missed."
Paul Matthews - I Am Giant/Stylus

"The Kings Arms holds a place close to my heart as it was where I basically lived in my mid/late 20's performing with Heathen Eyes and Primacy... also, where I met my wife.
It really is a sad loss to the NZ music scene, but all good things eventually end."
Jason McIver - Primacy/Heathen Eyes/The Jason McIver Collective

"I hear it's done and that's absolutely heart-breaking. Such a beautiful experience and memory for all of us, myself personally being a frontman who is a very shy guy offstage to be able to elicit a response from a crowd that size in a completely different country is something I've never taken for granted. It's moments like that which have me fighting back tears. They mean so much to me personally.
The hospitality we received being majorly unknown was unreal, I remember Broken Season said our name and the room was silent.
Then I remember us setting up, the room was so packed the side door had people hanging out of it... I looked at Kyle (drummer) as I got the signal to start.
“Auckland, make some fucking noise!” The god damn eruption was unexpected!
From those words, the entire crowd became family. I've played shows for like 15 years. That is one of my all-time favourites."
Kayyne Reid - Tensions Arise (AUS) (performed with 8 Foot Sativa on 1 July 2016)

"The Kings Arms holds a very, very special place in my heart. As a fan of music and a punter, it offered live music with great sound, not a very common combo. It was good enough to host many an international act... and my fondest memory there was being absolutely mesmerised by Karnivool, one of my favourite bands. As a muso, it offered a relatively easy path to putting on a really good show. you could be assured of quality in all departments, and your fans knew exactly how to get there and what to expect. To me it was a solid base for live music in Auckland and I am typing this with a very heavy heart."
Zorran Mendonsa

"What the Kings Arms meant to me was at first aspirational, and then became about shared experiences and contribution.
I remember once I figured out that the Kings Arms was a cornerstone establishment for all the local bands that were going somewhere, as well as some really cool international bands, that I had to play there. It featured strongly in my personal goals and Armed in Advance (then Stitches) even played their first show there, as well as some of my favourite shows with the band.
A few years down the road, going to see friends play on the stage, sharing good times with others and seeing some amazing international bands had turned this place into a real special spot for me personally.
And with respect to the faithful owners and operators of the establishment, who have done an incredible job maintaining a standard that has consistently attracted the best the music world has to offer; What this experience highlights for me, is the reason that the Kings Arms was what it was, had little to do with the building itself. It was about people getting together, listening to great music, sharing experiences, developing their own musical journeys and sharing in other’s journeys - and the awesome team at the Kings Arms facilitating that experience consistently.
Yes, it will absolutely be missed. Yet I’m hopeful that we can all find a new place to call home for the music in our hearts, and for musos to aspire to contributing to the scene that we all are a part of now. I'm looking forward to discovering where that energy will find a new home, because even though the building and the history along with it is going, there are plenty of us in the local music community who are far from done with sharing their music with this city and the world. So, here’s to the future.
...Hopefully we’re all good for Apartment buildings after this though."
JP - Armed in Advance

"For a band in Auckland the Kings Arms was how you could measure success. Everyone started playing with 4 other bands on a Wednesday night, and slowly you moved to Thursdays, then Fridays supporting someone bigger. When we managed to sell out a Saturday night we knew we were finally on to something special. That place was amazing and Auckland wont be the same without it."
James Dylan, Neill Fraser, Dave Johnston and Thomas Watts - Villainy

"I played my first show at the Kings Arms about 15 years ago as a bright eyed young musician. Even way back then it was an established NZ music institution and a mecca for us out of town artists who saw playing the Kings Arms as a significant step in our music careers. I have been to some great shows there over the years and I don't know many other kiwi musicians who haven't played this iconic venue at some stage. It's a real shame to see it go, a lot of history in this place!"
James Donaldson - Agent/Temples on Mars

The Kings Arms RNZ Archive
The Kings Arms stuff.co.nz Article
Muzic.net.nz - The Kings Arms Photo Gallery

Rest in peace, our dear friend, for the music within your walls may have ended yet it echoes on in sweet refrains.

And in the (2016) words of Maureen Gordon - "I felt quite flattered - it's nice to see there are so many people out there supporting the venue."

Tribute compiled by Lisa Jones.

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