Shameless/Limitless: A Love Letter to Berlin’s DIY Music Scene

The nightlife of Berlin’s underground music scene, summarised in posters, memories and heart-warming thoughts and quotes from the artists, musicians, organizers and visitors.

Discover the vibrant nightlife of Berlin’s underground music scene through the eyes of Kevin Halpin, the founder of Shameless/Limitless. This event series has been showcasing the best of niche music since 2008, from Molly Nilsson and Mac DeMarco to Alex Cameron, TOPS, and Erika de Casier. In his latest book, Kevin compiles all the posters of the series and more, along with heart-warming thoughts and quotes from the artists, musicians, organizers, and visitors.

Want to know more about Shameless/Limitless? Kevin shares his journey from a weekly DJ night at Cafe Warschau to a festival organizer, record label owner, and now, a publishing house. He believes that the essence of a perfect S/L event isn’t tied to big budgets, exclusive venues, or complex tech needs but striking a chord of understanding with the audience, artists, and venue staff. Come as you are, and let’s make the most of this, he says.

Ein Bild, das Text enthält.Automatisch generierte Beschreibung

Looking back at the past 12 years, Kevin has witnessed the emergence of a DIY scene in Berlin that was basically non-existent when he arrived. He appreciates the art and craft of fashion but feels there’s no expectation or necessity for attendees to wear anything beyond what they feel like. S/L isn’t especially a scene to be seen, he adds.

The book also features guest texts from people who have loomed large in the S/L over the years. Kevin reviews some iconic moments during the compilation, from staging two Molly Nilsson shows at Berghain to putting on Mac DeMarco after parties, working with Alex Cameron in his early days, and more. He recognizes himself fully in S/L, which represents his values and personality.

Do you have a favorite artwork from the book? If so, what is the story behind it?

Apologies for the diplomatic answer, but there are just too many talented and unique designers and designs to spotlight just one. Some of my favourite designers were asked to contribute words to the book – I’ll let your readers connect the dots from there.

What does a perfect Shameless/Limitless evening look like for you?

As I mention in the book’s foreword, the M.O. of S/L evolved from simply doing things to doing things simply. That is to say that I came to appreciate that the essence of what makes the best S/L events great isn’t tied to complex tech needs, big budget artists or exclusive or expensively finished venues. Instead, it’s about trying to strike a chord of understanding with the audience, artists and venue staff alike, in which everyone involved is on the same positive, “let’s make the most of this” page. If that can be achieved, with a packed house and fantastic music to boot, well, we’ve got ourselves a winner on our hands.

How did this start with Shameless/ Limitless?

Alongside my friend Graeme Mitchell, S/L began in Dec 2008 as a weekly Wednesday night DJ thing at Cafe Warschau on Sonnenallee. We didn’t last long until we were relieved of our duties by the bar’s the infamous proprietor. “I’d rather have two alcoholics than 30 people sneaking in beers and costing me money by using my toilets” was the reason for our firing, if I recall.

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What has changed (pre corona) in the time since you have been doing these parties?

The existence of a DIY scene at all. I’m sure that there were people operating with a similar spirit in Berlin in the past, but when I arrived and looked around, things on the local live music front (of the sort which S/L is immersed in now) struck me as being basically non-existent. Twisted Robot put on cool shows and played a significant role in helping me transition into live stuff, sure. There were other active promoters, too, but I couldn’t discern an actual local live “scene”, so to speak. Fast forward to now, (well, pre corona), and there are numerous bars and venues, promoters, labels, publications, and of course bands and artists, who are actively operating under some kind of likeminded umbrella. It’s really been quite something to observe.

What is the best to wear at a Shameless/ Limitless Party?

Ah, S/L perhaps isn’t the ideal operation for you to be asking this question to.

Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate the art and craft of fashion, have a lot of friends in the industry, and am more than happy for people to show up looking as striking as they like.  I certainly do so myself. That said, I by no means feel like there’s any kind of expectation or necessity for an attendee to wear anything beyond what they feel like. Come as you are, I suppose. This isn’t especially a scene to be seen.

How did you get the idea for this special book project?

The idea for some form of S/L book has been in the air for years, but always seemed like a distant possibility given the significant work, costs and perceived lack (at least relevant to the costs) of interest.

The idea got a real boost of energy when, for S/L’s 10th birthday, in 2018, close friends, (including Zille Bostinius, Jana Kalgajeva and Norman Palm, all of whom worked on Please Come) surprised me with a book of posters and event texts. And so, a lot of the groundwork for the book was already laid at the project’s outset. We built on the original by further curating posters and event texts, updating the design, and adding numerous guest texts from people who have loomed large in the S/L over the years.

Did you review some iconic Shameless/ Limitless moments during the compilation of the

book? If so, which ones?

Absolutely. I could bring to mind a memory for pretty much every poster in the book (let alone the 250 + posters for S/L events that didn’t make it in), so this list has the potential to be long. Some brief memories that I’ll highlight include staging two Molly Nilsson shows at Berghain and all the excitement that came with that, putting on Mac DeMarco after parties (one sloppier and more packed than the next), and working with Alex Cameron in his early days of that project. It was incredibly obvious that he was destined for stardom, so every early show, from Silver Future to Loophole to Neue West Berlin felt special.

The book also contains words and memories of various people from the scene, is there one in particular you remember?

I very much enjoy the poetic flow and feeling of Sean Nicholas Savage’s contribution. He recalls a treasured memory of a night that he and his brother, who was making a rare visit from Canada, prepared for, proceeded to, and attended a summer 2019 party at Internet Explorer. Jason Harvey, supreme being that he is, provided an insightful take on pre covid nightlife, and the pleasures of being on the guest list, as he so often was. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the words of Kari from Ultraflex, a project which I know you are a fan of. She touches on one packed show at West Germany in late January 2020, the feeling of everything locking into place, and how the bright future seemed at the time…

As for 2021 Shameless/Limitless parties, Kevin is focused on celebrating the book and admits that the doom and gloom of the COVID era makes it hard to look beyond. However, he is proud of what has been and believes that celebrating it is the next best thing.