Right outside of KC, at the junction between dilapidated industrial sprawl and rural Missouri fields, sits Farewell, a music venue, coffee shop and bar owned and operated by Max Popoff.
With his wide-framed glasses and thick septum piercing, Popoff, a Denver native, is immediately recognizable as a lifelong music DIY-er. His space, which welcomes everyone from punks and metalheads to emo enthusiasts and the LGBT community, is the embodiment of the DIY independent music scene.
“I think a lot of people’s takeaway from this place is still just a question mark,” says Popoff, whose involvement in the DIY scene began when he and his twelve roommates turned the basement of an old church they called home into a music venue and started hosting shows and performing with their own bands there.
In many ways, Farewell’s existence, with its sticker-plastered surfaces and collection of much-loved couches, is a testament to the dedication and creativity that makes Kansas City’s DIY scene flourish. On any given day at Farewell, you might find touring bands from Australia playing, local pop-ups such as Halla-Peño serving tacos, or two punks exchanging numbers in Farewell’s industrial backlot.
But Popoff says his venue is just one part of KC’s vibrant, intricate creative network. Popoff recalls KC’s rambunctious party scene when he moved to the city in 2016—one that he quickly fell into. “I had never seen so many young, leather-clad punks doing wall-to-walls,” Popoff says. “I think it made me really excited about DIY in Kansas City.” At the time, there were just a few venues operating, such as Holy Cow and Riot Room, but Popoff and others wanted more affordable, informal spaces to congregate and host independent musicians. Rather than looking to traditional stages, the DIY music scene turned to house venues.
One such locale is The Green House DIY, a music space Nate Morley created just a few years ago in his home’s basement. Morley welcomes all sorts of alternative folk to his basement club: punks, crustpunks and weirdos of all genres. “I learned about DIY shows through my brother’s house in Springfield and decided when I got my own place I was going to do that in Kansas City,” Morley says. The Green House is now a vital part of KC’s DIY community, including other house venues such as Pussy Palace (now Kitten Castle) and Club Sandwich, pushing to provide comfortable, open-minded spaces where people meet and connect. “I’ve met so many of my friends from doing this, and a lot of people have told me the same,” Morley says. “A few bands formed here. It’s really cool to be able to be a part of something in your community that creates meaningful positive changes in people’s lives.”
Regulars of The Green House enthusiastically relay stories of helping bail out water from a faulty pipe bursting mid-show or jamming with strangers cross-legged on the carpeted concrete floor late into the night.
The DIY movement’s longevity is due to its members’ admirable yet simple desire—friends wanting to support friends, or, as Popoff says, “wanting a place for the homies to come and play.”
Farwell is open Tuesday–Saturday from noon–1 am at 6515 Stadium Drive, KCMO.