Tbilisi or Kiev? When it comes to music it’s getting harder to choose. The sounds of clubs like Bassiani and Closer capture pretty much everything that makes both capitals so popular: freedom, diversity and a wild spirit. This weekend Kiev celebrates it all at Brave! Factory, Ukraine’s biggest open-air festival, which is taking over a semi-functioning factory for a massive two-day event. The line-up was announced in a series of curious promo videos, once again proving Brave! is far more than a techno rave thanks to the inspiring team behind it. Ahead of the festival we’ve asked six musicians and DJs to share their favourite spots in Kiev. Cycling routes, 19th-century crypts, vegetarian dinners on velvet tablecloths, hilltop views, green urban escapes — Brave’s Kiev feels as perfect for chilling as it is for raving the night away. Get your last minute tickets here.
“Kyrylivs’kyi hai tract is one of my city highlights. Although the area around the Dorohozhychi metro station has been made neat and tidy recently, there are still a number of wilder routes leading down to the Spartak stadium — a gem most people won’t discover out of laziness. Walking down the hill you can encounter the crypt of a surgeon’s family from the 19th century, the Pavlov hospital softly lit by the last rays of the sunset or the old St Cyril Monastery. Placed together on this giant green hill they bring about a sense of peace I crave. 16.coffee is a tiny coffee spot on the central but quiet Kropyvnyts’koho street; make sure you explore the neighbouring streets Darvina and Bohomoltsa as far as Lipki. Finally, for Indian food check out Himalaya restaurant. The place is not new at all but it has never let me down — come as a group and order meals to share. As many as you can.”
When you think of the Kiev electronic scene, you think of Noizar, a Closer club resident and owner of the Wicked Bass label. Whether in his live act in a busy nightclub or on carefully curated mixtapes for independent radio shows, Noizar’s sound goes beyond conventional techno, always offering a sleek mastering, broken rhythms and nuanced, layered melodies.
“There has been a boom of new venues recently but at the same time, a lot of iconic spots have closed down, such as Khleb, Opium, Ultra, Cinema — places that defined the club culture in Kiev. Shanti tea house on the second floor of the Bessarabskiy market, which was famous for its barefoot tea ceremonies. Or Shelter at Passage, the weirdest fast-food den ever: think blood, tears, a punk crowd and wild feasts. There are still good places remaining though. One of them is Vagabond, a small place in the Podol neighbourhood with a laid-back vibe where I sample coffee and tracks for my sets — the owners of this place are true music aficionados. Most of my cycling routes run through Truhanov Island, a wild forest in the middle of the city. I cycle there every other day, just to clear my mind and to watch how the forest and I are growing together, year after year. Punkraft is a paradise for haven’t-really-grown-ups (like me) on the Dnieper river with an analogue pinball machine, two Playstation screens, an old Street Fighter arcade machine and, unexpectedly, the best meat dishes and craft beer. Lastly, there’s Cafe Select Eatery on Bessarabka: a refined cocktail joint with Killepitsch on the menu and a trustworthy crowd. I met the owner at an LCD Soundsystem concert in Berlin — and that counts for something, you know.”
Aleksandr Filonenko has been there to witness the rise of Kiev’s contemporary club scene, wowing the crowds with his killer DJ sets before finally announcing his own music project in August 2018. Monoconda’s first set was premiered at Comma!Party at UBK in Kiev and presented online with Alphabet Pt.1: a 20-minute long performance set inside a tram crossing Kiev at dawn.
“There is always beauty around you, and all my favourite spots in the city are near my place. The Botanical Gardens are a number one hideaway location — a green oasis in the heart of Kiev. The Znoby-Holembievsky museum-atelier is a truly magical place packed with sculptures. You can watch the process here too and talk to artists — it’s a functioning sculpture workshop. Chainiy Club is the place to meet new people and relax over a cup of good Da Hong Pao tea. For a true taste of Asia stop by Asia Cafe. This small place is just perfect, and don’t be surprised to be served by the owner himself.”
One of the few female artists lined up for Brave! Factory, Yana Ponura is the queen of the sunrise dance floor, weaving sweet tunes and lesser-known Japanese or Indian verses into her fluid sets.
Hryshko National Botanical Garden: 1 Tymiriazievska Street, Pecherska metro station
Znoby-Holembievsky museum-atelier: 2b Perspektivnaya Street, Pecherska metro station
Chainiy club: 7 Druzhby Narodov Boulevard, Druzhby narodov metro station
Asia Cafe: 34/2 Esplanadna Street, Palats Sporty metro station
“Check out the student halls, or studgorodok of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute. I used to live in one of the houses here when I moved to Kiev 15 years ago. The residential complex is a concoction of architectural styles: Constructivist and modernist blocks rise along the late 19th-century houses that are something like old university buildings in the UK. I enjoy it the most when the students leave the area for summer: it’s calm, and there’s a huge park nearby. I spend a lot of time here.”
Voin Oruwu’s other must-see spots in the city include Kosatka, a cozy, stylish cafeteria with ever-present buzz, frequented by creative locals and musicians on tour, and the Main Military Clinical Hospital — a grand edifice right next to the old Kiev fortress with a park inside dotted with benches and pavillions.
Originally from Kirovograd, Voin Oruwu (also known as Koloah) has quickly become one of Kiev’s most prominent musicians, whose mystic-futurist live acts add a sophisticated shamanic vibe to Kiev’s top music event, from CXEMA parties to Brave!Factory. His latest work has been released on Private Persons, a burgeoning local label broadcasting the sound of Ukraine globally.
Studgorodok: 22 Akademika Yangelya Street, Politekhnichnyi institut metro station
Kosatka: 25/2 Velyka Zhytomyrska Street, Poshtova Plosha metro station
Main Military Clinical Hospital: 16 Hospitalna Street, Pecherska metro station
“Shankara Food is a veggie heaven and a real blessing, set inside a quiet courtyard in the Tatarka neighborhood, right outside the city centre. Imagine eating by a ruined wall if the courtyard alone does not sound too appealing. Opening hours may be unpredictable, so check before visiting. Closer Record Store is Kiev’s haven for those hunting for unique vinyl, disco or otherwise, and a must-see spot for each and every DJ coming to play in Kiev. The Rybalsky cable bridge on Podol is a pedestrian bridge that has been slated for demolition for years but is still standing. It’s a sunset spot — bring along a bottle of wine and hold your breath as you see twilight settling over the city.”
If your feet are aching from all the dancing by the time you leave Kiev, then blame Boris. His wild sets represent everything we love about techno: ebullient, hypnotic patterns that seem to be able to deconstruct and recreate you on an almost cellular level.
“Vladimirsky Hill is the place to be in Kiev. And now that a staircase has been installed on Peyzazhnaya alley, there’s a cool way to get there: start at Peyzhazhka, take the stairs and turn right towards the Andriivsky Church; then keep on walking until you see the Funicular, hop on it and enjoy the views from atop the hill. If you head to Closer (which you certainly will) look out for Savage, a vegetarian restaurant set inside the art centre. Escape from the dance floor in the middle of the night or simply stop by for lunch. Gastro collabs are frequent and the drinks won’t disappoint either.”
Think beach parties or carefree summer gigs, and you’ll get a sense of the sound of Pahatam. Contemporary house that captures the best of Kiev, its charm, freedom and unhurried youth.
Saint Vladimir Hill: 1 Vladimirs’kyi descent
Savage Food: 31 Nizhneyurkovskaya Street, Poshtova Plosha metro station
For more things to see and do in Kiev, download our New East Travel Guide app. For recommendation on where to stay in Russia and beyond, check out our edit of amazing hotels and hostels across the New East.