Posts Tagged ‘concert’

Last night I went to see one of my favorite bands, Trubetskoy. Well, they’re actually the remains of one of my favorite bands, Lyapis Trubetskoy. After the band’s 25th anniversary, they basically dissolved. One of the singers went and formed the band Brutto, while the other singer and a few other members, such as the guitarist, went on to tour as just Trubetskoy. Lyapis Trubetskoy started out as much more of a ska influenced band, and they got progressively more rock and metal over the years. They hail from Minsk, Belarus, and have also become far more political in their messages and lyrics over the years.

К нам приехал Тубецкой!

I’m a pretty huge fan of the band. I listen to their music quite frequently. I saw them play in Ulyanovsk five years ago, when they were still Lyapis Trubetskoy, and my department cubicle and apartment in Pittsburgh are decorated with their posters.

Lyapis Trubetskoy posters from Ulyanovsk and a map of Ulyanovsk are what every home needs.


The concert was held in a very small club venue called Club Theatre. I went with Anne-Marie. I got her a ticket for the show as a birthday present. We had celebrated her birthday in the dorm with the full crew, and a good night it was. The pièce de résistance of the night was the surprise made by two of the other French Canadians – poutine. One had produced a packet of gravy for the poutine. The other fried up the french fries from scratch, and some Russian cheeses were used as a passable substitute for cheese curds. It was delicious and wonderful.

Poutine à la russe.

Before we went to the venue, we went to a nearby Georgian restaurant called Chito-Ra. I had found it by chance by looking for restaurants near the concert on Yandex maps. I later found out that a friend considers it to be the best Georgian restaurant in Moscow. When we got there, the place was packed, and we had to wait about 10 or 15 minutes before we could sit. The food was indeed excellent. We got my favorite khacipuri, khachipuri po adjarski, which is a delightfully decadent bread boat filled with melted cheese and a cracked egg on top. We also split an order of khinkali, Georgian dumplings, filled with a mixture of beef and pork and greens.

Georgian for the win.

From the restaurant, we walked over to the club and waited in the hallway for about 30 minutes before being allowed to walk onto the floor. The hall was tiny, which was nice because we were fairly close to the group. At about 8:30PM an opening act took the stage. They were a ska group called Faktory, and they were pretty good. They had some funny songs about social media and another about taking selfies and selfie sticks.

Around 9:00PM, Turbetskoy took the stage and opened up with their anthem and signature starting song “Trubetskoy,” which fans had been chanting the lyrics of while waiting for the group to strat. “К нам приехал Трубецкой; он как Моцарт но живой” (Trubetskoy came to us; he’s like Mozart, but alive). The chorus goes on to list a number of famous musicians in various repetitions such as Lennon, Joplin, Hendrix, and Elvis.

They gave a lively show for about 90 minutes that included a two song encore. They pretty much stuck to playing songs from two of the later Lyapis Trubetskoy albums, Kapital and Manifest, while also mixing in some of their newer songs. They sadly didn’t play my favorite song of theirs, “Kapital,” but they did play some of my other favorites like “Ogon’ki,” the video of which is what led me to discover the band. Even if you don’t understand Russian/Belorussian, I highly implore you to watch the two following videos. “Ogon’ki” or “Lights” has an interesting collage of Soviet nostalgia.

Kapital is a fun play on the modern world versus the era of Communism. I just love the chorus that says, “In my left hand a Snickers; in my right hand a Mars; my PR manager is Karl Marx; Capital.” This video has English subtitles.


The crowd at this particular concert was also interesting. There seemed to be more women in the crowd than men. Those attending were dressed in a mixture of regular flannel and jeans casual to full punk vests and plaid pants. There was also one very creepy spectator, who freaked out me and Anne-Marie. He was dressed in a jester’s outfit, and sat in the smoking area and just stared at people. We both had moments of legitimate fear upon seeing him. There was a really intense mosh pit at the show, but thankfully we were insulated by a few rows of people in front of us who intercepted the stray moshers.

Scary jester guy in the background. Zoom in for full effect.

I was slightly worried about getting home after the concert. As of the first of the month, there is a new security firm with the contract for the university. We’ve got all new guards, some of whom dress like nightclub bouncers in cheap suits. In general, they seem friendlier at first than the previous guards. I’m just slightly upset because now I have to forge all new relationships with the guard staff. In addition to getting new guards, we also have a new curfew. Previously the dorm closed at 1:00AM, which was fine with me because that’s when the metro stops running. Now, though, the dorm supposedly closes at 11:00PM. We were not notified of this change by anyone at the university, only through trial and error and word of mouth from people trying to enter or leave between 12:30 and 1:00. Before heading out, I asked the guard when the dorm closes. He said that it is indeed now at 11:00. I said I was going to a concert and wasn’t sure when it would end. He said it was ok, that if there was a problem, there’s a buzzer by the door (it took me a long time to find it when heading out), and to ring that if there was a problem with the door being closed. They’re not very punctual, though, because the door was still open around 11:15 or so when I came back.

In general, the earlier curfew is a problem. In Ulyanovsk, the dorm also closed at 11:00PM, but there the public transit stopped running around 9:00PM. My current options are to lead a very boring life and always return home by 11:00PM; be extra crazy and stay out until 6:00AM, when the doors reopen; sneak through the crack in the vehicle gate, which is under video surveillance; or to climb over an 8 foot wall between some buildings on the periphery of the university campus. I’m not entirely thrilled by any of these options.

I also have succeeded in achieving a massive personal victory in the wake of last week’s somewhat depressing situation with the DDT concert. I complained to the ticket office about how thousands of us were left out on the street in the rain while the concert started. My complaints there got me nowhere, but I also complained to the band’s tour manager, whose email address I found on their website. After a few days, he responded. Apparently my Russian complaining skills are at a very high level. He apologized for the situation and offered me tickets to any other DDT show in 2017. I responded that the offer is nice, but was also useless unless the band had any other planned concert dates in Moscow or America that were not listed on their website. Currently, the site shows only concerts in Siberia in April, one show in London, and a few shows in Israel in June. I said that it was meaningless to offer free tickets if I had to fly to a different city or country and also pay to spend a night or two there. He then answered that the band will be at a festival in Moscow in July, sadly after I already leave, and that the band is in talks to finalize a concert in New York in October. I said I would go for the October tickets, and I’m to email the guy in September to set that all up. My faith in DDT as a a group that cares about its fans has been restored.

We are sorry about the entrance problems, we apologize, and offer you tickets to any DDT concert in 2017.


On late Sunday afternoon I met Erin in the Prospekt Mira metro stop to go to the ДДТ (DDT) concert. DDT is one of the best known late-Soviet, early Russian Federation rock groups. They were mostly based out of Leningrad, today’s St. Petersburg, and have always had fairly political messages in their music.

We went to an Indian restaurant that was in the lobby of a hotel near the stadium before the concert. The food was pretty good. The staff was funny there. When we asked for the food, we said we wanted it to be spicy, and not Russian spicy, which means not spicy at all. She then asked if we wanted Indian spicy, and we responded that we didn’t want it quite that hot. When we finished our meal, the coat check guy asked if we were from America. He then said his friend had invented something for cars and he wants to patent it there. We said we didn’t really know patent law, but we said he should give it a try. He then asked if we knew a program where people design things and get to show them to potential investors. I told him that in English it’s called “Shark Tank” and he asked me to write it down for him.

The concert was both wonderful and miserable at the same time. The tickets said that it started at 7:00. We had just general admission tickets for the floor space. We arrived somewhere around 6:30 and the doors were still shut. There were literally thousands of people standing on the street in the rain. At that point, I suddenly realized why the ОМОН (OMON), aka the Russian SWAT/Riot police were the ones in charge of crowd control. We kept standing and every now and then the line would shuffle a few feet forwards.

The crowd before us to get in at 7:22PM.

Around 7:30 or so, it seemed that the concert began while at least half of the crowd was still outside of the stadium.

The crowd behind us at 7:22.

There were no announcements made about what was going on at all. I took to checking Twitter and Instagram to find a mixture of people in the stadium demanding the group come on stage and angry rants of those stuck in the mob with us. I killed time by engaging with a fellow enraged mob member through Twitter, and posted my angry photo on social media with the caption “Что такая очередь” (what is line), a pun on one of DDT’s most famous songs “Что такое осень” (what is autumn).

Twitter and Instagram were full of these. The caption says “‘Wonderfully’ organized concert – 1.5 hours after the start and thousands of viewers on the street.”

After about two hours of standing in line in the cold and rain, we approached the entrance. As we got closed, we were literally crushed in the crowd. Erin and I both remarked at how dangerous the situation was, and how we’ve rarely felt uncomfortable like that at concerts. You also begin to realize in situations like that, or just generally around in Russia, that most places here are death traps. Emergency exits are often locked or blocked in this country, and like lifeboats on the Titanic, there aren’t nearly enough.

At the door, we showed our tickets and passed through metal detectors and a bag check. We then went around to a different line where we had to get wrist bands before being let onto the floor to see the show. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about the wrist bands, which were off to the side, and had to go around some barriers and back. The organization of this concert was non-existent. It was held at the Олимпийский Стадион, Olympic Stadium, which was built for the 1980 Olympics. There was no indication of when or where people should go, and there are internet rumors that the organization was intentionally botched as a sign/punishment towards Yuri Shevchuk, the openly political and critical leader singer of the band.

Once inside, the concert was fantastic. The band was lively and played a steady stream of music plus two encore songs. They must have finished close to 10:30, so they gave a three hour concert, which is a pretty impressive feat. I got to hear them play a number of their most famous songs, including Последный Осень (Last Autumn, which I jokingly called the lesser Осень), but sadly I didn’t get to see them perform my favorite Что Такое Осень (What is Autumn). I’m not sure if they played it earlier in the show of if they oddly decided not to play one of their biggest hits. One of the encore songs was my second favorite song of theirs, Родинда (Motherland), so I was somewhat placated.

Red for Rodina.

Nonetheless, it felt like a sucker punch to miss half of the show. I was even more disappointed when I checked the news after the show. Yuri Shevchuck and the band knew that there were thousands of fans on the street who couldn’t enter the stadium, yet they decided to start the show anyway. The moral of the story is the DDT is great to see live, but anything at the Olympic Stadium should be avoided.

Other than the concert, there’s not much else to report. Work is progressing as usual in the archives. Watching Russian TV has once again proven itself to be useful for my research. I started watching a series called Мажор (Silver Spoon) on Netflix. It’s overly melodramatic and some of the plot points are over the top, but it has its uses. From a cultural standpoint, it’s a fascinating show because it’s about the son of an oligarch who begins to work for the police after some rather improbable situations. Part of the plot involves shady goings on of gangsters in the 1990s and there’s something about an oligarch connected to crime who is untouchable because he’s a member of the Duma. Only the first season is on Netflix, but the second season is available without subtitles on youtube for those who are fluent in Russian. The language of the show has also paid off. From it, I learned the word for autopsy (вскрытие), which came in handy when I stumbled upon some autopsy reports of German POWs in a collection of files of the Department for Repatriation in GARF. Watching countless hours of television has its uses when it’s in a foreign language.

Life in the dorms is fairly quiet with the exception of continuous problems with new neighbors. The French and Germans smoke in their rooms, the kitchen, and the toilet, which is unpleasant for those of us who don’t smoke. After getting into trouble for doing so, which is forbidden in the dorms, some have begun to burn incense in their rooms to try to hide the smell. As a result, the dorm halls and some of the rooms smell like a terrible mixture of cigarettes and lavender. We also have one neighbor who is about 50 and speaks only Russian and German. Based on a few conversations with her, I’m pretty sure grew up in the former East Germany in a Russian family. She speaks Russian with a slight accent, and one of the Germans said that her German also has an accent. She had some very strange comments about my research and the post-war development of West Germany, which were of a standard Marxist-Leninist perspective. She has decided that we are now friends, which is annoying for me, and also terrible when I went to leave my room at 10:00PM one night and found her standing outside of my door. I’m hoping she had just arrived as was about to knock and that she hadn’t been just standing outside my door for an unknown length of time.

I’ve also had a few good days of food lately. While over at Alla’s one day for blini, she invited me over again to have dinner with the Canadians and to bake with her. The main course for our feast was roast leg of lamb that Alla gets from a specialty market.

Om nom nom.

Alla became interested in my signature baked good for family functions, a key lime pie from my grandmother’s recipe. She was eager to try it, so I converted the ingredients into metric and headed over earlier than the others to bake the pie. I had to slightly modify the ingredients as well. I usually use cream of tartar for the meringue, but I had to try a corn starch one for Russia. The result was pretty decent, but not quite up to my usual pie. I guess this just means I will need to bake more. What a terrible burden.

Thursday was the first of the month, meaning that the archives I work in are closed for what is known as a “sanitary day,” or cleaning day. Without anywhere to be Thursday morning and afternoon, I thought I would just sleep in a laze around the dorm. Those plans were quickly changed on Wednesday afternoon when I was having tea with the Canadians. I was invited to join them for a 9:00AM showing of a recent Russian war film called “Panfilov’s 28,” which is about a somewhat controversial story about the Battle of Moscow in 1941. According to lore, these 28 men all died heroically, in the process destroying 18 German tanks from an advancing Panzer Division on its advance to Moscow. The story was spread widely through the Red Army newspaper “Krasnaya Zvezda” (Red Star), and the men became Heroes of the Soviet Union.

Subsequent investigations into Panfilov’s 28 Guardsmen immediately after the war resulted in the finding that six of the men were still alive. This information was hidden until the collapse of the Soviet Union, and most recently the State Archive of the Russian Federation (GARF) published on their website the results of the postwar investigation. The details are a little murky, but the director of GARF might have been fired for this. Despite all of this controversy, it is still a beloved war story in the former Soviet Union.

Getting to the cinema at 9:00AM, I figured the hall would be pretty empty. This was not the case at all. Our small auditorium was somewhere between a third and half full. There were also a lot of people seeing other movies at that particular, 22 screen theatre near the zoo. The attraction may have been that tickets cost 100 rubles, or roughly $1.50. The two men in front of our group were enjoying their experience like they normally would in the evening, complete with bottles of beer. The film itself was a typical, patriotic war film with long battle scenes and heroic speeches.

After the movie, I headed back to the dorms. Crossing the street to the metro, I saw someone driving a Ferrari in the heavy snow. Generally if you have Ferrari money, you should also have enough money to get a winter car. I’m pretty sure Ferraris are not meant to be driven as daily drivers, especially in the punishing Russian winters. Sadly I didn’t have enough time to snap a photo of this crime in action. I then spent a few hours at home typing up some archival notes that I had to take by hand before venturing out to meet Erin to go see the Buzzcocks, who are on a 40th anniversary tour. For those of you unfamiliar with the group, they’re a British punk band and are contemporaries of the Clash and the Sex Pistols.

The concert venue was a smaller bar/club than the place where we saw Garbage a few weeks ago called Stereo Hall. Once again, we were really close to the stage. There were also a ton of cool people seeing the concert. As Erin and I were standing around and speaking in English, another American came up to ask us a question about something regarding the coat check. We found out that he’s teaching English in Moscow. While talking with him, another nearby guy started to talk to us. He’s a Spanish student doing an exchange semester at Moscow State University, and is a concert junky. It turns out he also saw Garbage. He was very friendly and gave us the info about a website where we can find free concerts in Moscow. Then, as the four of us were talking, another guy asked to listen in and join the conversation. He’s a Russian guy who was excited to interact with native speakers.

The opening act - Пасош (Pasosh).

The opening act – Пасош (Pasosh).

The night started with an opening set from a local Moscow punk/rock trio called Pasosh. They played only their own stuff, and had quite a few dedicated fans in the audience who were singing along. They had a particularly cool song that’s entitled “Russia.” The song frequently repeats the phrase “I live in Russia, and I’m not afraid,” which is a fairly accurate description of my current life.

As a bonus, the bass player was rocking a sweet pair of Adidas track pants.img_2887

Around 9:15, the Buzzcocks took the stage to wide applause. I’m not a super fan, but I know and really like a number of their songs, especially “Fast Cars,” which reminds me a lot of one of the songs from the SNES game F-Zero (and I wonder if there is an influence there or not). To my delight, “Fast Cars” was the second song they played. They gave an awesome and essentially non-stop show for about an hour, took a quick break for about five minutes, and then gave a three or four song encore. Every now and then they said a quick word or two in between songs, but unfortunately the acoustics in the hall are notoriously terrible and we couldn’t understand what they were saying. At times it actually sucked, because you couldn’t quite be sure what song they were playing until they were roughly halfway into it. Nonetheless, I had a great time rocking out.

The Buzzcocks

The Buzzcocks

When the Buzzcocks took the stage, we were towards the front and we unintentionally became part of the mosh pit. The crowd towards the front started to mosh and we got pushed back a bit and remained on the front line between the mosh pit and the rest of the crowd. Every once in a while, someone would slam or push into us, and we would push back. It was a nice compromise.

Steve Diggle getting up close and personal with the fans after the show.

Steve Diggle getting up close and personal with the fans after the show.

After the show, the band was super chill and came to the edge of the stage and shook hands with lots of the fans. They and the roadies also were really nice about throwing or handing stuff to the crowd like the set list, drum sticks, and picks. I managed to get a pick from one of the roadies, which was pretty awesome. Unfortunately it was an extra pick, so it wasn’t used at all. I just have to not mix it up with any of the other Fender Medium tortoise shell picks that I have lying around at home.img_2913

After the show finished, we had a struggle to get our coats back. There were only two people working at the coat check, and they were overwhelmed. We stood around for about half an hour before we could get our jackets, which was particularly frustrating because we could see them across the counter. I didn’t hear it firsthand, but Erin said that a frustrated guy who managed to snag a drum stick waved it and said, “wingardium leviosa” while pointing towards his coat. Perhaps it would have worked better had he said, “accio.”

That pretty much sums up my adventures for now. It’s starting to get colder here in Moscow. We had a couple of days of temperatures in the single digits in Fahrenheit with the windchill dropping the feeling to the negatives. I have subsequently switched over to my fur hat.

Decorations for New Year's are popping up all over the city.

Decorations for New Year’s are popping up all over the city.

I’ve also become the person in the military archive that people approach when they have questions, for reasons I do not understand. One day, a man came up and asked if I could read a name written in cursive. I couldn’t, and then he tried asking the reading room staff, who gladly helped him. They also couldn’t be sure about one signature, but it’s nice to know that they may be able to help me with a similar question in the future. Then, the other day as I was walking back to my desk, a man asked me what the date was when filling out his request form. Finally, yesterday, I was working with my headphones in and then I saw a man appear out of the corner of my eye. He then began talking to me, and I had to take out my headphones and ask him to repeat himself. He wanted to know the rules for using a computer in the reading room. There were at least two other people using their computers and without headphones, so why he had to ask me will remain a mystery.

Last night, I went to go to Garbage with Erin. I had seen the ads for the concert on a giant light up screen across from a long crosswalk that I have to wait at for minutes at a time when coming home from Taekwondo. I got excited, but figured that no one else would want to go to the concert with me. Thankfully, Erin is a fan of Garbage, and she initiated an email asking if any of us ASEEES people wanted to see it.

Getting the tickets was a bit of an affair. The website refused to accept either my or Erin’s American credit card, so I decided to go on an adventure to get the tickets from the venue on Monday after I finished up at the military archive. Thankfully, Monday is Anne-Marie’s free day, so we turned it into a super adventure. She met me at Voikovskaya on the green line, one stop from the military archive, and we walked to the station for the new Moscow Central Ring light-rail, metro extension.

Cruising in comfort at almost 100 KPH between stations.

Cruising in comfort at almost 100 KPH between stations.

We rode about nine stops on that, and got off near the concert venue. I got the tickets for us, which ended up being good because there was not an additional 300 ruble service charge if picking up the tickets in person. Anne-Marie and I then popped into the major shopping center to get coffee and donuts from Dunkin Donuts while brainstorming dinner.

Cultural differences: they sell pistachio cream filled donuts in Russia.

Cultural differences: they sell pistachio cream filled donuts in Russia.

We decided to make nachos, and they turned out spectacularly.

Nacho night featuring salsa from Texas, past its prime guacamole dip that was package for the Scandinavian market, and Siberian Corona because the store didn't have the Mexican stuff this time. I believe it was the great Pushkin who wrote, "We were hungry, we were ambitious; we regret nothing, because they were f***ing delicious."

Nacho night featuring salsa from Texas, past its prime guacamole dip that was package for the Scandinavian market, and Siberian Corona because the store didn’t have the Mexican stuff this time. I believe it was the great Pushkin who wrote, “We were hungry, we were ambitious; we regret nothing, because they were f***ing delicious.”

Erin and I met before the concert and grabbed dinner at a North Korean restaurant next to the venue. The place was both exciting and bizarre. For example, there were karaoke videos playing on a TV in the room, thankfully without the accompanying music. The videos were very patriotic, and many of them showed marching soldiers, rolling tanks, and battalions of anti-aircraft guns. The menu was also both enormous and tiny at the same time. Cuisine is a very apt window into daily life in a country. The years of somewhat isolation and hardship in North Korean came across very clearly in the food. Most of the dishes were based around either kimchee or noodles in various combinations. There were a few grilled meat options, but they were quite different from their South Korean counterparts. Also, unlike in most South Korean restaurants, the accompanying plates of appetizers and garnishes, banchan, was missing.

We headed into the concert venue and had our bags checked and passed through metal detectors before dropping out coats off at the coat check. We headed up to the concert floor and moved easily towards a location that wasn’t too far from the stage. While waiting for the show to start, she said, “Isn’t this better than being at ASEEES?” ASEEES is the Associate for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, which annually runs a convention the weekend before Thanksgiving. The concert was certainly better than being at the conference. (Just kidding, we love you ASEEES. Thanks for supporting us through research grants!) At almost 8:00 promptly, the bad took the stage. They proceeded to rock out for almost two hours, which included a three song encore.

Waiting for the show to start. The Lafayette Leopard in me was excited by the backdrop.

Waiting for the show to start. The Lafayette Leopard in me was excited by the backdrop.

Oddly enough, this is the second time that I’ve seen Garbage in my life, and both times have been in Russia. I saw them as part of the Rock Nad Volgoi festival near Samara in 2012.

One from the archives: Garbage at the Rock Nad Volgoi Festival near Samara in 2012.

One from the archives: Garbage at the Rock Nad Volgoi Festival near Samara in 2012.

Like last time, they were supremely amazing. Shirley Manson is a great front-woman. In between the songs, she made sure to say hello to Moscow and thank you in Russia. She also told a great story about the band and their commitment to their Russian fans. Garbage has been coming to Russia for twenty years. She mentioned that growing up as a child in Scotland, she was told that she would never get to go to Russia because it existed behind and Iron Curtain. She then said that we always want what we can’t have, and that she had a dream of coming to the country, which was reachable through glasnost. Basically, we got a history lesson on the collapse of the Soviet Union from a Scottish lead singer of an American rock band. It was super rad. At some point in the night, she saw some fan art and demanded that the crowd give it to her. She said that she was going to give it to her father. She spoke quite frequently between some of the songs, and in fairly detailed sentences. I don’t know if it’s a comment regarding English proficiency in Moscow or the kind of people who would listen to this band, but the crowd seemed to follow along with what she was saying and cheered at appropriate moments.

Much closer to the band than the last time I saw them.

Much closer to the band than the last time I saw them.

Shirley was also quite brave before playing the song “Sex Isn’t the Enemy.” She gave a short speech about tolerance and dedicated the song to the LGBTQ community. I thought this was bold statement to make given Russia’s very conservative stance on those issues. They’re supposed to return to Russia again later as part of their world tour promoting their new album, so hopefully no troubles come of this.

Shirley Manson is a fantastic performer and seems like she never runs out of energy.

Shirley Manson is a fantastic performer and seems like she never runs out of energy.

The crowd was absolutely into the show. Everyone was jumping around and singing along. The band did a good job of mixing some of their most popular songs like “Stupid Girl” and “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” with their new material. The only downside was that the drummer and famous music producer, Butch Vig, wasn’t playing. Due to health issues, he’s grounded stateside and can’t travel with the group. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic evening, and I’ll definitely go see Garbage again if given the opportunity to do so.