Category Archives: concert review

Combichrist. Moscow 13.07.2017

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Perhaps, I’ve been more of a shut in recent months. Perhaps, my music taste is too narrow and I don’t enjoy most mainstream bands but, in my eyes, 2017 has seen a decline in foreign musicians performing in Russia. At least the ones *I* like. Despite this, new albums and singles have been pouring out all over web, and I’m having trouble keeping up. It’s so good to see many of my favourite musicians continue to create art regardless of political changes. In fact, I envy those who can pour their worst moods and emotions into a creative outlet as my own productivity has suffered the past 2 years, as can be seen by how little I post here.

But I digress.

The last time I saw Combichrist was sometime between 2014 and 2015. Many industrial, metal, and alternative bands were touring at the time, and Combichrist was drowned out by bands I enjoy more. Not to say that I don’t enjoy their music, but since they’ve shifted from EBM to industrial metal, they have become less my cup of tea. I have found their latest album, “This Is Where Death Begins” the least memorable as a whole, though there are some standout tracks.

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Nevertheless, their plan to come Moscow was a much needed excuse for me leave the house. I had been worried about being late as I arrived past the official starting time, but like many bands, they started an hour late so I hadn’t missed anything as there weren’t any local opening bands anyway.

When the band finally took to the stage, the crowd erupted in relieved and eager applause and screams. Andy’s charisma and energy pulled the crowd together like a priest directing Sunday mass. People of all ages, all around me, bounced, screamed along and punched the air along to the beat. Despite the band being known for regularly changing band members, the chemistry between all the band members are undeniable. They had all come together to satisfy their fans and play their hearts out. Most of the songs came from the last 2 albums, but some old favourites like “Blut Royale,” “Shut Up and Swallow,” and “Get Your Body Beat” appealed to new and old fans alike. Andy also expressed how much he enjoys playing in Russia for the very warm welcome he always receives from fans. I would agree as Russians as notoriously passionate to the point of sometimes becoming crazy obsessive.

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The whole concert lasted about an hour and a half and it flew by in a blink of an eye. Once Combichrist had played their last song, I was stunned that they had finished as I had felt that they had just started. In fact, I felt more energetic at the end than I had at the beginning and didn’t feel any fatigue despite having screamed my head off, jumped, danced and thrown my arms up for over an hour. And this, is what I believe to be a test of a truly good live band who are so dynamic that both the musicians and audience leave the gig full of positive electrifying energy that will carry them long into the night. Thank you Combichrist for returning to Russia and I hope you’ll keep coming back.

 

Set list:
what the fuck is wrong with you
blut royale
scullcrusher
throat full of glass
no redemption
zombie fistfight
exit eternity
my life my rules
get your body beat
shut up and swallow
can’t control
maggots at the party

the evil in me
never surrender
sent to destroy + we were made to love you

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Best Gigs of 2016

Today is the first day of a new year and new month. But before we can dive into 2017 and everything is has planned, I’d like to look back on the all awesome gigs I attended this year. My current policy is to stay away from large festival gigs as I believe paying exorbitant prices just to see one band in the lineup is just not worth it. So I’ve been sticking to smaller clubs for those in the know. Sadly due to health problems and overall low energy, I was not able to do individual reviews for each concert, but I’ll give a general summary of all of them.

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My brother was able to get me last minute ticket to this show for my birthday and it really pumped a lot of energy into me in the beginning of 2016. Please see previous post for a full review.

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As I’ve been venturing more into the obscure side of alternative music, I came across Das Ich while searching for something different than mainstream industrial. Those guys give absolutely INCREDIBLE energy. It was hard to believe that they still rock out just as hard as when they’d formed in 1989. Despite not understanding all the words, the power of their performance conveyed everything they had wished which is a mark of a group with a truly international reach.i3__qyayunq

Considering that Russia doesn’t have a very big, organized or loyal alternative fan base, observing the Witch House genre and scene expand here has been like a very quirky sociology project. Bands like Dita RedRum, Cult of Cain and Fraunhofer Diffraction have gained cult following amoug young “baby bats” or those first dipping their toes into nu-goth. Such gigs either tend to have a very small audience, or are packed to the max, making it quite uncomfortable, even for a seasoned concert goer like myself. Moreover, going to any witch house gig is rather annoying as young drunk and high teens have created a new rave culture as normal clubs and discos are often over-priced and very face controlled. I feel like a rare flower for attending a gig to actually enjoy the music and sway like a 90s goth doing the tree dance. Sadly even for me, this young unruly crowd has become a deterrent from going to more concerts of this type. I must be getting old.

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Second year in a row seeing them and they always bring their A game. A rare opportunity to dance EBM and really let it all hang out.

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Much like Hocico, Alien Vampires’ harsh EBM brings the connoisseurs of industrial, EBM and overall darkling who not only mosh but also dance. Yet another opportunity to wear my biggest platform boots and stomp my heart out all night.

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I was quite uncertain what to expect of this band as attending had been a last minute decision. Their last album hadn’t particularly stood out for me. I had hoped their live sound would have been more EBM and Industrial but it the combination of harsh metal guitar and screamo vocals still made it work. Very down to earth guys who were more than happy to exchange hugs and selfies afterwards.

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This was Aurelio Voltaire’s 3rd year performing in Russia and each time it just gets better and better. I’m surprised that he has quite a sizable audience here since it does take an advanced level of English to understand his jokes and puns but at the end of the day, rum and vodka brought us all together. I cannot sing this man enough praises. Even though he’s unable to bring backing musicians on tour, forcing him to keep it acoustic, his sweet deep voice and guitar do not make the music boring. Each of his songs are always incredible well written and there is something for everyone, the goths, the nerds, or anyone who likes silly alcoholic karaoke-type singalongs. He bares his heart and soul on stage every night and truly values his fans as he never leaves the club until he has met, hugged and taken photos with everyone. What an extraordinary man who shows that being a label-less musician with big dreams and hard work, one can do anything!

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The crowning jewel of the top of 2016 was of course IAMX. Despite still being placed in the alternative category, much like Placebo, IAMX have a huge young Russian teenage girl fanbase. If you think you’ve seen big metal head guys moshing, that’s childsplay compared to what lengths young women will go to get the tiniest taste of their idols. This was my 4th time seeing them in Moscow and the whole band exudes sex and filth and an energy unlike any other. People may have differing opinions on how Chris’ writing has changed album to album, but no one can dispute how they deliver every song on stage as if it may be their last. While listening to the albums is fun, this is a band which MUST be experienced live to feel the real devotion and intense connection between an artist and their fans.

 

That’s all folks. Let’s hope 2017 will be a better year for all of us. Cheers!

 


Ahmad Tea Music Festival 27.06.2015

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I had not originally planned to attend this festival. Seeing the lineup from previous years never particularly inspired me. I usually don’t consider a festival worth it if I am only interested in one band but I figured for just 800 Rubles it would be nice to check it out. I had never heard of East India Youth prior to this festival. I was aware of The Libertines primarily due to Pete Doherty’s notoriety with the English press, though their music never particularly interested me. I’ve known The Wombats since 2007 when they released their first album, A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation. I remember playing that album over and over again and really enjoying their upbeat melodies riddled with bitter, heartbroken lyrics. I had attended one of their first gigs in a small club in Columbus, Ohio in fall of 2007 when they were still fairly unknown. I had watched their sound became more commercial when This Modern Glitch came out in 2011 and I lost interest in the band. Once I saw their name on the poster for the Ahmad Tea Music Festival, I decided to give the band another listen. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed Glitterbug. Each song was very catchy and upbeat but contrasted with Murph’s signature rather sad and depressing lyrics. I think this aspect of very honest lyrics of difficult relationships and anxiety is what appeals most to me about The Wombats and what makes them so successful.

The weather was predicted to be grey and rainy, just like the weekend before. But this time, I was prepared with water-tight shoes and a raincoat. Arriving at the outdoor venue at Muzeon Park at 5.30, the rain had temporarily stopped and the atmosphere was quite cheerful. Small booths were preparing a variety of street food including vegetarian falafel which made me happy. There was also an assortment of imported beer and cider, as well as free Ahmad tea from the sponsor. People started filling the space before the stage, as well as the wooden platform to the left with haystack “seats.”

The first performer on stage was East India Youth. It was quite impressive to watch just one man play 3 different instruments at once. It felt like the guy had brought the rave party he has in his bedroom every night unto the stage. His music didn’t particularly move me, or the audience, who showed a much greater preference for rock than electronic music, though I do give the guy credit for trying.

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After a short break, The Wombats came on. The stage lit up and so did the crowd. The guys played a selection of songs from all of their albums, though the majority of songs were from their newest album. They started strong with “Your Body Is a Weapon” and kept up the high energy throughout the whole show. They played my favorite song from the new album “Headspace,” as well as older popular tracks such as “Kill the Director” and finished with the crowdpleaser “Let’s Dance to Joy Division.” The crowd had jumped and clapped along and quite a lot of people sang along to the lyrics. It was nice to see that they were truly appreciated despite being a supporting act. They really had not changed in the 7 years since I’d last seen them and rocked out just as hard as when they had started their stage career. Good job Wombats!

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The Wombats had brought up the energy of the crowd, which was now quite large and filling up the whole territory of the Muzeon Park. Much to my surprise, Pete Doherty came out to the left of the stage where my friends and I had been standing and offered hugs and autographs. Many people rushed over and got a chance to meet this idol. How very sweet of Pete.

Right before The Libertines took the stage, the 2 big screens framing the stage flashed some images of The Libertines. This mini-documentary stirred the memories of old fans and provided context to those not so familiar with the band. Once the guys appeared on stage, the crowd exploded with cheering and hollering. It was amazing to see such a positive crowd reception at such a relatively small festival. Just the day before The Libertines performed in front of thousands of people at the Glastonbury festival and yet they were just as excited to play in Moscow for a crowd willing to bear the rainy weather. Despite their dark past, each member looked healthy and sober. They played a long set which had the crowd dancing and jumping the whole time. They were not the most energetic of bands and Pete looked mostly disinterred on stage, though that didn’t seem to bother the audience. A part of the wooden platform on which my friends and I were standing had collapsed under the weight of the people, but people kept on rocking out till the very end. Despite not knowing any of their songs, I still jumped and cheered along as audience energy was intoxicating. Pete even managed to say “thank you” and “cheers” in Russian. Once the band had left after their encore, the drummer stood in the front of the stage and yelled “You are all libertines.” No words can possibly summarize the evening any better. Although they were not the headlining act, I do think that The Wombats gave a much more intense and captivating performance.

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The Libertines

The Wombats Setlist
Your Body Is a Weapon
Jump Into the Fog
Moving to New York
Greek Tragedy
Be Your Shadow
1996
Headspace
Party in a Forest (Where’s Laura?)
Patricia the Stripper
Techno Fan
The English Summer
Kill the Director
Give Me a Try
Emoticons
Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)
Let’s Dance to Joy Division (with extended instrumental outro)

The Libertines Setlist 
We’ll Meet Again (intro)
The Delaney
Campaign of Hate
Vertigo
Time for Heroes
Horrorshow
Begging
The Ha Ha Wall
Music When the Lights Go Out
What Katie Did
The Boy Looked at Johnny
Boys in the Band
Can’t Stand Me Now
Last Post on the Bugle
Death on the Stairs
Up the Bracket
Tell the King
The Good Old Days
Encore:
You’re My Waterloo
What a Waster
Don’t Look Back Into the Sun

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As a sidenote, I would like to mention one major fuck up of the Ahmad organizers. The Afterparty of the festival had been advertised on Facebook as an open event with no charge for the entry. The description stated that The Wombats would be at this party so I naturally wanted to meet them and thank them for an awesome concert and tell them I’ve been their fan since 2007. Unfortunately I never got that chance to talk to them. Once my friend and I arrived at the entrance of the bar, and we showed our wristbands from the festival, we were rudely told that we had to be on some special list and that we were not allowed inside. Talk about false advertising. I’ve been to bars and clubs around the world and have never been “face-controlled” so many times as I have living in Moscow. Discrimination! Fuckers.


Röyksopp at After Park Live, Moscow 20.06.2015

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Some things in life are worth standing in the pouring rain for 2 hours. Seeing Röyksopp for the first time in my life would certainly be one of those things.

I’ve had some bad luck with outdoor venue festivals like Park Live in Moscow where something always went wrong, be it a performer cancellation, bad weather or a bomb threat, which is why I much prefer smaller clubs with guaranteed weather control and decent drinks. Anywho, despite my apprehensions I arrived early and got a prime spot at the barrier just to the right of the stage. Honestly, I cannot recall much about any of the warm-up DJs but then again, none of them were that memorable. I am VERY selective as to what electronic music I listen to as the majority tend to be DJs who stand before a crowd playing a pre-made setlist from their laptops and expect the crowd to get off on how smooth the song transitions are. Röyksopp at least write their own songs and have collaborated with super cool people such as Robyn. But I digress. I had been hoping for a light drizzle, and thought that my hoodie and skintight platform boots would save me from becoming a drowned rat but alas, no such luck. I got completely soaked down to my underwear and water running down my legs filled my shoes. Everything in my closed bag got wet. The only thing that hadn’t budged was my waterproof lipstick. But the wetter I got, the stronger became my resolve. I was determined to enjoy my evening.

The rain eventually stopped. The stage was given a thorough mopping. Umbrellas were folded and rain hoods were taken down to reveal people’s excited faces. When Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland came on stage, the cork on the crowd’s anticipation popped and an explosion of screams filled the air. The front of the DJ booth flashed the Röyksopp logo in waves of colour. The back screen lit up and showed an image of the guys for the back rows to see. They started strong and maintained the energy very well. The songs that had the most powerful audience response were from the Röyksopp & Robyn collaboration album which had received quite a lot of critical acclaim. The lady singing Robyn’s vocals for the evening was Jonna Lee, a Swedish visual artist. The lights and visuals were also unbelievable and fit the music and the aesthetic really well.

Hearing one of my favourites “The Girl and the Robot,” was truly magical and I could feel I was not the only one sing-screaming the lyrics. Jonna also sang the vocals for “What Else is There,” one of Röyksopp’s most successful songs. What came as a the biggest surprise was hearing “Eple.” I had not listened to Röyksopp’s debut album Melody A.M. since that album had come out in 2003. Hearing it being played loud with and with bright shining lights took me back to the time I was a teenager just discovering electronic music. The song felt like a hug from an old friend.

The crowd roared for more so naturally Svein and Torbjørnørn came out for an encore. With a last burst of energy, Röyksopp paid tribute to their humble beginning and played songs from their 2 oldest albums. The gig had given the crowd incredible high but as with all good things, it had to come to an end. It always amazes me how fast, and slow, and yet standing still, time is during a concert. For that hour and half, or 2, the world just melts away. It’s just you and the artist on stage making you feel alive. There is no better drug. I had only checked my phone once the whole time, which is a quite an achievement in the modern age, and that is to see that it was still quite wet and dead. Having not taken any photos doesn’t bother me in the least as I will remember how I felt that night for the rest of my life. Thank you Röyksopp.

gLjQMsM-_n0(photo credit: https://vk.com/parklivefest)

Setlist
1. Skulls
2. The Girl and the Robot (with Jonna Lee)
3. Say it (Röyksopp & Robyn cover) (with Jonna Lee)
4. This Must Be It (with Jonna Lee)
5. What Else Is There? (with Jonna Lee)
6. Eple
7. Monument (Röyksopp & Robyn cover) (with Jonna Lee)
8. Here She Comes Again
9. Only This Moment (with Jonna Lee)
10. Do It Again (Röyksopp & Robyn cover) (with Jonna Lee)
Encore:
11. Poor Leno
12. 49 Percent
13. Running to the Sea (with Jonna Lee)


Eisbrecher in Moscow 05.04.2015

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It was a cold and crisp evening with the weather on the cusp of spring. Despite the chill, a very long line of excited rock music lovers was forming outside of Volta Club. The excitement grew and within the hour the club doors finally opened and the crowd slowly streamed in. Fans stripped off their outerwear to reveal their best alternative dress, grabbed drinks, and filled the space in front of the stage. One Russian opening band were already playing. The merch table was surprisingly picked clean well before the main event and I later regretted not buying a T-shirt right away.

Honestly, I do not recall the name of the 2 Russian opening bands. I found both of them to be quite unimpressive and forgettable. Though some of their fans did scare me with their childish drunk antics, and I’ve seen some pretty rowdy mosh pits in my day. Their rather generic sounding metal music and image didn’t leave a lasting impression though I am sure their fans would disagree with me.

After some time standing and breaking in my new Demonias, the much awaited Eisbrecher appeared on stage. I have seen my fair share of excited fans, but this crowd of fans were truly impressive! Even Eisbrecher themselves who had performed in Russia on 3 other occasions were really astounded and humbled by the intense and passionate reception.

Opening loud and aggressively with “Volle Kraft Voraus” from their newest album Schock, Eisbrecher set the tone for the whole show. I have only been listening to Eisbrecher for about a year and had already remembered the lyrics to many songs, despite not knowing a single word in German. The energy and power of music supersedes any language barriers and can easily make anyone get up, headbang, and dance. Throughout the performance, Alex, the lead singer, expressed his love on the behalf of the group and strengthened the sacred bond of the band with its fans. The lead singer’s jokes also caused quite a nice ripple of laughter throughout the show. The group played a variety of songs from old favourites to new hits. The majority of songs came from their newest album Schock, such as the hit “1000 Narben,” as well as “Volle Kraft voraus,” “Himmel, Arsch und Zwirn,” and “So oder so.” Some of the fans had even organized a flash mob featuring flashing red plastic roses to the song “Rot wie die Liebe.” The crowd sang-screamed along to “This Is Deutsch” with great enthusiasm.

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After a short break, Eisbrecher returned to the stage for an encore. It was then that they played two of my personal favourite songs, “Eiszeit” and “Verrückt.” The German flag was held up by the fans and a Russian flag was tossed over to the stage. Alex picked it up and proudly waved the Russian flag saying how much he loved Russian people. I have never heard such kind words expressed by a band towards their fans. It was clear that Eisbrecher truly loved touring and coming to play for Russian audiences. I bet the combined positive energy and intensity of the group and the crowd could have easily powered a small city. What an unforgettable night it was!

gLCLgN9TSbQ(photo credit: http://vk.com/photo-231702_361585473)

Setlist
Volle Kraft Voraus
So oder so
Antikörper
Willkommen im Nichts
1000 Narben
Noch Zu Retten
Leider
Prototyp
Himmel, Arsch und Zwirn
Schock
Schwarze Witwe
Zwischen uns
Rot wie die Liebe
Vergissmeinnicht
This Is Deutsch
Encore:
Eiszeit
Verrückt
Miststück (Megaherz cover)
Encore 2:
Schlachtbank


The Tiger Lillies 03.12.2014

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I got really lucky to have Wednesday night off to be able to attend The Tiger Lillies. The Lillies have a surprisingly dedicated fanbase in Russia and they are so popular within Moscow’s alternative music scene that they scheduled two gigs in two nights at the same club, 16 Tonns. The band is known to tour almost non-stop and with 30+ albums, they never run out of material to play. I had previously seen the Tiger Lillies when they had played at the same club last year and they had put on a spectacular show to a packed club. This year, not only did they play an equally great gig, but it made perfect sense why one show had clearly not been enough for Moscow.
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Last year I remember not knowing as many songs the Tiger Lillies played, be because they intentionally played newer material or because I was simply not as familiar with them. This year more than half of their very long set was highlighted by old familiar crowd pleasers. The Lillies played such profane songs as “Vagina,” “Suicide,” “Gypsies,” and “Heroine and Cocaine.” Much to my surprise and delight, the Lillies played my absolute favourite song “Kick a Baby!” Since the lovely cabaret devil Joe Black did a cover of that song on the ukelele, I can’t get enough of it! I had simply shrieked with delight. The debauched trio also played “Gin”, another song close to my heart. Going against tradition, the Lillies played the crowd favourite “Crack of Doom” in the middle, as opposed to the end of the show. This gave Martyn the opportunity to show off his vocal prowess by trailing the song with quite a long solo. “Billie’s Blues” and “Bully Boys” were also performed to an already pumped and cheering crowd. In addition to having both halves of the shows being of equal lenghth, for the encore the Lillies chose to play “Masturbating Jimmy”, which to my surprise only I seemed to know the lyrics out of the whole crowd.
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Overall, the concert had simply been spectacular! Wherever the Tiger Lillies may go, they always bring with them a joyful bacchanalian spirit which is much needed in life, and particularly in the dull grey winter months. I have no doubt the Lillies brought just as much energy and attitude on Thursday night as they did on Wednesday. Regardless of how many years go by, the band’s vitality never writhers and Martyn continues to astound audiences with his incredible voice and multi-instrumental abilities.  I cannot wait to see them again, be in Moscow or somewhere else in the world. Their appeal transcends language and cultural boundaries, though it does help to know English to understand the not-so-subtle darkness and irony of the lyrics.
I shall leave you with my favourite Tiger Lillies song. Sing it to all your friends with children. 😉

 

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Clan of Xymox / NamNamBulu

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As the time approached 7 o’clock, the time stated on the ticket as the beginning of the concert, I could only see about 10 people lined up outside the venue. This worried me. I did not know just how well known the goth giants Clan of Xymox were in Russia and was hoping the group didn’t get dissapointed by a low audience turn-out. Luckily I was soon proved wrong.

The opening band was a Russian group called Yulia Crow (Юлия Кроу). The band consisted of a drummer, a bassists, two guitarists and the lead singer, Yulia Crow. Wearing a white T-shirt dress, a fluffy angel halo, ballet shoes and bloody eye makeup, her style was rather reminiscent of asylum Emily Autumn, or early grunge Courtney Love. Yulia had quite a stage presense with her firey eyes and lurching movements which made her particularly hard to photograph. What I found to be quite distracting was the over usage of props, ranging from a plastic skull, to a fake prison chain, to a noose, to a skeleton parrot. It seemed as though Yulia had raided the Halloween prop store and left the shop empty. The songs ranged from themes about death, the afterlife, and sexual themes. Stylistically they didn’t sound all that interesting. Luckily my attention was drawn to the second guitarist who was dressed in drag and fully made up. He looked like a cute girly goth angel, which is a very rare in Russia, so it was a pleasant sight. Overall Yulia Crow had left quite an impression on me and it wasn’t entirely a good one.

 

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The opener for Clan of Xymox, as had been advertised on the ticket were NamNamBulu. I had come across their music when I was doing research into EBM bands prior to attending Infest and I was looking forward to dance.  I was quite surprised that t a crowd of people had already filled the room and were quite making quite a welcoming atmosphere. I had no idea that Namnambulu have been around since the year I was born so I expected a spectacular show from the seasoned musicians. NamNamBulu had not been to Russia since 2004 or 2005 so it was a welcome sight for them to be received with such open arms. Henrik, the lead singer, delivered beautiful and powerful vocals alongside the body-moving beats. Tracks featured were played from most of the old albums, but mostly focused on songs from their 2003 album, “Distances.” I had not danced EBM for over a month so it was nice to pull shapes to the fast NNB songs. Overall the show was very soulful and touching, and the crowd threw their hands up and bobbed their heads. The Moscow synth loving community did not fail in showing their support. Namnambulu left the stage glowing and loved.

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With two opening bands, the anticipation had substatinally grown and the crowd was hungry for Clan of Xymox. The crowd erupted with biosterous applause once the band came on. They went on to play a selection of songs ranging from their 1985 debut album “Clan of Xymox,” to their most recent release of this year, “Matters Of Mind, Body & Soul.” Some of the songs that had stuck out in my memory as those to get the most crowd response were “Hail Marry,” “She’s Falling in Love,” “Emily” and “A Day.” The response to “A Day” was paticularly explosive! They were so loved by the crowd that they played 2 encoures! The first encoure included “Delete” as well as a Bananarama cover of “Venus,” to which I giggled quite a bit. The crowd chanted the name of the group, as well as yelling “MORE!” To this Xymox obliged and played one more song to close the night. It had been a truly successful night in celebration of goth culture and gothic music. The crowd and the bands had all enjoyed themselves and all in all it had been a very rewarding night.

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