Slovyansky Rok (Slavic Rock) 3 Part 2
January 24 th 2010
Review and pics by Orchidee Stachelig
This winter in Ukraine turns out to be extremely cold, but it doesn’t scare bands and their fans – quite a lot arrived to the second part of the third “Slovyansky Rok” (Slavic Rock) festival. The event is a part of a project with the same name which includes not only the fest itself, but releasing of the “Slovyansky Rok” collection of music and publishing of a magazine with the same title.
Each festival involves both contestants and guests who are winners of the previous competitions. Those who participate in the contest go through 2 stages of judgment. The first one takes place away from the eyes of spectators – that is work in the “100% Records” recording studio, a founder of the festival. Managers of the contest watch musicians in the process of studio work – how they get on, how easy or hard this kind of work goes for a certain band. Each participant can record 2 tracks, and one of these is included to the “Slovyansky Rok” collection. The winners of the first part of the contest take the next step – they’re being watched as they perform on the stage. This is what takes place in front of the audience. And journalists, of course.
“Slovyansky Rok-3 Part 2” has been the last nationwide festival of the project. The next event has been planned to be an international one. Not only bands from the CIS can participate and win, but also from other countries where the Slavs live.
The previous festival that took place at the same club in June of 2009 was not a usual contest as well. All bands were taking part in it; there was no division to participants and guests. That time the first two places went to “Monolit” and “Bila Vezha”.
The start of the festival on January, 24th was planned for 2 PM, but in fact everything began about an hour later and lasted for the whole day. At first there were not many people, and hardly anyone was going wild near the stage. They were either frozen or yet had not established emotional connection with those on the stage trying to entertain them.
Even if the name of the event is related to rock, it doesn’t mean there are rock bands only. More than a half of all present performers play metal.
People near the stage were still not very active while the first bands were performing. But as every next one was coming out, the audience caught up the messages the contestants tried to send them with their music. The metal part of the fest was started by the Slovyansky Ustriy (Slavic Order) band (hard’n’heavy) that had their vocalist missing in the beginning. The announcer supposed him to have been kidnapped, but then he came and the performance went on. The band’s show was considered to be one of the best performances even though the public didn’t react as active as they usually do.
What made this band stand out except of professionalism and an unusual (as for a rock musician) outfit of the vocalist was a ballad that touched a great part of the audience. Hardly anyone had not noticed two guys who were so much impressed by this song that danced in the middle of the dancefloor embracing each other. Except for the general image I liked the lyrics that seemed to be meaningful and – what is important for Ukraine – in Ukrainian.
The public seemed to be getting back to life reacting to the performance of Extasy, an industrial/synth nu-metal band from the city of Rivne much more actively. These guys also had a feature that looked like a trend of this event – a missing musician. This time it was the drummer, but this circumstance didn’t make the sounding of the band worse – the spectators proved it by starting a mosh during which some girls took their tops off. The author of this review has industrial type of music among her favorites, so it was nice to hear this band, they were standing out in their being different from the others in style – no one else was representing this type of music.
The New Year and following holidays have been over a long time ago, but belated greetings were still said at the event – this was what the show of the DIGest band started from. And the audience accepted the greetings gratefully. The band members define the style of their music as alternative/nu-metal. They caught up the success of previous bands – the public continued dancing and another mosh took place. I nearly got into it, but managed to escape off that place just in time.
The mood of the audience continued to increase; people gratefully welcomed the next participants – Yuzhny Krest (The Southern Cross) not only by applause, but also by shouting the name of the band. They are from Kyiv and play hard’n’heavy. The band has recently experienced some changes in the line-up but it didn’t make them sound worse. Their show looked professional and strongly held the attention of the fans who shouted the name of the band even between the songs. The vocalist was making effort to hold the attention by teasing people from the stage but I could see they even didn’t need to be teased to respond in a proper way.
The announcer said that the feast of hard’n’heavy isn’t over and invited the next band, Chorna Rada (The Black Council) who are quite popular among Ukrainian fans. These guys are also from Kyiv and play a mix of progressive and gothic metal. Since 2004 when the band was founded its line-up has changed much, but this also didn’t spoil the impression. Before starting the show the vocalist of Chorna Rada said that it was their drummer’s birthday and the public congratulated them with strong applause. People reacted in the same way to parts of their show, but in some moments they seemed to be waiting for something to change and to hear something different. The band seemed not to have lived up the expectations of viewers, but nevertheless their show was quite a success. One of reviewers wrote that the band has been a bit too gloomy and this could spoil the positive mood of the audience. From this point they were more serious than entertaining, as for me. Aside from the singing and playing itself these guys made some people curious because of the uncommon outfit of one of the musicians who was wearing a Scottish kilt.
The competition part of the event was coming to the end, and the last band to show off their stage performance was Krik Vetra (Scream of the Wind), hard’n’heavy from Kyiv. This band is well-known in certain environments. Something common for Ukrainian metal was nice to hear between performances of those who play other styles, the band caught my attention as “something familiar” and this is what completed the impression.
The success of their performance was proved by the audience who reacted loudly and even spectacularly: fan girls were throwing streamers on the stage while the musicians were playing, and those who didn’t have streamers used…toilet rolls.
After the contestants went through the second part of the workout on the stage, it was time for those who have won the previous contests to show what they’ve learned and prove their titles of winners. One of the bands was waited for strongly – as they always have a spectacular show, so being aware of their presence at the fest the public started shouting their name as soon as the guests part has been announced. But the announcer said they will perform a bit later, and let Aragon, a heavy metal band from Kyiv on the stage. Their fans who had been waiting for their favorites for quite a long time greeted them properly. And after the performance I managed to catch the musicians of Aragon near the dressing room to ask what it is like to be a guest, not a participant of the contest.
“Our aim at today’s fest is to give the audience high quality music that is desired by many but played by few. This time we’re guests, we showed ourselves in a good way at the Slovyansky Rok-3” festival and we’re as guests at the second part of it. We’ve been one of the winners of the previous fest. There were many bands except us, and all were good, all have been winners in their own way. Nowadays heavy metal bands of a high level start to appear in Ukraine. I think all performers have come here not to gain victory, but more to gain the public – which is the greatest victory for a band. The Slovyansky Rok fest gives musicians a good chance to show their work off, to advertise them. To gain recognition a band should tear the audience into pieces with their professionalism. We play heavy metal – the type of music we like. And if people like it as well – then we have a reason to go on working in this direction. As we could see – many people liked us. And we also don’t want people to think in stereotypes, we want them to know that Ukraine has highly professional bands.” – said Oleksandr Sylenko, the bass guitarist of Aragon.
“Guys in beautiful outfits” – this is how the band Tsenzor (Censor) was announced. “Gothic Aristocrats” – I thought having seen them. But their style is not gothic at all; it’s progressive/heavy metal. And they also were not in the complete line-up – this time the keyboard player was missing, just because they did not have one. So the vocalist said that they would like someone who plays keyboards to join them.
The next band was called “the most mysterious guests of the event” since they didn’t want the announcer to introduce them. They simply came out on the stage, and only then said they are Artania from the city of Kremenchuk. Andriy “Andrenalin” Mykhaylov, their vocalist introduced their city as “… the city in the Poltava region of Ukraine, and we only make metal, and this is the metal you will hear here today.” That was exactly what the people had come for, so I could clearly hear some guys shouting “Come on!” – and the band went on continuing to hold the mood of the audience with professional metal.
And at last it came to the show a lot of people were expecting to see. Monolit, a band from Shostka who define their style as “sex metal”- this is how they call a blend of heavy, hard’n’heavy, power and glam.
Their performance didn’t start from music this time. The frontman of Monolit, Kostyantyn “Adolf” Gordeychuk is not only a rock vocalist, but also a break dance performer and coach. His dance team “Lider” (“Leader”) did their show just in front of the people below the stage. Kostyantyn has always been fascinated by spectacular moves of break dance and stunt moves and decided to blend them with rock music. We could see the result in their dance which attracted more fans closer to the stage where the music show went on. It was them who the public were shouting for in the beginning of the guests part. And they didn’t seem to have disappointed fans having played three songs of their own including the one from their music video, “Naprolom”, and some covers on songs of famous Russian bands. It was hot near the stage not only because of the mood the fans caught from the band, but also from real fire – it’s an essential part of their shows, and this time was not an exclusion. Monolit are known as a band that offers something to listen to and to stare at – they pay much attention not only to music itself, but also to creating a show. This time a strip show by two female dancers was a part of the last song.
I also found an opportunity to talk to Kostyantyn, their frontman who told me a story of their cooperation with the project.
“Slovyansky Rok is an old story for us, it started in 2006 when a young band we were playing with suggested us to send a request to the managers of this contest. Kseniya Nikolska and Oleh Tkachenko, the managers and authors of the project noticed us at once. They let us work in the “100% Records” studio – this was our first experience of working in a real studio, not a home one. The song “Naprolom” was included in the 3rd edition of the “Vtoroye Dykhanie” (“Second Breath”) collection, and we also had a music video made. The first festival lasted for 2 days, and, according to the words of managers, we showed ourselves so cool that they asked us to perform on the second day as well – even though it had no sense. And both shows were a success. We became the winners and now not a single Slovyansky Rok festival takes place without us.”
Whatever hard it must be to perform after a bright show, the Renesans band managed to keep attention of viewers. They brought diversity to the heavy part of the festival by having elements of folk in their music. The change of more than half of the band’s line-up didn’t seem to have disappointed fans even though the music was quite different to what the band used to do earlier – people supported the performers almost as much as the previous band.
Last but not least, another famous band was to play – Bila Vezha (The White Tower). These are also quite popular among those who are into metal music, but recently opinions of fans have been split: some say the band sounded better with Andriy Kokhan as the vocalist while the others like the voice of Maksym Ivashchenko who has replaced him last summer. But the public seemed not to care about who the vocalist is, they greeted the band even warmer than the ones before, and in the end of performance they didn’t let the musicians go off the stage.
What I liked about them except the music was the manner of the vocalist’s communication with the public – unlike the common way of musicians’ speaking from the stage this one was sincere instead of being arrogant and artificial. Whatever a part of fans say about the new vocalist, personally I liked his performance – it added something new to the band’s sound. Though I still like what they’ve done before.
Each contest event brings its main question: who is the winner? This time it was not answered after everyone had performed. I was told they don’t announce the scheme of choosing winners as “if you know who the judges are and what they do, you can always influence them”.
So I didn’t know the results on the day of the event. A few days later they were posted on the net by Oleh Tkachenko. According to this source, the first place in this contest goes to Slovyansky Ustriy – they have scored more points than other participants. Winners in different categories have also been announced, Slovyansky Ustriy, Yuzhny Krest and Krik Vetra have been considered to be the best among “hard and heavy metal bands”.
The next Slovyansky Rok festival and contest is planned as an international event. So we’ll see how the rocks Slavs from different countries show what they can.