From St. Petersburg to Moscow

Written by Herra Honkonen on Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

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The long walk and bus trip of the previous day knocked out the whole band pretty efficiently. We got up at about noon, when we were thinking of leaving to downtown. Apparently there had been some communication breakdown, since our hosts were nowhere to be seen. We basically lazed around for a couple of hours, until the actual inhabitant of the apartment woke up and made us some green tea and porridge for breakfast. The clock was closing on three and we were just about to go out and get some lunch, when Gosha’s girlfriend arrived from the university to show us around the downtown.

The schedule was tight, so we decided to only go out to eat. Mr. Paalanen and I had decided to go and have some local food, such as shaslikis and blinis. We happened to run into an Uzbek restaurant, which was a jackpot. I had some horsemeat-noodle soup and quails filled with mutton, the others had their own soup, big-ass shashiliks and so on. Our dessert was the traditional Uzbek Irish Coffee. Originally we wanted just cups of coffee, but when the waiter started listing what they had and said “traditional”, we thought it was some Uzbek thing. In reality it was a brand name, an Irish Coffee of sorts, with half the coffee and double the cream and alcohol. While eating we talked with our guide, who turned out to be a lawyer/dancer, a pretty interesting combination. Apparently in Russia making a living is really hard for artists, so most of them have two jobs like that.

After a quick visit to a local booze store we went back to the apartment to load our stuff into a bus we were told would take us to the gig place. It turned out that the bus guy couldn’t make it, so we ended up doing the transportation in the way no Finnish people would ever think of doing it – we hailed down two cars from the traffic, the local hosts haggled a price and off we went. Timo, the guy whose apartment we lived in and I ended up getting an old Lada, whose shock absorbers creaked and steering wheel squeaked in every turn. The funny thing is that the car took us right where we wanted and getting a transportation like that was much, much faster than getting a cab in Helsinki. Apparently a whole lot of people who have a car make some extra money by being a freelance taxi. It’t not exactly legal, but no-one cares.

The club where we played wasn’t really officially open until the coming Saturday, but they arranged gigs nevertheless. It was a very large place, which could fit in hundreds of people. We had some irritating techical problems with our mixer board, and when we were doing our soundcheck, we were filmed for some TV-show or something. For some reason that gave me a twinge of stage fright, since in my ears our soundcheck songs were as far from the zone as you can get, and Ripa and I had to start the gig with an improvisation.

The gigs before us were very interesting. The first was actually a piece of video art, with a movie cut from old war movies with a noise-score made out of war sounds in the background. It was brutal and strong, the only bad thing was that the video projector kept fucking up the picture. It would be interesting to see it with better equipment. Gosha’s set was more noise with bullet sounds and a human figure wrapped in white cloth or plastic squirming on the stage, with a blinkin light on her forehead. We missed most of it because we were getting ready for our gig.

The gig ended up going well. The technics in the gig place were really surprisingly good, I could hear all the distinct intstruments, there was no feedback, no jumps in the volume, not one of the usual irritations. Afterwards some people came to talk to me and Mr. Vuorensola, while the rest of the band was selling our cds.

The converation was cut short when we got the word that we should start carrying stuff downstairs. The owner of the bar, a middle-aged largish guy was singing an energetic rock-song on the stage, the song and the appearance of the short-haired, middle-aged guy dressed in gray sweater made an interesting paradox. There was no bus, but we got packed into two taxis instead. The situation was a bit chaotic, but it seems that the main theme of the trip is not really understanding what’s going on and what’s the situation, but things working out nevertheless extremely smoothly. When we reached the train station, Mr. Vuorensola was already working through his bottle of vodka. We waited for the hosts for some time, during which Mr. Paalanen got us some food. Finally we were escorted into the night trains, which were like straight from some movie. They were painted in several colours and they had emblems and logos on them, plus of course the train guards with the large soviet-military style caps.

I’m writing this in the train, which is flowing smoothly through the dark Russian countryside. A couple of guys from the local bands are chatting around us, and for once I’m sort of grateful for the language barrier we have – right now I’m too tired to be very social. I’m in a very good mood, though, and waiting with enthusiasm what tomorrow will bring. What I hope for this night is a few hours of at least halfway decent sleep. Never been one to sleep very well in trains or busses, so it remains to be seen. At least we don’t have a gig tomorrow.

5 Responses to “From St. Petersburg to Moscow”

  1. Sounds bloody awesome! :)

  2. Well, just wait until I have the time to write today’s entry. This is a seriously weird trip!

  3. I’m waiting.

  4. Had to say this blog is an excellent creation. Seems like Älymystö has members with ability to write.
    Rock the Mosh cow!

  5. Thanks, and I honestly think we did rock the Mosh cow. Actually, even one Russian border-conrol guy wanted my signature on a “gift” CD, which was pretty darn strange.

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