Mine and photographer Laima’s journey started in Vilnius, with less than 10 euros in the pocket, without a place to stay (“I have read somewhere that there is some kind of burlesque theatre-cabaret somewhere in the old town, and they host people there!” — how’s that for a plan?) and a cardboard sign in our hands, telling passing drivers we need to go to Tallinn. After many fun stories from one Estonian guy (which went something like “…and then, in a nudist camping near Adriatic sea…”) we were thrilled to finally reach our goal — dark and windy Tallinn. At that moment when we reached the town, the most logical decision for us was to invest our money into two cups of coffee in some shinny gas station. ’cause this is how we roll. Also, I got my paycheck hahah.
After that, even more interesting part of the journey started. Trying to find the venue of the festival was kind of complicated, since each and every person we met showed us different directions, told various distances and smiled really, really sincerely. After some time I started guessing where we should go by the moon position in the sky (“If it is 20 o’clock now, that means the moon has just rised, which means it is in the east. Let’s go that way!”). This way of thinking was never really useful before, including that last time I got lost in a shopping mall. At some point we found one hipster-ishly looking lad, and asked him about Servataguse Muusika Festival. He took our map, looked at it for a while, told us that the venue is the house which is right in front of us, leaved us and went there himself. Hilarious guy, isn’t he.
We follow him and at first see some big iron wheel, then there is a nice yard with a bunch of other hipster-ishly looking youth, some elegant ladies in weird hats (local performance artists, as I understood later) — not quite typical crowd for a noisy festival. Overall the audience in the festival seemed very international, it was quite hard to spot true Estonian there — everybody was from somewhere else and only visited/traveled/studied in Tallinn. The venue was split into two stages, each with separate enters from the yard. It was some kind of factory earlier, with all the benefits of it — high ceilings, authentic pieces of machinery, moldy walls. The main hall, together with cozy sofas for chilling, even had a small hill inside it. I mean it — there literally was a hill inside the building. Alternative design solutions FTW!
The first band we heard was OLIMPIA SPLENDID from Finland. You can fall in love with these girls from the first sight. Not only they have a truly wonderful communication going on stage — their experimental lo-fi was ripping the speakers apart with multilayered and somehow sincere sound. Bass line goes somewhere near the brink of surf , rhythmic machine gives the sound a touch of harshness, and you can’t get a word of what they are singing. I couldn’t ask anything more from an opening performance.
It was the second or third time I saw live performance of LOVE CULT from Carelia, and it’s just too hard to say which one was the best — every one of them is so bright and positive, even melancholic, with a sharper drone edges. One Lithuanian writer, Sigitas Parulskis, wrote a book and named it “Nostalgia is the reason [of everything]”, LOVE CULT may be the perfect explanation for it’s soundtrack. [Edited on 07-14: Since that time, Love Cult was performing in Lithuania once again. Can’t stop loving their mermaid-ish vocals and dreamy/hazy sound. Truly mesmerizing stuff].
Swedish guy SAND CIRCLES and his table full of gadgets made quite a performance. His sound waves were so refreshing, that Laima named them tropical club techno. In a mean time I just wanted to stand barefoot in any kind of Caribbean beach, sip cocktails and NOT think about stuff people from a real world are telling me. Actually, that went quite well.
After that comes British act KYLIE MINOISE and that was the most fun and powerful shit I saw in several months. Couldn’t help myself but smile and shout and smile again, since this was not only power electronics/harsh noise. Lea Cummings was giving us a rad old-school performance, which seemed way too short at a time. In the pitch black darkness he jammed his mouth with working flashlights, and in this way his face was the only source of light in the room when he was moving around the place, rolling all over the floor and moshing.
The second day of a festival started with MORGUE’S LAST CHOICE, local dark/doom industrial metal act from which the most memorable things were some intense samples of a train and samples from old movies, as well as reading out loud pieces of some secret text. Overall the performance had no firm structure, and most of the time I start bitching about any industrial project which does not have that “building-culmination-closure” thing going on, but somehow MLC managed to experiment and still be interesting.
Another Estonian project SAVIDIVAS was quite boring. Even though they seemed to make sort of Kraftwerk-ish sound, the result was so unappealing that I had to run to the yard and play with my new best friends. And by “play” I mean drink alcohol. And by “new best friends” I mean those random hilarious people we just met. We used the well known technique called “Oh I see you have coffe, I also have coffe, LET’S TALK”. This festival is so much fun!
LR from Denmark is a pleasure for a sound masochist. After all, aren’t we all like that? Apparently not, because the frequency of the noise he made was so high it hurt the ears, many people just left in the middle of the performance. It is hard to even start describing the sound, and one can not handle it if not ready. I didn’t leave, but oh boy, after the show I thought my ears were bleeding. If the memory is not tricking me, I used to thank him for this and, later, LUST FOR YOUTH set on any given occasion, just as a any annoying 13-year old fan would do.
One of Finnish harsh noise gods BIZARRE UPROAR was one of Servataguse Muusika headliners, it was quite strange to know that such a big name will be playing here. I have a deep respect for this project, but for me their performance in the festival was more like ”cross out a name from a must see projects list” kind of deals. The sound was perfect as always, but the performance itself seemed a bit too pretentious. Yes, we all know Ms. BO is a sadomasochistic dominamatrix, and yes, it is interesting to watch how she cuts herself, and her look is dramatical as hell, but, well, fuck it. It was better just to stand somewhere in the crowd and enjoy the noise.
LUST FOR YOUTH, a duo from Sweden and Denmark, for me was one of the greatest discoveries of the festival. The audience seemed pretty confused whether they should dance or mosh during the performance. (“Sarcastic dancing”, invented by some fellow event-goers, may be one of the best options). A mixture of dark synthpop and vocals w/ various effects, which at some moments goes berserk, was so refreshing I would call it a must for any music lover, who longs for some original approach.
You gotta love MASSIVE EJACULATION guy from Russia. Each of his performances goes from “oh just look at his small dick” to “fuck this is awesome” in like 15 seconds. By the way, 5 seconds are the average length of his “songs”, so in this way you start appreciating him way into his show. Some time ago he was a wrestler, and he definitely know how to turn on the audience. Performer never goes on stage without one of his magnificent costumes. This time it was a balaklava, tiger skin thong and some big cardboard thing (?). If Lady Gaga had a guru, I guess that guru would be MASSIVE EJACULATION.
Afterwards one Portugalian gave me two magical papers, one of which was lost immediately in the wind (later we agreed to meet near the wheel of lines behind the tree of acid), and we and our new best friends which happened to be probably the coolest people in the festival, went to explore the nightlife of Tallinn. At each corner somebody used to stop and suggest some insightful idea, where we should spend the evening.
We should go to gentleman’s club! To the strip bar! To this fancy-looking bar where, apparently, Russian mob hitmen are almost fucking their whores. On the table. Yay.
Finally we settled for white trash-y looking bar “LABOR”, which was dedicated to the magic of chemistry, flourescent green and drunk youngsters dryhumping their ladyfriends on the barrels, marked as TOXIC. It was fucking wonderful – reality show, which you can actually call Lust of Youth and mean it. Also, the bartenders were wearing labcoats, there were shots in test-tubes and some ultra active (amphetamine much, bro?) friend which tried to guess from which country which person of our gang was.
Going back to the hostel which we kind of squated was hillarious, with a hint of uncertainity if the hostel manager will believe that bringing two ladyfriends to the room you rent for yourself is NOT a form of breaking hostel rules, but more like 145235 points to the CARD OF MANLINESS.
Sunday started calmly, and I was way too lazy to try to understand the conceptual deepness of first performances. On the other hand, C. n. O. P. T. was just random enough for me. Just imagine: on the hill mentioned above stands a little chair. A naked guy sits on it and puts around these items: a bottle of milk, a bottle of ketchup, some coal and a road sigh which says “Main Road”. He starts eating coal and drinking milk/ketchup. After the lunch he puts two fingers into his throat and does what every anorexic teenager would do. Then starts the reverse striptease act — he finds his clothes, puts them on, rolls a cigarette, smokes it. Now that’s what I call art.
TIMO VIIALAINEN, another Estonian performer, did what you can call art — and this time without any ironic smile. I can say the performance had 3 layers. First one — actions which he did — he walked around the place, filmed people, gave them cocktail umbrellas, swinged around a big balloon. Second one — filming in a real-time, which was projected straight from his hand-held camera. Lack of light gave the projection a weird Blair witch mockumentary spirit. Then there were cuts from video/film footage, edited into the video, as I understood, also in the real-time. Everything was united by ambient music, which gave the performance more power and mystery.
It seemed that festival come to an end way too soon. Maybe that’s because everything started right on time — and actually, for me it was quite strange, that there were no delays. A round of applause to organizers for that! First two evenings were filled with various experimental sounds — from synthpop to avant garde, from harsh noise to ambient, from wtf to omg. Sunday was more of a day for performative arts, and in a way it was a great to have a time to put yourself together before a reality check from work, studies or everything else what you consider a real life. Festival organizers, especially Elijah, made an exceptional size and quality event, which wouldn’t put a shame to other countries, which have a bigger scene for darker experimental sound.
When starting the travel, I planned to have an adventure, and got so much more. Of course, everything couldn’t finish just after the shows — we still had to hitchhike back home. We crossed Estonia and Latvia without any problems — the most fun part started in Lithuania. Situation in a nutshell: two girls in a pitch black night going by the road with two little reflectors. The city nearby is famous for it’s mafia. At that moment we didn’t know that we would have had to go like this for 20 kilometers, since there were no proper place to hitchhike around. We were too cool to panic untill we saw a car with it’s lights off near the side of the road. “Well, life was short, but fun”, — I thought to myself, and just around that moment the car put it’s lights on. I would never had guessed that I would be glad to see a cop which is interested what I am doing. But police is better than mafia, right? So we put back our cool faces, and chatted with officers, they suggested us not to be killed. That was nice of them. The other nice thing they done was taking us to a good hitchhiking place. I never thought that being home before midnight was a good thing, but apparently it was. Totally worth it.