“Servataguse Muusika” festival in Tallinn: three days of wry reality

November 4-6, 2011

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.

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One response to ““Servataguse Muusika” festival in Tallinn: three days of wry reality

  1. Pingback: Special Interests 8 : keep thinking | Circa Buffet·

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