For music touched by the snarl of protest, few bands can match Petersburg punks PTVP. Throughout their long career, which mixes angry, embittered poetry by frontman Lyokha Nikonov and febrile, energetic rock, they’ve courted controversy. Gigs abruptly cancelled, cops called in to keep order … it’s all in a day’s work.
These days, while far from respectable, the band (full name Posledniye Tanki v Parizhe or Last Tanks in Paris) continues to bait the establishment with texts protesting about how Russia’s rulers are prostituting the country’s wealth while hiding behind a veneer of ‘Stalinist democracy’. A typical gig intersperses the two, as seen here at Petersburg’s Orlianda club in a performance of ‘Bozhe Khrani Putina’ (God Save Putin, a title which channels both Pussy Riot’s notorious ‘Mother of God, deliver us from Putin’ address and the Tsarist national anthem). Predictably, this message tends to divide audiences, but has generated a secure fanbase among Russia’s disaffected.
The band is joined on Sunday’s bill at the recently-opened Teatr by rappers Makulatura. This isn’t exactly blinging hip-hop, though: the sound tends to be restrained rather than pompous; gentle, piano-led back tapes as heard on ‘Zhzhizn‘ (Life) serve to emphasise vocals which are clear enough to give non-native Russian speakers a fighting chance of working out what’s going on. Indeed, the lyrics are usually clearer than PTVP’s efforts, which may partly explain why recent years have seen Russia’s rap and hip-hop communities take up the baton from its protest rock roots. Tracks like ‘Militsioner Buduschego’ (Policeman of the Future) satirize the Russian political obsession with stability and inflexible systems, kicking off with the observation “I’m afraid of freedom”. The band will present its latest EP at the show.
Teatr, meanwhile, appears to be aiming to fill the void left by the closure of Tochka, once one of Moscow’s most intriguing venues for the musical awkward squad. Early evidence suggests that this new club, on Staraya Basmannaya, is going to be just the place to catch a blast of uncompromising, aggressive rock.
The revolution starts at Teatr (m. Kurskaya, Baumanskaya) on Sunday, June 23. Doors at 8, cover 500r.