Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Like a bullet from Milan

Once in a while you stumble across a gig that leaves you struggling to remember the last time you had anywhere near as much fun. I had one of those nights a couple of May's ago in a little back room in Moscow, watching a delightfully positive and insanely danceable bunch of Italian squat urchins called Kalashnikov.

I suppose their name was apt enough for the city - even more so as the preparations for the big military parade were going on all around town - and I'm sure the idea for this gig started out as some kind of crazy pipedream for the band. But a couple of flyers scattered around town led us check them out on the web, and we reckoned there might be a half decent night to be had. But it was one of those rare nights where all the ingredients gelled into one heck of a night.

The venue was a tiny little club called Vse Svoi, around the back of the city zoo. As we walked down the dark side street that harboured the venue, the yelps of excitable punk kids mixed in with the squeaks, barks and growls from the other side of the wall to make an exotic runway to the evening's entertainment. But we weren't expecting the place to be quite so tiny. Not much bigger than your granny's front room, and sporting a similar decor, the Vse Svoi was rammed from front to back with wide-eyed 19-year olds nodding their heads to some earnest local screamo band. Every time my other half bought a booze flavoured drink, a gaggle of nippers flocked around her asking if they could have a sip. This wasn't going to be like a normal gig, we could sense it.

And when the headliners from Milan finally took to the stage, we were proved correct. In keeping with their name, Kalashnikov imediately belted into some turbo-fuelled Russian-style jigs, sending the place universally bonkers. Singer Milena had every last one of them (and us) in the palm of her hand from the outset. Despite being the oldest people in the building by some 20 years, we were compelled to dance to their punchy romantic punk and skittish high-speed ska retreads - partly because the place was pakced like sardines and we had no option, but partly because our feet commanded it.

Kalashnikov@Moscow 2 May 09

Kalashnikov collective | MySpace Music Videos

But the the real lunacy began. A young lad down the front had falled totally for Milena's charms, guarding her from all other invaders, and seemingly offering to marry her on a song-by-song basis. Puj the guitarist was being passed above the heads of the now-steaming crowd, walking his feet along the ceiling, while Don's keyboards were falling off their plinth and knocking the PA into the crowd at the stroke of each minute. By now the crowd and band had become one pulsating entity, and the only way it was ever going to end was by exhaution, invasion or explosion. It turned out to be the latter, as the bass amp finally gave up after being at the brunt of its operator Nino's constant flinging of water into the crowd. It was an apt end to the amplified noise, but the crowd just kept on whooping and hollering for a good twenty minutes.

Rarely do you see a show where every last person in the room is going absolutely batchy dance-o. There wasn't even the little enclave of cool kids at the back of the room nodding with their arms folded - which is perhaps what we were expecting of a city like Moscow. Before leaving we shared our love of the night with Puj, who seemed like he'd just had the best night of his life. It wasn't far off for us either.
Kalashnikov @ Moscow (RUSSIA) May '09

Kalashnikov collective | MySpace Music Videos

It's always then a worry when you track such a band down in the real world. You fear that the energy of the night has addled your judgement of the quality of the actual music. But there's no such fear with Kalashnikov. When I finally found their site, I found each of their tunes to be throbbing with the same scratchy power and all-round loveliness as we witnessed in that tiny backroom in Moscow. Go find out for yourself, 'cos every last one of their songs is free to download. A top, top band that Kalashnikov!

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Videos from YouTube. Underlying © lays with the owners of the clips.

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