Solex in Russia 10-3/6-2002
What is there to say about a 4 day trip to Moscow and Saint Petersburg? ‘Not much’, you’d say, right?
Right ’cause we only played two shows, one at b2 in Moscow and one at the Red Club in Saint Petersburg, and since “a club is a club” there’s not much to tell.
Wrong ’cause Russia is not Holland, England or the US (even though it’s quite the same). So for all of you that might go to Russia one day, I have some tips and tricks on how to cope with vodka, Russian citizens, policemen, Russian drum stools and Tupolev Planes. Read on…
More solex at eleven
In contrast to most people I met before in my life, the Russians are very quiet. They read heavy stuff or a newspaper, they have quiet conversations, just sit on a park bench or walk quietly around. Usually they operate in couples. They talk but don’t shout. They wear plain clothes; nobody would wear a yellow ski-jack or loud pants…
People in shops or bars don’t speak English. Even some of the folks who were in our company didn’t speak a single word English. We were picked up at the airport by Irina, one of the promoters, who spoke English pretty good. She brought another driver, and so the four of us left in two cars. Elisabeth, Miguel and Geert were with Irina. Robert and all luggage were with the other guy that didn’t speak a single word English. The main road through the city towards the center is 8 lanes wide. Skodas and Ladas everywhere. And so are Coca Cola and McDonalds. Also a lot of western European cars. They usually have the original stickers of the countries where they were stolen. After one and a half hour we arrive at the club: Robert and the driver guy didn’t speak at all.
2-If you like to play a vintage drum kit, bring one:
Since we flew to Russia and only played two shows, we didn’t
bring a lot of gear. Both nights Geert had good rented amps. In Saint Petersburg he even had an amazing Fender. Also the sound systems were nice. But it seemed impossible to get a vintage drum kit. One night Robert played an 80’s Pearl, the other night an 80’s Yamaha. Also renting a drum stool seemed impossible, since there was a wooden Soviet chair placed behind the drums. The top of a broken bar stool that was in the garbage bin, brought the chair to the desired height.
3-The deal with vodka:
Vodka is great stuff. The Russians drink it all the time and let’s face it, we would do the same if we had all these great vodkas. But in Russia a good bottle of vodka never comes alone. After the show in Moscow we had a bottle of Crystal vodka waiting in our dressing room. Since some people from Amsterdam came to the show, we invited them to the dressing room. There were also the Russian promoters and the journalist that tipped the promoters about Solex. That journalist, by the way, is in Moscow generally known as ‘the Russian John Peel’, even they probably don’t even know who the English John Peel is. So we all had some shots of vodka, but since our plane for Saint Petersburg would leave rather early we kept it to “some”.
The next night however, after the show we finished the first bottle in 10 minutes and the second bottle in the next half hour. Bottles 3,4,5 and 6 were finished during the next couple of hours at some bar in a basement. In that bar they celebrate New Year’s every night at midnight. We missed the great celebration, but when we arrived at 2am, everybody was very drunk. I believe we left the bar at 5am.