Viktor Tsoi once again took center stage last week in Moscow 10 years after he died in a car accident.
The lead singer of popular '80s rock group Kino and his music were remembered in a star-studded tribute concert at Olympiisky Sports Complex on November 17.
Today's best rock acts including Zemfira, Mumy Troll, Tantsi Minus and Volpi Vidoplyasova some of whom grew up on Kino's music came out to honor Tsoi, performing the influential musician's greatest hits before 15,000 fans. The three-hour concert featured in all 13 bands, performing two Kino songs apiece.
Brain-child of St. Petersburg producer and Tsoi friend Igor Gudkov (a.k.a. Punker), the original plan was to invite popular St. Petersburg groups to cover Tsoi's first album. Gudkov turned to Real Records for support with his project, they pushed the idea in new and bigger directions.
Besides extending invitations to popular groups across the C.I.S. to record their favorite Kino songs for the tribute album (available in stores), concerts were planned in Moscow and St. Petersburg, bringing together the various artists involved.
In the end, the project was a success: Gudkov got his project; Real Records had a PR field day; rock groups got to perform in front of a larger crowd than most of them could ever have attracted by themselves; and fans got to listen to (for the most part) good music.
Kino was formed in 1982 when rock was still trapped underground by the Soviet government. Consequently, Kino played in small, private venues during their infancy, sometimes closely followed by the KGB, who disapproved of the group's "decadent Western values."
With Perestroika came the loosing of controls on music concerts, a move that let the latent rock scene explode. Kino and Tsoi in particular were among those who made it to the top.
Neither pushing political nor intellectual ideas through its lyrics, as other rock groups were doing at the time, Kino was able to appeal to a wider audience. Tsoi, with his Asian roots his father was Korean and his lithe body movements, was unique among late '80s Russian rock artists.
In 1990, as the band was at its height, Tsoi died in a car accident while on vacation in Latvia. With its leader gone, the band soon folded. As the first young Russian rock/pop star to die so unexpectedly, the incident added to his legacy.
Many music industry insiders say that despite the 10 years that have lapsed since his death, Tsoi's shoes have yet to be filled. However, Tansti Minus, Zemfira and Kukryniksi groups that performed at the tribute prove that though Russian rock has changed substantially since Kino, it still draws big crowds.
While some groups electrified the crowd just by their appearance on stage most notably Zemfira and Mummy Troll others sent the crowd into convulsions through their performance.
Punk-rock group Korol and Shut, led by singer Gorshok, whose spiked-hair, white make-up and wide-eyed blank stares into the distance made him resemble a character from "Night of the Living Dead" (or Alice Cooper) screamed a version of "Sledi za soboi." Taking the stage after the ever popular Zemfira, Gorshok's performance had the effect of a black hole on the crowd: Hundreds of fans in front of the stage were suddenly sucked forward with incredible speed as he began, before being thrown back by the crushed first row. The incident sent stage security jumping up.
The performance by punk band Naive caused a few mosh-pits to form among the crowd.
A dozen hooligans and one long-haired, long-bearded hairy-chested 5-foot individual, whose sweaty shirt spent the second half of the evening flying around the crowd, usually landing on an unsuspecting individual's head, formed a pit a few meters from the stage.
Surprising the audience and organizers alike, St. Petersburg group Tantsi Minus belted out two new singles upon completing their two Kino covers.
With an energetic performance by Moldovan hardcore group Zdob si Zdub, the Kino tribute came to pulsating close. Flanked by female gypsy dancers decked out in huge, colorful ballroom-like dresses, singer Roman Yagupob jumped around the stage as he performed "Videli Noch," sending dozens of thrilled teenage girls leaping up on their boyfriends shoulders. As the group started its next and the evening's last song, "Apryel," all performers united on stage to accompany the group. Slava Petkun of Tantsi Minus was a little bit too enthusiastic, hoarding the mike, denying other performers their chance to sing.
Not every group will remember the evening with fondness. Mikhey, aroused the audiences less benevolent side. Before all members of the band could assemble on stage, the middle fingers went up. A few unidentified flying objects greeted the group midway through the performance. Perhaps unable to see the fingers of discontent through his big sunglasses, Mikhey antagonized the crowd with his flippant performance. Reading the lyrics from a sheet held in his hand, Mikhey showed that the he was neither ready nor, perhaps, serious about the occasion. Fortunately, they were only scheduled to perform one song.
Home video footage of Tsoi and friends, projected from the screen above the stage, nicely filled time in-between acts.
During performances, the screen was filled with computer graphics that sometimes made you feel you were looking down upon the earth from the Mir space station, other times like you were looking down the tube of a microscope at ameba and other protozoan. While interesting for the first 10 minutes, the repeating graphics grew dull quickly.