09 May 2011 ~ 8 Comments

Tour Report Russian tour April, May 2011

I could write a day-by-day tour report like we have done in the past, but when touring Russia it might be nice to pick out certain subjects and write about those more in detail. Because we might have toured Europe and the USA several times, in Russia you can forget what you know and start from …

Before writing the report we would like to thank Sergei and Vladimir from Play It Loud Bookings for getting this tour together and Aleksey from Angry Chuck Records for releasing and promoting our new album and tour in Russia. They still have a lot of our albums and T-shirts up at their distro.
In case you have videos or pictures of our shows in Russia, please email them to us. We would love to have some proof of people going crazy at our Russian shows!


Touring overseas or far from your own home usually means flying to your destination resulting in not having your own van and backline there. When touring Europe we have our own van (including beds) and backline, we book most of our own shows and have riders making sure we know what to expect. This all makes it fairly safe and comfortable for us to tour Europe, and this way manage to tour extensively. When we toured the USA we always toured together with other bands whose backline and van we could use for the tour. So even though it is not your own stuff, you at least know what kind of equipment you can expect each night and what vehicle will get you to your sleeping place and next show.

Ride to Vladimir

When in Russia, you don’t. For us, coming over to Russia meant having no clue what to expect at all. No idea what kind of transportation and backline we get, where we sleep, if there is food and drinks at the show, how the shows are and in general how people react or communicate with us. Not only do we use public transportation for the whole tour, but all local bands use public transport to get to the shows. In Ryazan’ we play with three touring Russian bands and they actually rented a tour (mini)van and driver. For the first 3 shows we travel from and to Moscow, staying at Vladimir and his friends’ flat every night. This means walking to the metro with a guitar case, bass guitar case, merch suitcase and our personal stuff. And after that taking several Moscow metros for an hour, keeping our eyes on all our gear. After the metro comes an additional train or bus to the city we play. And the same on the way back home.

Transport from Moscow to St Petersburg

After playing Schekino (Tula) we find out there is no bus going back to Moscow that night and it seems we are stuck in Tula until the next morning. Since arriving in Moscow and getting to your destination by day takes more than 2 hours because of all the traffic, we decide to take a taxi back to Moscow that same night. Financially irresponsible in Europe, over there the ride was less than 40 euro, taking the 4 of us for more than 200 kms. By the way, in Russia everybody is a cab driver. Just raise your arm like you are hitch-hiking and a car will stop and drive you wherever you want for the amount you agreed on. This way we became the subject of a lot of “you will never believe what I have in my car right now”-conversations over the phone, and we managed to get a ride on what some may consider typical Russian transport: an oldschool 1970’s Lada!

lada cab!

Using local transport avoids getting pulled over by the police, as so many European and American bands have experienced and warned us about. And thanks to Vladimir, Sergei and Aleksey travelling with us, we have no trouble communicating with drivers or buying tickets. Public transport is quite relaxing since everything is out of your hands. Even though the seats in Russian vans and buses are rather cramped. In a van where in Europe only 9 people fit, in Russia they squeeze in 20 people easily. We were actually looking forward to flying on the plane, having space for our legs (!). A lot of Russian buses and trucks are second hand, bought from West-European countries. We actually saw an old Connexxion bus with it’s old destination still on the board: Hoorn (Netherlands). The roads in Russia are the worst we have seen to date. Cars and buses can’t drive on full speed most of the time because the state of the asphalt doesn’t allow it. Belgians, take notice!

Russian highways...


Touring by train or bus means you can’t bring more than a guitar, a bass guitar and some drumsticks. And the local bands don’t bring amps or drums either, even the band that rented a van didn’t bring a backline. What are you gonna use then? In Russia the venues provide a backline for all bands. Every band uses the same gear (the opposite of Belgium, where literally every band uses all their own stuff) and the gear is not top of the bill or is worn a little. But despite my expectations playing a Crate solid state combo isn’t all that bad (or is it the vodka that makes it sound good?). The best amp I play is a Marshall TSL tube combo, the worst a brand-less transistor combo.

Most of the nights the sound and the backline are OK. Only in Vladimir the gear and the sound system get the best of us and we don’t play at our best. For Riekus the quest for gear goes a little further than for Tim and me, because the drumkits in the venues usually don’t include a snare, kick pedal and cymbals. On the plane we couldn’t bring those because of weight restrictions, which results in a begging 101 course for Riekus to get his stuff together. Thanks to a lot of generous Russian drummers, this never leads to problems.

The shows

The biggest difference between shows in Russia and anywhere else is the enthusiasm of the people. There was not 1 show without circlepits, stagedives and crowdsurfing. Even though more and more foreign bands tour Russia and people are wearing all the cool and hip band shirts, all hell still breaks loose when a foreign bands starts to play. A little head-nodding from the crowd can be very rewarding playing in Holland or Belgium, in St Petersburg we were actually chased back onto the stage because it was too wild playing on the floor. When your drummer is being crowdsurfed during your own set, you know people are having a blast. When at every show there are people who know your lyrics even though you have never been there before, you know people care about going to see bands and getting to know their music.

Our show in Moscow - by Ilyabenton.com

Russian people tend to come off very distant and inaccessible when you walk in the street or ride the metro. It isn’t until you personally meet people at the shows that you experience how friendly and warm Russians can also be. A grumpy face turns into a smile turns into ecstasy after you’ve played. I never polluted more pictures with my face and merchandise with my signature than in Russia.

At the shows we usually play with 4-5 other bands. To avoid a late night, shows start rather early, around 19h. It is 21.30h when we step into our taxi after the show in Veliky Novgorod. In Italy the promoter would not yet have been at the venue by that time.

One thing that really has to be a cultural difference is the Russian interpretation of rhythm and beats. Where we are used to clapping our hands on the 2nd and 4th beat of a song (on the snare hit), in Russia people lay accents on the 1st and 3rd beat (bass drum kick). Quite funny once you notice it. Quite hard to play along to.

Life in general

The Russian language appears to be completely incomprehensible when you first see it. But when you start learning the alphabet and get to know what Russian characters (and numbers!) resemble western characters, you can translate about half of the words into English, French or German. ????? = garage, ??????? = ‘magazin’ or shop, ???? = sushi, ???????? = ‘products’ or mini-shop etc.. ‘Learning’ the Russian language turns out to be a pretty nice pass-time!

Schekino - some Russian script in background

Commenting on the standard of life, I wouldn’t simply dare to say Russia is a poor country. It might be better to say there is a huge gap between those who benefited from the post-communist society and those who didn’t. The standard of life and health can often be measured by the way people walk and the condition of their teeth. And for some reason I noticed quite some young people limping or having bad teeth, which says something about health care.

When you drive around the country, outside of Moscow you will see a lot of old impoverished houses and buildings and cars and trucks that seem a hundred years old. On that same road you will see Porsches, Ferraris and stretched limousines (especially in Moscow) driving around. But then again; no working lights on your car? No problem, just drive with your alarm lights on! Car no longer working? Just leave it on the side of the road. No more room for garbage in your house? Just donate it to the side of the road. Compared to Russia, Naples looks like a hospital room. If they could make condoms out of old Russian car tires on the side of the road, AIDS would no longer exist …

Trashy Russian ghetto, St Petersburg

We played huge cities like Moscow (10+ million people) and St Petersburg (5+ million people) but also small towns and villages. At least that is what we thought. When Russians refer to their small town or village it still might have more than half a million inhabitants, but not more than 2 or 3 punk/hardcore bands. We are from Nijmegen, one of the 10 biggest Dutch cities, with a little over 160 thousand people and dozens of punk/hardcore bands in the area. What different standards?

Some trends we picked up in Moscow: Short, clear blue skirts are hip. Kissing and making out in public too. High, HIGH heels the same. Getting married must be the national sport #1, brides and grooms everywhere. Oh, and for those still wondering: Russian vodka is pretty O.K.!

I hope this report gives a little insight on how we experienced Russia: amazing and mind-blowing. We had the best time ever in Russia, great shows, meeting a lot of new friendly people and doing all this together with our great friends from Play it Loud and Angry Chuck Records. We will be back for sure!

Last but not least: a big thank you to Jeroen ‘bookhooker‘ Brom and Nederlands Fonds  Podiumkunsten / Performing Arts Fund for supporting this tour.

Pictures or it didn’t happen!

8 Responses to “Tour Report Russian tour April, May 2011”

  1. 9 May 2011 at 11:27 pm Permalink

    It looks like it was an incredible time guys, I’m so glad it went well for you!

  2. 10 May 2011 at 8:22 am Permalink

    Actually russian bands use their oun backline on local shows, but only if you have your own car or your friend from your band who has a car. I used to take my own JCM2000 on shows, but the time between the between the bands playing is so shirt, so you don`t have enough time to tune it and make sound check. Thats why most of russian guitarists use padal boards with mini-amps which make em sound almost good even on bad amplifier.

  3. 10 May 2011 at 2:36 pm Permalink

    thanks for checking the report! of course not everything goes exactly as we wrote it all the time, but these were our impressions and the things that struck us. feel free to deliberate!

  4. 10 May 2011 at 3:23 pm Permalink

    hey willem … i jst came bakc from a 3 and a half week trip throuigh russia with ADD (unfortunately we didnt met on the road) … and we had exactly the same impressions!!!!!

    we will complete our tourdiary (right now only german, english and russian will follow) in the next days … i will let you know about that if you are interested!

    cheers from berlin

  5. 10 May 2011 at 4:11 pm Permalink

    Klinkt als een goeie roadtrip! Mochten jullie nog eens zin hebben in een vergelijkbaar avontuur, dan raad ik jullie aan eens naar Israël te gaan. Ook een eindje weg en een maffe taal, maar hetzelfde enthousiasme voor buitenlandse (Westerse?) punkbands. Mochten jullie geïnteresseerd zijn dan geef ik graag een lijstje met vrienden/bands uit Tel Aviv en Haifa die shows voor jullie kunnen regelen.

  6. 12 May 2011 at 3:09 pm Permalink

    Geniaal om te lezen! Als jullie ooit een boek schrijven over alle tourverhalen, staat de titel al vast: “Get in the lada!”

  7. 26 May 2011 at 7:05 pm Permalink

    thx for the good show in StP!Come here again!


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