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From Russia With Love—Gary Makes The Nice In Moscow And St. Petersburg
With 3 whirlwind live appearances in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the
space of one month, Gary has been extremely busy furthering
Russo-American relations this spring.
On April 21st he played a barnstorming full-on electric and acoustic solo
show at Moscow's Central House of Artists before a delighted crowd that
included the seminal Manchester punk band Gold Blade (also in the country
for multiple appearances), avant-legends Henry Kaiser and John Oswald,
and numerous Soviet scenemakers. Immediately following the concert he
caught Gold Blade performing an incendiary set at Moscow's hip Chinese
Pilot club, and then without catching a breath took a 9-hour night train
which whisked him to beautiful St. Petersburg, scene of his first Russian
appearance last summer at the Stereoleto Festival with Future Sound of
London's psychedelic band Amorphous Androgynous. The occasion this time
was Gary performing at the Sergei Kuryokhin International Festival
(SKIF)—Gary had played the very first festival in NYC dedicated to the
late Russian avant-garde musical visionary in the mid-90's at NYC's
Knitting Factory under the aegis of sadly departed Boris Rayskin.
After jamming at the SKIF opening night reception and then soaking up
some of that great Saint Petersburg energy in the company of
promoter/bongo fury wildman Sasha Cheparukhin and his entourage at the
exquisitely hip after-hours club Purga, where Gary jammed with the house
reggae band, he joined his friend Henry Kaiser's band the next night for
a guest appearance rave-up on the Captain Beefheart composition "Alice in
Blunderland" in the huge SKIF mainspace (see photo here).
The following night, the SKIF Festival closing
night, it was Gary's turn to shine solo (with an assist from Henry
Kaiser as his guitar tech), as he wowed the mainspace audience with an
hour long set that pulled out all the stops, receiving a rousing
reception from the overflow crowd (thousands of people thronged the 3 day
SKIF event, roaming the vast halls and taking in over 20 acts from all
over the world on several levels and in multiple venues, including art,
fashion and video installations). The closing night crowd had been
alerted to Gary's concert by an interview and a preview of Gary's
performance in the St. Petersburg Times that week. The evening finished with Gary being joined onstage by
a dozen international experimental guitarists (including Henry Kaiser,
swiss psychonaut Gerard Zbinden, and festival artistic director Alexei
Pliousnine) for an avant-guitar jamboree called the Full Guitar
Orchestra (see photo here).
And a splendid time was had by
all...some of the other outstanding acts over the 3 day non-stop mashup
that Gary managed to catch were a great Russian vocalese electronic
conglomerate entitled Kosmik Opera, with singers from the famed Maryinksy
Opera; the wild improv scat and skronk antics of Ned Rothenberg and
Catherine Jauniaux; the urbane metal improv of Henry Kaiser, John Oswald
and Lukas Ligeti trio; the femme fatale threesome Kolibri; France's
legendary Magma with drummer/madman Christain Vander, and many other
luminaries of the psychic music wars.
Two weeks later Gary returned to Moscow in the company of Amorphous
Androgynous, the Future Sound of London's psychedelic band, comprising
himself and leader Garry Cobain (samples, vocals), Baluji Shrivastav
(sitar), brothers Mikey and Stewart Rowe (keyboards and guitar
respectively) and percussionist Tim Weller, with a massive light show
behind them courtesy of FSOL co-leader Brian Dougans. The event was a
huge open air free festival in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the
most popular Moscow magazine Afisha (the Russian equivalent of Time Out),
held on the bank of the Moscow River (Luzhniki Embankment).
estimated 10,000 fans, Amorphous Androgynous held sway over the crowd
with their psychedelic electronic sounds, beginning at 10pm on May 15th
under the famous White Nights' purple skies, and finishing an hour later
by order of the police, who were strictly enforcing an 11pm curfew.
Afterwards Gary signed dozens of autographs (on albums, ticket stubs,
ruble notes, arms, legs, etc.) for the crush of fans who pressed against
the wire mesh fence enclosing the backstage area, electrified by the warm
reception of the Russian people.