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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rock Impresario Hypes His Creations

The most common kind of pop concert in Russia is a bunch of lip-synch stars and starlets all miming at some sports arena. Such events are happening not because our pop performers love each other so much (just the opposite; the famous Igor Talkov was killed in a backstage argument about who would top the bill), but for purely financial reasons. Hiring stadium-quality equipment is simply too expensive for a single band or singer, and playing in smaller venues doesn't make a profit.

These joint concerts usually lack ideas and inspiration, and bear such titles as "Autumn Hit Parade" or "All Stars Sing to You". Sometimes, however, there are exceptions, such as the stadium show held last weekend at the Luzhniki Sports Arena. Called "Me and My Friends", the event was produced by Yury Eisenspitz to celebrate, more or less, himself.

Mr. Eisenspitz is somewhat of a living legend. Born in 1945, he became the first rock impresario in Moscow in the 1960s, staging underground gigs for pioneering Russian electric guitar combos. Not surprisingly, he was put in jail for "illegal financial activities". Shortly after his first sentence was over, authorities sent him back to the gulag. Luckily, when he came home again after another seven or so years in prison camp, perestroika was flourishing.

Yury's entrepreneurial talents are flourishing legally at last. As manager for "Kino", he quickly made the group into the biggest grossing rock band in the former Soviet Union.

A man with a Midas touch, Eisenspitz was capable of turning young and totally unknown acts (such as Technologia) into the country's leading pop attractions, and not so much because of their outstanding artistic qualities, but rather thanks to skillful management and effective promotion. Unlike most local show biz operators, famous for cutthroat tactics toward rivals and virtually enslaving their artists, sweet Yury has maintained friendly relations with both his clientele and his competitors. For last weekend's gig, he presented his past and present discoveries. Looking happy and vain, wearing a checkered red, black and yellow Christian Dior jacket, the boss conducted the concert himself.

Moral Codex, a stylish modern rock quintet that's probably a bit too sophisticated to be really popular, played first. Their funky live set was followed by several typical Russian teenybop disco acts that were totally bland, but much cheered by the young audience. Lika Star (formerly Lika MC), an interesting girl rapper, came next. Desperately trying to be sexy and smart at the same time (Madonna's bad influence, I suppose), she didn't look very natural in either mode, but there is promise. Young Guns, Eisenspitz's latest signing, are four very young kids who thoroughly imitate Guns 'n' Roses. If their Svengali manages to break them into the big league, consider it another miracle of hype.

Natalia Vetlitskaya is quite special; full of discreet, slightly enigmatic charm, she's got a touch of class and style, rarely seen among native pop singers. I wish she'd make a record so I could understand her better. Finally, there was Malchishnik ("Boys Talk") - an ultra-sexist rap trio, spreading the Beastie Boys bravado on these shores.

It's a pity they didn't sing "Mike Tyson is Innocent", but it was big fun anyway. After "Non-Stop Sex", the lights went on, the audience went out in the cold and honored "friends" rushed to a gigantic banquet.