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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Bridge Between Talent and Fame

It was a tough gig for an opening act. Tickets were going for a pricey $35 out front. The guards of the guest list were making mercilessly few exceptions. The headlining band was actually scheduled to perform first, and had the definite advantage in pre-concert CD and T-shirt sales.

But when Kalinov Most finally took the stage Friday night at the Russian Army Theater, they were greeted by a full and enthusiastic house. One of Russia's best-known little-known bands had arrived.

The Novosibirsk band, which paired up with Russian rock behemoths Yury Shevchuk and DDT for a rare Moscow performance, were the clear favorites of the evening, playing a long and soulful set that made their big-name predecessors look ever so slightly pass?.

"We actually put a lot of thought into who would go first," said Sergei Morozov, a Moscow rock critic who helped organize the band's latest string of concerts. "We were worried that if Kalinov Most went first they would be drowned out by people shouting for DDT."

As it turned out, it was shouts of "Kalinov Most!" that peppered DDT's slick, if somewhat overworked set. There was a lot more in terms of sing-along value during Shevchuk's performance, but what Kalinov Most -- the bridge in Russian folklore where the battle between good and evil is waged -- lacked in familiarity it made up for in sheer power.

Lead singer Dmitry Revyakin, performing on acoustic guitar with Andrei Shenikov on bass, Viktor Chapligin on drums and Vasily Smolentsev on lead guitar, played a wide selection of songs from the band's five albums, including their latest, "Deluge." None of Kalinov Most's songs can rightly be called out-and-out crowd pleasers -- Revyakin's winding, faintly Oriental melodies and elusive, poetic lyrics land somewhere closer to Russian folklore and mysticism than pure rock and roll.

But Revyakin, 30, whose rippling, virtuoso singing can come across as almost delicate on recordings, put in a surprisingly strong performance, his voice booming out over the beautiful, spare musical sets. And by the end of the concert, the rail-thin singer -- pegged by rock critics as a "Russian Jim Morrison" by virtue of his evocative, sometimes intangible lyrics, as well as his admirable bone structure -- had ripped off his shirt and tossed it into the crowd, rock-idol style, where it was torn into souvenir-sized shreds in a matter of seconds.

The concert, filmed in full for Russian television and covered by more than 100 journalists, may prove the final boost Kalinov Most needs to win the nationwide popularity that has eluded it since it was founded in 1986.

The band, whose albums have met with only modest commercial success, nonetheless enjoys active support from the Russian music industry, not always known for its altruistic motives. In addition to orchestrating publicity-getters like Friday's concert -- followed by a lower-key gig at the Ulitsa Radio Club on Sunday -- sponsors have funded a majority of the band's Moscow recording expenses. The band, which last performed in Moscow last April, will be performing in St. Petersburg before returning for a string of concerts in the capital city.

"They're still really not that popular. No one really knows them," Morozov said before the concert. "That's why we decided to have this concert, to pair them up so that all of the intellectuals who listen to DDT can get to know Kalinov Most better."