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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Woodstock Rocks at Taganka

Summertime pleasures continued last Saturday as Moscow celebrated the 40th anniversary of rock 'n' roll and the 25th anniversary of Woodstock by holding an open-air rock concert at Taganka Park.


The park is well-hidden in the center of the city between Taganskaya and Vorontsovskaya streets. In the middle of the park, there is an abandoned soccer stadium that Rock Stage, the organizers of the event, turned into a concert site.


It was a typical scene; only the occasional sound of Russian and T-shirts with Cyrillic logos suggested that this was Moscow and not Copenhagen or Berlin.


About 2,000 to 3,000 youngsters, including many girls (who, strangely enough, are rarely seen in rock audiences here), enjoyed themselves in a peaceful laid-back manner, sunbathing in the dirty grass among numerous empty beer cans and lazily cheering the bands on the stage.


Two hot-air balloons were anchored on the field, occasionally taking small groups of passengers about 50 meters in the air.


Beer and soft drinks were on sale throughout the stadium; my only objection is that the drinks weren't cold.


I spent about five hours at the concert, from 3 P.M. to 8 P.M., but my time there was so nice that it felt like only 30 minutes.


I particularly liked Kvartal, a sophisticated jazzy sextet with a female vocalist apparently influenced by Sade. They were followed by Serga (Earring), the new band of Sergei Galanin, formerly of Brigada S.


Potential candidates to the big league of Russian rock, they played dramatic ballads with impressive chord changes and brought to mind the legendary Kino, the biggest Soviet rock band ever, which so far hasn't had any convincing successors.


During the performance by Chaif, a charismatic rock/folk quartet from Yekaterinburg and the popular favorites of the festival, a small wedding party appeared at the stadium. The groom and bride, dressed in a long white gown and veil, danced and cheered at a particularly dusty spot in front of the stage.


It was a touching picture, like a scene from a Billy Idol or Guns 'n' Roses video.


Next was St. Petersburg's Dva Samolyota (Two Airplanes), probably the best live dance band in the country.


Basically a Latin/ska club act, Dva Samolyota nevertheless managed to get the beer-soaked audience to its feet. Topping the bill were two famous hard 'n' heavy groups, Master and Krui, but unfortunately I missed both of them.


An underground rock vet myself, the concert made me wonder: What if such an event, with sunny, hot weather, a symbolic entrance fee (in this case 5,000 rubles), top bands and unlimited beer had been organized in 1985 or 1986? (Before then, it would have been simply impossible.) Tens of thousands of young people probably would have descended on Tagansky park and raved in the neighboring blocks. But on Saturday, the place was three-quarters empty.


Anyway, the show was filmed and will be shown in an NTV series on Saturdays called "Music Bazaar."


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The most popular alternative scenes for summertime weekend fun were the MMM lines and pickets.


I have been asked several times to comment on the infamous case, but, frankly speaking, I don't know what to add to everything that has already been said. The things that are clear to me are the following:


1. Sergei Mavrodi is a very talented, uh, financier.


2. MMM is run by basically irresponsible adventurers. Considering that they dared to take responsibility for millions of people's savings, their attitude may justly be called that of swindlers.


3. The government was, as usual, way too late to become aware of MMM's pyramid and take measures. When they finally decided to take steps before the whole thing got too big and out of control, their statements and deeds were, as usual, awkward, uncoordinated and controversial.


4. The investors in MMM were either deliberately and consciously gambling or being very naive to the point of stupidity.


The gamblers must simply admit their loss and/or try their luck with another roulette. Whether the government should take responsibility for the country's fools is another question.