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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Music Festival Promises No Pressure to Conform

Many bands get dubbed experimental, but how many are really willing to take risks?

This weekend, artists from Kiev to Rostov-on-Don will descend upon Moscow for the first Art of Sound festival, a two-day event that allows the groups to do whatever they want on stage.

The festival’s goal, according to organizer Stepan Kazaryan, is to allow the artists to stretch out and explore methods and aesthetics normally restricted by the format of the normal rock show, although that word is frowned upon.

“The word ‘show’ is inappropriate for this event; it’s an experiment,” said Kazaryan, a local promoter who recently brought the U.S. group +/- to Moscow. “Most of the bands are going to be experimenting on stage, doing something new even for them, not just their normal program.”

Saturday evening’s lineup has four groups: Little-known Kiev group Coala Pascal will play alongside Moscow space-rock stalwarts Silence Kit, who are expected to premiere a set of entirely new material, while Moscow’s Usssy and radio DJ Ilya Richter’s electronic quartet Dream Mechanics round the show out.
Sunday’s six-band evening will feature a three-way, improvised collaboration between ambient Moscow beat-boxer Galun, abrasive punk trio Perth and skronky saxophonist Ilya Byelorukov from St. Petersburg.

The guitar/contrabass/cello/drums quartet 417.3, from Rostov, will contribute their brooding electro-acoustic compositions later in the set. The main thing unifying all these groups, in Kazaryan’s view, is their willingness to use the festival to take risks on stage.

“Musicians and bands, whenever they play in Moscow or St. Petersburg, or even New York, they are always under pressure from the club, from the press, from the fans, from the media, from their manager and stuff like that, and that doesn’t let them experiment, even if they are supposed to be an ‘experimental’ band,” said Kazaryan, a 25-year-old concert promoter and manager of up-and-coming Moscow group More Money. “It’s a risk if you try something new that maybe people won’t like it, won’t want to pay for it. So, I’m making this festival to bring a whole bunch of bands that are trying to make a musical experiment under one roof. ... There’s no pressure on them; the only thing I’m asking from them is that they start at 7 and end at 11.”

Art of Sound plays Sat., Feb. 21 and Sun., Feb. 22 at Dom. 24/4 Bolshoi Ovchinninkovsky Pereulok, Metro Novokuznetskaya. Tel. 495 953-7236, A two-day pass costs 800 rubles; single nights are 400 rubles in advance, 450 at the door.