Concert stories /// Subbotnik Festival (Savages/Jessie Ware/Foals/Hurts/Arctic Monkeys); Moscow; 06/07/2013
Summer festivals with cracking line-ups attribute for memories vivid and long-lasting. Just imagine: sun, warm weather and good live music all day long. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? On 6th July Moscow hosted the first ever Subbotnik Festival which was held at Gorky Park – a beautiful, huge park in the centre of Moscow – and brought together amazing representatives of the UK scene: Savages, Jessie Ware, Foals, Hurts and Arctic Monkeys.
Savages were the first UK band to grace the stage of the festival. The ladies’ fuelled punk rock presented to the audience at the top of zeal and fervour opened the gates for British invasion that day. Savages got the crowd well moving and cheering despite the scorching sun and prepared the grounds for the appearance of Jessie Ware. The diva with deep, beautiful voice treated the ever-growing audience to soulful, emotional breed of pop music shining bright on the likes of ‘Devotion’, ‘Wildest Moments’ or ‘Valentine’, which she dedicated to Russian ladies and a lot of jokes which obviously broke the ice, warmed the crowd and put smiles on everyone’s faces.
With the appearance of Foals the seemingly calm scenery changed to frantic explosion of emotions in the direction of rock debauchery. Foals with their unearthly, surreal sound set off a bomb of mass destruction and the place became a mess. This sound invaded the minds and bodies of people and the charismatic figure and no less charismatic behaviour of the lead singer Yannis Philippakis only poured more fuel into an already raging fire. The rock ‘n’ roll sounding indie appeared fiery live and unhappy with a several-metre lawn separating the stage and the barrier, Yannis decided to get up close and personal with the Moscow audience who greeted the singer with great warmth and firm embrace. Things started to get hot on ‘My Number’, exploded on ‘Spanish Sahara’ and went totally out of control on ‘Inhaler. When Foals left the stage everyone was wondering what on Earth had hit them and still in awe from the newly-found love in music. Right was Jessie Ware when she claimed she wanted to be in Foals. Once you see them live, you’ll want that too, desperately. Or at least, to experience their live show again, and again, and again.
Experienced Russian road warriors Hurts came on next and the audience were not only well familiar with the band, but already well in love with them too. Starting off with dark ‘Exile’, the duo then went on through good old ‘Wonderful Life’, ‘Silver Lining’ and ‘Sunday’ mingled with fresh ‘Somebody To Die For’, ‘Miracle’ and ‘Blind’ stirring considerable cheers and singalongs from the crowd. Reserved on the outside, the band were torn by emotions on the inside and when they gave way to these burning feelings, it was pure rock ‘n’ roll poured out on the unsuspecting audience which finally boiled to the point of Theo’s crashing a mic stand on the most climatic part of ‘The Road’. With a touch of elegance and aristocracy, the band were on fire, mature and experienced performers – very contrary to what they were just a couple of years ago. Totally different from the mass destruction of Foals, Hurts brought an intoxicating cocktail of sensuality and rebellion, which took their performance on a brand new level.
Main headliners of the festival Arctic Monkeys brought another dimension to the excited place and their show is the competitor for the party of the year. Darkly sexual beginning with ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ was the prelude to big things and relentless massive dances to ‘Teddy Picker’, ‘Brianstorm’, ‘R U Mine?’ and never ageing classic ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and ‘Dancing Shoes’. Lyrical undertones of ‘She’s Thunderstorms’, ‘Mardy Bum’ or ‘Crying Lightning’ became rare opportunities to catch one’s breath before putting on dancing shoes and taking air guitars again. Very confident and obviously enjoying themselves the Monkeys shook the grounds of the park with their party anthems and shared heir immense zeal which infected everyone and put an irresistible end to a great day.
Though first it was, Subbotnik became a fantastic even to spend a summer day at and the bands, for most of whom the visit to Russia was the first one in their career, made it truy special.