Rock music emerged in Russia in the second half of the 20th century, during Soviet times. Russian rock music derives from Western European and American rock music, but the Russian mentality still left its mark on the emergence of rock in the Soviet Union. Of course, the rhythms and themes are still faithful to the genre of rock.
At the beginning of its existence, rock music culture was considered marginal and anti-Soviet in Russia, so it mainly existed underground. Public performances by rock groups took place in the musicians’ apartments or, if the performers were feeling rebellious, in school assembly halls. The situation had changed a little by the 1980s, when Western rock music started to be sold legally in Soviet music stores, and Soviet rock musicians were allowed to record their compositions and perform them openly. This was the time of the first rock clubs in Russia.
In recent years, there has been a decline in popularity of rock clubs in Moscow, and rock music (hopefully, just for the time being) has mostly become relegated to the tastes of older generations. Those who are fond of this style of music, however, will find a several great places to listen to rock in Moscow.
TSOI WALL AND HARD ROCK CAFE ON ARBAT
While strolling along the Old Arbat StreetRussian: ulitsa Staryi Arbat or улица Старый Арбат, you can’t miss the Viktor Tsoi WallRussian: stena Viktora Tsoya or стена Виктора Цоя, dedicated to this legendary Russian musician of the late 20th century. After his death in 1990, his fans left many messages on this wall, including excerpts from his songs and mottos on the wall of the house No. 37 at the intersection of Arbat Street and Krivoarbatsky LaneRussian: Krivoarbatskiy pereulok or Кривоарбатский переулок. The Tsoi Wall is still very much “alive” and is one of Moscow’s landmarks. Russian rock music fans often gather here.
When on Arbat, pay a visit to the Hard Rock Café (44/1, ArbatRussian: Арбат Street). It opened its doors in 2003, in stark contrast to when the original Hard Rock Café opened, back in 1971, in London. Today, there are hundreds of Hard Rock Cafés all over the world. This network has amassed the largest collection of rock music relics, including real musical instruments, posters, rock concert tickets and rare photos of rock musicians hang on the walls. A noisy atmosphere prevails in any Hard Rock Café, and many people come here to have lively discussions over glasses of beer.
There is no point coming here just to have a meal, as the menu is not very varied and rather pricy, but the atmosphere is worth it. The Hard Rock Café on Arbat Street is quite popular with foreign tourists, who come in flocks to meet other alternative music fans and have a chat with them. This café is highly popular among Moscow bikers, too.
СONCERT HALLS AND BARS
Rock House (71E, Izmaylovskoye HighwayRussian: Izmaylovskoe shosse or Измайловское шоссе) is not really an orthodox rock club. It is, above all, a concert venue, where Russian and foreign rock music performers come to sing and play. Those who enjoy the rock lifestyle will be pleased with the concert line-up and the atmosphere The club can fit up to 700 people. Powerful sound equipment, a large dancingfloor and go-go dancers are a must in any hard rock venue. The show bar is located in north-east of Moscow.
16 TonnRussian: 16 тонн (16 Tons) (Block 1, 6, Presnensky Val StreetRussian: ulitsa Presnenskiy Val or улица Пресненский Вал) is one of the oldest rock clubs in Moscow. It was established in 1996 as a pub, and a brewery has been operating there since its inception. Later, the pub acquired its own concert venue tailored to guitar music; the venue’s history is reflected in its interior, and it can be a bit crowded and noisy during the concerts attended by up to 500 people.
The club was named after a song titled Sixteen Tons about a coal miner, written by the American composer Merle Travis and recorded by Tennessee E. Ford. This song is played before each concert held in the club. The Sixteeen Tons Club is located in the centre of Moscow, and its good old English-style interior makes it very popular with British visitors (and other foreigners, too).
Kitayskiy Letchik Dzhao DaRussian: Китайский летчик Джао Да (Chinese Pilot Jao Da) (Block 1, 25, Lubyansky DrivewayRussian: Lubyanskiy proezd or Лубянский проезд) is another rock club with a long history. It was named after a semi-mythical person called Jao Da, whose portrait can be seen in the concert hall opposite the stage. Jao Da is one of the favourites of Moscow rock partygoers, where they come to relax, have a chat with their friends over a glass of beer and listen to some good music such as indie rock, punk rock and ethnic music. The club also offers poetry readings to its visitors. Artists performing here may be famous or as yet undiscovered, but they definitely go all out for their spectators.
This chamber club has a seating capacity of 200 people, at most. The club has another, even smaller hall, Dom Kukera or Cooker’s HouseRussian: Дом Кукера, designed as a “club within the club”. This place is very different to the Pilot, with its fireplace and lampshades hanging over round tables. Films are screened here, and meet-the-artist sessions involving well-known personalities in the world of arts and culture are hosted in this hall, as well. Cooker’s House also features the real mailboxes of the club’s friends, Emir Kusturica and Manu Chao, designed by the singers themselves. They readily answer the letters dropped there.
The list of Moscow’s places associated with rock culture would not be complete without the Sexton Club (110, Nizhniye Mnevniki StreetRussian: ulitsa Nizhnie Mnevniki or улица Нижние Мневники). It was founded by the Night Wolves Bike ClubRussian: bayk-klub «Nochnyie volki» or байк-клуб «Ночные волки», the pioneers of the Soviet biker movement. Representing the rock movement and whatever is associated with it, the bikers decided to found an eponymous club like the one which existed in Berlin in the 1980s. Today, the Sexton Club is an integral part of the bikers’ haunts, with its unusual look, impressive interior, all sorts of motorcycles, a lot of iron and fire and, of course, the bikers themselves. Despite its focus on the biker movement, you won’t hear rock music every night at the Sexton Club, and you may even have to wait for a biker party before rock music is played here. The club seats up to 300 people and is located relatively far from the city centre and metro stations.
Moscow hosts annual rock festivals such as NashestviyeRussian: Нашествие (Invasion), Dikaya MyataRussian: Дикая мята (Wild Peppermint) and, lately, Park Live.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com