Ivan wakes us and asks if any wish to join him on a trip to the shop to procure breakfast supplies.
I’ve regained neither the cognitive functions, nor willpower to attempt such a fete just yet. I elect to stay wrapped up in my sleeping bag and attempt conversation with the cats.
I fail, though I’m fairly sure one might’ve made disparaging comments about my physique. You know that look cats give you… bastards.
My concern grows as to Alex’s well being, as the noises he made earlier this morning and continues to make now, suggest he’s enduring severe discomfort.
Well, I say my concern grows. If we want to be pedantic, what I really mean is, I noticed he made some sounds and those sounds annoyed me.
I’m not really concerned, so much as inconvenienced.
Fried Eggs – The perfect start to the day… unless you’re vegan.
Elana prepares the best breakfast ever – eggs. Lots of fried eggs, cooked to perfection.
I think this is the second time I’ve enjoyed fried eggs that could be described as ‘perfect’ on this tour.
We’re also introduced to a couple of Ivan’s friends, from Spain and Belarus, I believe. They seem quite lovely and so I elect to stay quiet and not risk ruining their day or perception of British people.
The plan is to soon leave for a quick tour of the local area before moving into the city to prepare for tonight’s show. I get some work done before we depart because I’ve learned that being organised can actually have tangible benefits.
Krasnoyarsk vistas and military complex
‘Tanks’ for stopping by!
Our tour begins right on the doorstep of Ivan’s flat, a small military complex with some badass vehicles and weaponry scattered along its outer perimeter.
Ivan explains what this place is all about very clearly and concisely. I don’t take any notes and immediately forget everything he tells us, so the educational benefits of this particular segment I’m afraid are somewhat minimal.
A friend of Ivan’s joins us for this trip, though I sadly forget his name. Jesus Christ, I am absolutely on form for premature senility. He explains that he works in a place similar to this somewhere else in the city and goes on to share many details about their operations, facilities etc. I remember that he spoke, at least. This is considerable progress by my standards.
We eventually come across three tanks, which Alex (whose pain has evidently ceased, to the relief of my ears) and Denis climb like children on the body of a defeated demonic overlord.
Our new friends convince us (with absolutely no difficulty) to pose before said tanks.
We look – obviously – badass.
No, not lame and out of shape – badass!
If you go down to the woods today, you’ll see some boss shit.
Moving on from the military place, we venture into some woods between it and Ivan’s apartment building. Denis has been teasing Alex that what awaits us within will fill him with dread.
I’m therefore expecting someone capable of singing a second note – wahey! It could also be the sun. Gingers aren’t known for their tolerance of sunshine.
As I look ahead, there’s a thick bush awaiting us on the other side of the woods. I don’t mean a lady who’s taken the 80s approach to personal hair control. Wait, is that a ‘decadist’ statement? I mean, if I’d alluded to someone of a particular race demonstrating such behaviour, I expect that would qualify for some as racist. Likewise agist, if I accused people of a certain age bracket. What is it if you make assumptions about the behaviour of people from a particular decade?
Oh my god who cares??
Anyway, within said bush there’s a small gap which I expect we’ll walk through. While I can’t really tell what’s on the other side, I’ve a sneaking suspicion it’s going to be quite impressive.
Like a dinosaur juggling wheelchairs made of straw.
Impressive, that is. Not a dinosaur juggling wheelchairs made of straw.
An absolutely stunning view, overlooking the Yenisei River. As rivers go, it’s boss.
The sense of scale is only increased by just how far the mountains and hills stretch into the distance. Likewise, Krasnoyarsk itself sits far to the left of where we’re currently standing and comprises barely a fraction of the overall landscape.
Ivan’s friend shares details with us about how the area across from us is popular with tourists, but the presence of bears has meant a careful relocation of where activities take place.
Considering how many people insist Russians are nuts, that’s an incredibly well informed, logical decision.
He might mention skiing as being such an activity, but my attention is caught by some of the birds which fly overheard, having swooped up from the valley itself.
One looks like a hawk. I’m dead if I get this wrong or fail to take a picture.
These are my favourite aspects of being on tour. Decent company (band members notwithstanding) and time spent absorbing environments I’m unlikely to ever see again.
And it’s just massive. Everywhere in Siberia is massive.
It’s been a whole five minutes since we last took a band picture and our egos are starting to feel the strain of this. We pose infront of the river and ruin the view for everyone else in the process.
We move along to another great viewing spot, where a pair of newly weds are having their pictures taken. I can’t blame them. If I got married and wanted the option of both incredible photos and throwing myself to an easy death, should the desire take hold – this is the perfect spot.
I’m pretty sure Anna’s preference would be to push me anyway.
We spend another half hour or so just enjoying the area. More birds fly overhead, there’s a slight chill in the wind, everywhere just smells fresh and feels wide open.
I don’t completely see the point of touring if you don’t get moments like this. We’ve always made considerable effort as a band to appreciate and enjoy the places we play. It’s not always feasible when there’s a lot of driving involved, but I appreciate the lengths Denis and our various hosts go to, to ensure we’re able to have experiences like this.
When you’re just driving from one venue to another with the only stops being to pee and eat, there’s very little to distinguish the tour from any other. You’re seeing the same sights and places you’d see anywhere else. Even just a couple of hours spent somewhere like this, is enough to really cement the whole experience in your mind for the rest of your life.
Yeah, it’s pretty good.
Before leaving, Alex and I note the presence of a semi naked woman suddenly arising from the bushes, overlooking the cliff edge. Whether she’s lost, too lazy to find a bathroom or simply mad, we’ll never know. It strikes us both as being somewhat odd. No mete fete considering we’ve been in Russia for two weeks now. I thought we’d become numb to such things.
I say ‘Hello’ to some birds as we return to the flat.
They don’t respond.
Probably don’t speak English.
Or just ignorant dicks.
Sthap, Krasnoyarsk and Pizza
We make our way into the city of Krasnoyarsk. It’s the third biggest city in Siberia (I think, behind Omsk and Novosibirsk) and is nice.
There’s nothing architecturally, geographically or aesthetically that immediately stands out. Cities like Cape Town and London, there’s always something on the horizon that is of ‘that place’ which really hits you. It gives you a sense of location while contextualising everything you see at a ground level.
Krasnoyarsk doesn’t seem to have this, at least not yet. Or maybe I slept through it. There’s nothing that distinguishes it from say, Tomsk that really defines my first impression.
Instead, that first impression is largely determined by how clean, maintained and busy the place is. We might have just chosen a very convenient entry route, but Krasnoyarsk is impeccably clean and far quieter than I would’ve expected of a city this size.
Of all the cities we’ve been to so far, the feel and aesthetic seems far closer to that of Yaketerinburg. There’s a blend of Eastern European (I know we’re pretty far east, so I mean the likes of Budapest, specifically) and modern architecture that lends the city a sort of ‘slightly off centre’ cosmopolitan feel.
That’s an incredibly, uselessly vague observation and I slap myself for having made it.
After parking up and a bit of walking, we eventually arrive at tonight’s venue, Sthap.
It’s awesome, a really well presented, well maintained bar. I love spots like this though I do have to wonder if they’ve any idea what sort of music is going to be played tonight. It’s beautifully decorated, lit, has a couple of ‘private’ Playstation 4 rooms and an extensive range of craft beers.
It’s a very, very nice place.
We’re a very, very horrendous band.
That’s not necessarily a mix their patrons will be expecting.
Meh, buyer beware.
We soon leave to find food, dieing as we each are from starvation. We don’t walk far, but what little of the city we see in this time is impressive.
My initial comparison with Yekaternburg continues. There’s just a sense of space, scale and frankly maintenance which I’d honestly say surpasses that of Russia’s Western cities. I make a mental note to come back to this later, when my judgement is not impaired by being desperately hungry.
Elana and Tatyana take us to a cafe/restaurant which looks and smells incredible. Like me, except the opposite. So far, Kraznyotsk is genuinely failing to disappoint in any sense.
Elana asks if I would like a beer and I politely decline, informing her that drinking before performing, regardless of how many hours, is typically a very bad idea.
I immediately contradict myself when I see Bloody Marys on the menu.
I’ve never had one, but I always thought they looked badass and likewise, really wish I was Archer. He’s the lead character from a TV show called Archer. He’s a handsome and charismatic, but awfully narcissistic, offensively sarcastic secret agent who drinks Bloody Marys. I want to be him and figure if I enjoy these drinks, I’ll have three of the bases covered.
It arrives and I enjoy. I’m not too sure from the initial ‘kick’ but as I take a few gulps and the flavours erupt, I’m ostensibly pleased with this decision. These things are great! Secret agent stardom, here I come.
Our meals likewise arrive, but spread out over the course of an hour. Which is annoying, particularly since it’s mine that comes out last, but the quality of food, drink, service and surrounding has so far made up for this.
I devour it when it arrives. I’m now fat, a little tipsy and knackered. Plus it’s sunny. Not a great combination.
I need to go and sleep somewhere.
The others go for a tour of the city while I return to the venue. I help Ivan unload some of the gear, get some work done and pass out on a bench. I’m knackered and need my beauty sleep.
Preferably several months’ worth.
Wake up – it’s noise time
Everyone eventually returns, the first band sets up and the place quickly becomes littered with people.
I figure now is probably a good time to wake up and look interested.
I am interested, no doubt. I’m just under no delusions about the fact that I rarely – if ever – look like it.
The first band takes to the stage and they’re really, really not my thing. I don’t know if this is thrash, crust or whatever (so many people will be annoyed by that comparison). Musically, such genres have never done anything for me, but personality wise they’re a lot of fun. The drummer’s solid and the singer, who I’m thinking might be 99% alcohol at this point, comes across as a very nice, fun chap. It’s hard to describe exactly why, he’s just got a very personable, if slightly strange vibe.
Good band, but really not up my street.
The second band is Ivan’s, one of two who are performing this evening. They’re pretty fast, heavy and brutal. They’ve a slightly more alternative vibe than your average grind/power violence band, which I largely attribute to Ivan.
Throughout the day he’s come across as having a more experimental, driven attitude than many, which is reflected in his vocal performance. He’s giving it some serious battering and littering standard screams and pig squeals, with more eclectic sprinklings of bizarre vocal work. It’s really good shit and the crowd is enjoying.
So am I, though I expect my face appears terminally indifferent.
Then it’s our turn. I’m feeling pretty good about tonight’s set. The effects of today’s Bloody Mary and Pizza combination have worn off, there’s a large, enthusiastic crowd and the other bands have warmed the place up nicely.
Such positivity is typically followed up by an absolutely crap, or problem-ridden performance. But not today, we – quite frankly – rip the place several new ones. It’s just one of those shows where everything falls into place really nicely.
Matt is especially on fire (which I dare say would take more time to burn through his mass than the Chernobyl reactor), playing one of his tightest but also most violent, animated performances.
We’re asked for an encore, which we kindly oblige before falling from the stage and passing out. Ivan arrives to help take our gear down and his face is borderline torn in two by the severity of the smile drawn across it.
I think he liked us.
It takes me a while longer than usual to put my gear away. Sometimes we finish playing and my head is in a place of natural peace and tranquility. This isn’t one of those occasions. I’m still feeling pretty wired from our set, so get myself a beer and find a corner to work from, allowing me to still see the final band.
Said band is Ivan’s second of the evening, for which he’s playing sax. This is experimental jazz at some of the finest I’ve seen. Not that I’ve seen much. The drummer is especially great. He infuses some admirably solid time keeping (admirable given how much is going on around him) with segments of independence and syncopation which work perfectly with the music, few of which would I describe as being ‘simple’. It’s so easy to over cook this stuff and just come across as a bunch of self-important hipster musos, but these guys are miles away from that. The music is creative, energetic and quite rewarding to listen to.
A really, really good show.
Onwards to Irkustk
Alex, Matt and Riley are speaking with folks who came to the show, while I lie back and enjoy some relaxation. Denis informs me that we must leave soon, as we have – yep, you guessed it – another long drive ahead of us.
Exhausting as that sounds, we’re only one more long drive away after this one from Lake Baikal, which I am especially excited to experience for myelf.
I move a load of our stuff into the van and while outside, take the opportunity to speak with some of the people who’ve made the effort to come down and see us. Everyone is mega, mega pumped for our performance. Everyone makes considerable effort to let us know just how much it means to them that we’ve made the effort to come all this way.
Which is nice. Personally, I wouldn’t walk minutes to endure our shit. This is why I insist on being carried everywhere, like a crippled dog.
Krasnokysk, Ivan, Tatyana and everyone involved – thanks for one of our best shows and visits yet.