In case you were looking forward to the rumored cooler temperatures set to descend upon Moscow in a few days, this weekend may be one of the summer’s busiest as far as concerts go. The annual Afisha Picnic, sponsored by the popular biweekly arts magazine Afisha, is probably the best bang for your buck. Set to take place Saturday at Kolomenskoye from noon to 10 p.m., the festival will host 47 artists from Russia, England and the United States on six different stages. And this year, it’s aimed beyond the smog-filled borders of the Moscow region.
“This year the festival goes international,” said Alyona Bocharova, director of international and regional development for Afisha Picnic. “It will have bilingual navigation for the first time (in the history of local festivals in general), an information booth for English-speaking attendees and a British lecture hall entitled ‘Re:Sound Music Industry Forum’ with lectures from leading U.K. professionals in the music industry.”
Besides the foreign acts on the bill — Roots Manuva and Editors, both from Britain, and Spank Rock, Hercules & Love Affair and Grammy-nominated singer Janelle Monae from the United States — the festival has also managed to attract a large number of Russia’s best contemporary acts. It’s advised to take a chance on some unknowns, but here are a few suggestions for an ideal way to spend the afternoon: Cut2Kill, a self-described “new rave” duo featuring two of Moscow’s best electronic artists, will play the Electric Garden stage at 4 p.m. Then on the Circle Stage at 5 p.m., you can catch Motherfathers, a Moscow quartet that manages to merge the anthemic swagger of The Jesus and Mary Chain with the aggression of The Jesus Lizard.
Over on the Main Stage at 5:30 p.m., St. Petersburg rock legends Auktsyon will bring their wide range of instruments and clever lyrics (always good for a vocabulary lesson). You may have to duck out of their show early, however, to dash back over to the Electric Garden at 6 p.m. in time for Cops on Fire, Moscow’s very first hip-hop opera (with all beats written by Cut2Kill’s Alexander Kholenko).
Other stages offer different strokes for different folks: The Outsiders tent will present the face-melting noise of Ya Sleva Sverkhu (I Am Above on the Left) and the laptop-versus-guitar stylings of GAZ; DJs will be spinning all day on the Renault Megane stage; and Padla Bear Outfit, a St. Petersburg neofolk group who recorded their album “Nichego” on a 24-year-old cassette deck in their singer’s apartment, plays the Luzhaika Stage at 5 p.m.
There’s just one big caveat: No alcohol will be sold or allowed on the premises. Expect the water to be expensive and the okhraniki, or security guards, to search you thoroughly. But, according to the festival web site, there will be a food court where “falafel and noodles are cooked in seconds, the cherries are immaculately fresh, and beef sandwiches are prepared in the true Argentinian way.” Sans dill.