ST. PETERSBURG — Most Russian bands have canceled their Ukrainian tours, fearing a backlash from Russian authorities, but ever-defiant St. Petersburg veteran rock band Televizor went ahead and performed at a concert called "No to War!" with two Ukrainian bands in Kiev earlier this month.
In Kiev, Televizor performed at the 1,000-capacity venue Atlas, formerly known as Yunost, with Ukrainian bands Kollezhsky Asessor and Labirint 02. Kolezhsky Asessor is a reformed veteran art-rock band originally founded in 1987, while Labirint 02 is a rock band that has been around since 2002.
"I didn't just want a Televizor concert, but to have Ukrainian bands as well to state our position, to have people united on the stage," Televizor frontman Mikhail Borzykin said this week.
"I had suggested calling it 'Give Peace a Chance,' but upon discussion we decided it would be better to call it 'No to War!' During the concert I said everything that I thought and sang all the songs I wanted to sing. The reaction was very positive, with encores and people lining up for autographs. The attitude was very warm, even if people have been living in tension for a long time and have gotten tired of war."
According to Borzykin, he was standing against Russia's activities in Ukraine rather than for peace in general. "I think that archaic pacifism looks inappropriate in the current situation," he said.
Since August, rock musician Andrei Makarevich and his band Mashina Vremini and Diana Arbenina's Nochniye Snaipery have found their concerts canceled across Russia, with venues referring to sudden repairs or poor ticket sales. In reality, both faced problems after performing in Ukraine and making statements in support of the country.
Russian bands reacted by canceling their tours in Ukraine, the most recent being St. Petersburg's avant-rock band Auktyon and Moscow's alternative-rock rapper Noize MC. However, earlier this month Akvarium's Boris Grebenshchikov announced he would be playing a concert with a peaceful message in Kiev on Dec. 14.
"Several months ago they were shocked because they had already sold most tickets for many concerts but Russian artists, including Piknik and Alisa, started refusing to come, giving various excuses," Borzykin said of Ukrainian promoter Perekryostok, which organized Televizor's concert in Kiev
Despite the falling price of the hryvnia and the bad economic situation, Ukrainian fans are eager to see Russian rock bands, said to Borzykin. "Of course, people have little money but it looks as if they wanted a bit of peaceful life and were ready to go to these concerts against all odds," he said.
Makarevich and Arbenina were handpicked by the authorities to send a warning to the rest, Borzykin suggested. "There seem to be no further instructions so we can relax so far," he said. "Of course, it's done to intimidate the others. It was the first round, there may be another — aimed at less well-known bands."
Televizor will perform Saturday at 7:30 p.m. 113 Ligovsky Prospekt. Metro Obvodny Kanal. St. Petersburg. 812-958-3888.