review by Liza Zinina
photos by Katya Palladina
One of Russia’s biggest bands, Mumiy Troll took over the tiny stage at Chop Suey on Friday night, selling out the venue. They rocked the Russian-speaking audience, excited to get a glimpse of home and to be able to shout “Go Russia!” amongst their compatriots. The vodka was flowing and the ready to sing and dance crowd was a joy to see in Seattle, over 5000 miles away from Moscow. Mumiys pleased the fans by playing some of the most well-known and loved songs that made them famous 10 years ago and the awesome cover of “California Dreaming” in Russian. The power, the drive and the groovy edge is definitely enough to captivate the listener without the need to understand the lyrics and enjoy the adventure the band takes you on.
Mumiy Troll began their conquest of the world in 1983, in the last days of the Soviet Union, when owning a Beatles record made you the coolest kid on the block and nylons were a novelty. Hailing from Vladivostok, a fairly large port town not far from the China border, the band’s lyrics were contributed by the nautical themes of seamanship, beautiful sunsets and navy wives awaiting their husbands’ return. It wasn’t until 1997 that the guys were able to record and release their debut album due to unwillingness of the studios to work with them. Their sound was neither pop nor rock enough, lacking the socialistic themes and folk-undertones expected of a Russian rock band. When Morskaya finally saw the light of day, it became an instant hit thanks to its brit-pop influences and merging of rock and pop, now band’s signature sound “rockapops”.
The guys of Mumiy Troll, singer Ilya Lagutenko, bassist Eugene “Sdwig” Zvidionny, drummer Oleg Pungin and guitarist Yuri Tsaler have embarked on their first tour of the United States, stopping in DC, New York and even Utah to promote their newest record, Comrade Ambassador. According to the band’s official site, Comrade Ambassador will collect 14 tracks taken from the band’s two most recent releases, AMBA (2007) and VIII (2008). Comrade is the band’s first record to be released stateside on March 24th in hopes of winning the hearts of American audiences with its Russian lyrics, intriguing guitar riffs and 90’s electronica beats.
Mumiy Troll has rocked crowds of thousands in some of the Moscow’s biggest arenas, clubs across Russia and festivals all over Eastern Europe, making their performance at Chop Suey all the more unique. Seeing Lagutenko’s deep blue eyes and the sweat dripping down the faces of his band mates up-close, was like having Led Zeppelin playing in your living room — so intimate was the performance.
Going to the concert I felt like I did when I first heard their songs in the 8th grade or when my mom took me to their concert. The feeling was still as inspiring and full of high energy as I remember it walking through the hallways of a Russian middle school, Mumiy Troll tape in my Walkman.
The band completed this leg of their tour with a concert in Portland on Saturday at Berbati’s Pan and is playing in Lithuania, Latvia and Russia before returning in March to play in San Francisco and LA.