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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

BIG in the STANS is rockin'

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The importance of Central - Asian rock music scene and youth culture were identified as key drivers in the starting point of tour in Kabul recently. Kabul rock-group White City has launched their Central Asian music tour “BIG in the STANS” in the capital of Afghanistan and already had four successful performances in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Next destination - Kyrgyzstan. 

                                                Table Talk Cafe, Kabul, Afghanistan March 31st 2011

Big in the STANS kick off concert in Kabul from Combat Commo on Vimeo.

The launch concert in Kabul, which was attended by rock/indie/punk music fans, focused on the cooperation between Afghan and western musicians, centered on performance by White City and was supported by Sound Studies [a fusion ensemble of east and west musicians] This event was the beginning of band’s 6 weeks long tour ‘BIG in the STANS’ that aims to give live performances in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan. As well as that there will be produced special video documentary about tour and will visually ‘sum up’ each country with fast- paced cinematic shots, while formal and informal interviews with local musicians about the cultural climate will provide the background and context for each of White City’s concerts.

Ru, the lead singer of White City gave an overview of BIG in the STANS tour idea: ‘Our concert in Kabul on 31st March gave us a chance to try out new songs and new sounds on the Kabul audience. In Dushanbe, the local teenaged bands played metal and ska-punk alongside grey-haired, veteran rockers. When we finally went on after 7 bands, the kids showed us they hadn't lost any energy. I think it's the first time we've had the entire room shouting 'White City! White City!'

                                        Live Club, Dushanbe, Tajikistan 8th of April 2011

White City in Dushanbe, Tajikistan from Combat Commo on Vimeo.

For me, the aim of the tour is to bring our music to an often forgotten part of the world and exchange ideas and sounds with local bands. We want to explore the youth music scene and, where language fails, communicate through music.
I’m sure the challenges will be many: cultural, political, logistical, but making a documentary out of the tour means that even the problems we face will make good footage! I’m looking forward to playing the clubs and venues in the cities we visit, of course, but most of all, I want to get out to the rural parts and make contact with people in the forgotten parts of the countries we visit.’
Travka, guitarist and professional filmmaker said: ‘Starting our tour we've had a fair few dramas in the first days: Ru lost her voice and only got it back the day of the first gig and she got her foot jammed in some wood and bruised it up badly, she had to get a cast put on that she will have to wear for 2 weeks. But speaking about Dushanbe it was a great success as people told us that it was the best event to happen in the rock community in years! Besides that we are having a great time together, writing music. The rest of the trip looks well booked with concerts. During our visit to Tajikistan we were asked to go to the countryside to play for some villagers and less privileged youths. The rest of the trip looks well booked with concerts.
My expectations of the tour are to bring rock music to the far-fetched corners of the former Soviet republic. To engage with the local youth and rock their world. Lastly we want to play along side of Central Asia’s under dog bands and mix it up a little on stage where possible. Documentary wise the camera will show you place you have not only never heard of but have never seen through the lens of a traveling musicians. Our music and cameras will be the communicator between 2 lands, 2 people, 2 ages.’

                                                Chinori Kuhan, Dushanbe, Tajikistan 9th of April 2011

 Andronik, drummer and aid worker added: ‘When we just got to Dushanbe I thought that it is really good to be back in this pleasant city again. Such a contrast to Kabul - we're away from the dust and traffic jams, here you get green boulevards, outdoor cafes, proper infrastructure...
The first gig, on 8th of April at the "Live Club", was primarily advertised among expatriates here in Dushanbe, so turn out of audience was not that big and I feared we wouldn't have a rocking night. Was therefore very positively surprised when, a few songs into the gig, the whole crowd started jumping around dancing and headbanging. We have different opinions in the band on how we sounded - I reckon we did fairly well while both Ruth and Travis considered we were too sloppy. Suppose my positive experience was partly due to being provided a very good drumkit that I felt comfortable with. You never know in places like this - last time we were here (2008) I had to seek for a drum kit a full day and only got hold of some old stuff.
The second gig in Dushanbe, on 9th of April at "Chinori Kuhan" was a real pleasure. There were seven local bands prior to us - thus the day turned into a real one-day rock festival. It seems to be more happening there within the pop/rock scene than I imagined. We got a taste of a rather wide variety of styles among local bands, from pop to metal.We also went to Nurek, the mountain town in Tajikistan, where we were playing in the town square with the ‘Michael Jackson of Tajikistan’, Rushad, a pop singer with quite the fancy footwork. Initially only a group of kids cast their beady eyes on our performance, but word spread like wildfire and soon a crowd of 500 were crowding around, clapping, dancing and (with our instruction) making rock hand-signs for the camera. In a nice coincidence, it was the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s legendary flight into space, so our new song, ‘Space Cadet, praising the eastern cosmonauts of the past went down particularly well.

                                                        Nurek, Tajikistan, 12th of April 2011

During our BIG in the STANS tour I am expecting to experience a surrealistic rock´n´roll road movie, with a lot of adventure, rock-starved kids head-banging at our gigs, meeting fascinating people while exploring off-the-beaten-track corners of the world, and a fair deal of hassles, vodka and sore drum hands. But the main expectation is a broadened social-cultural-political understanding of the central Asian region and friendship established with central Asian musicians, artists and other odd folk. I am looking forward for our performances in Bishkek.’

You can follow BIG in the STANS tour on http://biginthestans.com/ where you will be able to watch White City's videodiaries, photos and latest updates from the STANS.

posted by Travis, 11:07 pm


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commented by Blogger becky, 1:17 pm  
Looks like you guys are having great fun, injuries and elevators notwithstanding.

I like the Human Fly song at the end of that last video.
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