FRINGE MUSIC — PUSSY RIOT LIVE — Maths Lawns @ RCC Fringe — 3K

By Belle Dunning

The Pussy Riot Live concert was one of the strangest live music experiences I’ve had.

For a show that was billed as an Australian première by Russian punk rock icons Pussy Riot (with four key members of the group appearing together on-stage for the first time — Masha, Sasha, Nastya and Kot), it ended up being more about the supporting artists, who played for a good four hours before the headliners appeared.

The line-up, featuring Ecca Vandal, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks, and Yothu Yindi, and MC’d by Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir, was a pretty eclectic selection and frankly, didn’t really make sense. Yes, they are all ‘political’ artists, but I’m not sure who this programming was meant to appeal to. And Reverend Billy’s overzealous pro-earth yelling wore thin pretty quickly, especially when he appeared between every act and delayed Pussy Riot’s appearance even further. Ecca Vandal was the strongest performer by far and would have been more than enough as a supporting act.

By the time Pussy Riot came on stage (after 11pm), everyone around me was feeling pretty exhausted and over it and just wanted to see the music they’d come for.

The Pussy Riot performance itself was pretty out there in the beginning, with Nastya Voynovskaya starting alone on stage with a looped electronic piece with spoken-word Aboriginal-inspired lyrics. This was followed by an aggressive performance of saxophone and yelling by her male Russian accompanist. It didn’t make much sense, but that was ok, it was challenging and interesting and something totally unique.

This was followed by a high-energy punk rock performance by lead singer Masha (Maria Alyokhina) and other members of the group, which revved the audience back up again. It was a pity that they came on so late, because I think I would’ve enjoyed their performance so much more without the hours of waiting and frustration at the other acts.

Nevertheless, there was definitely something surreal about seeing the Pussy Riot girls on stage, here in Adelaide, when you know the scale of what they’ve done and what they’ve been through. Here they are, just ordinary people, musicians, sharing an experience with us — it was hard to comprehend. 

A highlight from the night was a performance of Yothu Yindi’s 1991 ‘Treaty’ by all of the artists. Seeing them all on-stage together — Russian, American, Australian, Aboriginal — was pretty powerful and linked what might otherwise seem like disparate messages of social justice into one collective voice calling for change. It’s certainly something I won’t forget.

It’s hard to summarise the Pussy Riot Live concert in one sentence. Frustrating programming marred what was otherwise a truly unique, high-energy performance by the Pussy Riot girls. It was certainly memorable and not something we’ll get to see again anytime soon. 

Kryztoff Rating 3K

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