"Siberia 2007" story # 28

Novosibirsk, Russia           September 3, 2007

DDT - like grooving, mellow, soul-howling Soda Stereo from Argentina, and (without the romantic positivity) Guns N' Roses from rough Los Angeles - seem to me to be incapable of playing a bad note.
     While in Tomsk, I learned they'd be playing in Novosibirsk on the 31st of August. I hadn't even know there WAS a 31st of August. But, my plans for that day were set.
     In the same way that a great writer expresses style through each letter he prints, Yuri Shevchuk the lead-singer pronounces each syllable. His syllables, like a life-loving writer's letters, are beautiful and telligible.
     His "grrruff!"ing voice is strong enough to tear holes through the Siberian forests. He roars rolling "r's". He growls after words ending in vowels. Yet, his voice's crisp aftertaste expresses compassion, poetry, aesthetic. He could read "The Big Bad Wolf" to a small girl, capturing completely the terribleness of the Big Bad Wolf, and the small girl wouldn't feel unsafe for a minute.
     The not-small forty-five-year-old wore a white, cotton, long-sleeved button-down shirt, tucked into comfortable jeans, to the culture house seating only 1100. He extended one leg from his stool, bent the other beneath him for balance, held his accoustic guitar, and talked to us playfully like a gentle friend. Between songs, he contentfully read his "stixi" (poetry).
     Though he wasn't far, I couldn't see his face. I'd left my glasses on a bus in Baltimore in January, and I've taken advantage of this mishap to liberate myself from the dependency on eye-wear. Though I wanted to see Shevchuk, I only risked my eyes to squint once or twice. I like to think his face was grizzly.
     "Dozd" (Rain) was the first classic song I recognized. Shevchuk sang: I opened the window, "vesyolyy veter" (cheerful wind) blew through, onto the table, and got wet some "stixi" I'd written. The saxophone player held long, bittersweet notes that reminded one of being in a downpour that doesn't end.
     A good, new song was called "Moskva" (Moscow). All the instruments eventually clashed together in the wonderful end, and Shevchuk - referring to the big-city noise - yelled, "Nichego neponimayu!" (I don't understand anything!)
     They played one of their many songs about autumn, and said that autumn has a "dozdlivoe serdtse" (rainy heart) and "tyomnaya dusha" (dark soul). Shevchuk played a song about war, unaccompanied by the band, alone with his accoustic guitar, calling war many things: "golaya, vesyolaya, uzashnaya, spravadlivnaya, ..." (naked, fun, horrible, just, ...)
     The best song, live, was the song that sings: Mom, this is Rock 'n Roll. Rock, this is me. Shevchuk left his stool half-way through. The band, including the rapid, battering trumpeter, led by the exploding electric guitarist, played a jam so beautiful. Shevchuk extended his arms and glided around, and he jumped and bent his knees and stomped on the stage. Two long-black-haired girls stood up, down the aisle, and swayed/rolled through the jam. I would've danced, but no one else was dancing, and I was alone - those aren't good excuses.
     The first encore song was, "Chto Takoe Osen" (What is this Autumn). Without being simple, it's catchy; at least, I'd had it in my head for weeks. We all sang: In autumn, I haven't been with you for a long time.
     And the last song was a slow, emotional one. Shevchuk sang: That's all that's left, after me; that's all that I'll take with me. And: "Do svidanya, drug." (Good bye, friend.)
     The crowd stood. We chanted, "DDT! DDT!" We really appreciated Shevchuk. What an artist!
     I only wish the concert would've been better-set- up for dancing.
     Concerts are weird, in a great way. Or great, in a weird way. I haven't been to many. During the music's best parts, my and my neighbors' smiles climbed in delighted disbelief. Simultaneously, our joy manifested itself as wet lakes wanting to be tears. For example, when: a long jamming guitar sequence ended and was followed by a dribbling, sweet- note piano rhythm.
     What's weird is that these emotions and the memory of them vanish so quickly. Maybe, if I re- read this story (or listen to the music), I can remember them a bit. Maybe.
     "DDT! DDT!" I'm gonna make it a goal to understand more of their lyrics.

so long, Justin

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