11 April 2014

[Live Report] Villagers of Ioannina City, Chinese Basement @ Mylos Club Thessaloniki 2014-04-04

Villagers of Ioannina CityThis isn't an ordinary live report because it wasn't supposed to be a report, I knew it couldn't be just a   report... All the following are some feelings I would like to (try to) share with the world. Such feelings usually are hard to be described by words but right now this is the best that I can do for you. I will just try to describe you all that I experienced that night and I hope I can make it (well at least I want to try).
Going to this gig I knew what I was going to face... I knew in what kind of meteorite's trajectory I was walking in, and I was eager to do it. I arrived in the venue much sooner that the expected starting time of the gig 'cause I wanted to meet with some friends. Entering the venue I noticed that people was already inside and I thought this was a good sign... a sign that those people knew where they came and what for. I had the chance to meet friends that I had pretty much time to see and the chance to meet some new people also.

After a slight delay (or was I so eager?) the "Chinese Basement" finally appeared on stage! I've heard many good things about them in the past but never had the chance to enjoy them in a live gig. Those guys are totally nuts! I am talking about 3 guys around 20 years old that can beat the shit out of their instruments giving you the impression that you are listening to a band that has already been on the "job" for many years.  Rehearsing under a Chinese restaurant, this band's history begins in 2008. Their style is included in a scene that I never was eager or had the time to explore that much, but listening them live I felt that maybe I should do it some time in the near future. People around me informed me that they have already made two independent releases sold only on their concerts. Not bad at all if you consider their age and that they started back in 2008. The sure thing for me is that the variety of their musical influences, that were obvious in their performance, gives them the chance to evolve into anything they like the most, from grunge to folk, from punk to more experimental.

Considering their age I just hope they keep their minds closely to the ground and their eyes to the sky... just to make sure they don't get "burned out", because we need such kind of bands, especially nowadays in Greece.
Having already drunk a considerable (but never enough) amount of "Tsipouro" I was just prepared to face the "ultimate challenge" of V.I.C. I've watched them two times in the past and I can recall both of them like it was yesterday. V.I.C's music, is a mix, a "musical alloy",as we would call it in Greek, of the traditional folk music of "EPIRUS" enhanced with the contemporary psychedelic-heavy-rock music influences of the band. This means that all the emotions that this folk music encapsulates are expressed in a more contemporary way but without loosing their colour, without loosing their original roots.
I believe that the folk music of every and each place on this world is the most "real", "true" and expressive music, and if you add the lyrics into the "recipe" then you have an explosive mixture. A mixture so powerful that can stun you, make you feel the love around you, make you dance with the people around you, make you sing with your soul, make you sing in tears, make you cry... I was ready for this explosion before I came to this gig... and I knew there was nothing in the world that it could stop this explosion. I was ready to let myself be drifted away by the river...

This was the third time that I was seeing V.I.C. on stage, and it surely was the most intense! I am not sure that the right words exist to describe such emotions, maybe it is useless just to try to fully describe them. The music itself along with the lyrics describe the best all those emotions. Such kind of music used to make me cry, it just happens, I can't help it, maybe I am just "damaged" I think :-p but I like it! Except from the Clarinet the band added "caval", the "shepherd's flute" and a bagpipe and I think that they are gaining their place among the rest of the instruments.
The band played the whole album "RIZA" and 7 more tracks! TWO HOURS of musical paradise where everybody wished that it could last a little bit longer :) I really tried to stay sober (no I didn't) and keep my mind in place so that I can recall the setlist but I didn't manage to do it 100%... this is of minor importance though. There was chaos, there were tears, there was love all around, I would be despicable if I wasn't a part of all this.... Each one of the tracks was a different highlight that night. The band felt the energy and the emotional frenzy of the crowd and that functioned perfectly for our benefit as it gave more passion to their performance and that was obvious. "Age of Aquarius" and "Echoes" were the first tracks to "torture" the speakers of the venue and after that there was the appearance of the guest "Nobody" in the track "Tabourla" and a loud applause for his appearance was gifted by the croud. Tracks talking about emigration followed up and as "Jiannim" was performed the crowd started to get warmer and more effusive, as we all were waiting for the blast that it was going to follow! The band performed some new tracks along with "Perdikomata" and the instrumental "Skaros". The new tracks sounded great and I can recall that at least one of the lacked the presence of clarinet. My voice got a hoarseness in "Perdikomata" (a marital song sung in the past by the groom and his friends when he was outside the bride's house) and that was only the beginning. The crowd was starting to be more energetic, most of them singing along, everybody seemed to be living the moment, drinking from the music that V.I.C. were offering, the music that we love.

AND AFTER ALL THESE, THERE CAME THE BLAST!
"Ti kako". The track that a lot of people were waiting that night to explode themselves. Literally our jaws were touching the floor and we were struggling to pick them up. Chaos allover, the crowd was not in the venue anymore, everybody was in orbit... And that was only the start! Those fuckers right after that track, the chose to play "Krasi". This was enough to make the walls tremble and send people to ecstasy. A traditional song that we used to sing and dance in many situations in Epirus but now played in a slightly enhanced version, bringing memories of situations, of people and places to our minds, adding emotion to the whole scene (at least to me).

This was the second blast... but those fuckers had it all planned from the beginning.... they've planned to even blow our remains up. So they decided to play "St. Triad". At this point I just wish you knew how to read Greek or I just knew the right way to explain this properly in English. This was the real BLAST, an emotional implosion that led to the final big bang!
A blast in front of us, a blast inside us, a blast around us, a blast on stage, a blast among us, a blast of love. People just started joining their hands and dancing together as they should be, in circles, as it is used in Epirus' traditional Dances. You have to see that and be a part of it some time... and I hope you like it as much as we do. I thought that it would take me long before I overcome the shock but realizing that the gig was reaching its end I gave a slap on my brain to wake up. The crowd was cheering in ecstasy, the band thanked everyone for this great night and announced that the next one will be the last track.
I was expecting that track from the beginning and I was pretty sure that they would leave it for the end.
This wasn't a traditional Epirus song but a song in the category or "Rembetiko", another genre of Greek folk music and it is titled "Toutoi oi mpatsoi". The crowd's participation was massive to this one too, showing their gratitude to the band for a great night. A great gig from a great band that holds its future in its hands. There is now doubt that there is potential in them, no matter what path they choose to walk. They've inherited some great music and they didn't just perform it the same way, instead they added their personal influences and a more contemporary touch. They seem to know the music they chose to "mess" with and they know it so well that they produce new musical gems out of it without "raping" the original compositions.
Forgive me for any exaggerations but this one was so emotional and it will always be with this kind of music. I don't know if I will ever try to write down such a "report", maybe it's useless...


We need music that talks to our hearts... and there is enough out there for everyone.


by Sotos



a small taste of that night:

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