Don’t even bother, I already know what you’re going to ask, comrade, ‘Captain, how does one even weaponize walking?’. Simple, walk downhill in the wrong direction, twice the distance to your planned destination. Subconsciously, I was probably punishing myself on purpose, putting myself in a cold war era mindframe. Trudging around Kentish Town’s blustery streets towards the breadline outside The Forum to indulge in the people’s band, Molchat Doma on this frigid evening.
In case you’ve been living under a slab of concrete, burning goat fur to keep yourself warm and haven’t heard of this dark wave gothic trio from Belarus, probably the only good news coming out of there at the moment to be sure, they’ve been consistently depressing audiences globally circa 2017. Now with three albums under their belts, the latest being Monument, an absolutely beast with superb mixing and production values. A varied and lengthy setlist was to be expected. Spoiler; we would not be let down. There was just, one, teensy red-flag. Two words, ‘venue-upgrade’ hung in the smog filled ether. We know what you’re probably thinking, ‘Hey that’s great, now I can go too, I saw a flyer about this in my res at St Martins!’. Look, it’s a given I’m going to feel low listening to Egor’s incoherent lyrics and melancholy tones, that’s what we’ve signed up for. What awaited us was something completely different.
20 minutes after doors, we arrive to be met with an already full pit area, this does not bode well. Standing in a small cubby, by the bar, my friend and I at least have a decent vantage point. Personally, we don’t enjoy gigs to their fullest unless we’re pressed against the barricades by the stage. Minutes before the support act, ‘Sam’, a random drunkard imposes himself upon us, without any clear means of escape we resign ourselves to our fate. Sam cannot fathom why we’re not buying cassette tapes to flip online after the show at a profit (they’re crystal blue man). Furthermore Sam, whilst spilling his pint all over our shoes, tells us he’d normally be chugging a bottle of Hennessey were it not for the fact that he had to look out for his friends that night (they were off their faces on a combination of mood-altering substances). That, and Sam is on probation at his work, which comprises of sensitive cancer research studies at an unnamed laboratory facility, for ruining two multiple year studies (leukaemia/lymphoma) causing a cascade effect, knocking back progress by ‘who knows how long’ he confesses with a shrug (the long and short of it was he was fucked at work). I excuse myself, disgusted from the unsolicited conversation and to grab a pint, £7 for a pint of San Miguel, I nearly consider wringing out my beer-soaked Vans instead. ‘Venue Upgrade’, to be sure.
Oh, faithful readers, not even the aforementioned were enough to detract from what we were about to behold. You don’t have to read this review (no seriously, have you heard about reddit?) to know that you’re not at this gig to listen to lyrics. As they’re all in Russian, you just let them wash over you; the meanings come across. You’re not here to see anyone on stage dancing, it’s as empty and bleak as the shelves at a Tesco. You’re not even here to see any kind of emotion What.So.Ever. That was, until Monument. When Egor ‘The Scarecrow’ Shkutko sang ‘Ne Smeshno’ he began pacing back and forth on stage like a caged tiger. He hurled the lyrics ‘Neeeeeeeeeya’ into the microphone, and at the audience as a whole, the way David threw stones at Goliath. To make an impact.
‘Обречен / Obrechen’, another new one, was as beautifully melodic as it was a morose ballad without sucking the air out of the room. ‘Utonut’, for us, brought the house down. This song encompassed all the best elements that drew us to this group but opened up a future of possibilities, mainly that you could dance to it, look out Ian Curtis! Pavel Kozlov (bass guitar/synthesizer/happiest member of the group) strode over to Roman Komogortsev (guitar/synthesizer/drum machine/squinter) at one point to jam with his fellow bandmate on this tune. The optics on this was like a stripped-down version of the antics you’d get from a hair metal band’s stadium tour. Think more sepia with clunky frame rates than Twisted Sister.
Joking aside, the boys played a solid set, at or just over, an hour and a half! We couldn’t stick around for the encore, the tube would’ve been a mess and quite frankly we got sick of the yobs chucking their half empty pints through the air, but we did not leave unsatisfied. Speaking of which, the guy next to me must’ve been totally blissed out as he must’ve forgotten where he was. Turning to us he gave a crooked smile lighting up a Marlboro in the venue. What a drag.