Friday, April 25, 2008

Ost Klub

Founded 2005 Ost Klub has developed to one of the central venues of Eastern European music in Vienna. Nomen est omen also in this case, as the club's owner Matthias Angerer explained during an interview with me last July:

“[D]er Name des Lokals ist so zusagen auch Programm, also osteuropäische Musik oder eben Russische oder Musik aus dem Balkan, aber auch weiter. Also die musikalische Achse für uns ist sozusagen Wien - Vladivostok, also. Und alles was dazwischen liegt und das ist ja doch´ne ganze Menge [...] Ich freu mich schon auch ein mal auf eine Usbekische Band oder eine Band aus Azarbadjan, also der Osten ist weit und insofern wird's musikalisch, glaub ich, auch nicht fad so schnell.”
Matthias Angerer, Wien 13.07.2007

("The club's name is so to say also its program, in other words Eastern European music or Russian or music from the Balkans, but also further away. Also the musical axis for us is so to say Vienna-Vladivostok, also. And everything between and that is actually quite a lot [...] I also look forward to hearing a Uzbek band or a band from Azarbadian, well the East is vast and thus I doubt that it soon will become boring musically.")

This is reflected in the program covering musicians and groups from the Balkan (they are one of the venus for Balkan Fever 2008), former Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The club is situated close to the Rennweg (the address is Schwarzenbergplatz 10) and Angerer placed it and its location within a historical context pointing out that Metternich proclaimed "Der Balkan beginnt am Rennweg!" ("The Balkan starts at the Rennweg!"). Thus the club and it's music policy focuses on the cultural legacy of imperial Vienna.

The Club itself - occupying a basement - is enormous, encompassing two stages, a dance floor, a lounge and bar areas (prior to Ost Klub three clubs occupied the premises). In addition the club has a spacious backstage area with catering possibilities for the performing groups. Angerer stressed that he wanted to return the hospitality he experienced in Eastern Europe and from my own observations the club is really generous to performing musicians (I spent time backstage talking to musicians from Apparatschik and Bolshevikings).

My interest in the club has been based on bands linked to the former Soviet Union performing for a (mainly) non-Russian speaking audience. During my visit in Vienna last July I heard Apparatschik perform. The Berlin based group plays modernized versions of (primarily) Russian folkssongs and also own songs using Balalaika, Bass balalaika, Baian and Drums - in Russian. While both the vocalist and drummer are from Germany, the Bass balalaika player is from the Ukrainie and the Baian player from Beloruss.

Pictures from Apparatschik (taken by the author)

The concert last friday (April 18th, 2008) was advertised as Skanking Night and featured besides the headliner Bolshevikings The Skaddicts (Austria) and Jokerface (Süd Tirol / Italy). The Bolshevikings were interesting, since while they are based in Stockholm, the band's line up at the gig consisted of three Swedes, two Ukrainians and a Russian. The vocalist and main motor behind the band is from the Ukraine, but has been in Sweden since the end of the 1980s. Unlike Apparatschik the Bolshevikings sing in Russian, Swedish (with an Russian/Ukrainian accent), English and a little French. A very interesting concert, especially since while taking to the band it again dawned to me how important (and effective) transnational diasporic networks are when organizing tours.

Pictures from The Skaddicts and Bolshevikings (taken by the author)