Riga This Week - FREE RIGA CITY GUIDE made by locals since 1992

Cabaret Band Silver Wedding /Bellorussia/

Something of a buzz is building around "Silver Wedding" (Serebrianaia svad'ba), a self-styled "freak-cabaret" band from Minsk, Belarus (above). They embody several Slavic traditions of performance, most notably the tendency for bands to combine theater with song, or costume with music.

During the Soviet period, popular music was always lumped together with various forms of light entertainment. This was done by using the term "estrada" - which actually means "the small stage." Song, dance, comedy, satire, puppetry.. and so forth: they were all discussed simultaneously.

To that we can add circus, too. The main Soviet magazine dedicated to pop music - and everything else - was called "Soviet Estrada and Circus," which looked pretty strange by the time rock music rolled around. The cover above is from an edition of "SE&C" that was published weeks before the USSR officially vanished; the musician pictured is Viktor Tsoi, Russia's equivalent, perhaps, of Jim Morrison in terms of great promise and tragic demise.

Bringing happiness back to center stage are "Silver Wedding" and their very silly, fun-filled treatment of Soviet "sung theater," or what was once called teatralizatsiia. The band themselves give voice to these mixed genres with an "international musical co-op. We're united by a clarity of thought, an excellent appetite, and the tenderest feelings for all things French."