SRAS bought us concert tickets as part of our cultural program. It was an exciting opportunity to see modern Russian popular culture. I had never been to a rock concert before, and I especially had no idea what to expect of one in Russia. Our eager guide, Alina, told us that we’d be going to see Tantsy Minus perform. Tantsy Minus is a rock band that was founded in 1995 in Moscow and gained great fame during the late 1990s and early 2000s. As Alina told us, they’re a favorite band of many Russians. Her comment on how she regretted that she wouldn’t be attending the show herself that night piqued my interest in the performance even more — if a young Russian wishes they could go, it has to be good, right?
The performance was beyond good. It was one of the best shows I’ve gone to, actually, and I’ve been to many pop concerts in Los Angeles and New York. Tantsy Minus’s music is alternative rock mixed with some hints of pop. The songs they played ranged between upbeat music matched with fervent drumming, slow songs where the bass guitar’s deep chords rung out, and fast-paced rock music that was lively yet soothing to listen to. The varying sounds that reverberated throughout the venue contributed to the laid-back yet active atmosphere. In addition to the music, it was the connections that I made with the community at the Tantsy Minus concert that made this experience special.
So, let’s rewind a bit. For this event, I met my friends in front of the dorms at UNECON, the St. Petersburg State University of Economics. Alina led us down Kanal Griboyedeva and up to Nevsky Prospekt, where we waited for streetcar #8. It was a gloomy St. Petersburg day, with light showers drizzling on us while we waited in the humidity and hubbub of the evening. After we boarded the streetcar, we inched past traffic on Nevsky for 25 minutes. We found ourselves getting off in an industrial district far away from the city center. Alina gave us further instructions for finding the venue, then wished us luck as she returned back to the city.
The venue for the Tantsy Minus concert was in an unremarkable red brick building. The inside of the building was empty, with chipping paint on the walls and exposed pipes decorating the ceiling. The building’s avant-garde style was alarming at first, but once we got accustomed to it we were quite taken by it. But none of that mattered, because the show was really up on the roof.
After going up the tiny, rusted steel stairs leading to the roof, we could see the skyline of the port of St. Petersburg. The beauty of the sky was striking against the white hexagonal dome that housed the equipment and stage for the band’s performance. Older people and youth mixed on the wooden roof, drinks in hand. Photographs were taken in booths designed for social media pictures, and savory food was served in a separate seating area behind the white dome that could best be described as both rustic and cool at the same time. This rooftop concert felt like a chilled-out version of what I imagine a Coachella performance might be like. The atmosphere was welcoming and calm, even more so once the band got on.
Not long after we arrived, the members of the band got on stage. They were met with cheers as they welcomed the concertgoers to their rooftop show.
Tantsy Minus haven’t been producing music consistently in the last decade, but many young people still showed their enthusiasm for the classic band as the concert went on. Because Tantsy Minus was already popular more than a decade ago, there were older generations present at the concert. My friends and I were enjoying the music, and began to strike up a conversation with a pair of women in their 30’s or 40’s jamming out together, drinks in hand. They explained that Tantsy Minus was popular when they were teenagers, and that they were overjoyed to see them perform today.
That’s what was remarkable about this concert. It was cool to see middle-aged Russians, men and women alike, at the concert. From what I remember, they were definitely a majority in the crowd. The atmosphere at the show was welcoming, as people sang along to hits like “Gorod,” “Idu,” “Tsveti,” and more. We mingled with the people around us, practicing our Russian, all the while feeling comfortable in the camaraderie that developed from enjoying the music of a band as great as Tantsy Minus. My experience at their show demonstrates how music really transcends boundaries between people. It was an outing that I’m glad I didn’t shy away from, and I encourage others to try if they ever have an opportunity to attend a concert in St. Petersburg, or any city in the world.
I’m a fan of Tantsy Minus now, and you can listen to their music with me.