- Lithuanian rock
During this period, the Communist government of the
Lithuanian SSRconfronted rock music, which was considered a decadent and corrupting cultural invasion from the West. The younger post- World War IILithuanian generation under Soviet rule had few means to get acquainted with popular Western music. One was Radio Luxembourg, the only radio station available on Soviet frequencies that played current, popular rock. Another means was to smuggle LPs of popular Western bands into Lithuania and copy them onto magnetic tape. The Beatleswere one of the first influences on Lithuanian rock musicians. The first local rock bands started to emerge around 1965 and included Kertukai, Aitvarai and Nuogi ant slenksčio in Kaunas, and Kęstutis Antanėlis, Vienuoliai, and Gėlių Vaikai in Vilnius, among others. Most of these bands did nothing more than play covers of The Beatlesand Rolling Stones, sometimes adapting Lithuanian lyrics to these songs.
The dominance of covers bands started to change around 1968, when local artists started to explore original songwriting.
Such bands were popular at student parties, known as "sessions". These parties were deemed illegal by the communist establishment, which considered them a corrupting influence. The most famous session of the time took place in Vilnius in 1971, when major local and Latvian bands performed before a crowd of several hundred - a huge number of people to attend such an event at that time. After the concert, its organizers were persecuted by the
In addition, a distinct genre of song formed during this period. Musicians like
Vytautas Kernagisand Vytautas Babravičiuscreated intimate acoustic ballads featuring their own lyrics and those of other Lithuanian poets. [lt icon [http://countrysaloon.lt/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=58&Itemid=62 Short history of Lithuanian country music ] by Algirdas Klova]
Due to conditions imposed by the totalitarian regime, almost no records from this period survive to this day.
Despite the regime's stance against invasive
Western culture, some musicals influenced by rock-and-rollmanaged to surface. For example, Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock-opera ' Jesus Christ Superstar' was staged by Lithuanian composer Kęstutis Antanėlis on December 25, 1971at the Vilnius Institute of Arts. It was the first staging of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' in Europe.
Lithuania's first and most popular movie musical 'Velnio nuotaka' ('The Devil's Bride'), written by Viačeslavas Ganelinas, was released in 1975. Its catchy melodies combine traditional folk motifs with a rock-and-roll rhythm. Spirited and emotional, The Devil's Bride tells the supernatural story of an impish devil who used to be an angel but got tired of singing Hosannah, and was thus condemned to live on earth. From his home in a windmill, he pursued love and happiness in a hilarious and sometimes tragic tale of turmoil that affects the whole countryside.
Shortly afterwards, in 1976, another musical was staged. 'Ugnies medžioklė su varovais', with the music of composer
Giedrius Kuprevičiusand participation of Vytautas Kernagis and Gintarė Jautakaitė. This musical proved to be a huge success - during the period from 1976 to 1983 it was performed 185 times in cities and towns across Lithuaniaand the Soviet Union.
The emergence of home-grown rock and pop music in the 1960s and 70s was built upon with enthusiasm in the 1980s, during which time several influential Lithuanian bands emerged. Poet and musician
Romas Lileikisreleased his first unique intimate and lyric recordings, which built a cult-like following.
Somewhere around 1982 the band Hiperbolė started to gain popularity on the dancefloors of Lithuania. They played melodic tunes comparable to those of British band Smokie. Eventually, the group split up in 1985 but made a well-received comeback, with an album and several concerts, in 1999.
1983 saw the emergence of one of the most famous, influential and popular Lithuanian rock groups,
Foje. The group cited several influences, including the sound of The Stranglers, as well as the 1980s post-punk movement (for example the notable nod to Depeche Modeon Foje's 1989 electronicaalbum "Žodžiai į Tylą"). These influences were combined with the often gloomy, desperate lyrics of the band's mastermind Andrius Mamontovas.
Foje became stars of national importance in 1986 after their appearance in the festival "Lituanica 86" and a musical movie "Kažkas Atsitiko". The group retained their star status until their split in 1997. Their farewell show in Vilnius on May 17, 1997, was attended by some 60,000 fans. Frontman Andrius Mamontovas pursues a successful solo career to this day. During his two-decade career both as a leader of Foje and as a solo artist he has written and recorded more than 20 platinum albums, as well as masterminding the
Eurovision Song Contest 2006entry " We Are the Winners" by LT United[http://www.eurovision.tv/english/477.htm] . Antis Antiswas formed by a group of young architects in 1984. At their inception the band, led by frontman Algirdas Kaušpėdas, engaged in punkish experiments, but things changed considerably in early 1986 when the group developed an impressive horns section. Petras Ubartasbecame responsible for the music of the band while Kaušpėdas concentrated on writing lyrics, which were full of irony and satire on the Soviet way of life.
Antis began to play in various semi-underground events and soon became well-known across the country - not least for their extravagant glam image. But the real hour of glory struck for Antis after they played in rock festival "Lituanica 86".
Although the music of Antis embraced many aspects of new wave, they developed a unique and original style and sound of their own. Despite this, one of the group's biggest ever hits was "Zombiai", a reworked cover of
Men at Worksong "Down Under". In their late period, Antis began experimenting with complicated and hard-to-grasp jazz-rock structures.
The band released their first album in 1987, followed by their second and last in 1989 before the group split in 1990.
Antis staged many live shows in front of huge crowds in Lithuania and the Soviet Union, and toured throughout Europe and United States in 1989/1990.
Antis' first comeback took place in 1996 when they performed three big concerts in major Lithuanian cities. The second comeback occurred in 2003 on the occasion of the release of their four CD anthology "Visa Antis". In December 2003, Antis performed a sell-out concert in Vilnius - their last appearance on the stage to date.
= BIX =
Another phenomenon of the Lithuanian rock scene - BIX was formed in 1987 in
Šiauliai. Built on ska riffs with Latin beats and socially-oriented, brave and ironic lyrics, the group soon became one of the most interesting local acts.
Bix were also well received by European audiences during 1993-1994, particularly in France, thanks to their intense touring. However, due to the declining interest in rock music in Lithuania they practically ceased their musical activity. Now BIX give gigs with a reformed line-up (though the frontman
Saulius Urbonavičiusis the same) on an occasional basis.
Best known Lithuanian heavy metal band that formed in 1986 and year later became one of the most popular bands at the time. Its first record Mors Ultima Ratio got pretty well known in Europe. Katedra's success ended in early 90's when singer Povilas Meškėla left the band, though the band is still active to this day.
1986-1987 marked the appearance of the punk-scene in Lithuania. Bands like
Už Tėvynę, SKAT, and Erkė Maišewere citing old fashioned punk 77, while others like 33% kiaulių pakeliui į Vatikanąand Turboreanimacijawere more inclined towards hardcore punk(HC) stylistics. Turboreanimacija can undoubtedly be regarded as the most influential HC band of Lithuania, which in its time was well-received by such fanzines as Maximum Rock 'n Rollin the US.
Their first up-tempo albums reminded listeners of early records from Scottish HC legends
the Exploited, while later Turboreanimacija embarked on the power-punk road.
Turboreanimacija was disbanded in 1997 after granting themselves status of a cult-band among the Lithuanian underground.
More recent acts of this genre are ska-punk band 'Dr.Green' (who are famous for their numerous DIY activities and intensive touring through the punk scenes of Europe), street-punkers
Toro Bravoand hardcorists Bora and Mountainside.
The 1990s in Lithuania can be described as a dead period with regard to rock music. The audience began to lose interest in rock in favor of local, often low-quality, pop music. Therefore almost the entire rock scene, with very few exceptions, went underground.
The main rock music event of this period was the annual "Blogiausių grupių festivalis" (Worst Bands Festival), in which underground rock bands were presented with a unique opportunity to introduce themselves to the public.
Some bands of this period were trying to build upon the music scene emerging in Manchester at the time (e.g.
Lygiai Lyja, Šiaurės Kryptis) - often fairly successfully; while others preferred grunge, noise and psychedelic experiments (for example, SH, Empti, Blyškūs Veidai, Summerland, Dogbones). Skylėfrom Vilnius became the favorites of Lithuanian philologystudents due to their often acoustic, intimate sound and poetic lyrics. Airija(the name is Lithuanian for Ireland) from Alytusskillfully combined rock music with Irish folk melodies. Leader of Airija Darius Mileriscurrently resides in Dublin, Irelandand plays similar music to that of his former band in an outfit called [http://www.nojus.com/ Nojus] .
Also during the 1990s, Fun-Punk bands
Kamštisfrom Utena and Armatūrafrom Vilniushad huge success.
In the early 2000s, several new names appeared on the scene, including
Britpop-influenced Lemon Joy, Merlin and Biplan. Lemon Joy and Merlin drifted to the side of pop/ electronic musicshortly after the release of their debut albums, while Biplan have stayed rather successfully with rock.
Relaniumformed in 1999. After signing a contract with Koja records, the band was re-named Laura And The Lovers. In 2005, Laura And The Lovers participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 2005with a song titled " Little by Little", but failed to achieve significant success [http://www.lauraandthelovers.com/index.php?handler=lt.naujienos] .
2005 marked the beginning of the recovery of Lithuanian rock music. The number of rock festivals has increased while new bands are slowly finding their way into the Lithuanian media, not to mention the hearts of the listeners. These include funky
Saulės Kliošas, Bitės, and Inculto; rockers Brainers, Gravel, Sportas, Arbata amongst others.
The Lithuanian gothic scene is not very big, but has strong support from Lithuanian
Goths. There are several bands representing this style. Siela and Mano Juodoji Sesuoare considered the pioneers of gothic music in Lithuania. Saprophytes[http://www.saprophytes.lt/mainen.html] , from the small town of Pabradėplay emotional metal with lucid references to New York metallers Type O Negative. The band seems to be a strong candidate among the elite of Lithuania's dark music scene.
Many rock bands claim folk influences.
Žalvarinisis a folk metalband from Vilnius. Their music is typically very slow-paced with exclusively Lithuanian lyrics. Another interesting and original folk-rock band Atalyjais worth mentioning in this context.
Annual rock music festivals include
Mėnuo Juodaragis(summer festival of neofolk, darkwave, and pagan arts) [http://www.mjr.lt/] , Kunigunda Lunaria(gothic/darkwave/industrial festival in Vilnius) [http://www.kunigunda.lt/] ; Naujas Kraujas(new bands' festival) [http://naujaskraujas.dangus.net/] ; Kilkim žaibu(Baltic folk, pagan and black metalfestival) [http://www.kilkimzaibu.tk/] .
The first independent record company of Lithuania, Zona [http://www.zona.lt/] , started its record label operations back in 1991, with Baltic releases of artists like
Joy Division, Pixies, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Sugarcubesand many other notable foreign acts. Zona's work with local performers included releases from the most famous Lithuanian rock bands Antis and BIX, Russian cult bands Va Bankand Avia, as well as several compilations of young Baltic and Eastern European alternative artists. Zona’s full back catalogue features a total of over 80 releases and co-releases.
In the late 80s to early 90s, the company's head,
Dovydas Bluvšteinas, made efforts to organize concerts in Vilnius by such alternative music icons as Sonic Youth, Sugarcubes, Pop Will Eat Itself, The Fall and many others. That contributed remarkably to the establishment of an interesting local alternative scene.
Zona's efforts were finally recognized and rewarded in early 2006 with the 'Life-time award' by the annual local music awards
Koja Records Group is one of the oldest and biggest record companies in Lithuania. Originally it was founded in 1995 as a dance music label. Early on, the company focused not only on their local repertoire, but also on international licensing in Lithuania and other former Soviet territories. In 1998 Koja Records Group decided to exert all of its efforts on finding and developing local artists. Alongside this, the label has broadened to become a pop/dance-music record company [http://www.koja.lt/] .
Dangus specialises in Ambient, Darkwave, Gothic, Industrial, and Pagan music. Dangus works with bands including Kulgrinda, Girnų Giesmės, Siela, Donis, Notanga, Trolis & The Giberlingers, Mano Juodoji Sesuo, Shadowdances, Ruination, Skardas.
Music of Lithuania
* [http://www.visaginocountry.lt/index.php/en/istorija/ history of Lithuanian country music]
* [http://www.eurovision.tv/english/477.htm Andrius Mamontovas of Foje talks about his brainchild, the 2006 Eurovision entry 'We are the winners' by
* [http://www.lauraandthelovers.com/index.php?handler=lt.naujienos Laura and the Lovers' homepage]
* [http://www.saprophytes.lt/mainen.html Saprophytes' homepage]
* [http://www.mjr.lt/ Mėnuo Juodaragis festival - neofolk, darkwave, and pagan arts ]
* [http://www.kunigunda.lt/ Kunigunda Lunaria festival - gothic, darkwave, Industrial music]
* [http://naujaskraujas.dangus.net/ Naujas Kraujas festival - new bands]
* [http://www.kilkimzaibu.tk/ Kilkim žaibu festival - Baltic folk, pagan and black metal]
* [http://www.hardcore.lt/ Vilnius Hardcore - Ska Funk Rasta Punk Scene, Vilnius]
* [http://www.zona.lt/ Zona]
* [http://www.koja.lt/ Koja Recordings Group]
* [http://members.fortunecity.com/heavy_metal_lt/index.html Heavy Metal in Lithuania]
* [http://skyle.lt/ Skylė homepage]
* [http://www.antis.lt/ Antis homepage]
* [http://www.nojus.com/ Nojus homepage]
* [http://www.balticpromotions.com/ Baltic Promotions homepage]
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