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Music underground

April 11, 2010

By Kārlis Muižnieks

Behind the shiny and dazzling lights of popular mainstream music, there is a completely different world with almost no shimmer lights at all. In shady basements, bars and clubs with a stage and only a handful of people listening music is played by the inspired and rebellious. In underground music events the main focus is on the sound, the feeling and the endless nights of true rock energy. This place is a fighting ring where every band is struggling to get noticed.

While everyone is faithful to their ideals of playing and listening to fresh and energetic music the small audience can be a disappointment. People who still have the courage to do something different say it takes an awful lot of energy. Ivars Kalniņš who has been in an underground rock band for 8 years and has remained a faithful audience member of many other underground bands says that people are getting lazy.                                                                                                                            

“Some 6 years ago people went to every rock festival and every rock concert that they could get to and still be fresh at work the next morning. Now for some of them it is easier to stay home and do nothing. The way we live today has changed underground, but maybe for the better.”

To a newcomer, underground concerts seem a little strange. Bands start to play at 9 in the evening, which is ok, but then continue until 4 or 5 in the morning. Rarely do these last bands have an audience, but playing on stage is everything, and they will do it despite the fact that there are no people listening. While these events usually are exhausting, to not only the musicians but he audience, still there is a strange beauty to all of this – the willpower and passion to continue.

Usually these events lack good management and advertising, which results in low rates of attendance. Because of this, there is sometimes no pay to the bands or the club owners. This hurts the development of underground music and makes survival much harder. In the end, a lot of people become frustrated with this situation which affects the future of the underground movement.

There are several places in Riga where underground music concerts occur, but if you want to come across some good quality ones, the following are suggested: Melnā Piektdiena, 16. Korpuss, and the infamous club Depo. These are the places where every young band wants to play and feel what it means to be in front of an audience. And then, when the air is thick and the stage is hot, the biggest adventure of the weekend begins.

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