The first rock bands mostly covered the Beatles and Rolling Stones, and performances only began to include original works at the turn of the decade. Various musicians like Vytautis Kernagis used other Lithuanian poet's lyrics to their own music. Such musicians and singers were quite popular at student parties known as sessions, the most famous of which occurred in Vilnius in 1971. Bands from Latvia and Lithuania played before a crowd of a couple of hundred people. After the concert its organizers and some of the performers were persecuted by the KGB.
Thankfully the persecution has now ended and the country has become famous for it's rock scene, with major bands such as IR and Flamingo hitting the country by storm. Venues are being filled by eager students and fans alike who eagerly anticipate their favorite acts.
IR describe themselves as an alternative rock band based in Vilnius who have intoxicated the alternative scene notably winning many band contests including the prestigious Naujas Kraujas and Euro Rock Vilnius 2004. In the winter of 2005 the band joined 'Zona Music' and subsequently released their debut album "Now or Never". The album was nominated for 'Best Album of the Year' Award at the 2005 Lithuanian alternative music awards. The band also won the' Best Rock Artist of the Year' Award at the same event.
The band have a sound which is saturated with the melodic influences of legendary Rock bands such as Nirvana, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the Foo Fighters however this band have amazingly taken these influences and blended them into a fresh new sound, unique to themselves. This is most evident on their new demo which has been placed on the bands MySpace page. "The band have grown and reached a level of maturity on this album which could nearly guarantee them an easy entry into even the UK market" reckons James Scott, a Glaswegian living in Vilnius with a history in music production in Glasgow. "The only problem is there is a lack of advice available to up and coming bands looking to progress beyond the Vilnius, Lithuanian scene. It is an area which must be addressed if we are to ensure the growth of bands such as IR in the future."
He also feels similar about the second band Flamingo. "This band is talented. There is no doubting that. However you will find that due to a lack of proper resources at and including venues, bands such as Flamingo struggle to leave behind the rough college sound, and create the polished sound that they are so evidently capable of producing."
So is it all downhill for Lithuanian bands who wish for a future mingling with International superstars?
"Not at all" according to Scott, "The fact that a country as small as Lithuania has the ability to churn out amazing artists is an impressive one, the country has not only a reputation in the Baltic States for producing top bands it also supplies Europe with some of it's best DJ's. What is needed is a support system put in place which will aid these bands and performers as they begin their careers. There is also a lack of suitable venues here in Vilnius for young bands to play. Once these issues are addressed the Lithuanian music scene will make quite an impact internationally."
So if you fancy listening to some of this fresh Lithuanian sounds and fancy even heading to a gig or two here are some websites which will help you out:
myspace.com has up to date information on local bands up and coming gigs and will also direct you to their official websites.
vilnius-life.com is also another excellent website as it has a direct contact with individual bars and clubs and also links to their individual home pages.
By Louise O'Dwyer