The Tiger Lillies pave the way for touring in Ukraine
The Tiger Lillies have paved the way for international acts to tour Ukraine with their recent performances in Lviv and Kyiv.
The British trio, whose latest album Ukraine is inspired by the war, are thought to be the first international act to play full-scale concerts since the Russian invasion last year.
Having previously played in Ukraine, including in 2014 after the Maidan Revolution and Crimea’s annexation by Russia, the Tiger Lillies were invited to return by the same promoter, Yougin Kibets.
“Tiger Lillies will be my breakthrough to write to a lot of agents, saying that you can see we did our first live show”
Kibets – who used to promote about 70 shows, mostly with non-Ukrainian acts – hopes the band’s performances (which were paid) will attract other foreign acts: “Tiger Lillies will be my breakthrough to write to a lot of agents, saying that you can see we did our first live show.”
Though the Tiger Lillies are the first foreign act to deliver a fully-fledged gig, Ukraine has seen pop-up performances from the likes of U2’s Bono and The Edge, Slovakian musician and Pohoda festival founder Michal Kaščák, US video game composer Paul Romero and British hip-hop stalwarts Stereo MC’s.
Ukraine’s music industry is starting back up and fans are hungry for live entertainment, according to locals, but it’s still far from business as usual in the war-torn country.
Concerts usually finish by 10:30 pm due to a midnight curfew in most parts of the country and are sometimes interrupted by air raids; audiences and artists have diminished due to emigration and recruitment for the armed services; the logistics for international acts visiting the country are complex and dangerous.
“But if you have an audience there and they haven’t seen you play for a long time, then I think people should go,” says bassist Adrian Stout.
Ukraine’s live industry steps up support efforts
The Ukrainian live music industry is stepping up to provide humanitarian, logistical and military support while Russia continues its all-out assault of the country.
The teams behind venues, festivals and promoters in Ukraine are playing an important role in settling refugees, providing meals for troops, preventing the spread of misinformation, collecting essentials and donating funds towards the military.
Faine Misto, a rock and metal festival that typically takes place in August in Ternopil, western Ukraine, is doing a little of everything.
According to Faine Misto’s Veronika Grass, one of the key things the organisers are doing is taking part in the “information war”.
“There’s a lot of fake news about the real situation in Ukraine, so we find false information, send reports and make sure that the world knows the truth,” she tells IQ.
“There’s a lot of fake news, so we find false information, send reports, make sure that the world knows the truth”
The organisers are also staying in contact with foreign bands that have previously performed at the festival, asking them to share truthful information and links to official funds.
In addition, the festival’s website has been completely reformatted to signpost links to funds, contacts of shelters, basic emergency numbers, locations of bomb shelters, medical care and more.
On a practical level, the festival has made a number of donations to the territorial defence including walkie-talkies, raincoats and backpacks.
At the beginning of this week, the festival’s concert agency arm and Ukrainian act Grandma’s Smuzi donated 326,000 hryvnias (€10,000) from ticket sales for the band’s upcoming tour.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, the team behind Respublica, a free international art and music festival that typically takes place in Kamianets-Podilskyi, western Ukraine, are turning their efforts towards arming the country’s military.
“We weave nets for the territorial defence and look for ammunition for our guys in the Armed Forces and TRO”
“We weave nets for the territorial defence of the city and look for ammunition for our guys in the Armed Forces and TRO, provide humanitarian aid, and Molotov cocktails. We’re trying to create and accept any support that will help our fighters and migrants,” a spokesperson tells IQ.
The team is also engaged in the settlement of refugees from different cities, including Bakotí and Kamianets-Podílsʹkomu.
Settling refugees has become a major part of the live industry’s support during the war, as more and more Ukrainians migrate.
The UN estimates at least 160,000 people in Ukraine who have fled the war are displaced within their own country, while one million civilians have fled the country altogether.
Kyiv Contemporary Music Days (KCMD), an NGO educational and concert platform for classical contemporary music, has asked its network of artists around Europe if they will host those in need.
“I reached out to our network of artists and asked them if they would host a person in need of asylum”
“On the first day of the war, I reached out to our network of artists and asked them if they would host a person in need of asylum. Artists in Austria, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Turkey and Italy said yes,” Albert Saprykin from KCMD tells IQ.
Alive Art Center (AAC), in Uzhgorod in western Ukraine, is also pitching in to help the displaced.
“We have joined in helping refugees from other regions of Ukraine, since our region is calm compared to those in which hostilities are taking place,” says AAC’s Max Fidosh.
Western Ukraine has become somewhat of a refuge for displaced Ukrainians that are fleeing Kyiv, Kharkiv and beyond. Lviv, which has a train line to Poland and is far from the conflict, has become somewhat of a ‘sanctuary’ for migrants.
A number of music venues in the city have opened their doors to refugees and utilised their resources to help the military.
“Now we are not only doing volunteer work to resettle people in places that are available to us”
The Les Kurbas Theatre, one of Ukraine’s most critically acclaimed theatres, has been transformed into a refugee centre featuring camp beds and a bomb shelter in the basement.
Natalia Rybka-Parhomenko, who normally acts and sings at the venue, now volunteers there, helping to organise, manage and settle.
“We thought about how we could be useful in such an alarming time and decided to make a refugee shelter, because we understood that there would be a great need for people to leave, especially from the east, because it is especially difficult there,” she told Sky News.
“There is a demand, the theatre works as a hostel now. We joke that this is a five-star hotel, because we have a bomb shelter here and people don’t have to go outside the theatre – just go down. We dress people and they have a place to rest and eat.”
Some six miles away, Arena Lviv, a 34,000-capacity stadium in western Ukraine, has opened a coordination centre helping migrants and refugees with resettlement and border crossing.
“The entire staff of Arena Lviv is working tirelessly to provide the highest degree of comfort to all re-settlers and refugees”
“Every hour more and more people come to us from all over the country where the occupiers are destroying their homes,” Olga Manko, head of Arena Lviv, tells IQ.
Alongside the centre, the venue has also tasked its catering team with cooking food for the country’s troops and has already prepared and delivered more than 5,000 dinners to the frontline in five days.
“The entire staff and management of Arena Lviv is working tirelessly, doing everything possible and impossible to provide the highest degree of comfort to all re-settlers and refugees, and as a result became volunteers themselves,” continues Manko.
“We continue to help our citizens and believe in a victory of our country.”