The Secret Life of the Lithuanian Underground Scene
- Published on Wednesday, 16 November 2016 15:01
From time to time, we see Lithuania being mentioned in the underground music scene; but recently the scene has been brought up to our attention more often. This country is no longer an undiscovered land, but still not as open or well known as other Western European countries. In the past few years, it has started to become one of the Western ravers’ favourite destinations to visit. This is definitely not for no reason.
Lithuania is well known for its natural beauty, but the spooky alternative scene still holds mystery. It is home to the ‘Boso’ label with big exports such as Ten Walls, Gardens Of God and Few Nolder to name a few, and constantly vibrates a whole spectrum of experimental sounds. Vilnius has been seriously developing its scene during the past few years by establishing a variety of nights, opening new places, and encouraging more and more artists to come up from under the radar.
Within the past few years, the younger generation of Lithuanians started looking out of the box toward other musical cultures. A frustration came with chart music and post-Soviet influences, which lead to a shift in wanting to discover something new.
A huge growth can now be noticed in the techno, minimal and house scene. Most of the bars, pubs and hangout places own a pair of CDJs and have regular guests offering a wide variety of electronic sounds. It does not matter if it’s a Monday or Friday, you will always find a place to wear your dancing shoes. This is all because of hardworking promoters such as the minimal.lt community who are bringing techno, minimal, dub, experimental, IDM, ambient culture and organizing lots of different nights including; Black Wave, COSMOS, Moon Safari, Grid and Friday Fuck. In addition to the night events, they run one of the top rated festivals in Eastern Europe called ‘Supynes’ (Swings).
Another prominent figure is Rookas. He started running DAI nights five years ago, and since then they have grown into a very well respected party driven by solid and dark-fringed techno line-ups. To show their diversity, they have booked artists such as Peter Mannerfelt, SNTS, Kobosil, Max M and Violet Poison, alongside Rookas himself and residents INNER and vjsu~y. You can find more info HERE.
Not to be forgotten is the label ‘Partyzanai’. It was established way back in 2005 by duo Gvidas B. and Mantas T who are now focusing on helping artists from Baltic countries, releasing vinyl records and organizing local parties as well ones abroad, in places such as Iceland. There are also other well-respected local DJs who have been in the scene for a long time such as Pakas, Anna Hanna, Monocell, Saulty (Downtownpartynetwork), Calli and Pupa.
Lithuanian artists were always attracted to the UK scene, but it was not easy to get hands-on records and experiences until they joined the EU. A free pass to the UK is no longer an issue, and partnerships have started to grow. Now the Lithuanian community is working hard back and forth; looking for ways to improve, get inspiration and gain knowledge to run well-organized events. One of the new labels managed by a Lithuanian couple, called ‘On The 5th Day’ has grown into a massive German techno project, supporting young up-and-coming artists and dropping parties all around London. They’re now settled in Corsica Studios. You can find more information for their latest events on the official Facebook page.
It’s also well worth mentioning the Sandbox Music crew who are tirelessly working on parties in London, Vilnius and beyond. Even though he is only 20, one of the 2 resident DJs Evonii, has already played at London's beloved underground parties and more gigs confirmed in Ireland. The crew has also recently hosted London-based party, Keep on Going, at the Cult club where they now have recidency to do parties once a month with resident DJs Stinson and Evonii. You can find more information for their latest events HERE.
The drive in this distinctive sound throughout the last several years has helped the popularity growth within the clubbing scene. More venues have started to open and more new nights are coming out every month. The biggest nights so far have been held in Opium Club. Hosting well-known DJs from around the world including Eats Everything, Steve Bug, and Recondite to name a few. Alongside Lithuanian residents Manfredas, Vidis, Kandy Killers, Ernestas Sadau, Mantas T and Andrius Alien, they are all active in promoting and helping to push Vilnius’s nightlife in the right direction.
Opium Club runs different nights on a weekly basis. Manfredas and 12 Incu Po Zeme (12 Inches Underground) host the well-received and popular ‘Smala’ party (check their podcasts above) and ‘The Sneekers’ music project (Evaldas Mikalauskas/ Justinas Jarutisis) which is held under the same roof, working with local and British labels to bring new talent on stage. Check Opium’s page for upcoming gigs, as it’s absolutely a top spot to visit in Vilnius.
(Photo from Opium Club)
There are numerous places around the centre of the capital that offer tasty food, craft beers and welcome local DJ’s to perform during their nights. A great example is Studio 9, offering, dub, minimal, deep house and sometimes-even jazz.
Monday is probably one of the worst words in a dictionary, but not in Vilnius. minimal.lt host a party called ‘Minimal Mondays’ when the cold hits Eastern Europe, in a post-Soviet temple-looking building called ‘Kablys’ (The Hook), and during beautiful Summers in ‘Vasaros Terasa’ (Summer Terrace).
(Photo ‘VasarosTerasa’ (Summer Terrace)
Kablys is a popular place in Lithuania that helps all sorts of young people to progress. It is a home for dancers, skaters (they’ve got an indoor skate park, running classes and teaching kids), fashion, acting, live music events, performances and as you know, hosting different nights there. DAI label showcases are usually held there, and it’s just the perfect combination between the building and nights held there to experience unforgettable moments. You can hear Minimal Monday’s podcasts here, and usually they have a live stream from the venue. To see more info: minimal.lt
(Photo ‘Kablys’ (The Hook)
You can back me up on this one. What’s the question coming up after every night out? Yeah, you guessed it right! ‘Where’s the after party?’ And Vilnius delivers! One of the good examples is club called ‘Opalocka’. It’s probably the main after-hours destination, which turned into a new project named ‘Cult’, introducing a more house-y sound to the public with the globally known Function1 sound system. Hosting regular locals as well as international guests, it is a guarantor of a great night out. One of the past events was headlined by Fabio Florido and hosted by the Cult family, just proving how Lithuanians work together with artists from all over the Europe to bring the best to their country.
To sum it up, Lithuania is becoming a bigger and bigger attraction to ravers. We can see amazing lineups appearing at the capital’s clubs and festivals, as well as healthy and sustainable growth in this alternative scene. Promoters are pushing new sounds and more and more people responding to that. It probably would be useful to know a local to show things around, but that is not essential to see how wicked the Lithuanian underground scene has become and it’s still growing.
Words by Matas Balta