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Ale house rock

Published: October 1, 2004 (Issue # 1008)


Spitalul de Urgenta, a band from Romania that effectively combines Balkan folk wedding and drinking songs with western rock and punk, was doomed to be a hit in Russia, where Emir Kusturica and Goran Bregovic are still all the rage. After packing Moscow art and rock clubs on its first Russian tour in February, the band, whose best-known song is called "Long Live Beer," will make its debut in St. Petersburg this week.

Formed in Bucharest in 2000, the five-piece band includes singer, guitarist and songwriter Dan Helciug, electric guitarist Emil Chican, bassist Adrian Chepa and drummer Vladimir Sergeyev, the latter being an ethnic Russian who moved to Bucharest from Chisinau, Moldova. The most drastic change that affected the band since its last Russian visit has been the trading of Vali Craciunescu's accordion to Claudiu Stoica's tambal, or a hammered dulcimer, a traditional Romanian instrument.

"It's a pure Balkan original, with a lot of strings and strange musical sounds," said Helciug in a recent telephone interview from Bucharest.

Spitalul de Urgenta, which recently released its fourth album, "Stupefiant," continues to develop musically, according to Helciug.

"Our style is in permanent state of change," he said.

"[Our] music is mostly rock, Balkan rock, with influences from punk, progressive rock, and symphonic rock, an interesting hybrid, but also very modern. I keep the irony and good mood of the lyrics, making fun of the false values of the society."

Helciug, 29, who has a degree in acting, has been a popular figure on Romanian television for several years, after appearing on a star-search show similar to American Idol. He also spent three years studying psychology at a university.

Apart from fronting Spitalul de Urgenta, Helciug also plays in another, more straightforward rock band called Nod, which he describes as a blend of Rammstein, Depeche Mode and Korn, but found it difficult to get that act broadcast on Romanian radio.

"I formed Spitalul de Urgenta without electric guitars and rock, in order not to scare the radio. But it's still rock at its base," he said.

Despite Helciug's efforts to placate listeners, though, Spitalul de Urgenta ("Emergency Room") remains a black sheep on the Romanian music scene.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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