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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

Wednesday, Aug. 20


AmCham gets back to business after a summer hiatus with todays EHS Committee Working Group Meeting. Check their website for more details.



Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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