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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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Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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