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Queer Artists to Share Stage in Russian Concerts

Published: May 26, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • Jamie Stewart is both singer and songwriter for post-punk group Xiu Xiu.
    Photo: Steve Louie / Wikimedia Commons

  • Psychic TV, founded by transgender performance artist Genesis P-Orridge, will join Xiu Xius Russian tour.
    Photo: Dan Mandell / www.danielmandel.com

"The point of playing music is to give and never be afraid to take it too far," said Jamie Stewart, musician and songwriter from Xiu Xiu, who took time off from the band's European tour to speak with The St. Petersburg Times ahead of their Russian concerts with Psychic TV in Moscow on May 30 and St. Petersburg on June 1.

Indeed, in the 12 years since Xiu Xiu's debut album "Knife Play" in 2002, Stewart has been pushing the sonic and emotional boundaries of his music. As a songwriter, Stewart's tortured, confessional approach to songwriting, which has always used his personal life as its subject matter is often raw and disturbing, with music that is both uncomfortable but hauntingly beautiful. Unconventional and abrasive, Xiu Xiu's music meanders between experimental post-punk and harsh industrial noise, with Stewart's fragile voice always present above the chaos.

The advice was given to him by his father, Mark, a successful producer and one-time member of popular folk group The Kingston Trio, who was crucial in Stewart's early musical education, though he admitted that he grew up in a very dysfunctional household.

"There were a few years in which he was crucial in a helping me set up a studio and encouraging me. He then lost his mind and killed himself, but the idea he left me with will always be there.

He only saw us play one time before he died and it was an awful show, but he made a point of telling me to go on."

Over the band's 11 full-length albums, the themes and topics Stewart has engaged with has remained constant. "It is in the world of darkness for certain while family, politics and lovelessness in their many facets continue to be explored," Stewart begins, when asked about his obsessions. "Ideas around violence, crime, sexuality, gender, environmental apocalypse, cats, cartoons, war, death, drugs, ghosts and suicide have become repeating topics as well."

A "best-of" record was released for Record Store Day in April. "It has consumed and controlled my life and I have feel very little if any separation from it," Stewart said, looking back at the band's evolution.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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