Ever since the “helpful” algorithms of streaming services began replaying our favorite tunes (or directing us towards similar artists or genres), we’ve lost that serendipity we used to enjoy, channel hopping through MTV, Viva, or VH1 – to be blindsided by something we didn’t anticipate or think we’d groove to. Exactly this element of surprise and the lack of control for the listener are crucial to stumbling upon the new and keeping us from hiding away in our own “bubble.” That’s the unique charm of the Visa Fusion stage – a showcase of unexpected diversity.
The Brits always manage to pull a rabbit out of the hat with something unexpected, and Dry Cleaning is precisely that – a band described as post-punk, owing a good deal to the heritage of Joy Division, Wire, or Magazine, but put through all the filters that have emerged over the past 40-odd years. First and foremost, there’s a strong female vibe that somewhat harks back to Lush or Elastica – and what you’ll notice first is Florence Shaw, the band’s beautiful, static, ironic, and melancholic vocalist who speaks the words in a narrative tone as if she’s reading a book or recounting some experience she had on a night on the town. It’s an almost epic narrative, accompanied by exceedingly dynamic music in the background. Once you switch off the song, you’ll struggle to distinguish the chorus from the verse, but when you turn it back on, it’ll feel like it should never end. In a short time, these Londoners have released two albums, “New Long Leg“ (2021) and “Stumpwork“ (2022), capturing the hearts of critics and audiences alike.
Once upon a time, in Jamaica and the UK, there was a working-class street subculture known as the “Rude Boys,” known for their defiant attitudes and impeccable dress – suits, hats, and all manner of rakish outfits. They had an irreversible influence on music styles such as reggae, ska, and punk, which is what prompted Patrick Tilon, who moved from Suriname to the Netherlands as a youngster, following the “Jamaican rude boys corridor,” just a bit further south, to adopt Rudeboy as his latest stage name. Now, Patrick has an unbreakable connection to Serbia, as his Urban Dance Squad released an album back in 1997 called “Belgrade Alive.” It was one of the first bands to visit Serbia after the sanctions the country faced in the ‘90s. The music of Urban Dance Squad is precisely what Rudeboy will be playing with his new band, and this music is a tasty mix of a bit of everything – funk, reggae, metal, rock, ska, and who knows what else. Fusion at its finest!
Siberia is a place where the summers are short and hot, and the winters are long and dark. The capital of this vast part of the world is Novosibirsk, the birthplace of the band Ploho (which translates to “bad” in Russian). They are part of the global neo-dark scene, which includes notable bands such as She Past Away, Lebanon Hanover, and Molchat Doma. With their blend of post-punk, neo-goth, and darkwave with a touch of synth-wave and doomer guitars, Ploho made a grand entrance in 2017 with their first album titled “Bumažnyje bombi (Paper Bombs),“ after releasing four EPs. Their 2018 album, “Kuda pticy uletajut umirat (Where Birds Go to Die), “ was heralded as one of the best alternative albums of the year. Ploho’s lyrics touch on sorrow, life in the far corners of Russia, growing up, generational differences, short days and long nights (like the Nordics, their music is shaped by their climate), with their main inspiration coming from the legendary Viktor Tsoi (whom we could describe as the Soviet Kurt Cobain) and the band Kino. Their latest album, “Kogda duša spit (When the Soul Sleeps), “ from 2022, will be the centerpiece of their concert. Their biggest hit? Perhaps “Gorod ustal“ (“The City Is Tired“).
It’s uncommon to stumble upon a fantastic ska band in the US, given that ska is primarily associated with Jamaica and the UK, where Jamaican immigrants fused it with British pop to create this irresistible music genre that took the world by storm in 1980 and 1981. However, it couldn’t have happened without the involvement of a Brit, the mastermind behind The Toasters, Robert Hingley. Infatuated with ska, he moved to New York in 1980, and it didn’t take him long to find a group of like-minded people and form an excellent band. Equally attractive to all cultural circles, The Toasters also gathered a few Jamaicans, hence the distinctive accent in the backing vocals. Having released nine albums, Hingley moved to Valencia in 2004 and continued performing with new line-ups, showcasing his distinctive ska-pop, calypso, and R’n’B blend. This is precisely what they’ll do at the Fortress, promising a night of joy and bouncing around at the Visa Fusion stage.
We don’t need to translate the name of this band, and they’re one of the most fascinating acts to emerge from the Russian scene’s new wave. Led by Rasel Rahman, they’ve made their mark on the Russian underground with their lively indie-pop sound. Spasibo‘s performances are known to move audiences in two directions – stirring up dance floors while also tugging at nostalgic heartstrings. With five studio albums under their belt, we’re in for a fresh gust of air from the steppe and the Caucasus. To get a taste, start by spinning their track “Sčitaločka.“
A STEP FURTHER…
Written by: Žikica Milošević