Glen Johnson

Into the Woods

April 29, 2018 Medium

CHISINAU, Moldova — They stumble through the forest, towards light and sound. A woman is passed out on a gravel path; others with their backs to trees. Smart phones illuminate faces. Silhouettes sway.

Frenzied breakbeats blast from the stage. It’s all of it bugged-out and dead of night glitch.

They’ve been at it for two days.

They rave.


Two weeks earlier, a few friends sit in a dilapidated villa in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, packing weed into a pipe. They’re watching YouTube videos of famous raves and festivals in Western Europe.

No one here can remember the last time they went to an alternative music festival.

“Sometimes,” says 33-year-old Victor Scemanenco, a breakcore DJ and vocalist in a local deathcore band, “you just feel that nothing is happening in this city that can bring you some joy.”

Scemanenco and his friends, all of them proactive musicians, are tired of Chisinau’s depleted nightlife; of watching gifted friends migrate abroad, in search of opportunity. They’re sick of always having to scramble.

The only alternative spot in town — called Spalatorie — has recently shut its doors. Another live music venue, Albion, is permanently closed, despite the sign outside the venue advertising that: “2017 will be our year.”

That leaves a scattering of clubs and bistros, even a local hostel’s courtyard, where they hold improvised gigs.
“We have some underground hip-hop projects, good metal bands, a few punk and hardcore bands,” says Scemanenco. “And underground DJs; styles like breakcore, hardcore techno.”

So, he and his friends have decided to throw an alternative music festival. The guy whose family owns the villa, he is stumping up some €6,000 to finance it.

Over two days, people will have the chance to camp out and watch a range of bands, and get hammered in a forest on the edge of Chisinau’s Durlesti sector. That’s where this leafy city of half-a-million — a beautiful yet oft dispiriting Soviet sweep — gives way to expansive steppes.

“No one is doing something like this right now. It comes from the idea of bringing some diversity here,” he says, “and to promote local bands, to show that we have a lot of young talent here in Moldova.”

They’ve decided to call it, “In Da Wood”. It’s two weeks out. There’s much left to do.


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