January 01, 2000

Masha and Her Bears

... Another Saturday night in Moscow, 11:15 p.m., and a mass of swaying bodies is crammed into Moscow’s hip night club, Svalka  (“trash dump”—one of the capital’s famous tusovkas, a club decorated with old cars and license plates). Masha i Medvedi is scheduled to perform at 11:00PM.

At 12:30 a.m., with the crowd’s energy close to bursting, the group slips onto the stage. No one seems to mind the wait, and as soon as Masha takes the mike and plunges into her latest hit Reykyavik, it is clear the group has got their sound together, with Masha’s dynamic vocals leading the way through song after song. A baseball cap covers a shaved head and a baggy worker’s outfit conceals a slender, 5’2” frame. But looks can be deceiving. The 21-year-old Masha belts out deep vocals that reverberate off club walls with aforce you can’t help but dance to.

Their mix of cheerful tunes (Lyubochka, whose lyrics were adapted from a kids’ poem written by Soviet poet Agniya Barto) with a little taste of melancholy (Bez tebya—“Without You”), makes Masha i Medvedi a fresh cross between the “Smashing Pumpkins” and “The Cranberries.” Add to that a love potion of Russian-style, on-stage enthusiasm and it is easy to see why this group is popular with the youth: there is a great range and variety in their music, and they put everything they’ve got into each song.

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