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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. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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