New Wave nostalgia: Molchat Doma and Nuovo Testamento | 04.21.23, The Factory (with photo gallery)

Photo of Egor Shkutko of Molchat Doma by Jen Ruff.

Molchat Doma and Nuovo Testamento are both revivalist acts that pay homage to the club culture of Europe in the late 1980s. This was a pivotal moment in underground music, with rock and electronic instruments intermixing to create a futuristic sound that seemed to perfectly capture the tension of the era. The sounds of the ‘80s underground have never truly gone out of fashion, of course, and the diverse crowd at the Factory demonstrated the timeless and intergenerational appeal of this music. Leather corsets, battle vests, and knee-high boots intermingled with the more utilitarian attire of a contemporary suburbanite, all united in their enthusiasm for a slightly newer take on New Wave.

Nuovo Testamento, the first act of the night, is a collaboration between American vocalist Chelsey Crowley and Italian musicians Andrea Mantione and Giacomo Zatti, although only Crowley and Zatti are performing on the current tour. Prior to joining Nuovo Testamento, both Mantione and Zatti played in several Italian and American hardcore bands (Verme, Tørsö, Holy, Hot Gossip, Tuono, just to name a few); Crowley was also the vocalist for a California deathrock band called Crimson Scarlet. Nuovo Testamento is certainly a 180-degree turn from the other projects these experienced musicians have been involved in, trading in hardcore aggression for a sincere reproduction of uptempo “Hi-NRG” electronic dance music of the 1980s.

Crowley is a passionate and spirited vocalist and energetic dancer, looking and sounding very much like a long-lost member of Bananarama. Zatti attacked his toms with gusto, and it’s a testament to his skill as a drummer that he made electronic percussion as compelling to watch live as a traditional drum set. That said, the Factory is a large venue with a great deal of open space, and the lack of any other set pieces or performers on the stage did make for a somewhat stripped-down visual experience. This is ultimately music made for dancing rather than for admiring the technical skill of a live performance, however, and they kept the crowd engaged throughout their set.

Molchat Doma (whose name means “silent houses” in Russian) took the stage around 9:15PM, with vocalist Egor Shkutko announcing the band with a simple “We are Molchat Doma from Minsk.” This Belarussian trio, consisting of guitarist and drummer Roman Komogortsev, bassist and synth player Pavel Kozlov, and the aforementioned Shkutko, has become arguably the most successful “coldwave” group in existence, introducing what was once a relatively niche style of post-punk music to a mainstream audience. For frame of reference, Molchat Doma’s most popular songs have tens to hundreds of millions of streams on Spotify, making them the equal of that most vaunted of post-punk groups, Joy Division, in terms of popularity on the streaming service. (Taking into consideration that all of Molchat Doma’s songs are in Russian makes this feat even more impressive).

Shkutko was front-and-center throughout the performance, with his stylish demeanor, subtle dance moves, and monotone, vampiric crooning clearly tapping into some latent desire for a depressed Slavic popstar; members of the audience frequently shrieked with glee at his performance. Komogortsev and Kozlov played multiple instruments throughout the set, switching between synthesizers, and guitar and bass. The live instruments were hard to distinguish over the preprogrammed synth and percussion, but again, this is music best enjoyed through dancing anyways. The group played a setlist consisting of songs from across their three albums (S krysh nashikh domov, Etazi, and Monument), closing with “Sudno,” the song that launched them into viral popularity. Shkutko paralleled his concise introduction from earlier in the night, bidding the audience farewell with “We are Molchat Doma from Minsk.” | David Von Nordheim

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