Balaklava Blues, Vault Festival

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by Laura Kressly

In 2014, Mark and Marichka Marczyk met in Kyiv as protesters fighting against the Ukraine’s corrupt government. As riot police marched against citizens standing up to their rulers, the pair fell in love.

Known for their 2016 Edinburgh fringe hit Counting Sheep: A Guerrilla Folk Opera that tells the story of that revolution and also runs at Vault Festival this year, the couple’s band Lemon Bucket Orkestra shares songs from their newest album in a short, intimately staged gig. Video and photographic projections punctuate the performance, capturing the spirit of revolution in their self-described ‘Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Party-Punk-Super Band’ style. The blend of techno and Ukrainian folk music accompanied by the Marczyks’ ethereal vocals is a compelling mix of cultures and eras that serves to remind us that borders are political constructs to restrict people’s freedom.

The video and images that bedeck two opposing walls of the space are collages of juxtaposition. Solders and decrepit, industrial landscapes are set against cheerful animations and animals, fire and conflict contrast with folk dancing. The songs function in much the same way – angry political anthems alternate with songs about hope and love.

Though there’s too much smoke and the bass is occasionally painful in its resonance, the spirit of political activism is well-captured. Anger and hope are two forces that, in their collision within a person, have the power to start a movement that can lead to revolution. Though in these dark times, with the looming unknown of Brexit’s consequences hanging heavy over a concerned populace, gigs like these are a helpful outlet for emotional release and an inspiration for the oppressed.

Balaklava Blues runs through 16 March.

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