Tag Archives: VIC

The weird wave of modern Greek rock

Next to the much talked-about weird wave of modern Greek cinema runs another, slightly more obscure, yet powerful artistic current: the emergence of a rich and dynamic Greek stoner/psychedelic/post-rock scene that boasts a large variety of independent and highly original bands.

This vibrant scene didn’t just spring to life from one day to the next. On the heavy side of things, bands like Planet of Zeus or Nightstalker have long been successful in forging a solid sound and creating a dedicated following both within and outside of Greece, having toured and played in many festivals across Europe over the last years.

An interesting blend of stoner rock with the Greek folk (Epirotic, in particular) idiom is the case of Villagers of Ioannina City (aka VIC). One of the most promising bands that have emerged in recent years, they have created a distinctive sound resulting from the marriage of slow, heavy guitar playing and the use of clarinet, which carries with it emotional overtones associated with Epirotic music while allowing for explosive and highly virtuosic playing.

Meanwhile, the global rise of post-rock since the early 1990s (with names such as Sigur Rós and Mogwai) has also left its marks upon the Greek experimental scene. A surprising number of smaller -yet very capable and creative- groups (a selection of which you can find below) have slowly but steadily created a unique and diverse soundscape that reflects many of the frustrations and difficulties they are facing, while also encapsulating their creative urge and drive for change.

An excellent example of why limited means do not necessarily translate into compromise in quality is One Hour Before the Trip, a band I discovered during a recent visit in Athens.

Comprised of skilled musicians, technicians and visual artists, the Athens-based instrumental rock ensemble has managed to self-finance their own studio, thus maintaining total creative control (independently composing, recording and mixing their music) and producing exemplary albums such as their latest release Boarding Pass.

The weird wave of Greek rock is surely on the rise. Let it be a long trip ahead before it crashes against the shore…

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The new old sound of Greek folk rock

Into the forest

In a beautiful green setting just a couple of hours away from the hustle and bustle of Athens, a unique get together of different people, sounds, and musical styles took place around mid-August in the 4th edition of the Arvanitsa Music Forest Festival.

Nestled inside a lush landscape, the stage was surrounded by tall green firs, its powerful projectors and strong lights bringing forth a symbolism that run throughout the festival: the convergence of old and new, traditional and modern, urban and rural.

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The stage lights vanishing into the night sky above the forest in Arvanitsa

The music of uprooting

Intensified and increasingly relevant due to the ongoing socio-economic crisis in Greece, the theme of emigration and resettling was recurrent in the performances of several artists who treated it both as a vehicle for artistic expression and socio-political commentary.

A case in point is Hamayun and Wakar by Greek songwriter Thanassis Papakonstantinou. The song relates the tragic story of Hamayun Anwar and Wakar Ahmed, two young men from Pakistan who lost their lives in 2012 while trying to save an elderly Greek couple that was trapped on rail tracks.

Another highlight included the electrifying renditions of popular folk tunes by Villagers of Ioannina City (aka VIC), a Greek band that brings together folk influences with post, stoner and psychedelic rock elements. Songs such as Jiannim or Chalasia combine skilfully the traditional form and emotional undertones of Greek folk song with a contemporary sound and orchestration, thus reaching out to audiences that would otherwise have little or no interest in folk music.

Old folk, new folks

The amplified sound of clarinets, lutes and lyres next to resounding guitars, electric bass and thundering drumming. Familiar lyrics and popular tunes sung again in different ways, performed through different mediums, and heard again through different ears.

This happens when city folks gather in the forest to play, listen and sing to the the new old sound of Greek folk rock music.

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