‘Dance like there is no such thing as a tomorrow’: Ukraine’s wartime music scene | Russia-Ukraine conflict

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Lviv and Kyiv, Ukraine – Boghdan Sulanov, the fast-talking vocalist of a heavy metallic rock band known as YAD, traverses a crammed backstage space. He edges previous a guitarist who has simply completed a high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled set, leaving him drenched in sweat, and reaches a small desk piled with audio gear, tea and biscuits. From beneath the desk, he fishes out a rucksack with the garments he’ll quickly put on onstage.

The live performance corridor, an intimate venue within the western Ukrainian metropolis of Lviv, is roofed in music posters and on an evening in early February, it’s filled with a number of hundred rock fanatics eagerly awaiting the following efficiency. The ambiance is electrical, and Sulanov is happy.

“Younger individuals didn’t admire music in the identical manner earlier than the conflict,” says the 33-year-old, referring to Russia’s full-scale invasion of his native Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

“Our band all the time sing about our issues, and proper now, it’s that we need to survive,” says Sulanov, as he takes within the frenetic backstage ambiance.

Yad 1-8: The Band YAD perform in Lviv
Boghdan Sulanov, the lead signer of YAD, says his band as of late sings about desirous to survive the conflict [Nils Adler/Al Jazeera]

In the course of the weekdays, Sulanov works as a software program developer, however in his free time, he is a rock star. “All of us have to work, however we additionally want power, and this will come from music!” he says, earlier than politely excusing himself to arrange for his set.

On stage, Bohdana Nykyforchyn, a 35-year-old singer with shoulder-length dyed purple hair, screams right into a microphone whereas her bandmate kilos away on a drum set.

Nykyforchyn transports the room via a variety of feelings, alternating between smooth melodic tones and extra aggressive, fast-paced vocals. At one level, her voice cracks, and he or she seems like she may cry. After her set, she explains why. “I’m eight months pregnant, and my dream was to climb this stage,” she says. “When the second track got here on, I felt all my feelings bubble up. My hormones are in all places!”

Bohdana Nykyforchyn, who is eight months pregnant, performs in Lviv
Bohdana Nykyforchyn, who’s eight months pregnant, performs in Lviv [Nils Adler/Al Jazeera]

Backstage, Sulanov has transitioned into his on-stage persona, dressed all in white. His eyes peer via a balaclava with the phrases “not good” emblazoned on it.

The members of YAD run out onto the stage, and the viewers, starting from fresh-faced youngsters to grey-haired middle-aged rockers, erupts in pleasure. The individuals standing within the entrance row scream out the phrases to their songs, together with a younger boy who seems to be about 10 years previous. The guitarist briefly stops strutting across the stage when he spots the boy and offers him a heartfelt thumbs-up.

Marichka Chichkova, the occasion organiser who helps out on the bar, admits that though heavy metallic will not be her most popular music style, she is blissful to see all of the individuals having fun with themselves. She seems up on the stage and remarks, “It’s additionally a launch for musicians; this is essential, too”.

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