Rocking with The Russians

As we were boarding the subway, I grabbed an English version of The St. Petersburg Times. Natasha, our Russian life saver (tour guide), told me there were nightlife events listed in the back. As I turned the pages, I spotted: “30 Seconds to Mars headlining at Tuborg Greenfest, July 13.” Tonight? 30 Seconds to Mars? Yes, please!

Me and my companions – fellow student Ross and Natasha – decided to check out the rock music festival.

We arrived at the festival gates and read a sign that said: “General admission: 1500 rubles – ” or about $55. But Natasha worked her Russian magic and scalped tickets from a Russian policeman. Typical.

I’ve been to many concerts of different genres. And attending a music festival in Europe is something I wanted to check off my bucket list. Since 2005, the Danish beer company Tuborg has been sponsoring the one-day rock music festival in Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. This year 30 Seconds to Mars, The Pretty Reckless were among those who performed.

On that hazy evening, we walked into the festival. The electric energy was contagious. The attendees held green cups of Tuborg beer in one hand and a giant foam finger in the other. They also wore and green Tuborg scarves. About 10,000 people lounged on the lawn, enjoying the music. Others were getting their pictures taken with a model VW bus or getting their hair temporality dyed green.


Photo by Ross Medico and Siobhan Cassidy

The sun emerged through the clouds. It was around nine at night, but it was as bright as 3 P.M. The sun was setting over the Neva River and 30 Seconds to Mars came on stage. The crowd roared.

Everyone charged towards the stage and began to sing along with lead vocalist Jared Leto. Some also yelled out in English (But when I spoke English to the Russians, they had no idea what I was saying).

Still, I felt very close to the Russians around me, 40 years ago we almost had a nuclear war between our countries. I felt one with them – Jumping, howling and rocking to music. This concert reminds me of how Americans and Russians are more alike than different. Music brings people together. We were equally enjoying a jam session with an American rock band. It brought Russians who do not speak English and Americans who do not speak Russian together.