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Words and Photos: Molchat Doma / New Obsessions at recordBar

Molchat Doma. Photo by Aaron Rhodes.
Date: May 18, 2022

recordBar - Kansas City, MO

Last month's Molchat Doma show at recordBar was a (relatively) long time coming. The Belarusian post-punk band rose to popularity in the year after the release of their sophomore record Etazhi. Their slow and steady growth throughout 2019 came thanks to what seemed to be extraordinarily organic, word-of-mouth exposure in cultish YouTube music communities and viral TikTok videos (many of which compiled footage of gloom and daily life in post-Soviet states; the band's first two album covers feature renderings of brutalist Soviet architecture). The song featured in many of those TikToks, "Vessel (Boris Rhyzy)," eventually hit #2 on Spotify's viral hits chart and the band was signed to Sacred Bones Records for its 2020 LP Monument.

Following a cancelation in 2020, Molchat Doma finally made it to North America in 2022. This recordBar show had been sold out for months by the time the trio arrived in Kansas City and though the band remained largely stoic, many faces in the crowd intermittently wore elated smiles on this evening. When the band's cold yet often danceable sounds hit, they hit hard. "Vessel" spurred a singalong despite the language barrier. Another song, carrying an infectious synth pop rhythm that bordered on having a disco sensibility, drove some fans to twirl in place or attempt their best Eastern European raver imitations.


Guitarist/synth player Roman Komogortsev and bassist/synth player Pavel Kozlov stood in almost statuesque positions for a majority of the performance, but the interplay of their instruments was one of the band's strong suits. Occasionally they would stand beside each other as these exchanges occurred, and at one point, the two executed a cartoonish bit of choreography in which they marched in rhythm to the song, lifting their knees almost to chest level in sync with one another.

Though this show was far from a letdown overall, Molchat Doma's greatest strength proved to be its greatest weakness. Vocalist Egor Shkutko's largely monotone singing and the often dreary soundscapes produced by his band can create otherworldly moments, but over the course of 75 minutes can also become tedious. For those who obsess over post-punk, new wave, and gothic music, a Molchat Doma seems to be a magical place. A more casual fan should perhaps aim to catch them at a festival or opening for another band if possible (unless they offer up a more dynamic sound on their next album).

The night began with a set from Kansas City's New Obsessions. Jorge Arana -- a veteran local musician perhaps known best for his experimental jazz trio -- came accompanied by a bassist friend and a drum machine, ready to crank out half an hour of wiry, meandering post-punk guitar riffing. The moodiness of this set was amplified by some visual elements: a fog machine working double time and some light costume (Arana wore clown makeup and a ruff, his bassist a plague doctor mask).

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