DIY scene in Lithuania

The beginning of 2003 hit local underground scene with the great loss. Legendary "Green" club and "Kablys" squat in Vilnius were closed down after police invasion. Though the main reason was drugs and stolen stuff (nothing was found except few litres of home made buzz), it seems that city authorities decided to clean out the building, which served as the squat, club, vegan cafe, info-meeting point for local activists and rehearsal space for many bands for more than 4 years. At the moment, few people still live there and bands still play, but the owners of the building clearly stated, that they do not want to have any troubles with police. The building is prepared for renovation, but it seems it will take quite a long time. Ex-Kablys squatters are looking for a new building, while underground gigs were moved to local pubs. As far as i know, there are no more squats in Lithuania.

On the other hand, it seems underground movement is getting more active in other towns. After positive hardcore band Splitface was founded in Salcininkai, a small city near capital Vilnius, together with friends they have opened a venue in a garage called "Garage DIY", promoting diy way-of-life in a province. There are more and more gigs and interested people in the second town of Lithuania Kaunas, which used to be a punk-capital in 1987-1990. For a long time (and still) Kaunas is known for its macho street fightings, but it seems situation is getting better. Unfortunately Kaunas crew aren't so lucky as people in Siauliai, who's got their own half-squatted place called "Bendradarbei". Siauliai always was quite alternative city with lots of bands and students, but the new venue is a big step forward to form a real diy community. Lithuanian port Klaipeda, which used to have some really nice clubs some years ago, was neglected for a long time, but there are some activists there as well. People are trying to break a silence in other towns as well. That means more places for bands to play and more space for various ideas to spread. Some things that worry: transforming of underground movement into one more system inside the system, we're trying to ignore; "our system" really lacks of tolerance and creativity sometimes - people just take what they are given and then we have one more consumer community; some people think it's just a music and they still live in the Pistols' era, but it's a lack of information, especially in province; lots of people are leaving the scene right after their teenage riot period, strange, because i'm 27 and its still interesting for me and its always sad to see friends leaving... We must learn in few years, what took decades for Western diy community.

Not so many interesting new bands recently, but old ones are getting better. All the information can be found at, where you can download free mp3s of many Lithuanian underground bands. Its better listen to music not to talk, so just few lines to draw a whole view. Frekenbok (original and interesting ska/reggae/punk) and Sloppy Livin (quite standard ska/punk) are new bands with their debut records out. Baltic ska pioneers Dr.Green are exploring various styles further, with hard touch of punk and ska. Hardcore scene is presented by Bora (animal rights), SC (freak-emo-hc), Splitface (melodic sxe hardcore) and few more. It's probably the most popular music style in LT underground. Street oi!punks Toro Bravo are still alive, though have problems with line-up constantly. Local grind/crust heroes are Per Kryziu Ir Kancia Tavo with superb noisy and funny live performances. There are more bands, of course, but either they're too young to judge or just clones of already heard sounds. Lithuanian bands often play in Latvia (check fuckin' brilliant open-air festival of diy culture "Tabuns" at or Poland, few like Bora, Spicki or dr.Green played a lot all around Europe.

Lithuanian scene is strongly connected with Latvians for many years. Though there is a stoopid border control between these two Baltic states, there is a quite intensive bands, ideas and people migration. Similar situation is with Poland. Might sound strange, but there are almost no contacts with the third Baltic state Estonia, who are more interested in cooperation with Finland. Neighbours Byellorussia and Russia are quite isolated because of visas regime. After Soviet Union breakdown everybody headed to West, a lot of activists moved to live in various European squats - it's always easier only to support, not to create. On the other hand, these "emigrants" help to set up gigs abroad for Lithuanian bands, sending various hard-to-find printed and video material. The fact that some of them are coming back is very positive. For East European people Western squats seems like heaven, but you can't deny that it depends on economical situation. Simple example - you can't find food near a supermarket in Vilnius and you can find almost everything near a supermarket, say, in Berlin. Sometimes i wonder where they put all the expired products, but you can buy really old vegetables or even expired stuff sometimes. So far we don't have over-producing - what is going on for years in West. The same economical factors concerns all underground movement aspects, not only squatting. You can't just live for your unemployment "salary", because it's too small even for the most general living needs. And police don't care about human rights so much, though it's getting better. I don't ask for symphathy, just want to point out the gap between West and East Europe to understand each other better.

There used to be really big zines scene in 1990-95. Then everything went down and for a long time there was only Kablys zine, published by Bora and dr.Green members. It covers mostly music, but there are various socio-political matters as well. Last issues came together with free CD sampler. From time to time there were Mutual and Sperm Oil zines, but they were very irregular and disappeared at last. Recently few non-musical zines were published, covering non-musical fields such as feminism and modern anarcho ideas.

Lithuanian underground is pretty well presented on internet at above already mentioned, where almost all diy projects are hosted. There is a calendar of actual events, forums for various discussions, free independent mail system. The page was launched in 1995 by SC and dr.Green members. From my own experience regarding effectivity of this page: we used to make posters of "Green" club gigs and put them somewhere in a city, but later we've realized there is no need - it's enough to announce a gig on! Save forests, use less paper!

So this is the way things are on our side. Just wanted to say, don't afraid to come to Baltic states with your band or your girl/boyfriend to enjoy our small, but honest company. I'm sure you would find lots of interesting and unexpected funny (and not so funny) things here. And hurry up, because it fades away with modern work-buy-die lifestyle. Iki pasimatymo!

scene report of 2 years ago :) |