In a previous life, and by that I mean my teenage years, I was convinced that I was destined to work in the music industry. That was my dream, and I never wanted to think about whether or not it would be “uncool” to be 30 years old and still attending shows where the majority of the audience would be teenage girls.
For a good 4 years, I was going to about 2-3 shows/concerts per month, and after college, I guess, in a way, I wore myself out of that habit. Now, it’s only 2-3 shows per year. Instead of a lifestyle I strive for, it’s now a hobby I enjoy. I even made it a bucket list item to attend a concert in another country which I just recently completed. I attended what appeared to be the final round of a battle of the bands competition at the Moscow Arena, but for me, I was more excited to see the main headliner, Panic! at the Disco. If you ever go to a concert at the Moscow Arena, I’m going to tell you what to expect as well as why my night was a total bust.
For starters, I did not know there would be a battle of the bands to kick off the night. I figured there would be one or two openers and then the headliner, just like the concert decorum in the states. I forgot for a second that I was in a foreign country, and they might do things differently. Before I get ahead of myself, let’s rewind a bit.
Where the heck is the Moscow Arena?
The venue is fairly easy to find. It’s just off the Dinamo metro stop on the green line. When you exit the station, turn left and walk until you reach the underpass to cross the highway. Go down into the underpass, and when you’re about to exit, take the stairs on the left. Walk straight, turn right on Leningrad Prospect, and walk through the small park to the arena. It will be on your left hand side, and it’ll be hard to miss on account of all the people standing in line. It also has ARENA painted on the side in huge letters (see photo above).
Inside the Arena
Moscow Arena is a very nice venue and extremely spacious. I should mention that it’s not actually an arena, in case you haven’t narrowed that down yet, so much as it is a huge concert club. It’s a common place for American bands and musicians to play when they come to Moscow. You don’t need your passport to get in, but it’s good to have on hand. Before you enter the main venue, you will pass through metal detectors, and bathrooms will be on your left. Concession stands and a “food box” vending machine will be on your right, if you get hungry throughout the night.
Music is a common language among everyone. You may not be able to speak eachother’s language, but it is through music in which you are connected and can communicate. That said, if you want to feel like you are “among your people” away from home, go to a concert or musical gathering of sorts. You’ll surely be in great company.
Whatever time the doors open, the show will start one hour afterwards. Outside, they don’t form a line to get in so much as a mad rush so be prepared, hold on to your belongings, and make sure you have your ticket ready to hand over at the door.
Once you’re in, you’ll notice that smoking is allowed indoors, and there isn’t a designated smoking section so be prepared for that as well. There were camera crews everywhere even on stage when bands were performing. I assume it was only because it was a special event, but I cannot be sure. And people love to dance. That’s something you don’t see too often at small concert clubs in America so it was nice to see people actually enjoying themselves and letting loose.
You may be surprised (I know I was) that girls aren’t afraid to wear shorts, and by shorts I mean underwear. Saw more than I would’ve liked that night, if you know what I mean. I believe I also saw someone in cat ears and people rolling joints in the back of the club. Like I said, letting loose.
So then why was my night a total bust?
I was truly excited for this night. Really. One of my favorite bands from back home, who just happens to be really popular in Russia, was playing at a club at the same time I was visiting. Not knowing that I was going to a battle of the bands show was the first warning sign. After the first 2 opening bands, I was pumped and ready to see Panic! at the Disco play. It wasn’t until after the 8th band played and the announcement of a surprise musical guest that I had lost hope. It was a lesson to myself to check the schedule beforehand so I don’t waste time watching the clock and impatiently waiting.
I had spent the entire day walking around in 100 degree heat, not giving myself a break, and when I realized Panic! wouldn’t go on until after 11pm, I gave up. I was too tired, I had inhaled too much secondhand smoke, and I didn’t want to navigate my way back to the hostel in the dark especially since I had only been in Moscow a couple of days at that point.
Yes, it would’ve been amazing to see them play and experience the reaction of a foreign audience, but I will see them play another time. Perhaps back home, perhaps somewhere else in the world. Either way, it was still cool to be a part of a musical experience in Moscow. It brought me back to my teenage roots for a minute and was certainly a unique experience.