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Kiev’s hardcore music scene
Photography Vladyslav Andrievsky

Energetic images capture Kiev’s hardcore music scene

From bleeding noses to flying hair and body convulsions, three photographers share unruly moments from the city’s underground

In recent years, Ukrainian capital Kiev has been on the radar for its emerging youth movement. From the burgeoning art and photography scene (check the work of Kristina Podobed and Sasha Kurmaz) to raves that take over disused industrial buildings and skate parks, the city’s new wave relies on a DIY culture and supportive creative community. Values which can be found in even the darkest corners of raging underground gigs – as photographers Lesha Berezovskiy, Vladyslav Andrievsky and Anatolii Todorov found out while documenting Kiev’s hardcore scene.  

“I wanted to photograph the hardcore scene because I’ve always had a feeling of it being something unique and fleeting,” Lesha Berezovsky explains. “Taking pictures at hardcore gigs can be very tricky. You try to find a good spot by the stage, ideally so no one breaks your camera with their leg. Once I was standing by the wall, and got pushed by the crowd, and had a crack in my rib. I always feel like I want to be present, not to miss anything, and try to capture the moment when the energy is at its highest. But sometimes when your favourite track is on, it’s hard to just stand by, so you pass a camera to someone and fly into the crowd.”

“Sometimes when your favourite track is on, it’s hard to just stand by, so you pass a camera to someone and fly into the crowd” – Lesha Berezovsky

The unruly energy of these gigs is evident in the images: from bleeding noses to flying hair to convulsions that are not unlike religious ecstasy. They channel the thrill which makes one coming back for more worth risking broken bones.

“I’ve been impressed by the scene since I first went to a hardcore gig in 2013. I loved everything: the energy, the settings of dark garages, the bands, the audience, and the way they looked, dressed, and behaved. I really like the fact that behind the seemingly aggressive music, there is actually lots of work of the guys who organise gigs. I love the ideas which they bring to the young audience, the very human values and enthusiasm. It really influenced me as a person,” says Vladyslav Andrievsky. “Also as Kiev is relatively small, you can see the same faces at a hardcore gig and at a rave. I like that there are no genre boundaries in people’s heads because that’s how the contemporary word should be.”

Although Kiev’s hardcore nights are often held in the same spots its raves, the organisers will use any locations they can get their hands on, including bars, garages and rehearsal studios. “Hardcore is a small scene compared to other scenes in the city. A one-room nightclub could fit everyone involved, and sometimes a garage for two cars would be enough,” Anatolii Todorov adds. “The night I took my camera with me (although I often left it at home so not to have it broken), it was difficult to imagine that this could be interesting to someone beyond the scene. But now I see it could be a great subject to photograph even beyond the concerts.”

The visual study of the scene that these photographers have produced somehow tells a story much bigger than just that of a local scene. Despite capturing a particular moment in time and space, they also channel the thrill of connection and endless dedication to music and community, which are key to all the subcultures. “You end up in the place where everyone is united by one goal,” Berezovsky says. “Everyone expresses their energy in a different way: some shout in the mic, some kick around in the mosh pit, some just nod their heads to the music. But everything is like one entity, and it gives you an ecstatic feeling of joy.”