The Leningrad Rock Club turns 40! Listen to the legendary Russian bands that got their start at the Soviet Union’s first legal rock venue
Founded on March 7, 1981, the Leningrad Rock Club was the first and largest venue in the Soviet Union where young people could legally perform rock music. Located on Rubinstein Street in what is now St. Petersburg, in the 1980s the Leningrad Rock Club counted more than 150 bands among its members, including groups like Aquarium, Kino, Alisa, Zoopark, and DDT that would go on to become Russian rock legends. While the rock club is also known for its connections to the KGB (indeed, it was officially overseen by the Soviet security agency) this shouldn’t overshadow the fact that real art was created within its walls; despite the censorship and constant pressure, the Leningrad Rock Club gave birth to new music, the best of which rivaled Western rock.
To mark the Leningrad Rock Club’s 40th anniversary, Meduza put together a playlist of songs by the 40 most notable bands from that period (based on those whose music is currently available on streaming services). This playlist includes songs by classic favorites like the bands Auktyon, Pop-Mekhanika, Televizor, Strannye Igry, and Nol, as well as groups that are undeservedly less well-known. This includes the band Manufactura, which won the Leningrad Rock Club’s first-ever festival; the Soviet synth-pop pioneer Kofe; the cult-favorite punk bands Avtomaticheskie udovletvoriteli (Automatic Satisfiers), Obyekt Nasmeshek (Object of Ridicule), and Narodnoye Opolchenie; the new wave and post-punk groups Durnoye Vliyanie, Petlya Nesterova, and Opasnye Sosedi; the instrumental art-rock project Sezon Dozhdey; and American singer Joanna Stingray, who played a key role in popularizing Soviet and Russian rock music in the West (our playlist includes her cover of Viktor Tsoi’s “Love is No Joke”). You can listen to the 40th-anniversary playlist on Apple Music, Spotify, and Yandex Music.
Translated by Eilish Hart