Love this city! Much of it is in remont (renovation), which calls to mind Berlin in the years right after the wall fell. In Berlin, and between West and East Germany, there was a huge financial surge meant to bring the East up to the functioning level of the shiny, capitalist West — so it all happened extremely quickly. Dumpy East Berlin apartments became squats became nice apartments became luxury goods stores within only a few years. Here the process is slower — there is less money — but there are squats that have transformed into funky lounges and cafés, little restaurants run by former actors and actresses, and crumbling buildings in the old Jewish and Roma (gypsy) ghettos that are fast being bought up. For now, everything is possible (sort of), and everything is in flux. Alternative arts spaces appear and disappear. Exhibitions and performances are held in former industrial spaces.
Thank You U2!
Mark E pointed out as we prepped for our show last night in Warsaw (at a not so big club/venue called Stodoła) that these undersized dates are in effect being subsidized by U2’s world tour. The promoter of these dates, and of much of the U2 stadium tour, is Live Nation, the global conglomerate. A venue like Stodoła could not possibly afford to pay for us, the catering, or even their local crew given the relatively small number of tickets to be sold here — and it’s not even an “exclusive” VIP-type venue. It’s not like they can charge $200 a seat and make up their losses that way — this is a standing room club… with a floor made of plywood. So in order to book our date, they must (we figure) be losing money now, then making it up with what they expect to earn on the upcoming U2 stadium dates.
Those stadium shows may possibly be the most extravagant and expensive (production-wise) ever: $40 million to build the stage and, having done the math, we estimate 200 semi trucks crisscrossing Europe for the duration. It could be professional envy speaking here, but it sure looks like, well, overkill, and just a wee bit out of balance given all the starving people in Africa and all. Or maybe it’s the fact that we were booted off our Letterman spot so U2 could keep their exclusive week-long run that’s making me less than charitable? Take your pick — but thanks, guys!