This month, Russia’s Outline Festival returned for the first time since being cancelled in 2016 by local authorities, who claimed the festival failed to meet permit requirements, which the organisers disputed. Reports of potential rioting following the 2016 cancellation were met with military personnel spotted outside the scheduled MoZAL plant venue.
As Resident Advisor reports, the return of the experimental-leaning festival, organised by the team behind Moscow club Mutabor, this year across July 6 to 9 just outside the Russian capital proved similarly controversial when a tent with military recruiting posters was seen at the entrance of the festival’s parking lot on the first day.
After an image of the tent was posted on Twitter, criticism was directed at the festival and artists playing at it by dance music journalists, fans and artists, including Russian techno producer Pavel Milyakov AKA Buttechno, who wrote: “To all the local and intl artists who perform there: you are officially used to attract people to go to war. After they finish dancing to ur music they will go and kill Ukrainian civilians. This blood is on your hands”.
The line-up included international artists such as Atom™, Le Syndicat Electronique and Margaret Dygas as well as local acts like Tim Aminov, Sofia Rodina and Denis Kaznacheev.
rus festival Outilne installed “recruitment tent” on the site. To all the local and intl artists who perform there: you are officially used to attract people to go to war. After they finish dancing to ur music they will go and kill Ukrainian civilians. This blood is on your hands https://t.co/URWgBzsFvt
— pavel milyakov (@pavelmilyakov) July 7, 2023
Journalist Arielle Lana LeJarde has investigated the the image for Resident Advisor, confirming the validity of the recruitment tent and its location in proximity to Outline festival on its opening day, and speaking to Russian festivalgoers, one artist, and the Ukrainian journalist who posted the viral recruitment tent photo on Twitter, about the controversy.
The Russian festivalgoer who took the photo said to RA: “I don’t know why the tent caused so much discussion. We’ve been under surveillance by the police and the government since the beginning of the war. It’s become very dangerous to live here. In general, there are a lot of these tents in Moscow now, so no one even paid attention to it. I pay attention to these tents and billboards with conscripts. It’s scary. People live in constant fear about the war.”
Read this next: How Ukrainian clubs and collectives are aiding the war effort
Pavel Milyakov also spoke to RA, criticising artists who played Outline. He said: “All artists who perform there are normalising life under this regime. At the same time, they’re letting themselves be used for accumulating tax income that goes to the military budget, which wages Russian invasion in Ukraine. I see total lack of awareness, empathy and responsibility. It doesn’t go along with the values that true underground music communities should stand for. I see neither community nor values there. Only greed, blind ignorance and irresponsibility.”
Ukrainian activist and journalist Maya Baklanova supports a boycott of Russian cultural events while the country is waging war on Ukraine. She said to RA: “I understand [Russian residents] want to forget about everything for one night. But for me, electronic music parties and festivals can’t just be about hedonism or escapism when your country started a cruel war in the middle of Europe and you know people your age are dying while fighting your government. I’m not—and nor is anyone else in Ukraine—against people dancing. We just urge people to not just dance, but to make some changes.”
No artists who played the festival returned a request for comment.
According to RA, Outline was further criticised after an apparent link was discovered between Lenta.Ru, a popular pro-Kremlin and pro-war news publication, one of the festival’s key partners, and for other propaganda materials and symbols being spotted around the festival.
Plans for Outline 2024 are reportedly underway.
Read Arielle Lana LeJarde’s full report for RA here.
Vee Pandey is Mixmag’s Digital Trainee, follow her on Instagram
Written by: Tim Hopkins