New York is covered in gray fog. It’s sticky and thick, blocking out the skyline, lending a sense of unpleasantness and unease to an already dreary Friday evening in May. It’s the perfect setting for Molchat Doma. The Belarusian post-punks are on their final night of a two-day stint at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, a mostly nondescript 650-cap room in North Brooklyn. People are lining up in the faint drizzle hours before the band starts, and by the time they go on, the venue will be packed to the brim, sold out like nearly every other date on their first U.S. tour. Everyone is abuzz to hear their austere coldwave in person, and they will shout along to every lyric, even if all of it is in Russian. It’s a miracle this is happening in the first place.
Their first tour was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic; the second could’ve met a similar fate: Molchat Doma’s run almost perfectly overlapped with the outbreak of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. More than 14 million Ukrainians are thought to have left their homes, with 6 million having fled the country; fear of the conflict spreading across Eastern Europe is a clear and present danger. The band had to spend a month in Poland in order to guarantee they would be able to make their tour dates. “We left basically because the war started,” Egor Shkutko, the group’s singer, tells CREEM in Russian while speaking through a translator, Anna Trubachova. “We were afraid the borders would be closed and we would not be able to leave and meet our assignment with the tour.”
By the time I catch up with them, Molchat Doma have already been touring for nearly six weeks, mostly in Latin America. They appear untroubled by how fast they had to move to make it happen. “We basically live on the road,” says bassist/synth player Pavel Kozlov, the most talkative of the group. “The house for us is where you sleep for more than two nights."