1 August 2016 - Moscow, Russian Federation - PAW Tour

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Did you attend this show in Moscow, Russia?

Please post your reviews here.

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Hi everyone!

My name is Kirill Safonov! I was in charge of guitar flash mob in Moscow with Steve Vai and Apocalyptica. Finally, we wait for the official video:

Steve Vai, Apocalyptica, Russian Guitarists and Cellists - Kashmir
https://youtu.be/Sc-gkXC72Kc" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Steve Vai and Russian Guitarists - Flash Mob
https://youtu.be/9Igxm13tgw8" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

My interview with one of the guitar community about the guitar flash mob:

Let's recall one of the most colorful events of summer 2016 - the flash-mob show that took place on August, 1 at VDNKh and featured Steve Vai, Apocalyptica as well as 80 Russian guitarists & cellists.
Iguitarist had the guitar tutor of the show Kirill Safonov (who is also teaching guitar at guitar-science.ru) answer a few questions about the event.

IG: Who came up with the idea of creating this extraordinary event?

KS: This was an idea of the VDNKh team whose informal name is “The Department of Events”. It is made up of talented, creative people who generate ideas for unique and absolutely incredible projects. It was the VDNKh “Department of Events” that was the main mastermind and initiator making a show featuring Steve Vai & Apocalyptica as part of the “Inspiration-2016” Art Festival. That was a very daring move by VDNKh but the result was absolutely rewarding – no one had ever done anything like this. Of course, before that there had been various flash mobs worldwide, and some of them even beat ours in the number of participants. But the world had never seen a performance by several dozens of musicians featuring such world-scale stars.

IG: How did Steve Vai and Apocalyptica take the proposal to take part in the flash mob?

KS: The mere fact that such world-class music industry stars as Steve Vai and Apocalyptica should come to Moscow and take part in such an extraordinary event is an evidence of their interest in it. It was interesting to watch the stars' reaction when they first came rehearse together with the other musicians. Apocalyptica were, to put it mildly, surprised by the scale of the event and showed their emotions. And the first thing Steve Vai did was to take out his phone and take a picture for long memory.

IG: How were the other musicians selected?

KS: Our flash mob is unique because every musician – and there were over 80 of them – actually sounded and were even recorded each in a separate channel. Therefore, the requirements to the candidates were quite high. In order to take part in the show one had to make a video of himself performing one of the pieces suggested by the organizers. Every application was studied by the guitar and cello tutors of the event: Sergey Sedykh and Kirill Safonov for guitars, Irina Lvova and August Krepak for cellos.

After agreeing with the stars on the pieces to be performed at the show, I filmed detailed instructional videos explaining to the guitarists the song shapes and all the technical difficulties. It was utterly important that all the several dozens of musicians should sound as one. That required strictly following the instructions, structuring the guitar parts, and minimizing the ambiguous parts which were easy to mess up. Those videos were to be used by the selected guitarists to get prepared and on July, 9 come to a casting and show their ability to play the songs to a metronome. It was suggested that guitarists from other places go through the casting on-line. Then the lucky ones who were selected were invited to rehearsals.

It was very pleasant that so many people wanted to perform on the same stage with Steve Vai and Apocalyptica: professionals and amateurs, very young musicians and respectable grown-ups. To play with such large-scale stars is really a great honor for any musician.

IG: How long did the preparations take? How did the rehearsals go?

KS: As far as I know, the idea of making a flash mob show was born some time around this year's February or March. Since that time the VDNKh team and J Group company had been vigorously working on making this idea come to life. However, as the guitar tutor of the flash mob, my preparation started in full swing in the second half of June – I published information about the forthcoming event in Internet guitar communities and forums, received and selected the applications, shot the instructional videos.

Then, on July, 9 there was a live casting that was followed by rehearsals lasting for four days plus a play-through just before the show. The day before the show the guitarists and cellists rehearsed together with Steve Vai and Apocalyptica at the VDNKh Green Theater. Before that, all the rehearsals took place at one of the VDNKh pavilions where guys from Spin Music Service had placed and set up all the equipment. Before the stars arrived, we worked with one of the best Russian drummers Boris Ionov (Therr Maitz). The rehearsals lasted for several hours, we worked on the whole songs as well as their fragments, and got rid of all the deviations from the instrumental parts. The musicians' entering and leaving the scene was a separate thing that we worked on. Very close attention was given to setting the combos right – it was a tough task to make the guitarists not disturb each other and the cellists. Besides, each musician had his personal in-ear monitoring device that required fine setting-up as well.
On July, 31 a rehearsal featuring Steve Vai and Apocalyptica took place at the VDNKh Green Theater. First we worked on Kashmir together with Apocalyptica who had arrived in Moscow the day before. Later, we were joined by Steve Vai who had landed at Sheremetyevo airport literally a few hours before. The soloists “divided” Kashmir between each other and then played the piece in its final version. After that, we worked on the song called “Flash Mob” together with Steve Vai's band. Steve suggested that the two tutoring guitarists (me and Sergey) play the first verse theme together. Of course, we gladly agreed, but we also wanted so bad to jam with Steve to his song! So, we gained some boldness and proposed this idea to him. And Steve, virtually without thinking, said: “Why not? Let's try!”. He divided the solo part between the three of us and explained at which moment we must step forward, and right after that we quickly went through this thing together. It was very unusual and, to some extent, awkward to improvise while Steve Vai himself was standing watching you and estimating your playing. Luckily, Steve showed his satisfaction with what he had heard by raising his thumb up.

Once again I would like to personally thank Steve for such an opportunity – though tired after his show in Georgia the day before and having come to the rehearsal literally right from the airport, he kindly agreed to stay there with us and jam a little bit (it was about midnight at that moment). Also, I would like to mention that world-star musicians are very sociable and positive people in real life. After the midnight rehearsal, Steve Vai band's drummer Jeremy Colson came up to me and said: “Cool playing!”. Not a big thing, but I was extremely pleased!

IG: How did the show go? Is there any footage out there?

As soon as the video is done, I will publish it on my web site and on the social media – stay tuned to the news! It must turn out beautiful. The footage was made with 14 cameras and 6 GoPros attached to guitars. As for the show itself, everything was at its best! First, Apocalyptica played their set which ended with the 30 cellists appearing and playing Metallica's Enter Sandman together. Then there a wow-effect – the scene was entered by 53 guitarists & the legendary Steve Vai who joined the cellists and Apocalyptica in performing an eternal piece “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin. Now that was something the audience had not expected for sure! The show went on with Steve Vai playing his set that ended with our guitarists entering the scene once again and performing a piece called “Flash Mob” to mark the ending of the maestro's world tour honoring the 25th anniversary of his album Passion and Warfare.

IG: Tell us about some funny moments that happened during the preparation for the show or the show itself.

KS: In fact, so many interesting things happened during those several days that one could easily write a memoir based on them. To begin with, it does not happen everyday that so many musicians gather in one place, play together and then are joined by stars. It was a great pleasure to meet with friends and colleagues whom I had not seen for a long time, and to make new acquaintances. Everybody had a whole lot of subjects to discuss, so we were not bored even during the long intervals that the stars' sound checks took.
It is interesting during those days that we got to work with as many as three awesome drummers. That was a very valuable experience for a lot of the guitarists because such a contrast made it obvious that every drummer has his own rhythmic pattern – for instance, Boris Ionov after playing a long drum fill would pull the downbeat back to some extent characteristic of him. Mikko Siren also has this pull-back, but its extent is considerably bigger. As for Jeremy Colson, his playing appeared to have virtually no timing shifts. Besides, each of the three drummers uses their own drum fills. All those things made us adjust to the drummers and get accustomed to them, otherwise any big sound would be out of the question.

It is well known that Steve Vai is an amicable and affable man. On August, 1, the day of the show, one of the youngest flash mob participants turned 15 years old. After learning about that Steve invited him to come up the stage and accompany him in one of the songs of his set. During the performance the young guitarist was also not deprived of the maestro's attention. Steve came up to him, suggested stepping forward and exchanged a few guitar phrases with him.

Sure, we talked to the musicians before the performance – at rehearsals, autograph and photo sessions. And yet, there was still some distance between us. But after we performed Kashmir during the show, it was as if the distance had vanished. Apocalyptica literally came running out of the building, shouting: “Guys, we did it!”, and giving us hugs. They were sincerely happy with the results of our performance. Then we just talked for about half an hour, they would fool around, try to sing the Russian Anthem without the lyrics – it was fun! As for Steve Vai, when leaving the stage he said that the performance is eligible for a Grammy award. It was evident that everybody got a kick out of that unforgettable show: the 4000 listeners, over 80 participants and even Steve Vai and Apocalyptica themselves! The show turned out really unforgettable!
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