Tallinn Music Week 2015: Awards Edition | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Tallinn Music Week 2015 Day Two, Bendik, Cirkl, Repetitor, MiaMee, Tallinn Music Week 2015, Ingrid Lukas, Tallinn Music Week 2015 Day One, Vashti Bunyan, Tallinn Music Week 2015 Day Three

Tallinn Music Week 2015: Awards Edition, March 29th, 2015

Apr 02, 2015 Photography by Laura Studarus Tallinn Music Week 2015 Day Two
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Sure music is right in the name. And sure Tallinn Music Week hosted 206 artists from over 25 countries. But to simply call the event a music festival is to miss the point completely. From crazy eats, to wild beers, to a classical music rave (!) Tallinn Music Week is all about expanding the perception of Estonia, and celebrating all the region’s best art and cultural aspects—no matter what form they may take. From upcoming bands to cool characters, here’s just a few of the best things about our time in Tallinn. (For more, check out all our Tallinn Music Week coverage here.)

The Comfort Zone Buster Award: Repetitor

My nickname around Under the Radar is “Pop Princess” so the fact I would stick around for a punk show—let along name it as a festival highlight—probably means that Repetitor should be in line for canonization. Speaking as someone who thinks ABBA is the height of music genius, I will admit that the Serbian trio’s snarled tunes were hard to like. But their frantic energy simply couldn’t be denied. (Which is kinda the point, right?) Yes, that was me whipping my hair back and forth—and I’d do it again. (Pro-tip: download their album for a price of your choosing here.)

The Purple Heart Award: Cirkl

Despite it being her first time onstage without her Cirkl bandmate, and a looping petal that just didn’t want to work, Liis Ring preformed a full set of music that highlighted both her delicate pop and silky soprano. Like Yann Tiersen circa Amelie, Ring’s work features playful highs with a melodious/melodic undercurrent.

The Cool Kid Award: Festival Founder Helen Sildna

Helen Sildna was everywhere over the course of the weekend—watching bands at the Danish showcase, introducing the President’s speech, dining with delegates at the pop-up restaurant, instagraming up a storm, and even dancing at the afterparty. Somehow, she still managed to look bright-eyed and happy at Sunday brunch, while the rest of us were contemplating using our plates as pillows. Tallinn Music Week was an incredible experience—but no one had quite as much fun or did as much as the festival founder herself.

The Cooler Kid Award: Estonia’s President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves

Despite a Thursday night program that featured a focus on Denmark, Tallinn Music Week officially kicked off Friday morning with a champagne toast and speech from the president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves. His lighthearted introduction (“Starting a rock n roll festival at 10am is like asking for milk at CBGBs at 3am.”) touched on the importance of the event, both for the worldwide music community and Estonia.

But deeper truths were also offered. “For some reason I’m always quoting Ezra Pound, who said that poets are the antennas of the race,” IIves noted. “I think that’s translated to the culture of music, which in so many ways has been that part of contemporary culture that senses things earlier.”

The Space Invader Award: MiaMee at the Home Stage

As with any multi-stage, citywide festival, Tallinn Music Week pressed many unique locations into service. But by far the most fun was the series of home concerts, which brought new meaning to the phrase “intimate performance.” I certainly didn’t expect to be standing in my socks, eating cookies, and watching Estonia’s MiaMee make some seriously bewitching pop. But I wouldn’t have wanted to hear their music for the first time any other way.

Guitar Goddess Award: Bendik

Scandinavian guitarist Bendik doesn’t do things by half-measures. Her set on Saturday night featured guitar shredding, and big-voiced wailing—all in the name of ambitious, atmospheric groves. It didn’t matter that she sang in Norwegian, cool is an international language.

MVP: Tallinn Eats chief, Toomas Lääts

Let’s talk about festival food—it never really happens. (At least for me. During SXSW I survived on anything that could be eaten with one hand while running through the streets. Hello pizza and protein bars.) Thankfully, Tallinn Music Week had the backs of every non-foodie who just wanted to survive. Enter Toomas Lääts, the chief behind Tallinn Music Week’s popup restaurant. Every day during the fest my future husband, err, I mean the noted chief created special menus at reasonable prices for attendees. Try his lentil soup.

Brightest and Best Estonian Act: Ingrid Lukas

Not only were Ingrid Lukas’ songs shimmery and epic (Bat For Lashes fans, get on this), both the Tallinn-based musician and her drummer wore a string of lights on their all-back outfits, making for a set that glowed both metaphorically and literally.

The Never Leave Us (Not an award—more like a command or a plea): Vashti Bunyan

Once upon a time, Vashti Bunyan made an album called Just Another Diamond Day…and then left her music career for 30 years. Since returning in 2005 she’s made two more albums—Lookaftering and Heartleap. With any luck she’ll make many more. Her performance on Friday night was magical—a combination of shivery folk songs and the stories behind them. The set felt less like a musician on stage than a friend recounting a particularly juicy or humorous story. I think I speak for everyone at the show when I say never EVER leave us again. Please? (We’re not too proud to beg.)

The (duh) Synergy Award: Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend

Does anything go together quite like beer and music? My gut feeling here is to say peanut butter and chocolate, but not after visiting the Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend. A special addition to the proceedings, the event featured 100 different beers, served in portions small enough that you could try nearly all of them. (Note to anyone looking to buy me a drink: I’m a pale ale girl.)




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