Prāta Vētra final concert draws in crowd of 25,000

Prāta Vētra closed off their Latvian concert tour with a huge show at Skonto Stadium in Rīga on 17th August. A crowd in excess of 25,000 gathered to see their two and a half hour performance. The show was recorded for an upcoming DVD to be released in November. Earlier that evening the crowd was warmed up by D.J. Toms Grēviņš, followed by a fresh uplifting set by pop-rock group The Sound Poets.

Prāta Vētra took the stage at precisely 21:30 according to schedule and embarked on a 24 song set that featured material from their two latest albums. The show opened with the energetic song “Mēles”, one of few fast songs on the new album Vēl vienā klusā daba. The third song in the set “Bronza” featured Latvian BMX Olympians Rihards Veide, Edžus Treimanis and gold medal winner Māris Štrombergs riding onto the stage catwalk with their BMX bikes in full uniform.

“Nakamā nodaļa”, a beautiful, slow song showcased a duet between lead singer Renārs Kaupers and Evija Smagare, a young and talented singer from Daugavpils.  “Ko tu vēl domā” which is also from the latest album Vēl viena klusā daba is probably one of the groups shortest songs coming in at 2 minutes and 12 seconds and because of this it was a sure reprise candidate, during which the all-girl background singing trio “Limonāde” (Kristīne Tkačuka, Ieva Katkovska & Iluta Valtere) got to shine in their short yellow dresses. The first half of the show was ended by a couple of songs sung in Russian which surprisingly made a lot of the crowd sing along. Some jeers and whistles were heard by fans in the crowd which found it rather tasteless for a Latvian group to perform songs in Russian in Latvia.

After a small pause the show continued with the group emerging in white NASA overalls playing their new single “Lantern”.  Riding two small movable platforms from either side of the stage, singer Renārs Kaupers, drummer Kaspars Roga and bassist Ingars Viļums met keyboardist Māris Mihelsons and guitarist Jānis Jubalts at the center point of the catwalk that extended out in the public.  This five song mid-portion of the concert was very disco-beat-influenced and had a pre-recorded rhythm track underneath the “live music”.

The crowd became ecstatic when rapper Gustavo jumped up on the catwalk stage on “Tur kaut kam ir jābūt”. Kaupers and Gustavo exchanged vocal parts and were joined by the background singers, probably the high point of the entire show. A medley of older hits in this disco version followed and a large group of extras gathered on the stage with lanterns and at one point the white suits had fluorescent strips when the stage lights were turned off – a nice effect well received by the crowd.

The last part of the show had older, classic hits. The group now performing “live” in regular stage clothes played megahits such as “Lec” “Rudens” and “Spogulīts” (Jubalts solo song).
“Četri krasti” and “Īssavienojums” which had an extra never-released verse ended the show, before the group emerged to play two new songs for the encore. Many people had already left or were in the process of leaving the stadium when the group re-emerged one last time to play one of their largest hits “Lidmašīnas” from the Veronika album. People danced and cheered as this song was performed.  Concert sound was crystal clear thanks to soundman Tālis Timrots.

The following night an additional privately-sponsored concert was played by the group at the same venue where the repertoire featured older, more classical material. In total some 89.000 people saw the concert tour including the last private show on Saturday, according to band manager Guna Zučika.


Renārs Kaupers and the rest of Prāta vētra performing with singing trio “Limonāde”. Photo: Raitis Freimanis.


Renārs Kaupers performing with Evija Smagare. Photo: Raitis Freimanis.

Raitis Freimanis lives in Stockholm, Sweden, and is a founding member of the Latvian-Canadian band Skandāls.

On debut album, rockers Laime Pilnīga take listener on cosmic journey

Laime Pilnīga

The band Laime Pilnīga has been together since 2004 and last year released its debut album. (Publicity photo)


One of the bright spots of 2011 on the Latvian music scene was the debut album Dual by Laime Pilnīga.

Laime Pilnīga (Happiness Fulfilled) brings together old-school hard rock into generous compositions with a fresh and modern sound. The group has its beginnings as early as 2004, but got its first big break playing as special guests at Latvian rock icons Pērkons’ 25th anniversary concert.

The band members really can’t say how they got together, just that they had known each other from different musical projects and decided to form the band.

The four group members are Ervins Ramiņš on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and synthesizer, who also works as a vocal teacher; guitarist Mārcis Vasiļevskis, who is described by former Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis as a guitar virtuoso ; bassist Jānis Olekšs, has performed on many Latvian television music shows and played as session bassist in different groups; and drummer Elvijs Mamedovs, who is also been a session drummer in different Latvian bands. The group has performed at many different music festivals in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Hungary. It has made several videos that are available on YouTube.

Dual, a 10-song album, begins with the mystifying “Neverendless.” It sets the tone for this cosmic musical journey. The next track, “The Time Song,” has a lot of Led Zeppelin influence. It has a lot of syncopation with a good groove supplied by bassist Olekšs and drummer Mamedovs.

“Shaman,” which is the second single off the album, features excellent slide guitar by Vasiļevskis while vocalist Ramiņš blasts out the melody with excellent English pronunciation. The song was inspired by Ramiņš’ journey to Canada, where he met local Indian tribes.

Slowing things down with a classic 12-bar blues, “All Her Soul” really lets the singer take center stage with his soulful voice. “G.O.D.” is a two-part song that starts off with a syncopated beat and takes off in the second half, getting faster and faster, picking up more momentum towards the end. The track goes straight into “I’m in Love with the Money” with its acoustic guitar riff and falsetto vocal.

Some off-beat stuff is the album’s first single, “Terror Woman.” There’s some really interesting sound effects at the end of the track to link it up with “We Are Prayin’,” which is a nice little slow song featuring Madžo on tabla. This song has a dramatic bridge and ends off so serenely and calmly as it started.

“One Moment” (my favorite on the album) is again what is the Laime Pilnīga “sound.” It has a good sing-along chorus and a good coordinated bridge between the guitar, bass and drums. The song really rocks!

The longest song on the album is the last last one, “Sensations.” It has an eerie verse and a strong powerful chorus, plus lots of jazzy 7th and 9th chords and scales in the cosmic guitar solo with some melodic background vocals. The song ends after about six minutes, but is followed by 60 seconds of silence and ends with a little echo guitar. Good ending, very cosmic.

I really like this record and I think this group could have a good shot of gaining popularity outside of Latvia because their excellent musicianship and unique sound. Dual has been nominated for Best Rock Album and Best Debut Album of 2011 by the Latvian Music Industry Awards that will host its ceremony Feb. 28 in the National Opera in Rīga.

For more information, visit the band’s website, or see the band’s page on the social network.



Laime Pilnīga

Laime Pilnīga,  2011

Track listing:


Time Song


All Her Soul


I’m in Love with the Money

Terror Woman

We Are Prayin’

One Moment


Raitis Freimanis lives in Stockholm, Sweden, and is a founding member of the Latvian-Canadian band Skandāls.

Things are going well for Double Faced Eels

Double Faced Eels

Following the successful debut album from 2005, Zilais valis (The Blue Whale), the Latvian alternative-pop group Double Faced Eels has released its second album. The new album’s title, Kurš gribēja nogalināt Džūliju? Nezinu, bet trāpija mums, roughly translates to “Who Tried to Kill Julia? Don’t Know, But We Got Hit.” The group has left its former label, Platforma Records, and has signed with the Lithuania-based company Antena.

The band also recently was nominated for a MTV Europe Music Award as Best Baltic Act. Things seem to be going well for the Eels.

The album starts off with the first single, a little pop song about a teacher named Dagmāra that has a cool effect with a scratching LP sound at the beginning and end of the track. The next song, “Radio,” is sung in English. Lead singer Mārtiņš Gailītis has received coaching for his English pronounciation and it is getting a lot better, though there’s still room for improvement. This song does rock and could be aired on any radio station outside Latvia without any problem.

“Prāts un sirds” (Mind and Heart) seems to be the serious song on the album. Guitarist Reinis Briğis really shines on this song with his haunting guitar solos. “Dārza rūķis” (Garden Gnome) is a satirical song about the political and social situation in Latvia. The lyrics to this song are not included in the album sleeve. Drummer Pauls Ķesteris shows off vocal abilities on “Salda dzīve ievārījumā” (Sweet Life), a snappy little song with honky-tonk piano and acoustic guitar. Midway through the song, Ķesteris gets messed up, but the band continues recording and the song keeps rolling along. I heard this song quite often on the radio when I was in Latvia this summer.

The title track, “Džūlija” (Julia) is next. It’s a nice song that asks the musical question, “Where is Julia, the girl who doesn’t care about anything?” Next is the MC5 classic “Kick Out the Jams” with Briğis doing a great lead vocal. His singing voice reminds me a lot of Grand Funk Railroad drummer Dom Brewer. Then follows a 21-second track called “Normunds negrib palaisties.” I think it’s Ķesteris making a lot of confusing and uncomprehendable sounds.

Two typical DFE powerpop songs follow, “Konfekte” (Candy) and “Šarmants vīrs” (Charming Man), not to be confused with The Smiths’ “This Charming Man.” Some listeners may have heard enough of DFE at this point, but if you like party music with power riffing guitars and tight drums and bass, DFE is certainly the kind of band you should be listening to.

Bassists Eduards Veinbrants takes his crack at lead vocals on “Mīlestība” (Love), which is a little sing-along song. It sounds like it was recorded at 3 a.m. after a party. Next is the beer commercial song, “Himna” (Anthem). Everbody stand up and raise your can of beer and salute!

“Kefīrs” (Kefir) is a popular and healthy dairy product in Latvia. The song is about this drink and the refrain goes “Man garšo kefīrs…bet naudas man nav” (I love kefir, but I don’t have any money).

You wonder if the Eels were looking in the crystal ball when they wrote “Dakteris” (Doctor). The song was written and recorded before Valdis Zatlers was nominated and became the new Latvian president. The chorus, “Dakteri, palīdzi Tu mums!” (Doctor, help us!) sounds like the Latvian people are pleading to the new president to help their country.

Who knows, maybe the Eels can look into the future? Let’s see if the band can win that MTV award later this fall in Munich, Germany, and perhaps 2007 will be the Year of the Eels.


Kurš gribēja nogalināt Džūliju? Nezinu, bet trāpija mums

Double Faced Eels

Antena,  2007

Raitis Freimanis lives in Stockholm, Sweden, and is a founding member of the Latvian-Canadian band Skandāls.