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Monday, August 29, 2016

Georgia's Punks And Goths

Published 26 January 2016

Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is known in the South Caucasus region for its relative ethnic and cultural diversity. That has also led to the emergence of a small punk community, and an even smaller goth scene with its macabre style and music. This photo story is part of ongoing work by British journalist and photographer Onnik James Krikorian on youth and subcultures in Georgia for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. For more photos by Krikorian, visit his website


Bella and Sandro “Manson”: This gothic couple was influenced by American musician Marilyn Manson. They plan to hold an event to mark World Goth Day in Tbilisi on May 22, 2016. “  I hope it will contribute to the development of the Georgian gothic music and subculture scene,”  he says. 


Sandro applies the final touches to his makeup.


Tsotne Gorgoshidze, lead singer with the Georgian alternative punk band Dagdagani. Unlike many rock groups in the country, the band can attract sizeable audiences in nightclubs.


Tea Saneblidze, a 33-year-old goth vocalist with the two-piece band Lilla Land. Singing in German, with elements of opera, the band released their first CD, Fledermaus, in July 2012. After visiting well-attended gigs in Germany, Saneblidze laments the low number of goths in Tbilisi. She puts the number of goths in the country who follow the lifestyle on a daily basis at less than five.


A number of bars in Tbilisi host punk bands on a regular basis. Basement Bar, near the city’s Freedom Square, is particularly busy. Punk is not new in Georgia, but after becoming less visible, the genre is reappearing again.


Levan Shalikashvili (left), bass player with the punk band Tetri Bileti, and Gio Khazarashvili (right), drummer with the pop-punk group DuckTape, at a recent concert by punk rockers Vodka Vtraiom at Basement Bar. 


Anika Jorjadze at a concert by local punk bands at Tbilisi’s Basement Bar. Although they play at relatively small venues, most gigs are full and attract a young audience, including teenagers such as Joriadze. 


The Russian-Georgian punk band Catalina, formed last year, performs at the Valhalla Bar in Tbilisi’s Old Town. It’s lead singer, Maria Pronchenko says the band’s songs are intended to encourage young people to think for themselves.


"You can do what you want yourself,”  says Pronchenko, who calls it DIY culture. “Don’t look to the government or traditions.”   Such sentiments are voiced by the singer in-between songs at gigs such as this one at Tbilisi’s Valhalla Bar. 


An audience at a Catalina gig. Pronchenko says the band’s lyrics cover themes such as sexism, militarism, consumerism, religion, and animal liberation. From Moscow, she moved to Tbilisi over three years ago because of her boyfriend -- and Tbilisi’s emerging vegan movement. 


Anika Jorjadze is a 15-year-old Georgian who discovered punk music last year. “  Punk is a culture and I like it,” she says. “There aren’t many people who listen to this music, but I find myself in the lyrics of punk rock songs. It has energy, rhythm...”