Egor Shkutko fronts Molchat Doma at 9:30 Club on April 8, 2023. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Something remarkable happened when Egor Shkutko stepped up to the mic for a recent sold-out show at 9:30 Club: He filled the club with his expressive and powerful voice, filling the room with sonorous, occasionally forlorn, vocals.
Everyone swayed along to this extraordinary vocalist, who was singing to them in Russian, as frontman of new wave trio Molchat Doma. While undoubtedly there were a few Russian speakers in the crowd, this was very much a young audience of Americans who did not know the language. And yet they were mesmerized.
In the first of two shows at 9:30 Club on April 8, Egor and his bandmates performed songs from across the three full-length albums released by Molchat Doma to date — s krish nashih domov (2017), etazhi (2018), and Monument (2020). The most recent album was released by Sacred Bones, a Brooklyn label renowned for its synthpop bands — often dark synthpop bands.
Part of what made Molchat Doma so accessible was that the trio were pulling from an early period of new wave when synthesizers seemed like they could do anything and artists used them to produce irresistible pop music. On top of that inspiration, Molchat Doma demonstrated that they are very skilled musicians indeed, delivering melancholy Russian lyrics over sophisticated melodies that soared, rumbled, and streaked through the evening.
Molchat Doma favored its second full-length album, etazhi, at 9:30 Club, dedicating about half the show to eight of its tracks. The band opened with the brightly synthy “Kommersanty,” which expresses fears of people blindly following propaganda despite its upbeat and trebly instrumentation. The band wrapped their encore with the rapid-fire “Sudno (Boris Ryzhyi)” from etazhi as the last song of the night.
Watch Molchat Doma perform “Sudno (Boris Ryzhyi)” live in St. Petersburg via YouTube:
Egor, Roman Komogortsev (guitar, synthesizer, drum machine), and Pavel Kozlov (bass guitar, synthesizer) held the rapt attention of the audience from the very first song, but the band truly took things to another level in the last third of their main set. Molchat Doma electrified the room with “Doma Molchat,” which I guess you could say is a signature tune from their debut album. The band’s name, and thus perhaps the song name, translate as “House Are Silent.” The songs lyrics spoke to a silent home at night in a rainy city, and we are left to imagine the scenario that produces the foreboding loneliness of the song.
From there, Molchat Doma kept the audience in the palm of their hand with “tishina” from s krish nashih domov, illustrating the power of that debut record. There was so much emotion in the music, and songs like “tishina” easily demonstrated how synthpop can pull at the heart as well as the mind.
Although Molchat Doma did not dwell too much on their most recent album — Monument — the four songs showcased from it also served as a powerful and impressive testament to the band’s transcendent musical talents. The gents sprinkled the new songs throughout the show, and they were indeed bright spots. Given that I only immersed myself in the band’s music in the run-up to their 2022 sold-out show at Black Cat in DC, I was pleasantly surprised as to the potency of Molchat Roma’s early songs, and the band may also have favored them given the wide exposure they are now gaining in the United States.
Watch the official music video for “Discoteque” by Mochat Doma on YouTube:
All in all — Egor’s amazing and emotive voice certainly leaves you feeling elated or sad — or simply alive. That voice alone connected three Russian-speaking men from Minsk, Belarus, to American music fans here in DC despite the language barrier. And you must definitely hear that voice live in person for full effect.
Here are some photos of Molchat Doma performing at 9:30 Club on April 8, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.