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Napoleon dynamic

Indie band Bonapartes modern vaudeville show comes to town.

Published: January 30, 2013 (Issue # 1744)



  • Bonaparte has a reputation for flamboyant and colorful performances.
    Photo: MELISSA HOSTETLER

A trash circus, a celebration of hedonism, a grotesque theatre: The performances of Berlin-based indie band Bonaparte, which returns to St. Petersburg this week, can be described in many ways, but one thing is certain this is no ordinary band.

Bonaparte, renowned for its colorful performances in which a cheerful army of freaks wearing incredible costumes and masks amuse the audience to the accompaniment of songs by lead singer Tobias Jundt, brings its brand of dance-punk and electro rock enriched with carnival traditions to the citys A2 Club on Feb. 2.

The worldwide success of Bonaparte is primarily due to founder Jundt, a Swiss dissident whose original point of view and sense of humor is evident in his philosophical approach to life: If I could only choose three things: Family, music and kizlyarka [Dagestani grape vodka], I am quite happy! he said in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times ahead of the upcoming local gig.

The eccentric stage outfits worn by Jundt are a distinctive feature of the bands concerts.

I never enjoyed looking like everyone else much, even as a child. Make-up and clothing and songs can give you a lot of strength, said Jundt, who often appears on stage in black eyeliner, a flame-colored wig and a jacket reminiscent of the Napoleonic era.

I am not really afraid to do something silly along the way or use languages that I do not actually speak, said Jundt. You have to have fun. I am interested in what happens when the music hits the audience, if everything becomes one. Also I naturally combine sobriety and humor. I always felt that you should meet your topics wholeheartedly, but it doesnt hurt to bring it across with a bit of irony or a twist in the roles, he added.

Jundt founded Bonaparte in 2006 and the group performed its first show in the now legendary Bar 25 in Berlin. According to Jundt, the name Bonaparte made sense in the early days of the project.

I drove around Europe in my small sixties car putting little flags in places where I wanted to go to. It was like a calling. I was a bit afraid, when we first visited Russia, that we might encounter Napoleons fate from 1812, but we clearly did a better job than him, because we came with love in our hearts and music in our guns.

Along the way, Jundt made new friends who wanted to take part in the project and now Bonaparte, which functions more as a collective than as a typical band, includes around 20 artists. The concert at A2, which is to take place a day after the groups show in Moscow, is expected to feature eight of the group.

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