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Meet the bands touring to raise funds for Ukraine’s army (and save the dates)

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, Ukrainian bands are embarking on charity tours where proceeds provide drones, vehicles and protective gear for the military.
Meet the bands touring to raise funds for Ukraine’s army (and save the dates)

Russia’s war against Ukraine has profoundly impacted the lives of Ukrainian musicians, with some volunteering to serve in the military where they continue to serve today, and others enduring Russian occupation and even having their homes destroyed. What unites these artists is the drive to support the Ukrainian military through their music by raising funds for the troops during concerts.

We highlight the most celebrated Ukrainian bands that will be touring in the US, Europe, and Australia this fall and winter. Both new and old bands, with a history of songs that speak to Ukrainian identity, have also produced powerful new wartime compositions – including collaborations with world-famous artists – dedicated to Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression.

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Antytila

From the end of October to 2 December 2023, ANTYTILA, a Ukrainian pop-rock band from Kyiv that formed in 2007, is embarking on a tour in a number of cities across Europe and will also perform in Sydney, Australia. They’ll also perform in Prague, Bern, Cologne, Frankfurt, Vienna, Munich, Lisbon, Barcelona, Alicante, Melbourne, Auckland, Dublin, Manchester, London, Edinburgh, and Chisinau.

The musicians direct all their efforts to the volunteer projects of their own Charitable Foundation, which also takes care of the children of the families of the deceased soldiers of the 130th Territorial Defense Battalion of Kyiv where the band’s members serve.

“To sing about Ukraine, to convey the truth about the Ukrainian reality at war, to spread Ukrainian modern music and become part of the world cultural environment Antytila band is going on tour,” Antytila wrote about the tour.

On 24 February at 5 a.m., as Russia initiated a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, ANTYTILA band members, leaving their families in safe places, headed to a recruitment office to defend their homeland.

“Today we’ve swapped our music instruments for guns. They’ve invaded our state. They’ve been destroying our people through centuries as well as our land, culture, and sovereignty. Despite [Russia’s] overestimated imperial greatness, we still show strong resistance, and we gonna ALWAYS show it,” Antytila wrote on their website on 25 February 2022.

Since the start of the invasion, ANTYTILA band members have been serving in the 130th Territorial Defense Battalion of Kyiv. Taras Topolia, Serhii Vusyk, and Dmytro Zholud are among those in active service, while the remaining band members are volunteering to support the military effort.

In March, ANTYTILA learned of a charity concert in Birmingham, Great Britain, held in support of Ukraine, and reached out to one of the headlining artists, Ed Sheeran, proposing a TV link-up. Later, Ed Sheeran’s team suggested a collaboration with ANTYTILA on the song “2Step,” featuring a verse in Ukrainian. ANTYTILA dedicated this video to the memory of the Ukrainian director Dmytro Manifest, whose life was tragically cut short.

In 2023, the band released the single “Fortress Bakhmut.” Bakhmut, where an intense battle between Ukrainian and Russian forces had been ongoing for months, was at the center of public attention.

Boombox

Boombox, a Ukrainian band that blends hip-hop and funk styles, created in 2004, will be touring in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Croatia, with performances in cities like Wroclaw, Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan, Prague, and Zagreb from 7-20 November Additionally, they will embark on a North American tour in 2024, with further details to be announced.

The Boombox band allocates a portion of their concert proceeds to support the needs of the Ukrainian military.

Furthermore, Andrii Khlyvniuk, the lead singer of Boombox, enlisted in the Kyiv Territorial Defense when Russia initiated a full-scale aggression against Ukraine, becoming a member of the Sofia special forces and actively defending Ukraine on the front lines.

In collaboration with the iconic Pink Floyd, Andrii Khlyvniuk recorded the song “Hey Hey Rise Up,” inspired by the Ukrainian song of the Sich Riflemen – “Oh, the Red Viburnum in the Meadow” (Ukrainian: Ой у лузі червона калина – Oi u luzi chervona kalyna).

Reflecting on the ongoing war, Boombox emphasized the profound impact of music during challenging times:

“The full-scale war started on 24 February 2022, by the Russian-fascist invaders forced us to forget ‘who we are and where we are from’ for a long time. Territorial defense, police service, volunteering – at some points, music was just not for me. The very thought of listening to anything, let alone playing, seemed seditious. But then… You carefully turn on your favorite song. And another one behind her. And more. And it helps. If you are a seasoned fan or have recently discovered the band after hearing ‘Oh in the meadow red viburnum’ performed by Andrii Khlyvniuk, come to the band’s concerts. Your support is very important to us; thank you, friends,” the band expressed about their tour.

In July 2022, the Andriy Khlyvniuk Charitable Foundation was established to provide the Ukrainian military with critical resources, including reconnaissance drones, vehicles, generators, uninterruptible power supply systems, and other essential equipment.

Boombox remains one of Ukraine’s most popular and enduring bands, actively creating music, collaborating with Ukrainian artists, and continuing to release fresh tracks, delighting their devoted fan base.

“Hey Hey Rise Up”: Pink Floyd revived Ukrainian military anthem

Okean Elzy

Okean Elzy will embark on their “Help for Ukraine” tour, visiting various countries including Tbilisi, Chișinău, Tallinn, Vilnius, Riga, Helsinki, Strasbourg, and Prague from 3 November – 2 December 2023.

As part of the “Help for Ukraine Tour,” the proceeds from the scheduled concerts will be donated to children affected by the war and medical facilities.

Prior to the full-scale Russian invasion on 22 February, Okean Elzy performed a legendary free concert on Kyiv’s Glass Bridge. The band’s frontman Sviatoslav Vakarchuk explained that his intention was to instill people with energy.

Throughout the course of the war, the musician consistently lent his support to the military through his live performances. He noted, “Throughout the month of March [2022], we journeyed to areas in close proximity to the active conflict zones, including Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, and Okhtyrka. I delivered humanitarian aid, engaged in conversations with the local population, and visited hospitals whenever circumstances permitted. It remained paramount to offer solace and encouragement to those affected.”

In early April, Kalyna, the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, reached out to Sviatoslav with a unique request—to compose a song for their unit, which was stationed at Azovstal plant in Mariupol and facing severe challenges. Thus, Sviatoslav composed his first song on request titled “Misto Mariyi. (Maria’s city)”

At present, Okean Elzy does not derive financial gain from their compositions, except for revenue generated from international listeners. Sviatoslav affirms that all proceeds stemming from their songs addressing the war are channeled to the Serhiy Prytula Foundation.

“My sole motivation is to expedite victory. In the event that our generation is compelled to confront a war, the only conceivable course of action is triumph. Should we fail to secure victory and opt for yet another ceasefire, as was the case in the past, it is our offspring who may be consigned to the battlefield. My son is one year old, and I am resolute in my desire to spare his generation from experiencing the ravages of war,” Sviatoslav says.

GO-A

The Ukrainian electro-folk band Go_A, representatives of Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 with their song “Shum,” which secured 5th place in the final, is embarking on their “Ukrainian Magic” tour.

This tour will span over two months, with the last concert played on 17 December 2023, featuring more than 30 shows across various cities in numerous countries, including Iceland, Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Israel, Georgia, Türkiye, Greece, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, and more.

“Now we feel the strength to return to concert activities because by doing so we are able to raise funds to help Ukraine and do not let people around the world forget that the war is still going on here.

Even the fact that we raise the Ukrainian flag on stage during a performance in another country is already an important manifesto. We believe that our concerts draw attention to our unique Ukrainian culture. We are doing everything to debunk the myth that Ukraine is part of Russia. Ukraine is an original country with its own history, its own language and its own sovereign territory. So it has always been, so it is and so it will be, despite the narratives that Russian propaganda has been trying to promote throughout its history,” the band writes.

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Kalush Orchestra

“Kalush Orchestra” is a Ukrainian folk-hip-hop group, formed in 2021, that performs Ukrainian-language hip-hop music and emerged as the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 with their song “Stefaniya.” The band is embarking on their third major tour in the USA and Canada, promising an electrifying show while inviting talented Ukrainians to join them and even make their own cover versions of the band’s beloved songs, with tour dates spanning various cities on 1-26 November.

In 2022, the band raised 60 million hryvnias ($1.6 million) to help Ukraine; calculations for 2023 are still underway.

After their performance in the Eurovision 2022 song contest final, Kalush Orchestra issued a global appeal to support the defenders of Mariupol, urging assistance for Azovstal. During a live concert broadcast on YouTube, the band’s lead vocalist, Oleg Psiuk, delivered the plea: “Help Ukraine, Mariupol, help Azovstal! Right now!” This call to action was in response to previous requests within the online community to bring attention to the situation in Mariupol and at the Azovstal plant during the Eurovision 2022 event.

Later, Kalush Orchestra auctioned their glass microphone trophy and raffled off the lead singer’s signature pink bucket hat to raise funds for the Ukrainian army. This unique initiative is the world’s first auction featuring a Eurovision winner’s cup. All proceeds were directed towards the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Kalush Orchestra also canceled their performance at the Sea Dance Festival in Montenegro after the organizers declined to remove a Russian DJ from the lineup, citing their refusal to share the stage with a pro-Putin artist as the reason for the withdrawal.

Following their triumphant win at Eurovision 2022, the group embarked on two tours of American cities, featuring 18 concerts within a span of just three weeks in the autumn of 2022.

Returning to the USA for the second time, Kalush Orchestra conducted a fresh concert tour and participated in the esteemed SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, where they crossed paths with the popular American rapper Armani White; in April 2023, Kalush Orchestra unveiled a collaboration with Canadian rapper bbno$ titled “Ushme Uturbe.”

“Gates of Europe”: Luxembourgish band dedicates entire album to Ukraine’s fight

Druga Rika

Druga Rika, a Ukrainian rock band formed in 1996 in Zhytomyr, will be on tour, starting with performances in the United States and Canada, including Chicago, Southfield, Parma, New York, Philadelphia, Montréal, and Toronto during 27 October-4 November 2023, and then moving on to Europe, with shows in Poland and Germany from 19-29 November 2023. This is a charity tour to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The band raised over $115,000 to support Ukraine’s armed forces. The band provided over $44,000 (1,331,930 UAH) to purchase 30 FPV “Bureviy” drone complexes capable of destroying Russian tanks. During their European tour, Druga Rika raised over $61,000 (1,810,006 UAH) from donations to buy seven all-terrain vehicles for Ukrainian military intelligence units. They also allocated over $11,500 (343,290 UAH) to purchase night vision and communications gear for multiple military units.

Son and brother of Valeriy Kharchyshyn, frontman of the band Druga Rika, are defending Ukraine with weapons in hand. Also, Kharchyshyn’s house in Hostomel near Kyiv had been destroyed by Russian forces in 2022. In June, the musicians released the song “Have You Heard?” dedicated to Mariupol.

“I understand that this [war] is for a long time. These are the realities. We have already been living in these realities, and we have been living in them for a long time. You just need to help your psyche, not deceive yourself. If you deceive yourself, listen to marathons, look for some fairy tales, myths among soothsayers, and convince yourself that it won’t last long – it will be harder for you, you will stretch this perception. You need to imagine that it’s forever. It’s forever. It will always be like this, it’s our life, our realities. Yes, we live like this, and yes, we will live in war. Perhaps the children being born will also be at war. That’s our neighbor,” says Kharchyshyn.

DakhaBrakha

DakhaBrakha, a world-music quartet from Kyiv created in 2004, will be on tour in North America from 1-28 November 2023, performing in various cities in the USA and Canada. They will then continue their tour in Europe, performing in England, Scotland, and various cities in the UK from 18-26 January 2024 and concluding their tour in New Zealand and the USA from 1 March-3 April 2024.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on a full scale, in the early part of the previous year, DakhaBrakha collaborated with various entities to generate funds for humanitarian relief initiatives. The money raised from their tours in Ukraine is transferred to the Come Back Alive Foundation, which supports the Ukrainian military.

The band raises awareness of Ukrainian culture and encourages their audience to support the Ukrainian military. Between songs during their performances, the screen flashes statements like “Arm Ukraine,” “Russia is a terrorist state,” and “Come back alive.”

Marko Halanevych, a member of the DakhaBrakha band, is also raising money to purchase drones for the army by selling his artistic works.

Ukrainian music about Russia’s war: a tale of struggle, pain, power, and courage

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