It’s been exactly two years since our first Lithuanian jaunt. After our second and most recent visit, we could conclude that it’s still cold, quaint, and the spirits are still strong. Kaunas upheld our expectations since our trip to Panevėžys: that despite being the second largest city in Lithuania, at times it felt very much like a small town. In the Old Town, quaint cobbled streets are lined with attractive churches and colourful town houses, and we wandered for hours squirming with delight at the twee and wintry aesthetic of it all. These streets all feed off the Town Hall Square, and it was here that we performed to a few thousand people from the main stage, located next to a giant Christmas tree. On the stage we were accompanied by Santa Claus, this time in the guise of a notoriously clumsy electrician, and his snowman friend Olaf (because the hype of ‘Frozen’ may never die), along with a couple of polar bears, some fire dancers and various musicians.
As for our post-gig experience, it seems Kaunas, while near-deserted in the daytime, truly comes alive at night. The charming cobbles became a hotspot for smokers, dancers, shouters and dramas surrounded by the neon lights of bars and basement clubs that seemed to appear out of nowhere. After a couple of failed attempts at entering the hippest bars – presumably turned away for not being local – we settled on a couple of friendlier, tourist-tolerant bars, and eventually a completely packed-out club, and that’s about where my memory ends, though I’m assured an excellent night was had by all. Most importantly, the gig had gone down a storm, and we’d enjoyed every second; even in the moments we had to take cues in Lithuanian (a language we’re not particularly well-versed in) from Santa the electrician and his giant snowman friend.
‘The usual unusualness’ is a phrase that has come in handy more times in the past year than ever before in my life, perhaps even including when I was a toddler, experiencing most things for the first time. From escaping devils with whips at a Caribbean carnival to insane tuk-tuk rides in Delhi and UFO raves in Latvia; from dancing with mangos in Blackpool to playing among ageing rock stars to a sold-out Royal Albert Hall, and just about every other bizarre, clown-whited, verging-on-psychedelic experience in-between, in 2017 I’m delighted to feel like a toddler once more, though this time with the haunting knowledge that I have to file a yearly self-assessment tax return. Happy New Year, everyone; use the time to do the things that make you excited to be in the world.