As entertainment it seemed a bit avant-garde for a Saturday afternoon in the park.
On stage a DJ was grimly fiddling with knobs on a console, awash in swirling blue lights and smoke effects.
The music was a shape-shifting barrage of digital backwash and screeches, electronic noise as amniotic fluid.
Wooden shipping pallets had been arranged in artful configurations for people to sit on.
But the crowd — young, hoodied and good looking — instead stood, arms-crossed and stoically hip against the onslaught.
It was raining slightly, which only helped the mood.
For a minute I might have imagined I was in some cooler precinct of Brooklyn, Hackney or Kreuzberg — if it weren’t, that is, for the luxury apartment block looming in the background, executed in the manner of neo-imperial Stalinist architecture.
Or that the performance was taking place in a green space unofficially known as “the park of fallen monuments,” where busts of Soviet leaders and cultural heroes, once more prominently displayed about the city, have been put out to seed.
The gig was just one of hundreds of performances staged in parks and public squares around Moscow to celebrate the city’s birthday, held annually on the first weekend in September.
Later that evening, around eighty-thousand people would attend a free concert by Aerosmith, the day’s headlining act, in front of the Lubyanka — a squat, neo-baroque building that once served as the headquarters of the KGB, and now houses the FSB, the KGB’s successor agency.
At a price tag of seven million dollars, those 2015 City Day festivities, might have been Moscow’s most extravagant yet, even though Russia’s economy was sputtering under sanctions and rock-bottom oil prices.
Some critics questioned the day’s Potemkin-like quality.