Tony Duchacek & Garage: a seminal underground band plays Vagon


Tony Duchacek and his band Garaz (Garage) have now been a staple on the Czech underground music scene for more than twenty years. Like their more well-known counterparts, the Plastic People of the Universe, with whom they collaborated at length artistically, Duchacek and his band-mates continue to play Prague's most interesting rock venues: drawing fans old and new, among them kids who can barely remember the days of communism, and are just out to have a good time, to listen to some driving music and ska-like sax. You can dance to it on the darkened dance floor and inevitably everybody does.

Much of the attraction of Garaz lies in Mr Duchacek's deep melodic delivery - his stage presence consisting largely of an enigmatic gap-tooth smile, steady gaze, and Warhol-like detachment. He'll wave his arms in an awkward flying motion but stays firmly rooted: the centre of his band's performance, as his band-mates swirl 'round.

Shortly before taking the stage at Vagon on Prague's Narodni Street, Tony Duchacek took time to speak with Radio Prague and we asked him what he got a kick out of more: seeing the usual suspects come out or the newer fans:

"That's difficult to answer. In between I like the old faces, young faces, all of it, uh, before or after. But during the performance I don't notice these things, I can't choose people in the audience to watch, I can't really just look at somebody's mug. Sometimes though, I'll see someone at the back and I'll get these pangs of fear that maybe they're angry. They get up and I think they're leaving but all they're really doing is going to pee."

Vagon is an excellent venue to catch a band like Garaz. Among the wood and brick walls Duchacek and co. fit right in, the seminal garage band on the Czech scene. Oh, and do pardon the pun.

Ondrej Volek, the manager of Vagon, meanwhile explains the Garaz mystique.

"Duchacek's personality is amazing. He's the focal point of the band. I love the way he presents his material and his lyrics, it's great."

Vagon is a pretty decent space with its drawn-out hall it used to even feature a nine-pin alley. There is room for plenty of seating, cigarette-scarred tables, wooden beams, and a low stage.

Most important of all there is lots of dancing space. And even a back-room video screen in which you can watch the bands in gritty multi-pixels. This night Tony Duchacek & Garaz rip it up, echoing the hey-day of the long-lost underground. Watching them at once on screen and in person, somehow adds to the whole experience: for a moment one isn't sure if one is watching the past or the unfurling present.