Varona at the Rickshaw Stop Tomorrow


San Francisco-based punk-jazz quintet, Varona, will be celebrating the release of its second album, “Egoist,” at the Rickshaw Stop tomorrow at 8 p.m.

Formed four years ago, Varona – which means ‘crow’ in Russian – is headed by Russian-American vocalist and guitarist Zhenya Kogan. The rest of the avant-garde sound is created by prominent use of sax, drums, bass and keys as well as the occasional clarinet and electric guitar.

A testament to the group’s origins is not only the Russian song “Zver” or its punk echoes of the popular Russian-American group Gogol Bordello, but the typically Eastern European angst that weaves the album together.

Although the raw tribal rhythms can be quite upbeat, Kogan’s strained voice and the mystery-clad lyrics that often hint at an otherworldly presence create a peculiar dissonance that’s echoed by the syncopated sax and drums combo.

There’s no doubt that Varona’s high-energy songs like “Rain”, “Be My High” and “Zver” will make the audience tap their feet. But for an acoustic, listening-in-your-car experience, the album’s winning numbers are the softer, jazzier tunes like “Shadow” and “Fire Drills”.

Varona’s performance will be accompanied by cabaret/burlesque group Fromagique and Go Van Gogh, self-described as “music for a Middle Eastern Western.”

Tickets are $10 with a free CD and can be purchased at or at the door.

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