Kittin (Caroline Herve) came to Ukraine in the summer of 2023 for a charity gig at Keller, a Kyiv club. Kittin has been performing since the 2000s and has released eight albums, including three in collaboration with techno DJ The Hacker. All funds raised by Kittin’s gig in Kyiv were donated to the military and volunteers. She also gave a public lecture at Module Exchange, an electronic music school in Kyiv, and visited Bucha and Borodianka, towns on the outskirts of Kyiv that were wrecked in Russia’s 2022 invasion.


“Kittin asked reporters not to photograph her while she was in Bucha and Borodianka so she could live through that experience entirely on her own,” says Serhii Leshchenko, advisor to the Office of the President of Ukraine, and former member of the Ukrainian Parliament and journalist. Leshchenko helped to organize Kittin’s Kyiv gig, alongside the Laboratorium and Ravers Party communities.

Kittin’s performance was one of the most high-profile gigs in Ukrainian clubs since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion. The Tiger Lillies, a UK-based punk-cabaret collective, came to Ukraine later that same summer. “This is the first foreign artist we’re hosting in a year and a half,” Yevhen Kibets, founder of the HMG music and entertainment agency, wrote at the time.

The Tiger Lillies played two gigs in Ukraine, in Kyiv and Lviv. They played songs from different periods in their career, which spans over 30 years, as well as songs from their new release, Ukraine. “I think those were probably the most amazing concerts we’ve ever done,” their frontman Martyn Jacques told The Financial Times.

Photo: Yurii Hriaznov

The Tiger Lillies released their Ukraine EP later in July. The songs on the album cover different aspects of the Russian full-scale invasion, including a track about washing machines [stolen by Russian soldiers from Ukrainian cities], an appeal to NATO, and a track called Gangster in Kremlin. The band handed all of the profits from the album to support Ukraine.

“We’ve worked with the band several times in the past 10 years. I decided to get in touch with them and invite them to perform [in Ukraine] after they continuously showed their support for Ukraine on social media over the past year and a half. They responded within seven minutes: ‘We’re in’,” Yevhen Kibets tells The Village Ukraine. The concert organizer adds that it took another month and a half to pick the dates for the concerts as the band had already planned their tour.

The Tiger Lillies performed in Lviv on 11 July. Just a week before that, on 6 July, Russian forces carried out the most extensive attack on Lviv’s civilian infrastructure to date since 24 February 2022, killing 10 people and injuring dozens others. More than 50 buildings in Lviv were damaged or destroyed, including Kredens Cafe and Lviv Tech City.

“They knew what the risks were. I kept waiting for an email from their manager canceling [the show] after every attack. But no, they were unshakeable,” Kibets says. He adds that an air-raid warning was issued four minutes after the show began, forcing everyone to take shelter.

“We were lucky with the Kyiv gig, but the city was attacked the day before. We spent half the night in the hotel’s parking garage,” Kibets says. That night – the night of 12-13 July – Russia launched drones on Kyiv. Their fragments crashed down in different parts of Kyiv, injuring several civilians.

“I had a fair amount of anxiety before going there. But I told myself, people are taking their kids to school all the time. We’re not going to the front or somewhere that’s being mortared on a fairly regular basis,” Adrian Stout, The Tiger Lillies bassist, told the Financial Times.

It took the band around 20 hours to get from Kyiv to Rzeszow, Poland – including a seven-hour wait at the border. “The logistics are quite complicated,” Stout said.

On 15 July, two days after The Tiger Lillies show, UK-based DJ and drum-n-bass producer London Elektricity (Tony Colman) also performed in Ukraine’s capital. “This was our initiative, but Tony was really glad to be able to help Ukraine,” the team at Uyava, which hosted the London Elektricity gig, told The Village Ukraine. Colman – alongside Uyava and the Support Azov foundation – also visited Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel and Borodianka. His show helped United24 raise 158,000 hryvnia (approximately US$4,300) to rebuild schools in Chernihiv Oblast.

Photo: Sasha Zmiievets, Dmytro Holovchenko

Representatives of the Uyava cultural center say that logistics were the most challenging thing to organize. Bringing an artist to Ukraine entails hiring multiple drivers in multiple countries, booking airfare, and buying train tickets for travel into Ukraine itself. “By now we have almost like a schedule in our heads with different routes and times. You can’t imagine how many people are involved in all this,” Uyava representatives say.

“Entertainment in Ukraine has entered a new era [...] Artists react differently, but those who dare [to come to Ukraine] fall in love with the Ukrainian audiences and with Kyiv forever, and immediately start talking about booking more shows [here],” Uyava representatives add.

“I talk to a lot of artists, friends of mine and people whose gigs I booked in the past, but so far there’s not been a lot of good news. Most won’t venture to perform here. In some cases, an artist would like to but their agent won’t let them. I hope that soon you’ll hear about those artists who will be able to come,” Yevhen Kibets says.

He adds that bringing foreign artists to Ukraine is not so much about supporting Ukrainian event promoters as about supporting Ukraine as a country on an international arena – in part because it allows the artists themselves to show what’s happening in Ukraine without the interposition of the media.

In addition to foreign artists traveling for gigs in Ukraine, some of those foreigners are launching their own projects in the country. British journalist John Sweeney, who has made a documentary about Russian war crimes, launched a crowdfunding campaign for the Vladimir Putin: Do Fuck Off festival, which is to take place on October 6-8 in Kyiv. It will feature music, stand-up comedy, food, and stories about Russia’s war against Ukraine. You can support the project here. All profits will be donated to volunteers, including the Hospitallers medical battalion and the Superhumans rehabilitation and prosthetics center.