Latvia: Why we all need to go to Supernova next year

Here at dudepoints, we have had the good fortune to attend National Finals in a variety of countries – Iceland, Estonia, Norway, Sweden. Most of them have the same setup – a large arena, a cheering crowd, a place to buy stadium snacks and merchandise.

But not Latvia. No, Supernova is first and foremost a television show, filmed in front of a crowd of about 200 people, and as such, is ripe for a takeover from the Eurovision fandom.

Here’s what it’s like to be in the audience at Supernova:

First of all, it’s filmed at the Riga Film Studios, which are about four kilometres out of town.

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We got there by taking a tram and then walking down a long road adjacent to a icy forest. As someone living in London where nature is easily avoided,I half expected a lurky murder to pop out of the woods waving a knife. It was a terrifying walk to the studio.

We got there at 8 pm, the time doors opened, and found ourselves enveloped in a crush of well-dressed Latvian women. The hairspray fumes were heavy in the air, and I felt underdressed. (To understand what a big deal that is, every time I see Conan Osiris perform, I’m like, ‘I have that outfit!’)

All of this finery was a contrast to the actual building, which is a Soviet-era film production house, heavy on the concrete and stucco. It’s so old, the women’s toilets carry signs warning you not to flush any paper down the toilets.

We stood crammed in the hallway by the coat racks for about twenty minutes until the doors opened. It was easy to get a seat right in front, right next to the wind machine.

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We sat through some warmups from Latvian personalities, where we learned the three methods of clapping, and were told to avoid touching our faces during the performance and to stay off our phones.

And then the show started with Markus Riva:

Do you hear those large jets of CO2? Yes, we did as well. The first time they went off,the woman in front of me nearly jumped out of her chair. It was so loud, I thought, “Thank goodness that they’re running the audio off the backing track.” But guess what! They weren’t!

The C02 jets were almost as loud as the Markus Riva fans who showed up at the event. They were one of the few people with banners on the night, and I loved the fact that one of them also had a sequined and light up shirt.

Next was Edgars Krelis, with Cherry Absinthe:

Watching this live was a great way to see how songs can translate very badly in the staging. This was an absolute banger in the studio version, but the live version seems overchoreographed, with no focus of the performance.

Then came Aivo Oskis, with Somebody’s Got My Lover:

First rule of performance: Don’t choose backup dancers who are more charismatic than you.I couldn’t keep my eyes off the tall guy in the long coat who looked Somlike a bearded Dan Stevens.

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Second rule of performance: If you need to put a line from your song on your trousers, don’t choose the one that consists of “Foolish jokes”, especially if your audience is going to spend the performance trying to figure out what it says on your pants.

Up next were Double Faced Eels with Fire:

While the performance had improved immeasurably since the finals, in the studio I was captivated by one thing and one thing alone – the fire that seemed to be burning in his crotch.

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SO many fires!

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All burning!

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Deep inside!

Up next was the highlight of the evening, the Dzili Violets featuring Kozmens:

This performance had the best surprise of the night – a man dressed in all black who snuck up behind Kozmens and gently eased him to the ground.

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I’m surprised the giggles from my row didn’t show up on the soundtrack.

After that was Laime Pilniga, who I considered the vegetables after the delicious dessert of Dzili Violets:

For some reason, this was the most popular act with the jury. I spent most of it looking at the guitarist.

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He looked familiar from somewhere. But where? Where?

We then went to the first actual woman in the show, Samanta Tina, with Cutting the Wire:

Which was – not as good as the semifinal performance? Her hair was just flopping around in her face, which meant that I couldn’t actually see her as she was performing. She was also apparently impacted by the excitment and cold weather of the studio, which was slightly distracting.

The night closed with the performance of Carousel:

I can assure you that this was actually performed in colour and…hey! It’s that guy! Except this time he’s put a shirt on!

The rest of the night was a blur. I mostly remember Markus Riva’s face when he lost Supernova AGAIN after winning the televote, but it was many people talking about voting in Latvian, which I don’t speak – although it was also fun to see Kozmens take a selfie of everyone with his anarchy branded phone case.

But it was fun, and cheap (only 15 euros) and easy to get tickets for.

So what do you say we all go there next year?

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