A little while back, our band Astrofuck released our first video "The Funeral." You can see the original here. Now, Shanghai rock band and tricksters Stegosaurus? have done a parody video. No matter if you're not familiar with us or Shanghai in general you can still enjoy this video for Bren's performance as Sonny Bono. If there's some kind of Shanghai music scene comedy award, he should get it for his expression and look directly after he eyeballs the guy passing him coming the opposite direction.
I've seen a bunch of shows lately and not blogged them. Mainly because they were touring acts from abroad and not really a fit for what I'm doing here. Well, they were all pretty good: Cold Cave, Serpenti and also Wye Oak.
Opening for Wye Oak at 390 Bar was Sister Whale. Sister Whale is a Shanghainese musician who has an interesting mix of styles somewhere between folk, older art rock and psychedelic. Lets go with lo-fi psychedelia. She hasn't been playing and it was good to see her - appearing with Next Year's Love keyboardist Super Sophia. Bunch of stuff at the page link, check it out.
One gripe about the 390 show: I dunno if I've ever been at a show of that style of music where so many of the audience were talk-shouting and fucking it up.
Shanghai label, or rather artist management company, Zhu Lu He Feng are not only still going but are launching into Round 6 of their Shanghai university campus tour.
Here's a post from a couple of years back detailing round two
Here's some other quick links:
When ZLHF started this, it was groundbreaking. While action often used to happen in the vicinity of university grounds, independent student life type stuff inside was still almost off-limits. Now they are into the fifth year of running this. Also, some colleges like Jiao Da even have self-proclaimed Jiao Da bands and a mini scene.
A quick look at the flyer shows some weekend regulars like Banana Monkey, Plastic Chocolate and Joker, although regular may not be the word. There's a few ZLHF stable bands too, who you don't see playing big shows that often, presumably because of management control and all those other issues that will not be mentioned here.
Final point: campus shows can be done. Even on a smaller scale. English speaking bands may want to contact Shanghai band Stegosaurus? and, I think, Pairs, who have been to campuses themselves.
Pic and my source Shanghaiist here's the original article - 600 000 overwork deaths a year here
Everyone is talking about Li Yuan, the 24 year old ad agency employee who died of heart failure / overwork stress. This happens a lot more than you'd think. Tragedy.
However, it makes me think of how what used to be thought of as basic working rights are routinely dismissed even by rich companies who think of themselves as creative or progressive. In a passionate online discussion among us Shanghai folk, many insightful things were said, by people inside the industry too.
I want to reprint this from Mike H. of Shanghai rockers Hello Money:
It's an incredibly toxic and delusional culture. Most offices have a touch of delusion to them, of course, but the advertising industry seems to have fooled itself into thinking it's a global creative force and needs to be taken seriously artistically. That's how they have developed the overtime culture I*** ****** describes - the reasoning is essentially that one shouldn't watch the clock when creating art. In reality it's literally the EXACT opposite of art: content created SPECIFICALLY to sell things (not even their own things! Other people's things!) with all artistic merit compromised. Now, a lot of people outside the advertising industry do this kind of thing, we've all gotta make a dollar/RMB here and there, and there's no shame in it, but what makes advertising so pungently repulsive is that not only do they deny the extent to which they are sell-outs - they argue that they are a global creative force. It's possibly the most delusional group of people I've ever seen.
Note: the blog and articles linked are in Mandarin language, well written and poetic Mandarin with pop-culture references too i.e. a bit beyond Google translate etc.
Click pic for slightly larger, un-fuzzy version.
Small Oranges is a locally run blog that includes many music reviews: including a lot of Shanghai live shows. So if you want to get an insight or another voice, and you have a semi-decent grasp of the language, here's the place for you. It is written by 'Jiu Jian' (九间) who is highly regarded on Douban too.
First some links then some disclaimers:
Now. Couple of issues to beware of. The blog has a wide range of topics away from music, itself not a bad thing, but coupled with a bad theme and horrible navigation it makes it hard to get around. The front page has no direct links to categories or tags - which themselves are confused throughout - or an archive. Live Music is a major category, but does not appear on the tabs at the bottom. Also, many pages are dead ends.
The thing to watch for is the next page navigation. If you look at the footer, there will be arrows of sorts ">>" at the right end. That is what you use to advance the page displayed. So if you click into my link for the live reviews category, itself a category within a category, hence it not appearing anywhere, you use those arrows to get to page two and so on.
Once you get the hang of it, there's loads of good stuff in there. The movie reviews are insightful too, if that's your sort of thing.
Here's a video of Skip Skip Ben Ben performing their track Last Light live at Beijing Mao on May 10th, just a few days ago. It's from the recent album Sacrifice Mountain Hills, which is amazing. I got it from Maybe Mars' Taobao after seeing them in Yuyintang last year. Plenty has written about this band already, grab the album to support.
Pic: from the now classic open gallery of mock up Top Floor Circus Shanghai themed album covers
Live Beijing Music is an excellent blog documenting stuff in the Beijing music scene. And the blog has provided us with a first. That is, someone immersed in the Beijing scene came down to Shanghai for the weekend and totally picked up on all that is amazing here. Especially how great Yuyintang is.
Some of the points he makes about Shanghai incidentally taught me stuff about Beijing too: some vendors and restaurants won't take bills with unlucky numbers? For real?
Anyway, LBM put up four posts, with pics and videos galore. There's an overview, two YYT nights and record store day at Uptown.
There will be a special charity show at Harley's Bar in Xu Jia Hui on Friday May 24th ... called Fuck Cancer Fuck City Weekend.
Here is the show's Tumblr with all the details.
Yes, City Weekend Magazine. It all started with Mike Herd's speech that I talked about a little here. Now it's a small stand for sanity and integrity. Standing up for yourself is important, I wrote about this in detail recently here.
Before you dismiss it as juvenile or sensationalist, the points on their manifesto are very clear and relevant to all the nonsense that goes on with the ad agencies and PR companies too. The main points are: Misappropriation of the music scene - using the scene to lend an air of knowledge or cool or whatever to themselves, that sounds familiar. No journalistic integrity A.K.A. corporate sycophancy - putting brands and revenues above the understood values of writing and reporting while passing it off as honest. Shallow engagement with their subject material bordering on willful ignorance - another one that can be attributed to the ad people who have no actual interest in the ideas and values of artists and musicians, or the world they live in ... while constantly bleating the opposite. Refusal to address feedback from their readership - except with passive-aggressive attacks or flak, of course.
Whether it be this specific example, concerns with ad agencies like Virtue / Vice, W+K et al or with direct issues on the scene like B.O.s Midi piece. The point is that we don't have to bow to ridiculous concepts like it being 'bad form' to not accept this BS for fear of hurting their feelings. It is bad form to call out or challenge people down the hierarchy, that's bullying and dangerous ground. But calling out people with power is a duty. Especially when they are taking the piss out of you.
On Friday we (Astrofuck) played Yuyintang with Italian touring band Serpenti and local punks Friend or Foe. It was good show all round. As a result we have live recordings of previously unavailable tracks. Also, Rachel Gouk was on hand to take some pics. They came out great too.
Here is a gallery of the pics. You can go here to listen to our latest track Five Kuai Bullet. And here is Rachel's blog with all her relevant links.
When now-famous Han Han, of Duck Fight Goose, first came to Shanghai he brought his Miniless collective. This was a loose group of mainly out of town bands who all played experimental and post-punk music. Han Han organised recordings, promoted shows and made art and merch.
So, before I go on, here's the band Self Party's page to use as your reference.
As good as all the acts were - and all of them produced great albums during that time - the surprise breakout act was Self Party.
Self Party were originally called Monkey Power and their two albums are under that name. They are a duo who use a mixture of electronic and live instruments. They mixed post-punk ideas with heavy noise and feedback, capped with electronic drums and samples. All the local fans who came to Miniless shows seemed to go crazy for them at the time. Looking back, they first cropped up on this blog in early-mid-2008, but the famous shows (flyer pictured) are all from summer 2009 - after which they abruptly stopped.
Lately though, they have been re-tooling their Douban site and uploading demos and videos. It's a good time to revisit, there's a lot of material there and lets hope they come back to Shanghai soon.
I want to throw this in here too, while we're in that area: I think that San San, who most people know as the bassist / co-writer of Duck Fight Goose, may be the most accomplished musician on the Shanghai scene. She has driven three bands in the past ten years here - 33 Island, Boojii and Duck Fight Goose. Every one of them has been excellent and ended up being signed and putting out a great album.
33 Island Looking For The King (Modern Sky) here
Boojii Reserved (Modern Sky) here
Duck Fight Goose Sports (Maybe Mars) here