Update: I was turning out my pockets before washing my clothes and I found the ticket for this show on which I had the band names scrawled on the back of. It's not Kong De Huayuan but Kong Zhong Huayuan. So, a better translation of their name would be Sky Garden, not Empty Garden.
Friday night at Yuyintang with no one band headlining the show and a bunch of not so well known acts all falling loosely in the 'britpop' style. Didn't sound too promising but when I got there there was a good amount of people and a good atmosphere. Skulking around the CD shop I picked up the Kerrang Karaoke DVD - yes! - and chatted to a couple of Donghua students.
The first band on was 8mg. They were a new band doing mainly covers and hadn't rehearsed much. Once on the stage it hit them that they were in a proper club with lots of 'real' people with tickets looking at them. It was a shock. After a well received cover of Radiohead's Creep, they got themselves together and finished the set.
Next up was Kongde Huayuan (Empty Garden). They got straight into a solid set of plodding jangly-guitar laden indie songs. The crowd responded well, especially to the frontman. The frontman was looking like a bit of a hero with his flowing locks, crucifix ear-ring and unbuttoned white shirt. It's a fine line though, one step the wrong way and you're a member of F4. The set came to a premature end when one guitarist broke a string. For some reason he had neither a spare set of strings or a replacement guitar. When one of the other bands lent him a guitar to use it also had technical issues and they decided to call it a night as they only had one song to go. You have to think though, was it really technical issues with the new guitar, or was it that it was one of those China issue Squire Strats with the bright pink finish and the Hello Kitty head scratch plate.
Next up, Modern Cheese. The singer/guitarist of this band is a Beijing Midi Music School graduate. They burst into a high energy distortion driven opener and the crowd really got into it. I was impressed. Whenever I know a band was from a guitar tech or music college I'm expecting flashy playing and unusual key changes at the expense of a coherent style. Hey, music critic talk. Modern Cheese did add in some funk and jazz elements at times but they kept admirable control and everyone liked the show.
The last band on were The Way. I got a surprise. They were really tight and good performers too. A couple of songs in I couldn't help wondering why this show wasn't billed as their gig rather than a britpop night. In fact by the end I realised I had, in fact, been at a The Way gig which had been horribly marketed. Then again, The Way are from Shaoxing and are not well known here - but I'm sure as many people would come to their show as would to a britpop night. Fans of jangly indie pop should definitely try to catch The Way and Empty Garden.