Adventures in cabaret

| | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)
bar 288
Yesterday I watched The Mummy Three in the cinema. Yes, I paid to see it on the big screen. This will tell you two things about me. I love good ole fashioned adventure and I love torturing myself. This is quite coincidental.

This weekend's line up at my usual haunts is just not for me. The show of the weekend is going to be Motek at either Yuyintang or Live Bar, depending on which day you want to see them. Motek are from Norway and they play post-rock. Check out their blurb:

Every great passion ends in the infinite... Likewise, Motek is driven by instinct and the thirst for sultry recollections of forgotten emotional states. Sticking layers of effect-laden guitars, underpinned by a needy bass and entrancing drums create the texture of great music for the best moments of your life. This sonic dream closes the gap between wishes, wants and imagination with melancholy, madness, consolation and hope.

... and their link (to be fair) - listen here

I'm only going to stick out more post-rock shoegazing if the band are local and relevant to the scene. Not because I have something against polished, signed acts from abroad - because, as a personal entertainment choice, I have something against post-rock. 

So what am I going to do? I'm going on an adventure.

First of all, I'm going to get a sandwich at Kommune cafe in the Taikang Lu arts area. I swear down it's nothing to do with trying to be hip or a true scenester. It happens to be near the bar and their build your own sandwich deal includes baked beans on the fillings list. Baked beans. Other Brits abroad know what I'm talking about here. After that I'm going to Bar 288, The Melting Pot, to hang out and watch whoever happens to play there. 

Why is this such an adventure? Their house bands include Little Nature and Crazy Mushroom Brigade. They are famed as a local muso hangout. Check out this recent news/endorsement of their credibility, talking about the China Now event: 

This free festival being organized by the people behind Taikang Lu's 288 Melting Pot bar is part of the Shanghai Tourism Festival. According to Head Organizer Ruby Hsiao, "It is the government's intention to support original music, and to earn more attention from the younger generation in Shanghai - Chinese or expatriates."

Well, did you read this earlier post on when I was last there? They filled the dance floor area in front of the stage with tables and let people play dice games with their backs to the great band who came all the way from Korea. They delayed the show start an hour and fifteen minutes because someone there had a birthday and wanted their friends to perform some pop hits to a backing track. They are not trying to support local music, they are treating it like a background cover band and even bumping it for a keyboard guy. And I hope that quote was added in by enthusiastic newspaper editors - letting two rock acts play a park for tourist day does not compensate for the past three months. Unless support actually means kill in the above case.

Since they seem to inspire annoying critical rants in me, I'm going to try again.

I will conquer my fears and my hate and head out of my immediate area at night. Then again, I've just had a thought, perhaps it's some kind of psychological thing. The closer you get to Taikang Lu, the more you start to think and behave like a dismissive, holier-than-thou hipster. Well, lets see what happens on my adventure. Will I actually come back with a good report from a great Mushrooms gig ... or will it all go down the pan and I have to be bailed out by yetis - my god, that film was s*%t! I mean ... yetis! 

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Adventures in cabaret.

TrackBack URL for this entry:


ha! I did read your earlier post on the Melting Pot and, for that reason, I still haven't been there. As for the quote about the government supporting live music, I put it in because I thought it was such a ridiculous thing to say. Unfortunately, it lost some of its mocking tone when it got edited down

Hey Jake

Lisa just commented on the next post defending the Melting Pot a little. That's a pity you lost the context a bit on the quote. Although any of us in Shanghai can easily see the problem.

I personally don't buy the idea that Bar 288 is just 'local style'. Lisa puts it as 'Shanghainese friendly'. The people at YYT are Shanghainese and they have no problem running a proper venue/bar in the rock indie style. But I do follow her comment that it's still important to have places that are stable and let bands on.

Also, It is the nature of the small scene that you can put bands on at your bar then be a scene figure, so to speak.

Anyway, I don't want to become on a mission to slag down a particular place, so I'll leave it at continuing on from Lisa's new comments. Thanks Lisa.

And, to elaborate. 288 rather fills the role previously served by Ark: owned by foreign businessmen (Japanese for Ark, Taiwanese for 288) and definitely commercial, but with music guidance from stalwarts of the Shanghainese rock scene (Huang Sihan at Ark, Wang Hao at 288). Like Ark, 288 provides a regular stage and reliable income for young bands, and is a non-intimidating intro to live and rock music for white-collar Chinese. But that format is understandably criticized as "inauthentic" by hipster foreigners. It's not "cool" - it's cozy and a little corny, but that's okay too.

288 and YYT are very different "business" models; one's a non-profit performance space, one is a commercial bar where people hang out and the music is just a part of the offerings. What's nice about 288 is that the rock community congregates and interacts there, and it fosters the sort of cooperation that ShRock needs more of.

As for the government half-assedly trying to support rock, it's nothing new. A few years ago for the Tourism Festival they did a free concert by Cui Jian - backed by The Honeys and Crystal Butterfly. During APEC in 2001, the government website on culture in Shanghai included an article about Crystal Butterfly. And Ruby has gotten previous official support for rock music, with the 2006 Fringe Festival when 288 hosted the musical portion and brought in some pretty good young Hong Kong bands.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Andy Best published on September 19, 2008 3:20 AM.

Old Doll live @ Yuyintang was the previous entry in this blog.

Other people's Youtube: Hedgehog "Wink" is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.