Top Floor Circus live @ Yuyintang
Tonight's show at Yuyintang was a pre-show for Shanghai bands going to to play the Modern Sky Festival in Beijing. The billing was, in this order:
Top Floor Circus
I was going just to see Top Floor Circus who are a locally worshiped punk act. As it turned out, they ended up going on last for some reason so I get to legitimately name this post after them.
Great turn out. I got there dead on nine and there was a queue to get in. That's a rare sight. No sooner had I got settled than the first band came on. I wasn't too impressed with No. 33 Island's page and demo tracks from the CD. They are obviously good musicians and list Syd Barret in their influences, but it seemed more suited to lying on a beanbag than seeing live at a dive. But, I stand corrected. They performed well and had some good energy going. It was very much like early Pink Floyd and I enjoyed it. Seeing the bassist also took me back to a show in the old YYT by a band called Booji who did a whole set of trippy instrumentals with repeated phrases about rabbits. But that's another story. I'm also happy that they name-checked Barret rather than saying they were post-rock or something.
Next up was Cold Fairyland. So it was off for some food nearby for me. I'll try to summarize for people who haven't read much of the blog. Great band, great musicians and nice people - but 'world music'. Nothing to do with indie rock or alternative culture. Writers and fans who carp on about how they are more original because of fusing Chinese cultural elements should take a trip to Scotland and start telling local indie acts to put more bagpipes in there. I don't think so.
So, having downed a large tumbler of iced Ovaltine, oh yes, I got back for the start of Top Floor Circus. They were great, but, I'll have to explain it for those of you who didn't catch the show. They have been inactive for a while now and basically knocked a short set together not planning to headline the show. Also, they have now progressed from being a punk act with a funny front man (Lu Chen) into a Lu Chen stand up comedy routine with a backing band. The main set actually had only two songs and most of the time was the routine that included bring people on stage to play roles. It was, however, funny as f*ck.
The whole routine, and songs, were based around Lu Chen being Haibao (the Shanghai 2010 Expo mascot, pictured) and dissing the Ol*mp*cs and their mascots, the Fuwa. The first song, which you'll find on the Youtube channel soon, was basically chants of "the Fuwa are all pussies" with a chorus of "I'm going to crush your balls". The idea is that it's sung by Haibao. Before the song they actually acted out Haibao doing said ball crushing Manga style with the members of Momo playing the Fuwa.
Then there was another comedy/drama satire piece where audience members had to answer obvious questions about the expo for shit prizes. Then came the other song. I have to remind you at this point, Lu Chen is very good at this and everyone was in stitches and loving every minute. The next track was a satire of "Beijing welcomes you" ... Shanghai welcomes you. It had a really funny chorus. I'd love to recite it here but it totally does't rhyme in English, sorry. The gist was that Shanghai has no culture but we've got money and that the Ol*mp*cs have nothing to brag about. Take my word for it, in Chinese it was really really funny.
After all this they made to leave but the surprised crowd didn't seem to happy about it so the band tacked on a couple of old favourites. I'd love to see if they try to get away with the same set in Beijing ... of course not. Also, we won't be laughing when all shows get closed down for the Expo - which is more than double the length of the Ol*mp*cs.
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