October 2008 Archives

Youtube channel: Shanghaiist vs Douban

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Newer readers to the blog may have noticed that I post videos here but may not have been to the channel and checked out the back log. So, before we get going:

Now, a happy coincidence last week has led to an interesting experiment. This involves two sites. I give you ...


Douban (Chinese)

So, a bit of background. My Youtube channel's most popular video last month was at around 150 views and my poor little blog has about 2000 individual IPs (individual readers) across a month. Oh, writing that has made me realise that most of my readers don't pay much attention to the vids. Poor me, I know they are bootlegged vids but isn't that part of the romance of the underground? Ahem ... anyway.

When I was posting at Shanghaiist around March of this year, they got 200 000 IPs in a bad month and as much as 800 000 when Kenneth Tan ran the Edison Chen photo scandal stories. Their readership is English speaking Shanghai ex-pats and then overseas readers looking for Shanghai info via the Gothamist network. It's thousands of readers every day. Douban is a Chinese community site for people reviewing and sharing info on movies, music and books. It's very popular and hosts the net groups of choice for Shanghai music fans. A popular site in China like Douban has sky high traffic. Douban has over two million registered members for a start (so it says here). Also, Douban is the site of choice of the local music scene. 

So. After getting a reasonable video of Tianping Dian's great show last Friday, I decided to try something out. I joined Douban and posted the video there in a couple of relevant groups. At the same time on Saturday afternoon, Abe Deyo posted up a preview of The Rogue Transmission's Saturday show on Shanghaiist. He used my video of their Control show in the post. What a nice coincidence, now I could use the viewing figures at the Youtube channel to track how many people at those sites watched the video.

So, at the time of the videos being cross posted, TRS had 121 views and Tianping Dian had 6 views.

Then time passed until now. So there was Saturday night then all day Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Of course, not everyone who reads a post at those sites is a rock fan. I'm sure there are all kinds of factors at play but it's certainly interesting to see what kind of traffic gets generated. At least, just for fun.

As I write it has gone midnight on Tuesday and I'm checking the stats right now.

The Rogue Transmission video: 248 views (up 127)
Tianping Dian video: 28 views (up 22 and no significant difference to a regular video)

A certain net meme comes to mind here: Fail!

The Rogue Transmission EP release party

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Dan Shapiro
It was another sold out night in Yuyintang. Shanghai band The Rogue Transmission were following up their breakthrough show at Dream Factory with the timely release of their first CD.

Check out their page here.

The full line up was altered at the last minute when Nanjing psychobilly act Angry Jerks had to cancel. Luckily, goth-metal-ish new band Wang Yuezhe were on hand to fill in. I also found out that they have an official English name, Moongazer. Rounding out the bill were Mortal Fools and the headliners.

I did plan to get a bunch of videos for the Youtube channel but I was thwarted by the curse of the random flashing lights at YYT again. I uploaded one track from Mortal Fools and if you check it out you may agree with me that better bands playing there should not settle for the default flash setting. Talking of videos, Abe Deyo used one of the blog's videos in a post over at Shanghaiist - thanks Abe - which should highlight the difference in the lighting area.

Onto the bands. Wang Yuezhe have improved their set and have quite distinctive songs. But, like most new bands they lack a defined image. The singer has a hippy/goth look down but the rest of the band are 'at ease'. Tianping Dian had a similar problem. They really rocked last night with hard and heavy crossover metal but, for example, the keyboardist had on a polo shirt that wouldn't have looked out of place on a golf course. But all in good time. It's just great that a bunch of the newer bands are all starting to come through and the turnouts are back up as a result.

This was a great night for Mortal Fools. Despite the singer Frank's voice slipping a little at times, they have never sounded this good or loud. The place was packed out and eager to get moving. They puled out one of their newer ska tracks with Frank using a harmonica to double for a horn section and it worked. They got an encore and went out with a popular Ramones cover. Great set. The Rogue Transmission got on straight after and professionally made sure they got started dead on midnight. Yuyintang was at capacity and people were here to see this band. Makes you think though. With Shanghai underground bands starting to break through to the point where they can fill YYT - 250 people or more makes it bursting - it's a pity that Dream Factory is so upscale and expensive to rent. It really would be an achievement for the scene to start doing regular mid-scale shows: all without any mainstream advertising or ticketing or service structure. 

Another main feature of the night was the wide range of people there. I finally met one of the Layabozi people in the flesh. It was the founder, Mache. I have just put together a playlist for their site so keep your eyes peeled over there. I think there might be someone else going on before me so it might not be for a couple of weeks. Also, I met a couple of great guys from Tasmania of all places. One of them John, admittedly very very drunk, was just the funniest guy. His huge sprawling monologue on blogs and the blogosphere convinced me that he himself must get himself one soon and make a kind of anti-blog. Anyway, he really made my night and I just have to stick his photo up. Hi, John.


Neocha.com release latest compilation

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neocha netlabel release
Neocha.com is a net portal for Chinese musicians and artists but they wear many hats. Regulars to the blog will have seen footage from the recent Notch festival that they organised. Neocha also pioneered their own embeddable media player Next that gives you access to their entire online database.

They have just put out their latest compilation Tomorrow's Afternoon Tea. This is a free net release showcasing female indie/folk artists from the Neocha community. It features some bands previously covered on this blog, for example Bang Bang Tang. 

Without further ado ... please go straight ---> here <--- and DL the complete album.

I have and it's good. On a completely unrelated note: last night's 0093 show was a really good night but several people I met there were completely new to most of the bands. If they read this, and other blogs, it wouldn't be a problem. So, if you are reading this, why not spread the word. If you like this blog, promote it ... just a simple link or mention on your own site would help greatly. The same goes for all related sites. Neocha, for example, is a great site to explore whether you are in China or not. 

See this old blog of Dan's for details: spread the word. Oh, for some reason I can't find that post over at City Weekend now. Help! Well, you know, it was Dan Shapiro urging you to do anything to promote the scene.

I leave you with the track listing for the Neocha release:


Youtube: Tianping Dian live @ Yuyintang

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The surprise package of the Rocking In The Free World 0093 showcase were rap/rock outfit Tianping Dian. I wish the video could do justice to the sound but there's no chance of that. The packed room went nuts and the band were on. They benefited from the best sound I've heard for ages down at Yuyintang: crisp and powerful guitar sound, both vocal tracks loud and clear and even a tight bass/bass drum combo. 

So, now that I've built it up, check out my crappy bootleg of the real thing ... Tianping Dian.

Rocking in the free world (0093) @ Yuyintang

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tianping dian warmup
Friday night at Yuyintang and the latest in the now long line of 0093 showcase gigs, Rocking In The Free World, was going head to head with a weekend of first generation rockers up in Zhabei. I assumed YYT would lose a lot of locals to the bigger events - but I was wrong.

Amazing line up. Amazing turn out. Solid famous acts like Sonnet and Sko were up alongside 0093 studios' better acts. The final line up went like this:

Yuyintang was packed out with a great crowd of the coolest fucking people in town. Each band got a decent crowd and the sound was good all night. This was Yuyintang as it always should be. Rocking bands, cool people and hanging out in the park behind during breaks. I was sick with the flu all week and this was just what I needed to pick me up. Keep in mind that I'm easily excited, mind you.

The surprise of the night for me was Tianping Dian. I had seen them twice before and have reported their potential on the blog a couple of times. Tonight was their time to get it together. Sonnet had played a decent set and the hall was rammed. Tianping Dian got straight on and blasted through their high energy tracks sending the crowd into a mosh. They never missed a beat and the guitar sound was especially good. I have a vid coming, but it doesn't do justice to the sound as usual. With so many bands on the bill, the set was kept short but people wanted an encore so the band swapped instruments and ripped out a well funny closer - a dirty version of a famous Shanghainese kids song that had everyone cracking up. I wish I had a succinct genre name for them. They are a kind of rap-rock crossover with female vocal catchy choruses. I dunno.

The other band that really got the crowd going were Little Nature. The Bar 288 bands kind of come in a three for one pack these days. If Little Nature play than you're going to see members of Momo Tuan and Crazy Mushroom Brigade plus entourage in the crowd. They played a tight set and got everyone moving. They do keep insisting on playing Happy Birthday though. Their fans were loving it and singing along, and it's not 100% serious, but every time they play that track it discredits all their previous good work. Saw Dan and Fabian from Rogue Transmission at the show too. Let's not forget their EP release at YYT tomorrow which also promises to be a wild night. 

In the papers: Chinese Rock Power

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The Shanghai Daily English edition ran a cover story on rock today. That's the cover of the culture and entertainment insert. Before I discuss it a bit, you can find an abbreviated version of the article online here.

All over the world, the mainstream press does not move in mysterious ways. The feature is in to promote a weekend outdoor concert in Zhabei district called Chinese Rock Power. The big pull is the 90s period first generation rock band Tang Dynasty which is what the article focuses on. 

Both the print and online articles are devoid of any real information on the event with no full line-ups or links/contacts to the organisers. I flipped the page to the What's On listings and there's no mention of it at all there. The article itself says that fellow veteran Cui Jian will headline a night. Other clues to the line-ups are not good. The show will apparently feature Wang Xiaokun - a reality TV show winner and pop idol who has that please kick me aura about him. 

Anyway, the article is full of the usual annoying stuff that mainstream/nationalist minds produce. Tang Dynasty pioneered 'east meets west', they use rock but stay true to Chinese culture, they broke the Japanese market, Chinese rock fans have long hair because of them. The guitarist is the best in China and even in the top three in Asia. Luckily the writer throws in a quote from the band itself right at the end, a brief moment of truth.

Ding also wants the media and critics to be more open minded regarding Chinese rock singers because "many rock bands are just surviving in small pubs. It's a difficult and long road and we all need some support."

I hope that writer takes the advice and next time doesn't wait for a large event promoter to give them a story. There's plenty of rock stories out there if they actually have a look.

Busy weekend coming up. The latest 0093 Rock Party is on Friday and will give me a chance to see how Kongzhong Huayuan are progressing. The very next day is Rogue Transmission's EP release party. The EP is called Illicit Intercepts and you can try to win a free copy over at Layabozi. All you have to do is guess what the cover art means or is. Maybe I should have run a similar competition about the name? Seriously though, it should be a good night out and you can get excited about it by watching this video of the Transmission's kick ass appearance at the Control show: check it out.

Rock in the afternoon @ Gua'er

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pink berries guaer
There didn't seem to be much on this weekend. Well, that's not entirely true. Regurgitator are in town for two shows. But, you know, the blog is about local bands. So, I wandered down to Gua Er (Sus2) bar to check out an afternoon show. I'm assuming that it was on early to avoid a clash with the first Regurgitator show at Logo tonight. There's a thought, you bring over a band like Regurgitator and put them on in Logo (postage stamp in the corner of a regular bar type room with no PA). Afternoon shows did used to be a staple at the now defunct Ark Live House, so who knows.

The line up changed from the flyer and the first act was a guy and his guitar doing covers. So, the final line up was:

Pink Berries
Tianping Dian

Only Loudspeaker have a page with songs but you can find the other two on the blog's video channel: here. So, afternoon show. The place was mainly populated by the other bands, their friends and about ten non-entourage punters of which five were me and people I know. Gua Er's set up is growing on me and they have the balcony level too, which is nice. 

So, Pink Berries came on and played a six song set. I managed to get a video of my favourite track of theirs Xiao Bai Tu (White Rabbit). They are growing in confidence and their set is genuinely catchy. I have a soft spot for kind of three-chord (or whatever) garage/punk rock. If you know what I mean. Next up was Tianping Dian. They have this big line up rock-rap thing going on with a female vocalist singing the choruses. The last time I saw them they had the curse of the new band going on. That is, two or three strong songs up front and then the rest of the set is hopelessly behind. This time they managed to keep a consistent level. This band are quite active around the douban.com rock groups and look like they're going to stick around for a while.

Finally, on came scene stalwarts Loudspeaker. These are the heavier end of the garage rock spectrum. Tianping Dian and entourage had gone home and it was a bit more sparse but Loudspeaker always belt out a consistent high energy performance be it to a packed YYT of their loyal fans or an empty room. These guys just live for playing in a band. Also, they skate and wear stuff like DC shoes and caps which makes me feel right at home. All in all a chilled afternoon hanging with basically the bands themselves. And, as the only non-local in there, my hipster douchebag leanings were fully satisfied. 
cyprus twenty video
This post is an other. Regulars to the blog will know that this happens from time to time. You can check out the ratios in the categories section of the sidebar. However, this is of real interest to anyone reading or writing blogs i.e. both of us. 

You see what I did there? Both of us. That was almost like I was actually speaking to you ... that is actually you and not 'the reader'. We're also transcending the blog by talking about it while in it. Now we're one more level 'out' of the onion skin thingy. We are now commenting on blogging by blogging. Re-read the first paragraph - you see, not very out of the ordinary is it? This kind of thing is quite normal to blogging. These ideas used to be called post-modern theory but now people tend to use the prefix 'meta-'. 'Meta-' seems to wind up free-market yuppie right wingers less. To be fair, it's a more versatile expression too and hones in on one part of the theory.

So first up - what is this actually all about?

A group of Silicon Valley based dot com rich types went on a group holiday to Cyprus. This included people from Google and Facebook. They had a big yuppie love fest which was actually nothing particularly bothersome. Here's the catch. They made a lip synch viral video of their trip which shows them living the dream and put it on the net two days before the economy crashed, after which the meaning of the video changed somewhat. Then a bunch of people wrote various opinions on it, including the one that inspired me to write this post.

Here's the video in question on Youtube.
Here's the post I read on Valleywag.com.

And special thanks to Thalia Kwok who, ironically as you will see, linked me over to it via Facebook. The video is embedded in the Valleywag post if Youtube drop it. This post was also semi-inspired by Aric Queen's video diaries and some responses to them.

The Valleywag article discusses if it is the end of Web 2.0 as we know it. The crash is more a banker thing but these people who run the likes of Facebook are very much tied up in it. The holiday house in the video was provided to them by the son of a high powered Wall Street banker. Silicon Valley has taken a huge hit in the downturn. But, never mind that, it was the following quote that got me thinking:

No, the real test is whether this millennial generation will continue posting videos when they don't have splashy trips to celebrate. Will they continue updating friends with every change in their status, when the news isn't that they've gotten hired, launched a company, bought something expensive?


When their buddies can't find work, when their startups run out of money, when they start leaving town en masse, what will they do? Promise to stay Facebook friends?

Next I thought about Thalia's comment that for 'nerds' they didn't look nerdy. Why would they? They are young rich entrepreneurs with backers and family money. Does being able to program a computer make you a nerd. 

Facebook friends. I think we now have quite a few people in the world whose reality has been shaped by online life without being aware of the facades and ideologies that it presents. It also seems to quickly affect our total reality. The Cyprus 20 are geeks. Their businesses are start-ups (sounds like starts from nothing - having no resources or money). RPG gaming equals sitting in front of WoW. Friends are people you read about, and perhaps meet at the odd party. Dancing in a club to a DJ is underground or alternative. Dostoevsky's ghost is going to kill us all. 

Are you, or I, living in Matrix? Are we living a mental meta-life designed to feed into the intellectual vision of the Cyprus 20. They claim to create tools that allow us to input our own lives but that's a tall claim. Are we all familiar with the depth of thought and development that has already been observed by people who live a life of independent thought?

Did you know that pretty much the first recognized English Language Novel was self-referential and 'meta-'  - before itself was even a standard form. Ouch, there goes my mind.

Because, that's what 'meta' is all about isn't it? We, that is Web 2.0 users, are aware. We can choose our lives and beliefs. We can comment on life and contribute to it. Here's the news - people have been doing that for longer than the web has been around. And what's the difference. Isn't it in the ideologies? You can say it's all tools but the tools are used to create communities. We don't bang on about the usefulness of hammers when responding to architecture. Also - if you are choosing your lives and beliefs and living your dreams chiefly online, then you are in the Matrix, in the simple sense.

I don't see the same dynamics than when a group of friends sit face to face and talk out radical issues or tell stories. What about the vast amount of people in the world who don't have a home computer? Are they obsolete? Web 2.0 is not really a tool, it's a community that exists with structures and ideas. Ask yourself, how 'meta-' are you? I like communications and the internet but are you using it or is it using you. If blogging opens up participation and collaboration and that's all wonderful - then that must mean that it was not available in the 'real' world or existing models. Are we taking these ideals away from the desk? If not, let me say again: you - in - meta-matrix. 

I sometimes feel as if a neo-liberal Goebbels is melting our language and telling us we are free as long as we follow a certain model of freedom. Freedom to comment on comments on a live-feed in Facebook is not exactly freedom of action is it? Being part of a certain online community, itself a sub group of the group 'people who have a certain life where they can afford a home with a computer and the net' does not equal enlightenment. Enlightenment is making sense of your situation. Stepping out and looking back in with honesty. 

You see what I did there? I imagined there was a listener, that's you. There I go again! I then took a topic and started to kind of talk it out, exploring ideas and following links. Not really following a plan or trying to structure an argument that must convince, just letting the sparks in my brain spark away. Perhaps my friend in the cafe will ask the occasional question, not to refute or to 'win' but assist me on this interesting road. By the time I got around to this meta-ending I had formed some new ideas and found many roads not yet explored that I would like to travel in the future - freely.

So I ask you, is this the same thing as when you surf around the web? I don't know, I'm not you. That is if you exist outside of this blog.
Here's one for all you folk/world music fetishists. You know who are, Cold Fairyland fans. I got a surprise when I saw Bang Bang Tang again and saw they have expanded their material to include a number of influences and longer, more developed tracks. My bootleg footage really doesn't do justice to this one, but the vocals push through in the second half so stick with it. 

Without further ado ... Bang Bang Tang (Lollipop) live at YYT. This band are the pick of the local crowd at the moment.

Bang Bang Tang live @ Yuyintang

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bang bang tang october
I wandered over to a low key mid-week show at Yuyintang and ended up with the perfect antidote to some recent disappointments. The show was advertised on the Facebook group as "Chaos Mind etc" and I expected an empty place and a bunch of metal bands. What I got was a four band gig with good sound, cool people and strong upcoming bands.

The line up:

Pink Berries
Bang Bang Tang
Wang Yuezhe
Chaos Mind

I came in at the end of Pink Berries' set and we've heard a lot about them on here lately. Needless to say, I like them a lot. I'm going to see them on Saturday as part of another multi band show at SUS2, by my house. 

Bang Bang Tang were the real revelation. If it's that mysterious 'local allure' you're after, these guys have it. The crowd were pretty much all local except for me, and Nicky from the Blues Room, and they love this band. Bang Bang Tang played a good tight set, the guitar sound was spot on and their material has branched out a bit. As a punk fan, I winced a bit at some of the pop touches - the entire band doing coordinated left-right-up-down looks. However, I think some people are going to get a surprise when they see the vids later. 

Wang Yuezhe are a new band who play a kind of concept/folk metal. I saw them not so long back - read all about it. They played a short set and then it was time for some Chaos Mind. Chaos Mind are fronted by Sam, the sound guy at Yuyintang. I have a soft spot for metal and Chaos Mind are on the ball. It was a good night and I bumped into a bunch of friends there too. Members from bands like Little Nature and Crazy Mushroom Brigade were down for the show too. I don't entirely get it: Sonnet and Defy = dead to the local crowd, Bang Bang Tang = loving it and even got other band members out to support. I hear from my Hong Kong skateboarding buddy Mark Kong that Saturday's show at SUS2 (Gua'er) is going to be a popular one too. Watch this space.

Another interesting thing is that I have now heard, no names sorry, three different groups who are all planning to open a new venue like Yuyintang but bigger. The one who was looking at Hengshan Road has already been beaten to it though, I read today that Bar 288 are opening a second location down there soon. I hope it's more like a venue than a bar with stuff happening in the background. 

Defy live @ Yuyintang

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This post has been slightly delayed due to whatever it is that goes wrong with Shanghai Online's dns that makes access pop on and off at times. Of course, once this post is no longer the latest one then the previous statement becomes meaningless. And so begins the triple preface. Oh yes.

This second preface is a preface to the third and final preface to the post. Let me say that again ... preface. So, this post's preface mentions 'kung fu'. Kung fu is the only thing in my life that takes up even more time than music, but I almost never mention it in this blog because of the standard responses to mention of kung fu. The most common being a variation on either "I'm a black belt in Karate" or "Let me tell you why martial art X is superior to martial art Y". In the latter, Y is equal to whatever art you said you do. If you're really lucky you might get the bonus response, a lengthy explanation of mystical Qi powers or any standard variation on "I know a really really old weak looking guy who can blow you across the room with two fingers using magic." I've heard them all, if any one puts any of these in the comments on this post then they get the answer to fourth and final standard response to mention of kung fu, "Show me a move." The answer being "no".

And now the preface. This review may not be entirely accurate. Prior to attending the show I had been on a public holiday during which our kung fu class met every day. During the show I felt like I had hot pins stuck between my shoulder blades and also in my knees. I was so tired physically that I found it almost impossible to concentrate long enough to link up simple pairs of events. Like a question and its answer. I spoke to several people there, but have little memory of what it was about and tried to get by with use of the repeating the question in the form of an answer dodge. 

So, Yuyintang was strangely quiet around the advertised starting time of nine. And by that I mean it was the staff ... and me. What could it mean? Yuyintang gigs are usually full of locals who are early birds. As people started to trickle in it became apparent that it was going to be one of those pretty much all ex-pats shows. Party going ex-pats tend to come late, you see. Don't ask why, I have no idea. Anyway, no big problems there. Well done everyone for supporting local music.

First up was Sonnet. This band have been split for a while and have just got back together. They are a choppy guitar sound indie-rock band, not far away in style from TooKoo, who are well good. Here's the link for TooKoo's last show I went too, here. Sonnet do things a little bit differently, during one song they alternated between live drums and a drum machine. They seemed to have some early problems with the sound mix and when I turned around to look at the desk - there was no one there. Here's what happens in a resource-light underground scene with average equipment when someone isn't right there really taking care of the sound ... it sucks incredibly and sabotages the show. 

And on that point, it took Defy three aborted attempts to get their show started. The main vocal mic had either a dodgy cable or socket and was cutting out all show. It had to be continually moved just a little bit to that position where it didn't cut out. And this continued with no moves to try and replace it or anything sensible like that - that would be too easy. When they finally got going, the band weren't half bad. Defy traded in their punk style for rockabilly, with a double bass and everything. However, this was not psychobilly it was just straight up 50s rock. Once they had gotten through a song without tech problems, they got things going with a straight cover of Elvis' Hound Dog

It was at this point that I looked around. I was standing in a room full of assorted ex-pats who were mainly non-rock/indie people - and they were dancing to Elvis. I left. I must admit the fatigue played a large part. 

A quick mention. That night was also the first show put on by Brad Ferguson over at Anar Bar. The band was reggae act Wang Lei, who I'll see at Yuyintang in the near future. I'm a bit skeptical about the venue as it's kind of a back room in a restaurant. But, I will endeavor to check it out firsthand as soon as possible. 

Youtube channel top views and more

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It's almost a month since the last round up of the blog's Youtube channel so let's have another look. 

I appealed to people to promote their favourite videos by getting their friends to watch and sending it up the charts. This seems to have worked a bit in some cases, although Miniless Record's Self Party is still at the top. Darn it. We still haven't had a vid break out into the Youtube mainstream and pile up a ton of views yet either. Curses! Why aren't people queuing up to watch unclear, bootleg videos of amateur bands they've never heard of in a distant country they know nothing about? Beats me!

I do have a couple of other things to post about today so I'll get the short one out: Banana Monkey have split. Not only were they a good band who had stuck together and 'got good', they also did a lot of organising on the scene. Some of my favourite shows were the movie themed gigs down at the old Yuyintang. I first saw them and Happy Strings (now Momo) at Wolfman Attacks Yuyintang. Follow the link to have a listen and a nostalgic moment - here.

And now ... the current top six of my blog's mainly insignificant video channel:

1) Self Party play the Miniless Records showcase at Yuyintang: 168 views watch
2) Bang Bang Tang play Yuyintang: 158 views watch
3) Boys Climbing Ropes live at Control: 131 views watch
4) Hard Queen's August Yuyintang show: 108 views watch
5) Modern Cheese at Yuyintang: 101 views watch
6) The Rogue Transmission live at Control: 99 views watch

BCR and the Rogue Transmission blow the top six apart! Good show. Next step, one of the top six bands simply has to persuade some high traffic site like Shanghaiist to post their video and it will skyrocket into an utterly untouchable position. Or, if you want a real promo video, just ask. I have a flashy camera (Canon XL2) and a light and will do it for free/a laugh. 

Lastly, I saw that a piece mentioning Chinese rock music appeared in the Guardian's famous Comment Is Free section. So firstly:

The article in question - here
The nice guys at Danwei who broke the story - here

The piece is actually about fetish-ising things cos they're Chinese and judging them unfairly. It makes some interesting points (unintentionally). Namely, that even being 'positive' is bad if it's a stereotype. Anyway, the article is all over the place and I've no idea why it's in CiF. The main thrust is not really what I cover on the blog here either. She does mention Carsick Cars and The Subs. Apparently, the song Zhong Nanhai is not only about the brand of ciggie but referring to the Zhong Nanhai building in Beijing. Shows how much I know. I wonder if Alice also thinks it refers to the actual Zhong Nanhai, the South China Sea? Do we have a CSC lyrics expert on hand?

Youtube: Pink Berries live @ Yuyintang

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The Mi San Dao gig was a good time and I put videos of both bands on the channel. For those of you new to the blog, you can watch the back catalogue of videos here. You can also go there anytime through the link in the blog sidebar.

The support act, Pink Berries, are a new band on the Shanghai scene. They are the latest project of Tony Yu, also of Mortal Fools. I last saw them opening for Old Doll. I have a soft spot for simple style punk bands even when they are not that 'heavy'. Also, as Abe commented at the show, they take it seriously. So, never mind the support act sound mix, enjoy the raw product. 

Mi San Dao live @ Yuyintang

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I'd expressed some reservations about going to this show as I wasn't sure about exactly what type of skinheads Mi San Dao are. Lucky for me, they turned out to be anti-nazi old school punk. And they ruled.

I turned up to the show with Evans, my wife, and immediately bumped into some familiar faces. Frank from Mortal Fools, who was involved in putting the show on, Abe Deyo, 'Super' Sophia and Yixin too. There was a fair amount of people there considering the very specific style of the band and a diverse crowd at that.

First in were Pink Berries. They seem to take any opportunity to play a show and are hungry to improve. They did a good job for a new band and improved greatly on the previous show. The sound was clearer and their songs started to take shape as they got tighter. They also played an on-time and shortish set, about right for a support act. This always scores big points with me considering how many bands play comparatively huge sets peppered with monologues when they are the second band on from six. Pink Berries guitarist Tony brings the Rancid style riffs and ska but overall the band is teetering between punk and pop. Hopefully they can keep together and develop a strong style or look too. 

Talking of strong style, on came Mi San Dao. These guys have been doing it for over nine years now. They are skinheads, in every sense, and had a great presence. They were very professional players who put on a good show and didn't miss a note all night. They also had a great balanced set. They started out with the more hardcore tracks and then broke out the ska and anthems for the second half. Moshes and pogos broke out during the signature tracks much to the confusion of some random suit wearing bloke in the front. They rocked and even non-punks in the audience couldn't resist chanting along to the copious amounts of 'oi's in almost every track. 

I may have mentioned camera guy a post or two back and how it wasn't just me but also Abe who was getting really annoyed with it. Does this guy read my blog or is life just weird. A couple of songs into Mi San Dao, he again took centre front and hoisted his big pro camera up and stayed there all the time, getting in everyone's view/way. Then he seemed to gravitate towards Abe for some reason - and actually ended up camped right in front of him with the camera directly in front of Abe's face. And didn't move again.

At the end of the show we went to out to get a pic with the band, especially seeing as I'd recently shaved my head. I think the blog size photo is too small to see my expression though. That's maybe a good thing. Odd end note: we were walking back, buzzing from seeing a great band with a great attitude when I saw a full-on white stretch limo parked in front of C's bar. Unsurprisingly, a bunch of posers came falling out drunk and they were even whooping and yeah-ing. You can't bring me down, vacuous oxygen thieves. Oi!

pink berries

misandao group

Youtube holiday special: Notch Festival

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The No+ch Festival is a showcase of ambient and experimental bands from Norway and China that has been going a couple of years now and includes bands from other Scandinavian countries. To be honest, it's well outside of my usual likes ... but ...

This festival is organised by the guys behind Neocha.com. Neocha is a networking site for Chinese musicians and artists. Those guys are 'do-ers'. This is important in a small scene like ours, so I went down to one of the nights with Archie Hamilton, of Splitworks, to check it out and to support. I saw a few friends and peeps down there including Sean Leow of Neocha, who has done a great job on the event. Archie recommended we go the night Efterklang (Denmark) played and it was a good tip, they were good.

I genuinely enjoyed myself. The venue was aptly surreal, an 'Environmental Leisure Park' in the middle of a high tech manufacturing zone. Basically, it's a large greenhouse. Here's a meandering vid to give you a taste of the sights and sounds. The band is Tape (Sweden). 

Simon Pegg in the A.V. Club

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simon pegg
Simon Pegg has just done an interview on The A.V. Club in support of his new movie. Before I go on, you can read the interview in full here.

What surprised me about it, in the best possible way, is that I finally found someone else who understands a basic principal of culture that seems lost on 95% of people I talk to. Not only do people not get it, they fly into defensive, angry tones if you even suggest it. I assume this is because they understand the implications on a subconscious level at least.

So, here's the excerpt in question. Nice one, Simon!

AVC: This is probably a question you're sick of, but according to your Wikipedia entry your undergraduate thesis was on Marxist overview of popular '70s cinema and hegemonic discourses?

SP: Correct.

AVC: Could you give a Cliffs Notes version of what you said in this thesis?

SP: It was mainly about Star Wars and related works. It was mainly saying if you watch a movie that has inherent political messages, even if they're unintentional, and without critically objectifying yourself, you by consent agree with it. So if you have a film which is incredibly misogynistic, and you just watch it and enjoy it, you are a misogynist because you haven't been able to say, "Hey, wait a minute, that's putting forward an idea that women are to be demeaned." So in films like Star Wars and Raiders Of The Lost Ark there are certain social metaphors at work. Bomb-fear. A lot of big-weapon fear. Saying stuff like, say, "Big weapons are fine if you're good, and they're not fine if you're bad." The line, "Don't look at the ark" is a fantastic way of saying, "Just don't worry about stuff and it'll be fine. We have nuclear weapons, but it's none of your business." Also some of the sexual things going on, the gender relationships, the racial stuff that goes on, if you don't pick it out and say, "Hang on a sec. Isn't that saying that black people are stupid?" Then you're being racist by watching that movie. You agree with it.

Magazines and skinheads

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old thats cover
I saw the new That's Shanghai magazine today and was all excited. That's because they have been putting out a lot of stuff on local music lately with the music editor being ably supported by Lisa Movius and Ben Hogue. Here's the magazine's online site, urbanatomy

I caught the mag at a bad time it seems, this month they are having one of those complete redesigns that mags have from time to time. It's always confusing at first, like when the supermarket moves its shelves around and you wander aimlessly for several minutes with a vague mental picture of a loaf of bread floating around in front of you. The main effect this time is to blend all the writing in with the many many ads. That could be a step towards honesty, in this case. 

Prior to the redesign, the music section was well defined and well stocked. I still haven't made sense of it this time, but it seems not as good. They also slipped in a new 'nightclubbing' column by DJ Carl Lorimer, also infamous as the prolific reactionary net troll 'moneyinabox' - a big fan of my work. It's comment #4.

Anyway ... good news in Lisa's column, which doesn't seem to be called Rockpile anymore, or clearly defined as a regular column either. The budding indie label Soma have done a new CD which is a compilation of the bands who are currently recording with them for future solo releases. This includes Momo, Crazy Mushroom Brigade, Sarah Zhong Chi and Little Nature. The CD will be out through the normal channels of gigs and the one or two shops that do local CDs. The article does say that you'll be able to get it at Shanghai Book City though.

So. Looking at my options this weekend I came across another 'old school punk' gig at Yuyintang on Saturday. I got a surprise when I checked out the band's page in advance:

Mi San Dao on Myspace: here

That's right, they are devotees to the skinhead movement. Well, it appears to be more in musical and aesthetic style than anything else. It's interesting all the same. Back home (UK) I'd look at this fixture and think 'nah, I don't fancy getting stabbed this weekend' but hey, I watched 'This is England' recently and apparently there are subtle divisions between violent right-wing skins and violent right-wing skins with a specific racist politcal agenda. So maybe it's all OK. I think I'm going to check it out, all the same. 


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