Casino Demon live @ Yuyintang
I have to start by apologizing for the photo for this post. It is a classic in the genre of nondescript afterthought pictures that Andy puts on his blog. Believe me, I'm actually very into photography but my main priority at shows is ... shock ... watching them. We're coming back to that later. Besides, don't the pictures and bootleg style vids add to the underground atmosphere?
So. Tonight's headliners were being talked up big time by scene people who are up in Beijing a lot (Dan). They did not disappoint so fair play. Let's start with the line up:
Fire Balloon (Beijing): myspace
This show was another S.T.D. production which meant a later start. But that also means a good opportunity for me to chat and find out what's going on. Not much to be honest, although I did witness a funny scene where by someone related to one of the bands just decided to take advantage of the free guest entry and bring about twenty people in unannounced. Certain managers were obviously a bit miffed at having the p*ss taken out of them and must have asked for a list to be made. Someone in the back must have then found that request a slight on their grandeur amusing as the list came back with names like Jesus, Barack Obama and Mao Zedong on it. It was funny. Really though, free guests, at a (poor and small) YYT show? Where's the Brad-inator when you need him?
So, on came Fire Balloon. Fire Balloon are a modern rock three piece in the mold of The Libertines. Well, you know, the style that the Libertines made popular again. They had some good songs and the singer/guitarist had a definite artist feel about him as he rambled off into some excellent guitar work and often seemed to be in another place (in the good sense). That got them through a clear but very support act sound and a broken bass string. There was another excellent turn out and the crowd seemed pleased. Behind me, Sam the sound guy was constantly face down on his lap top due to illness, but this didn't seem to cause any major problems either.
Next up are local favourites The Rogue Transmission. Since the summer break this band have played a lot of shows and put out their first CD. They have been working hard and the result is clear to see. People know the songs and come ready to have a good time. Prior to the show I was reading over at Layabozi that A.B.T. had become the anthem track for the Rogues. They were right. By the time they played the song, second from last in the set, people were dancing and going for it and there was a definite reaction there. The only drawback was the curse of the photographer who has no respect for the audience. I have moaned about this so many times before. This time, some girl who I haven't really seen there with a camera before was taking it to the next level. For the second and third track of The Rogue's Set she got up behind them on stage, pointed her powerful pro-flash at the crowd and proceeded to blind me over and over again.
When Casino Demon took the stage I wasn't entirely convinced. It's not like when The Subs take the stage and there's an air of expectation. They don't have a strong image and are very humble, unassuming guys. However, this doesn't matter when you have excellent tight, punchy songs with great hooks and a room chock full of people who are up for it. The dancing, jumping and moshing got under full swing and the band were very good at keeping the energy up and getting into next tracks without delay. Again, this band lists The Libertines among their influences and it shows. Zhang Haisheng tells me that this is very popular in the Beijing scene at the moment.
People who are not physically in the scene here might wonder why I have to make special mention every time a show has a lot of people and goes of well. That's because in this small scene, a show could equally be twenty people loitering in a near empty room. Good shows here are the result of hard work from everyone involved and are to be celebrated. The band were called out for an encore but had played all their material. They left us with a Joyside cover - always a popular move in China. Err ... should I say this? Despite the star factor of the real Joyside I felt that Casino Demon performed this much better than the real guys (who are always completely wasted).
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