Jiao Ban Two: Shanghai scene story of 2008
It is fitting that we have the next Jiao Ban show at the end of the year, especially for this blog. I've watched and wrote about these bands since the start and seen their stories explode (in Shanghai scene terms). I have to admit that it's all got very little to do with me, mind you. First up, here are the four bands playing the show on Saturday 27th:
The original Jiao Ban show did not include Candy Shop.
Momo have been around a while, previously under the name Happy Strings. I first saw them at the old Yuyintang and really liked them. I didn't get to see them so much near the start of 2008 and this whole story starts with the Mushrooms.
At the beginning of the year, they had been working super hard and were playing some great shows. I saw them rock the crowd at an early 0093 Showcase and wrote about them early on here - live @ Yuyintang. I also documented their first breakthrough into the ex-pat-iverse here. The singer Pu Pu had awesome presence and guitarist Jerry Li was coming up with great compositions. Next up was Little Nature. I first noticed them as a standout band and wrote it up for Shanghaiist here. They were tight and had catchy songs, immediately separating from the rest of the pack.
The next development was that the three bands had become friendly after playing together and hanging out at Bar 288 on Taikang road. They formed a collective called Jiao Ban and decided to put on a show at Yuyintang. I came across the flyer and speculated about the show in this post. At this point Happy Strings had changed their name to Momo Tuan. I went to the show and it was amazing - here's what I wrote. I came away thinking that it was a pity the scene was underground and hamstrung by the political climate. I thought that at least one of the bands would have been signed or at least snapped up by professional management in normal conditions. Before we go on, take a moment to re-live the show (article continues below).
And here's the thing. Not long after the show, I found out via Lisa Movius that the show had, in fact, cemented deals for all three bands with Soma. Soma are an art management company and their label venture turned out to be the Indietop project. Here's how the news was broken at the blog - more magazines and Little Nature.
In the run up to the Indietop extravaganza I caught the bands a couple of times. Little Nature played a great set at the 0093 Rockin' in the Free World show. Also playing that night were Candy Shop, who brought the house down with their signature track Wo Men. Here's a video of that too. Following that, I saw both Momo and Little Nature play at Gua'er in a low key afternoon show. Here's how that went - rock in the afternoon. And here's a video of Momo unplugged at the show - Momo. The Mushrooms played outdoors at the China Now festival but I didn't manage to get along. At this point I was still clueless as to the upcoming impact of the Indietop show, on the band's styles, that is.
Now. Enter Indietop. The three bands had some CD tracks in the bag and an Indietop compilation CD was about to come out. I heard some samples, which sounded over-produced and very pop and I also got ready for the showcase gig at Dream Factory which was to be a landmark event in the year. Here's the first post on it, here's the line up on the CD, here's my call to arms over supporting the show and finally here's the show review. Jerry had left the Mushrooms and all the bands had extra members added or major stylistic changes put on them by the label. I wondered if it could ever be the same again.
And now - at the end of a whirlwind year, the Jiao Ban is back at YYT. Indie labels are small in a small scene and the bands seem to be free to do their own thing too. If you talk to various people on the subject you'll find that even the established Beijing labels require the bands to foot most of the bill in return for services of questionable quality. Anyhow, I'm excited again about this show. It's their chance to show if they've still got it. The addition of Tianping Dian (Candy Shop) to the line up is welcome. Whatever the outcome/effect of Indietop on the Jiao Ban bands - Candy Shop put on a great show at YYT and it'll be a great way to round off the year.
Come along if you can and, come what may, let's give a final show of support to the most active Shanghai bands of the year. Think what you may of the music or styles, these are the bands who have advanced the scene this year through the fueling of a new label.
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