January 2009 Archives

Hedgehog ahead of the curve?

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hedgehog flyerThe China underground music scene has many genres and trends, like any other. Big at the moment is either Kinks/Libertines/you-know-what-I-mean Brit rock or post-rock experimental. However, with a seismic change about to happen back in the UK, it may be Hedgehog that have the last laugh.

As odd as it sounds, there is a Yorkshire grunge scene and its best bands are now coming out with records. They range from obviously Nirvana-esque to a bit more musical in the Soundgarden vein. And they're all great.

So, while I'm supposed to be not posting for two weeks, here are some more listens for you:

Hedgehog (Beijing)

Yorkshire Grunge:

Dinosaur Pile-up - "My Rock'n'Roll"
The Old Romantic Killer Band - "Trouble Causer"
The Tempus - "Theives and Lovers"
Wonderswan - "Cut It"
Pulled Apart By Horses - "I Punched a Lion in the Throat"

Read this Guardian article about the same thing.

Listen to the full Indietop CD via Neocha

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I know I said I wouldn't be posting but potential posts are mounting up and I want to give you all something to listen to in the meantime.

I have blogged a lot about Indietop and don't really want to go through it all again. They are a label, they did a showcase, they made a compilation CD as a taster to some upcoming CDs. And now, they have a neocha page with the whole CD available to listen to. The CD features some guest acts who won't be recording with Indietop this year as well as their own acts: Momo, Mushrooms, Zhong Chi and Little Nature. I'm a big fan of track 13 which is King by No.33 Island.

So, no need to learn Chinese or surf away, here it is:


Chinese New Year: the show and the holiday

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new year gig flyer
The Year of the Ox is almost upon us. For non China residents I should explain that this means a week long public holiday and also half the people you know going back to their home cities for that time. Also, the holiday is only really three days and rather than just give you the rest of the time, you have to make it up by working weekends and overtime right after. It's either dead or nuts or up and down between the two.

So. Tonight is the night before the big one and Yuyintang are putting on a show. heres' the line up:

Banana Monkey
Cold Fairyland

It starts at 9.00 p.m. Yuyintang is directly next to the Line 3 station Yan'an Xi Lu. This will be the event to be at if you love alternative/DIY culture made by a community for each other. This is where you should be if holiday music makes you want to stick forks in your ears. 

I should also mention that I will be taking a holiday too. I know how bad this sounds, but i'm going to use the time to concentrate on finishing a novel (s). No - really. I have a professional set up for this and have been slack in handing stuff in. There won't be any new blog posts for twelve days, when YYT hold the 8th Rock 0093 showcase. So Happy New Year to all and I'll leave you with my own specially penned line for the Year of the Ox:

牛year,牛B !

Jue Festival Photos and bonus throwdown

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New Shanghaiist writer Elaine Chow has just posted up a photo gallery of the two Jue Festival shows I blogged here. There's a lot of pics and you should go there and check them out

I notice there's a bunch of gig/blog regulars cropping up in the pics, perhaps you recognize yourself in my little montage below? No me, I'm afraid, although Abe Deyo posted one of me in the Demerit mosh on Facebook. Good catch, I was only in there for two songs.

Quick comment. That Elaine knows how to tag her blog posts correctly. There are a number of different phrases and word you can choose to describe the scene ... she happens to go with shanghai music scene and shanghai underground. Yup, the blog category name and the Youtube channel name. Is this a Google ranking throw down? Seriously though, it's good to see someone at Sha-iist covering shows again. This blog is watching you, mwa ha ha.

jue montage

Youtube: Demerit live @ Jue Festival

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I saw six bands across two nights at the Jue Festival and got some footage for the channel. As well as the video i'm posting here you can see Pinkberry and Ourself Beside Me by clicking on the names.

Demerit are a hardcore punk act from Qingdao who live in Beijing to be in the scene. They started to develop the music by adding a guitarist and experimenting with more riffs. Demerit won the Friday night headlining slot on a reputation as excellent live performers and it was well justified. So check it out.



The Mushrooms update their online profiles

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pu pu bleachHaving been signed by Soma's Indietop label, had a line up change and shortened their name from Crazy Mushroom Brigade to just The Mushrooms (Mogu Tuan) ... takes breath ... The Mushrooms have lately updated their online homes to reflect their new selves.

They now have an official Douban artist page with promo shots and a track from the upcoming CD:

Douban page for The Mushrooms

Singer Pupu has also made a new Tudou channel for preview clips and updates:

Pupu @ Tudou

From here on out I'm going to use the English tag The Mushrooms for articles on the band so keep that in mind when searching for older posts. So yeah, older posts. Let's do a retrospective:

Crazy Mushroom brigade live @ YYT
Video: CMB live @ YYT
Crazy Mushroom brigade enter ex-pat thought
YYT's Lin Lin picks CMB in interview
Jiaoban One @ YYT
Video: Jiaoban One
Indietop release compilation CD
The Mushrooms debut new line up at the Indietop Showcase

Jue Festival two: Maybe Mars showcase

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Round two. Tonight's Jue Festival show at the Dream factory was the Maybe Mars showcase. To start you might want to check the bands and label out. AV Okubo don't seem to have a page though, fill me in in the comments if I'm wrong.

Quick shout out first. On the way to the show I stopped by the Neocha second birthday bash in their basement art studio/office. Neocha provide a networking site where artists and musicians can display their work and demos in their profiles. I often use it to link Chinese bands. Happy Birthday guys! Keep up the good work. If you go to the site - here it is - you can download a desktop mp3 player (the Next player) that goes through their entire database of Chinese indie music. Do it.

So. Tonight's show got the turn out it deserved. By mid way through the night it was nicely full and there was a great atmosphere. There was a lot of buzz about each band too. First up was AV Okubo. Everyone I bumped into at the show was telling me how good these guys are. I was a little surprised. With the tight rock combo, black suit and shirt type outfits and synth sounds I thought I'd been transported back into the eighties. They played a good set but not special. Next, everyone was lining up to tell me how usually they are much better, when I didn't seem so impressed. So obviously these guys are turning heads now and we will have to wait for their first CD on the label.

Snapline got a great reputation last year playing high energy shows of upbeat guitar punk with a modern nerdy edge and use of a drum machine. This included a legendary show at Logo in Shanghai. Their CD Party Is Over Pornostar scored big points too. They threw everyone a curve ball tonight by ditching their old sound completely in favour of a more slow and spacey electronic approach. It was still very cool, a recurring theme of the night, for those who like that kind of music and got a good reception. Now I was getting eager to hear Ourself Beside Me, who i'd come to see.

The three girls took the stage and succeeded where I'd seen The Molds fail not so long back. They launched into an uber-cool set of atmospheric anthems that was almost dismissive of the audience altogether. They twanged out cool riffs, sang mopey half spoken vocals, went at their own pace and played long stretches with their backs to the audience - but all with purpose and clear orchestration. They are on another plane of cool-ness that went way over my head but created a great atmospheric set. 

Full disclosure, I bailed for Carsick Cars. Sorry about that, ran out of energy. Little observation. A few parallels between tonight and the Indietop showcase. Both a label showcase put on at Dream Factory (the closest we have to mid-scale touring venues). Both well attended. But where as Soma's Indietop do was characterized by over managed bands with new hairdos and styles, intro segments with ads and an MC explaining everything through the night - Splitworks just let the bands do the talking for themselves. 

Jue Festival one: Pinkberry and Demerit

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andy at jue
If I don't preface this, readers surfing in might get the impression that the two Dream Factory shows are the entirety of the Jue Festival. 

The Jue Festival is a multi venue event in two cities over two weeks. I'm covering the two indie gigs that feature guitar bands. It's still going on - here's the schedule. It's being put on by Splitworks.

Let me go to a new paragraph to explain things here. Splitworks put on larger pro shows and usually finance this by booking name acts from abroad. This time they are putting on two nights of Chinese bands at a time where the rest of the scene is slow. You might want to thank them by actually turning up to the shows.

I was hanging with Louis Yu, a college radio DJ based in Canada, tonight. Louis is a little different to most scenesters/musos in that he has a sideline in being a PhD researcher in computers and last worked at NASA. Don't hold it against him. As you might have guessed from the end of the last bit, the turn out was not as good as hoped and it's a larger venue. But never mind that, there was enough people to have a great time and a great time was had by all. As promised by Splitworks' Archie Hamilton the sound was of a higher standard to previous shows at the Dream Factory and there were some impressive amp stacks at the back of the stage.

Pinkberry came on first and, as usual, singer Xiao You was a standout with her great voice and attention to image. I got close in, well lit footage this time so be sure to check the channel. Pinkberry are solid and have good songs, what they need to get up to the next level is to be full-time. Jake Newby has an article on them coming up in That's Shanghai which is the other thing they need: more support. There are not that many new Shanghai bands with ambition like Pinkberry and we have to get behind all of them. Kudos to Splitworks for giving them a spot at the show. And while I'm on about Shanghai bands with great potential who deserve our support, keep your eyes open for Hard Queen in the near future.

Demerit, on the other hand, have reached the next level and fully deserved their reputation. They were worthy headliners with a great set of hardcore punk/metal songs. They were so good, in fact, that despite the hall not being that full they got everyone up front and moving. I was internally debating whether they were still really punk or if they'd crossed over into traditional metal in the vein of early Metallica and Iron Maiden. This was settled in my mind when they played two ballads with classical guitar arrangements and solos. Their riffing was sublime and they know how to rock a show. 

Next up at Jue is the Maybe Mars Showcase tomorrow/today (Saturday). See you there.

Site Update: Channel embed

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new gadget
As we all know, Youtube was bought by Google but up until now we didn't see much product crossover.

I was just uploading some Jue Festival videos when I noticed that some ready to use code was added to my channel under the heading embed this channel. I tried it out and it's a Google Gadget that displays your channel name and subscribe button while allowing you to scroll through the videos. 

So. Go to the My Youtube Channel page to see what it's like. That's the update. The channel page is now the gadget of the channel.

Bye for now.
dracula loves pussy
It's time for an 'other' post. That's all I have to say about that.

I was just reading an article in the Guardian's science page about Victorian literature. It seems that some scientists in the states, apparently oblivious to sociology and literary criticism, decided to study the relationship between those novels and the society of the time. Because, no one has ever done that before, obviously. They concluded that literature is not only shaped by society but it influences it too (paying attention to GCSE English could have saved some grant money there) and that ... wait for it ... the values in the novels helped 'us' develop altruistic genes.

Altruistic from dictionary.com

Here's the article I'm about to quote: Victorian novels helped us evolve into better people

From the article:

The despicable acts of Count Dracula, the unending selflessness of Dorothea in Middlemarch and Mr Darcy's personal transformation in Pride and Prejudice helped to uphold social order and encouraged altruistic genes to spread through Victorian society, according to an analysis by evolutionary psychologists.


Their research suggests that classic British novels from the 19th century not only reflect the values of Victorian society, they also shaped them. Archetypal novels from the period extolled the virtues of an egalitarian society and pitted cooperation and affability against individuals' hunger for power and dominance. For example in George Eliot's Middlemarch, Dorothea Brooke turns her back on wealth to help the poor, while Bram Stoker's nocturnal menace, Count Dracula, comes to represent the worst excesses of aristocratic dominance.

So. I'm going to go right ahead and mark this science project: fail

How do I know this? Well, it's a combination of many factors that were nicely tied up by degree level study of this literature and society thing. There's spending time in the real world, a passing knowledge of history, having actually read the books they mention, basic research on the authors and their background ... to name a few. Obviously, there's no way to do a detailed study in a blog post so here's a taster.

Let's do Dracula 101, as the study hilariously thinks it's about the excesses of the aristocracy. Oh. That first sentence has brought something up. We better include it. You see, if you, for example, happen to think that male rule of females in society is normal and just fine and dandy, then you're not going to think it's bad are you? If those ideas are internalized completely, you might not even notice them in a piece of literature.You might even look at a whole genre of literature shot through with the values of empire, race, class, nationalism, subservience and chauvinism and call it altruistic

The meaning might even be dependent on the reader and only exist at the moment of interaction between the two. Well, we can take a fucking guess. I'm just illustrating what a tricky thing it is.

So Dracula. I like that book and have read it a bunch of times. We have the classic vampire legends woven into a narrative with characters. There are the elements: vampire, castle, wolves, gaseous form, crypts, minions (Renfield). And then we have the story and ideologies woven into it by Bram Stoker. 

Outside of the vampire elements it is a story about two young women and their passage into married life. That's not my reading of it - that's the basic events in the book. If you don't agree then I might respectfully suggest that you haven't read the original novel in full, certainly not recently.

Looking at the characters, their actions and their relationships and outcomes the central theme of the book is clearly that women should know their place. There's Lucy, carefree, flirtatious and sexual. Killed and turned, then killed again. There's Mina, polite, restrained, loyal to her man - lives. The women in the book are utterly useless victims. Again no room in a shortish blog post but read it yourself to find a gold mine of examples.

And let's not forget the obvious. The late Victorians and next generations went on to expand the brutal racist Empire to legendary proportions and kicked off two world wars, the butcher's slab of history. How altruistic was that? 

And now my suggestions for next time: the concept of scientific method is sound so the test results suggests many problems. Let's pick just one. I'll go with the involvement, at all levels of the study, of sociopaths with little concept of what altruism actually means in a practical sense. Don't give up hope, chaps. There are courses in this kind of thing you can take.

Other people's Youtube: Joyside clip

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This is all Beijing. I just came across this clip that was posted only a couple of weeks back. Regular readers will recognize it as the music from my recent spoof video. China music fans will just recognize it, it's a classic.

So, sit back and enjoy a quality clip of Joyside performing Sunday Morning at D22. You might also want to read more about the D22 and Maybe Mars Records community here and here at China Music Radar. The Maybe Mars showcase is on this weekend on Saturday night as part of the Jue Festival.

boys climbing ropes shoot
When I'm writing up magazine articles and linking their online versions, there's one name always absent. 

Smart Shanghai is a major webportal for the ex-pat crowd and since Morgan Short is the editor (and also in one of the regular bands on the scene) he posts up a lot of stuff about music. I was previously loathe to mention that site because of it's infamous forum, a magnet for bigoted trash. Well, the forum is closed these days so there you go.

Morgan's band, by the way, is the excellent Boys Climbing Ropes. Go immediately to their Myspace page before reading on. They are an indie/folk/punk combo with great songs and one of the few bands doing something outside of the usual genres.

So, for whatever reason, Morgan has prefaced his write up of the in progress Jue Festival with an essay on why he thinks the scene here is good. 

It's inspired by people back home asking him why he's in China. He asked them what it was like in the music/arts back home and found that it sucked. Here's a quote:

This year, living in China was easier to justify than previous years, because this year I made a point to ask all my friends in bands, friends working in recording and producing, friends in media, and friends doing DJ parties, about how their life was going in terms of the public and critical reception of their work, and if they still enjoyed what they were doing -- if it was still "worth it" in the 2-double-0-9. 

From the varied group of people I talked to the common thread was dejection -- dejection with having anything to do with the "music industry." Really good bands I knew from way-back-when has stopped touring, DJs were sitting around not doing anything or presiding over the death of their styles, people working in recording were forced into commercial work, and just a general feeling of drained malaise was shared by all. 

And here's another:

And thus the defense of living in Shanghai: 

Because there is no real possibility of people making real money on music, because there are only a few places to do it in, and because there just isn't really a dominating audience for one genre of "underground music" over another, everybody is sharing audiences, everybody is sharing venues, and the people who are involved in making the 'soundz from the underground', such as they are, find middle grounds to collaborate with one another. 

I agree wholeheartedly about music back home. The lower reaches of the scene do suck for all the reasons he quotes. I've not been going to many techno shows myself mind you. There's still a few people i'd like to ban from shows. Yeah, watch more diverse stuff but have some standards. 

When STD put on a show with Hedgehog then played dance club music between bands it just reminded me of the opening to Irreversible where the guy got his head stoved in with a fire extinguisher. Also, after a merciful break, the big-flash photographers with no respect were back again for DOA. Pointing their huge powerful blinding machines back into the crowd during moshes ... continuously ... through every song. Unfortunately for me, I was stuck directly behind P***z, a serial offender of the worst kind that thinks shows exist as a kind of personal studio.

Err, so yeah, read Morgans stuff.

Youtube: The Way live @ Yuyintang

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The Way are a Brit-style Indie rock band from Shaoxing, a famous town a couple of hours on the train south of Shanghai. This is their second trip up to Yuyintang since I started the blog. The Rogue Transmission played with them down in Ningbo and a few more people showed up this time around.

So, here is The Way showing that being away from one of the larger cities/scenes has no effect if you happen to have talent and be super cool.

The Way live @ Yuyintang

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Tonight was officially a Brit Pop night (actually a British style indie night where the bands play all original material) at Yuyintang and The Way were coming up from Shaoxing to headline. Strangely enough, they came up to headline the last one and I made an observation that The Way rocked and it should have been properly marketed as a The Way show. The same thing happened again tonight.

Read the review of the last show here. I mistakenly refer to Hanging Gardens as Empty Garden in that one.

So, tonight's show had three bands on the bill, of which none have a quality page to link, sorry. The Way have just registered a neocha page but there's nothing there right now. A video is on the way. Here is the line up:

Jing Sui
Kongzhong Huayuan (Hanging Gardens)
The Way

Jing Sui were a nice surprise. They are a brand new band and no one had any expectations. They took the stage and went confidently into a four songs set with a great sound. The songs were very well put together and the crowd really liked them. They sound in the same vein as Radiohead and despite a slip here and there, won a lot of new fans tonight. Kongzhong Huayuan are supposed to be on their way up with a CD in the works and a small following building up. This wasn't a good night for them. Singer, Stone, seemed to have his mind elsewhere as he was checking his mobile phone on stage right up until the second he started. Then they kicked off and the sound was rough and all kinds of technical problems kept cropping up. About half the room wandered off for a drink and the band couldn't regain the energy they showed in the first track. Stone seemed to lose his temper a bit and stop singing at one point and then they cut the set short just before the end of the third song.

The Way, on the other hand, seemed to have everything going for them. They had a crystal clear thumping loud sound and they rocked from the get go. They have come a long way since the last show and have a great well developed set. This reminded me of the Casino Demon show a lot but The Way's frontman is on another level of charisma. At one point he 'did a Subs' and joined the crowd for a dance and pogo while the band played a tight instrumental. Like I said last time. This show was an after thought and it should have been properly supported and marketed as a The Way show. Let's hope someone brings them back for a future 'big show' in 2009.

Youtube Channel: Best of 2008

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It's about this time in the month where I write up the top six viewed videos on the blog's channel. If you're not familiar then you can check this out, as it's a bit different today.

This time around is the best videos of 2008. Cue fanfare ...

There will be three videos and I will choose them myself, for my own reasons. Usually, it's all decided on views. In keeping with the usual spirit of things, you might want to revisit the most popular video of 2008. Also, since that's a special case, you should also check out the most viewed underground gig video of 2008 here. Right, so let's get going.

In reverse order:

Number Three: Casino Demon (BJ) play Yuyintang. This song is amazing, it's called Wa Ha Ha. Typical blinking lights from short staffed Yuyintang but the song's energy and clarity in my sh*tty video is a reflection of how good they are. Casino Demon - as good as any pro-band back West in this style but with none of the pretension.

Number Two: Pinkberry blast off. The fastest riser on the Shanghai local scene play in the middle of a multi act show to a half empty room, but they don't care. They have no idea how not to play with energy and commitment. Sorry about the lights again, but all the energy and hook writing is in there.

Number One: The Subs finish the year at Dream Factory. Coincidentally also a non-blinking video. The Subs are the best live act in China and what's more their songs are diverse and engaging. What More is one of the best, check it out.

Bonus moment: It was also a good year for newcomers Candy Shop. And for anyone who doubts their abilities with their regular songs check this out first. They rocked the multi act showcases with their short but energetic sets and improved at record speed. What surprised the most, though, was their ability to connect with the local audiences. I was at two shows where after just four songs at a low key show, the fans wouldn't let them go. Both times the band pulled out a previously unheard practice room bonus track to jam on and had the crowd going like old hands rolling out the hits for the faithful. So watch on, Candy Shop joking around an yet ruling over other new band's best efforts:

Dong Zi / folk night @ Yuyintang

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 warm songs flyerTonight was the 'warm songs for a winter's day" folk night at Yuyintang.

This was a rough continuation of the Dew 11 showcase involving some of the same artists and organisers. Read about the first show here: Lushui Shiyi CD release

This time around the big draw was folk artist Dongzi. You should start by listening to his Western China flavoured songs at his page right here.

I want to start with the good. These guys are very similar to the Miniless collective in that they do good marketing. They have flashy tickets, flyers and a selection of their artist's CDs that are always available at the shows. Yuyintang was full again, I got there quite early but was in the 180's.

Here was the complete line up:

冬子 (Dongzi)
乔小刀 (Qiu Xiaodao)
cover people
蘑菇红 (Mogu Hong)
吴雪颖 (Wu Xueying)

Of these, only Dongzi and Mogu Hong have decent pages. If anyone knows of others that I'm not aware of, post them in the comments.

The show was actualy a big let down. The artists and the sound was all taken care of by the show organisers but it was misjudged. There were seven bands on, five before main draw Dongzi, and they were allowed to ramble on, talk for minutes between songs and generally play to the front row of their friends as if there wasn't 200 paying punters right behind them. The sound was so quiet that acts couldn't be heard at all at the back of the packed room. 

Before I add the final remark, regular readers know I almost never say negative things in that annoying paternal way that so many scenesters do. In fact, Brad was half joking with me that my big upping of everyone verges on misrepresentation. Alas, this time there's no way to not say it without being dishonest - a good half the artists tonight were simply not competent enough live to go in front of a paying audience. And I have got very very low expectations. I'm happy to see any band and hang with friends ay YYT. A couple of artists who sound ok on their MP3s took the stage with an acoustic guitar and played so poorly that the music was merely a tinny buzz, not to mention painfully out of tune - accompanied by a barely audible weak whisper.

As you will know if you went to the page, Dongzi is an interesting artist and despite the quiet sound he was worth the wait to hear. Also, Yuyintang have made some mid-week changes. The stage is now higher and the bar has been cleverly extanded via a hole in the wall so you can stay in the main hall and get a drink. Both of these are reactions to the turn out for Sound Toy last week. 

bar 288
The story I'm about to comment on was first broke at China Music Radar here and then reported at Shanghaiist here

University radio presenter Louis Yu decided to spend part of his China trip seeing a local band and chose the Melting Pot. How unfortunate. His review of the terrible experience is now posted at the CMR link above. That's the Taikang Road branch pictured, this story is about the newer Hengshan Road branch. But, believe me, the story goes for both. 

I definitely do don't want to come across as all I told you so but let's also revisit some blog posts on the same subject first:

Here's a quote from the last of my three posts. Does it sound familiar (to anyone who's been there)?

The warm up act was in fact a crooning KTV guy singing pop hits to a backing track. Why? Whhyyyyy!!?? Because it was someone's birthday party. Yes, they let someone have their birthday do at the bar on a gig night and put they show back to 11.45 to accomodate a round of KTV crooning and some announcements etc. This is totally normal in the local stylee bar environment and dice shakers continued unabated.

So, here's a quote from when Louis went to see Cold Fairyland on New Year's Eve:

I went into the melting pot and asked the waiter" is cold fairyland playing?" "uh?" "band, is there a band?" "yeah, yeah band..." "what band is playing" "I don't know, new, new band" "do I have to pay for a ticket?" "no, no free". I sat down and it took me a while to clue in that cold fairyland was just some bar band that night ...

...Then he tried to continuously participate in the band's game, until Lin Di (the Pipa player and the leader of the band) said "no you had enough", and he proceeded to tell his friends to go on stage and participate in the game.For one of the games he was asked to give his fav number, in which he said "oh my fav number, beside cold fairyland's promotional number (WTF) is the number 69″, and then he looked around the room and laughed proudly. At that point I wanted to throw my glass at him. Another game he was asked what his fav animal was by which he said "pussy...", and another one, he finally won the game, and the band member gave him a gift, in which he pulled out a condom from his pocket and gave it back to the band member...

What more can one say? There are places like Live Bar and Yuyintang that get it. There are people like 0093 who live in windowless basement rooms in order to push new local bands. There are people like Frank from Mortal Fools and Splitworks pushing for larger events. There are even Indie Labels popping up. Louis adds that some famous bands he has spoken with lately said that they started out in places like that. The debate is, is mismanaged bad exposure better than none? I say - with places like YYT to play at and an established community of locals who know how to present their music, it will hurt you. This is because the choice is not between bad and nothing, it's between bad and something. 
Rock 0093 is a rehearsal studio down on Ling Ling Road. But, they are much more than that. Over the past year they have introduced a wealth of new bands and musicians to the scene with some of the better groups starting to really break through now. 

As well as running the rehearsal space they also organize a regular showcase gig for their bands at Yuyintang. They also produce CDs for selected artists and run a shop (online only at the moment) for local band's CDs. Some links from previous posts and the shop too:

Coming up, 0093 will hold their 8th showcase at Yuyintang. This one is loaded with very new bands and they only provide links for two out of eight acts. It's on 6th of February and here's the line up:

Da Fresh 大新鲜乐团
Ziyou Shu 自由数
Jing Shui 静水乐队
Tu Bian 突变乐队
My Chilly Hurt
Kuangxiang Jiqiren 狂想机器人 (crazy robots)
Rovers (Led Zep cover band)

There's also a funny thing going on in the Douban group for 0093, namely the announcement of a new CD that will be called, ahem, "Indie Underground One" and released, ahem, on April Fool's Day. There's even a playful line about April Fool's and Indietop at the bottom of the post:

4月1日 愚人节 和<INDIE TOP>交相辉映

For all those who know Chinese. 

I posted a comment joking about it and fishing, unsportingly, in advance as to if it's a joke or not to which they cheekily replied 山寨版 shan zhai ban. Shan zhai ban is slang for those copy products that mimic a brand name exactly but change one letter in the name or whatever. I hope it is real, check out the proposed track listing (with more TBC including Candy Shop and Bang Bang Tang):

伍角星 - 对白 (Wu Jiao Xing)
胶壳乐队 - 大公鸡 (Joker)
香蕉猴子 - Double Trouble (Banana Monkey)
Pinkberry - Beauty Doll 
望月者 - For Those Who Suffer (Wang Yue Zhe, Moongazer)
空中花园 - Another Grateful Day (Kongzhong Huayuan, Hanging Gardens)
顶楼的马戏团 - 上海欢迎您 (Top Floor Circus)
P&P - 相信 

By the way. It's real. 

Mylaowai responds over 'Bus Dialogues'

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I recently called out Mylaowai.com over his racist poem page 'Bus Dialogues', the whole blog is much the same. 

Better start off by reading why again if you're not sure:

And now he has responded, and so has blogger Sinosceptic in the comments. This is great as healthy debate from differing points of view is what makes the world go round. Sorry about the he, Mylaowai, your blog doesn't indicate your real name.

Seriously, this is what it's all about. So let's begin. And in case any of you tried to read 'The Bus Dialogues' to see what the fuss was about and found it gone or edited for phrases such as 'slit-eyes', I have a stored and dated version you can request. Here's an example:

A Prayer:
Our Father who art in Heaven,
Chinese be thy shame!
Those filthy scum,
Cowards that run,
What the Hell were you thinking?
Give them this day
In any possible way
A toothbrush and knowledge to use it.
This Celstial Kingdom,
Some power, no glory
Not clever for ever

And another:

A Haiku:
If you had no balls,
And your slit-eyes saw laowai,
How would you feel lah?

Here's  part of what I said:

This is Chinalyst's top blog of 2008. A continuous stream of hate and insults with zero analysis on the subjects it claims to care about. The owners of Chinalyst seem to have no problem with this and don't even add a disclaimer to the announcement congratulating Mylaowai on the win.You've got to assume that's because they have no personal problem with the content. But even if they pull the we-just-collect-the-feeds or free-speech defense - it was voted the best by a large margin: Shame on us.

Here's the counterpoint from Sinosceptic:

Dear all, I seem to have lost my bowling ball. Could you please insert a (dry) finger and check up your assholes to see if it's up there? It might be hiding just inside your sphincter, somewhere close to your sense of humour that you lost a long fkn time ago.
Best regards, Fkn NOT,

And here's part of the response from Mylaowai, please read his full statement here, in which he likens calling out racism to a decline of hard fought Western values affected by failed artists:

In Hong Kong, there is a name for people like him: FILTH. Failed In London, Try Hong Kong. China has more of these losers than one can shake a stick at, and they love it here. They love it because here they can pretend they are important, here they don't have to be productive, here they can sit with their friends late at night in dimly lit apartments smoking weed and congratulating each other on not taking orders from The Man, and complaining about how the West is so bad. In a previous age, these people would have attempted to defect to the Soviet Union, although to be fair, the Russians were smart enough to see these useless idiots for what they were.
If this is what your average Chinese sees when he sees a foreigner, it's no wonder they hate us so much.

Actually, the rights and freedoms issue is a good one to bring up, why not? So, I rejoin and allow me to quote the hard fought for but vastly ignored Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, which was linked in the comments over at Mylaowai's post by Justrecently.

    Article One.

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Perhaps Mylaowai, or Sinosceptic, would like to explain the connection between the perceived decline of Western values, the speculations about my lifestyle and him referring to all ethnic Chinese as dirty and 'slit-eyed' ... not to mention saying that god made a mistake creating them and it wouldn't bother him if all of them were killed?
I previously mentioned that SH Magazine folded and how it was a shame because the staff there were really improving it. Jake Newby was really leading the music coverage there too. I also mentioned that I had contributed to the final issue, a death themed satire of the mag itself - which was then pulled.

Well, Shanghaiist have got hold of the pre-print PDFs and published them at their site. I have to say, it's well funny, even in it's slightly edited form. 

Read the story at Shanghaiist here.

I contributed a song to the music feature Exit Songs along with a group of music scene people. They include Archie Hamilton of Splitworks, Sean Leow of Neocha, promoter Abe Deyo and even Yuyintang owner Zhang Haisheng.

Click into the full post below for the whole issue if you didn't already at Shanghaiist. The feature is on page 20.

Upcoming shows I'm off to in January

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 warm songs flyer
Believe me, I still have no plans to start any kind of listings or be a regular website type thing. So, be clear, this is not everything that's going on in Shanghai, it's just what I'm thinking of doing. This is often determined by the distance between my house and Yuyintang, i.e. a short walk. 

I don't think this month is slowing down, but ... the schedules are not filled out as far in advance as they were lately. It's a Yuyintang weekend for me first:

Friday 9th: "Warm songs for a winter's day" showcase featuring seven bands in the folk style. That's the flyer pictured. Mogu Hong (Red Mushroom) is the only familiar name for me. Check her out.

Saturday 10th: A Brit-pop style night featuring Shanghai's own Hanging Gardens and The Way from Ningbo. The Way are really cool, check out an older review. While you're at it, read a magazine feature on Hanging Gardens here.

Sunday 11th: Abe Deyo brings legendary Hardcore Punk act D.O.A. to Shanghai who will be supported by one of the hottest bands in China right now, Demerit. Look ahead in the post to find another show by Demerit and check them out here

For all you stalkers out there, do stalk me, no problem. You know, as long as you are the talking type and not the stabbing type. Don't know anyone in the scene? No one else going to the show with you? Drop me a comment or a mail (via the about page) and we'll go together or meet there. It's all good. After just one show you'll be able to dump me for all your new found friends! Or your money back!

Continuing ... 

Friday 16th and Saturday 17th at Dream Factory: Up to the larger venue for the Jue Festival. On Friday is the main Demerit show that also features Pinkberry. Then on Saturday we have the Maybe Mars showcase with Ourself Beside Me, Carsick Cars and Snapline. These shows are being put on by Splitworks who are adamant about splashing out on pro sound set-ups and trained sound engineers. I'm especially looking forward to Ourself Beside Me.

Looking into my crystal ball I see one more show planned in advance. It's at YYT on Saturday 24th and features Sonnet, Banana Monkey and Cold Fairyland. Sonnet have been getting tight again and Banana Monkey are a big deal on the scene ... remember this story? This will be the first time I check them out since they re-formed. 

Ok, that's all for now. Now to figure out my Douban problem. I have a bunch of friends there, mostly local and all of whom I see have been to the same shows. The problem is that 80% of Douban users use nicknames and avatars that are not their own pictures ... and have no indication of who they are in their profiles either. It's like the thing with getting an "it's me" text and not wanting to say "yeah, but who are you?" in case you offend someone you know. Arse.

Other people's Youtube 6.cn: More Pinkberry

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Here is some better footage of Pinkberry from the show last night. This features their newest track that they were debuting at the show. It was produced by RockSH ... yes, my arch-nemesis Monopod Guy! While he has made an arrangement with YYT to stay at the back, the footage clearly shows he has a sidekick. Curses. 


Photo Special: This one is for you, James

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Dear James

dear james
From Andy.
joe queer
Yeah, that's right. I usually don't write up non-China based bands who come over because it's not related to the blog. But all that goes out of the window when it's ...The Queers! Have I mentioned that I'm a punk fan? Have I mentioned that The Queers and Screeching Weasel are like, the best bands ever?

So, Abe Deyo brought them over for a five date China tour. Opening for them was Pinkberry. Loudspeaker were on the bill too but inexplicably never showed at soundcheck. Not much to write here. Pinkberry played a good set but the room was only just starting to fill by the time they were finishing. Xiao You was looking tip top and seemed a bit disappointed in the audience who were chilling but appreciative while she gave her usual good performance. I mention this (tip top) as it pertains to later events. Anyhow, I uploaded a video of Xiaobudian. 

Then The Queers took the stage. Everyone got in the room and from the get go the first three rows or so exploded. At first I was watching star struck from the sidelines, not quite believing that Joe Queer was really on stage at little Yuyintang in Shanghai. But, as the set went on and the classics came out I had to get up there. They played Punk Rock Girls and I braved the moshers in my thoroughly knackered state. They did an encore and closed with an absolute stormer ... Joe Queer announced "This one is for Pinkberry" and then launched into She's A Firecracker. Ha. 

Apologies, I'm just a drooling fanboy tonight. Note to other organizations bringing in overseas bands to enrich the scene: Screeching Weasel.

Also, when Matt got nailed and ended up sprawled on the stage, he somehow managed to nick two plectrums. And he gave one to me. Matt Yeh = hero.

January Magazines, more Jue Festival

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urbanatomy maybemars
A quick word to the uninitiated. I'm here in Shanghai. Sure loads of people can speak some English and they make most of the signs and services in English too but there's no obligation to go beyond that. Hence, the only English language magazines we have are the ex-pat listings type. That's just in case anyone was wondering why I never seem to review actual music magazines. We have the net anyway, so it's no big deal.

So, SH Magazine and their intrepid reporter Jake Newby were really picking up the slack with scene coverage ... and then the publisher decided to axe the whole operation. The soon to be legendary final edition - The Funeral Edition - was also vetoed at the last minute. Shame that because I popped up in a great feature. That's another Andy Best bit done but then consigned to limbo ... hello, Layabozi.

Speaking of Layabozi, they have a review up of the Xmas Day show that I missed: Luke Leighfield. Also, before I get stuck into the features for this month, despite what looks like a drop off in coverage at City Weekend their website is much more active. Be sure to check into Dan Shapiro's blog there as he often posts up show previews that you won't see in the print edition.

After a change of editor and a documented shift away from the live scene, That's Shanghai are back with two features this month. The first one is about the Jue Festival and confirms the line-up for the Maybe Mars showcase. Maybe Mars are a Beijing based indie label and the showcase will feature Ourself Beside Me, Carsick Cars and Snapline. Nice first feature on the scene from writer Berwin Song ... but Berwin couldn't quite hold back on the patronising asides: 

why-oh-why do so many bands have to go for a Chinglish moniker? QueenSeaBigShark, I'm pointing the finger at you, too
Queen Sea Big Shark are actually called 后海大鲨鱼Houhai Dashayu and their English name sounds pretty cool to me. You can read the whole feature online here: Beijing bands attack Shanghai.

The second feature is an article introducing Shanghai indie group Kongzhong Huayuan written by regular Lisa Movius. You can find that online here. If you want a quick pick of the bunch go to the Ourself Beside Me Myspace page and listen to Sunday Girl ... then go and get a ticket for the showcase.

Sound Toy live @ Yuyintang

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zhengongfu restaurant
This happens to me a lot. Last week I got to the show at the advertised start time of 8 only to find it actually wasn't on till 9 and the bands were still sound checking. So, this week I went 20-30 minutes after the advertised door time only to walk into the busiest night to date in Yuyintang.

This was even busier than Subs at Halloween. By ticket 350 they had to tell people coming in to reconsider buying as they wouldn't be able to see the band. They kept selling though and passed the 400 mark soon after. YYT gets full at around 250. 

So, why not start by checking out the very popular Sound & TOY at their official page.

And, where was I. Oh, that's right, completely unable to get anywhere remotely near the hall to look at the band. Really. I skulked into the seating off to the side of the front door which had been overlooked by most people inside and found Sheena, Da Men and Zero from Hard Queen sitting there. We were shortly joined by Jake Newby and the whole night became hanging out. We could hear the band in the background though.

Sound Toy (from Chengdu) are post-rock but I was surprised at how normal/traditional they were at the show. The Shanghai post-rock and shoegazing scene is much more avant garde and experimental. The band's sound was somewhere in between more pop sounding prog rock acts like Marillion and laid back modern guitar blues like John Meyer. There were no other bands on that night. This was apparently because the crowd were not really rock/YYT regulars and "wouldn't like" either other bands or (referring to Hard Queen) bands that sung in English. That was probably about right. Sitting opposite us at one point was some student's mom who was chaperoning them. 

Other news ... check the photo! Zhen Gongfu Cafe has opened a branch opposite Yuyintang in the station. Pity that it only stays open until 10. 

China Blogosphere: Shame on us

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chinalystI have been inspired to write one of my 'other' category posts. Not, as some might imagine, by the continued hijacking of progressive ideals by pretenders or by ongoing global abuses but by the English language China blogosphere. 

I first came across Chinalyst via Ispyshanghai. It aggregates feeds from English language China blogs and makes them available in one string of posts. You can also get info on the individual sites/feeds. It's not half bad and I added my blog's feed in there. 

So, Chinalyst run an award whereby everyone can vote for their favourite blog on the site in several categories. Of course, this system reflects the readers/voters more than it does Chinalyst. It's not quite that simple mind you, as we'll see.

The winner this year by a large margin, picking up over 500 votes, is Wo Shi Laowai, Wo Pa Shui by Mylaowai. Now it's not unusual to see blogs where people rant on for 90% of the posts about how annoyed they are with China or how funny/weird they find it. But it has to be stated clearly: there is a gulf of difference between highlighting important issues in China (like a politics or rights blog), a humour blog that is good natured in it's ribbing (the same as you would about your own country) and outright racism/chauvinism

As is the norm for hateful diatribes, the author prefers to use an alias (mylaowai). Here's an excerpt from the poetry page The Bus Dialogues, which Mylaowai brushes off as venting on bus rides:

Dirty bodies stink of must
Hair is covered with scaly dust
Ugly xiaojies with fuck all bust
Peeps as useful as iron rust...
Kill 'em all: I'm not fussed.
Go to the page and read the lot. And why not check out a recent post highlighting Mylaowai's general attitude to women Kappa Slut, here's an excerpt:

There's this Shanghainese (presumably) whore with a face like a box of frogs who has all the warmth and charm of a lemon that lost a fight with a mangle. She runs naked into the room, and proceeds to suck off a very young boy - judging by the size of his cocktail stick, he's probably a kindergärtner. I've seen bigger dicks in J-Porn, honestly. It's pathetic.
This is Chinalyst's top blog of 2008. A continuous stream of hate and insults with zero analysis on the subjects it claims to care about. The owners of Chinalyst seem to have no problem with this and don't even add a disclaimer to the announcement congratulating Mylaowai on the win.You've got to assume that's because they have no personal problem with the content. But even if they pull the we-just-collect-the-feeds or free-speech defense - it was voted the best by a large margin: Shame on us.

In Pleasure To Be Here (Boys Climbing Ropes), Shanghai based Indie vocalist Jordan Small sings "out here we don't have to believe in anything" and he couldn't be more right. When we see clear-cut extreme hate like this it's not enough to think it's harmless and to ignore it. I'd like to think that the people I read in the blogging community would never accept talk like the above quotes if it was said out at the dinner table and it's even less acceptable in a published form. 

Of course we don't have to ban it outright or mete out punishment so spare me the faux-logical defenses of bigotry. But surely when hateful trash like that blog gets an 'award' it is our moral duty to at least pass comment on it. In the eyes of observers, silence is surely acceptance. 

Emergency Update: single not single

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konghua singles night.jpg
Oh shit.

In the previous post I previewed some shows including a single release party by Kongzhong Huayuan tonight at Yuyintang.

Well, today, while checking the time again at Douban, I had a look at the official poster for the first time. Note the balloons and hearts.

Yes. This is the problem with posting up a gig after hearing the details shouted in your ear during a gig. It's not a singles release, it's a singles party. 

It's not just a singles night either. It's a full on event organized by a dating website and there will be 'games' and activities. Have you ever seen a dating show on Chinese TV? Yes, well there you are.

Maybe you are looking for love? Don't let me stop you going to the show and Kongzhong Huayuan are definitely a date band. But it's my duty to correct my previous post. I would even have sent you all there unsuspecting, just for fun ... but dating event 'games', no, it's just too cruel.

P.S. Happy New Year.

P.P.S. Happy "牛" Year is a shitty bad pun and you should never ever use it or you will look like a twat.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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