April 2009 Archives

fadinghorizon flyer
A lot going on that night. Want to start though by pointing out that Youtube is still down here in China and while I was using Tudou as a temporary stop-gap, it seems that a permanent solution may be needed. In the mean time, no vids this weekend, sorry.

Get in the Van had The Gar and 24 Hours up at Dream Factory but your intrepid blogger worked until 9 and was working again at 9am the next day. So it was off to Yuyintang to see Fading Horizon. This was the official CD release show and they are on Miniless, a maverick experimental collective/label from down this way.

Have a listen to Fading Horizon right here right now.

Also on the bill were Shanghai's own Boojii and 8 Eye Spy. I got there just too late to catch Boojii who went on first and 8 Eye Spy but made it in time for Fading Horizon. 

Fading Horizon mix the layered shoegazing and noise style experimental rock with some clear hooks and beats that work. Yuyintang wasn't as packed as some of the sell out shows of late but it was just as cool. Dreamy soundscapes drifting across the hall and fans who seemed to be as into shoegazing as the band. There was a cheer of approval when they went into the opening riff of the strongest track Twice. I'm listening to the CD as I write and the production is really good. Certainly one of the best offerings from the Miniless stable so far. Fans of obscure and original experimental bands should definitely start to follow this label. Self Party were also a big hit here last year.

Yuguo kick off new tour in Shanghai

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yuguo poster
Shanghai based band Yuguo, originally from Jiangxi, were famous for their layered melodic rock, poetic Chinese language lyrics and for being the only truly full time band here at the time. Remember this? Yup, they have been off the radar for nearly a year but now they're back.

The band, known for their professionalism, have been locked away creating their new album under the mentorship of Yuyintang's Zhang Haisheng. It's all done now. It's called Babel and the band are kicking off a promotional tour at the Dream Factory on the 22nd of May.

I don't want to ruin it for you all but a couple of months ago I was listening to the demos and talking about writing some English versions of the tracks (finally, I didn't). Babel is inspired by the movie of the same name and there are other tracks like I Robot. Fans of Yuguo might notice a slight change in direction too.

There are two double bill samplers up at Douban here

Older Yuguo material at Myspace, Chun Xiao is the famous track.

Here's a link to the large tour flyer.

At the Myspace page, people who saw Yuguo last year will recognize Lost Paradise as the epic opening track at the shows. Their CD release will be coming two days off the back of Casino Demon's at YYT.

Neocha launch Next Player 2.0

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Neocha is a portal site where Chinese and China-based artists and musicians network and display their work. Next player is a free desktop player that accesses the entire database of uploaded music. It rules. 

So, just today they have launched version 2.0. The new player has filters for genre and ratings and allows you to click into artists pages from the player. It uses Adobe Air as it's platform. 

So, DL it now and give it a try. You won't be disappointed. 

Go here to find out the specs, features and to download.

Also, having a look at the mock up (actual?) sponsor on the page there reminds me of something. Warrior brand shoes are now joining Fei Yue's as the latest cheap Chinese training shoe to be marketed as fashionable or hip on the street by people who know. As a kung fu person, i've been using both companies for years. I have some Warriors right here in this room. Does this now mean I can wear them outside of class without looking like those oddball ex-pats who ride around on revolution era bicycles while locals of a similar age are getting Giant mountain bikes? Or walking around in an old-stylee jacket like Dashan. Hope so, love my Fei Yue's and Warriors I do. 

Hint: Fei Yin may look like Fei Yue but they fall into pieces after about two weeks or training. You know, as opposed to the usual two months.

F-visa Ghetto with no F-visas?

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xinhua map
The F-visa Ghetto around Fahuazhen Road and Dingxi Road has all the slacker might want.

It's based around a nice garden/historical street Xinhua Road. J. G. Ballard grew up there, RIP. It is in the city centre and yet has loads of affordable and cheap housing nearby.

It has music bars and dives like Yuyintang, Logo, C's, Sus2 and err, the other one where Slappy Toy rehearse. It has Shanghai Super Music and Juju Rehearsal Studio. It has the Canart space and also Shanghai Sculpture Space and lawn (all free!). It has a cheap all-night Hong Kong food strip. Cool people like Brad Ferguson, Levi and Tim from Mortal Fools and ... errr ... me, live there.

But how can the average slacker foreigner work part time and use most of their day slumming it and doing art and music when the F-visa is continually under attack? 

This just in from Shanghaiist.

I've already had to get a proper job again. And I'm not happy about it.

Douban: Pinkberry and Loudspeaker

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pinkberry new promo shot
Things have been afoot in the land of Pinkberry since their triumphant best show with Reflector at Yuyintang.

The douban page has now got two new demo tracks and a gallery of their latest photo shoot. The tracks are Live In Live and 片. Also, more importantly, Pinkberry have replaced their bass player, hoping to add experience and build on their recent progress.

Also around the world of Douban. I have been checking out long term Shanghai punk band Loudspeaker. Loudspeaker have gradually shifted from skatepunk with a twist of hardcore punk to hardcore punk with a hint of "metalcore". We've noticed it at the shows and now they have three good quality tracks available on their page that showcase the sound.

Have a listen here

In other news. If you have been following the Soma thing, Li Pang made a lengthy stream of BS reply at Shanghaiist here. I'm not posting on it anymore so have a look. 

Hard Queen movie and show at Canart

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screeningHow good is the new hipster paradise, A.K.A. the f-visa ghetto.

Hard Queen recently went from having blown nearly a year of studio time and enduring callous indifference from the scene to re-doing the CD from scratch and holding a triumphant return at Yuyintang.

And now, coming to the Canart Gallery: Daedalum Films are screening their new documentary about the show, Up From The Underground.

Canart is round the corner from my house in the F-visa ghetto. It's easy to find, being just behind the building with C's bar and Sus2 Music Bar. That is, down that little lane between that building and the hotel with the Kedi Store.

Screening starts at 9.30 on May 9th and it's ticketed. That's good for me as I don't get off work until 8.45. What's more, there's a performance from the band after the movie.

True punk fans also have the agony of choosing between Brain Failure @ Dream Factory and Overdose @ YYT on the same night. Good times. 

Retros live @ Yuyintang

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retros promo
The title of this post is slightly misleading. I went to the show. well in time for the usual headliner's starting time ... alas ... Yuyintang was packed beyond any inkling of safety and/or half the people there being able to even see the band. 

What's more, Retros went on quite early. So, I can tell you, they sounded great and people were into them, but I was standing out in the park with Brad Ferguson, Jake Newby and Archie Hamilton having a natter for most of my time there. Shout out to Michael too.

We all had a chat about recent events and at how packed the past few weekends had been at all venues. By coincidence, the basic thread of the discussion is summed up quite nicely in an earlier post over at CW by Dan Shapiro. It also quotes three out of four of the above mentioned people. 

Go there now and read Dan's superbly laid out summary:

While you're at it, here's another Dan post on Queen Sea Big Shark: read it

Quick listens: experimental & 'post-'

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I listed up a bunch of upcoming shows in the last post and have been listening to some of the bands in anticipation.

I have to be a little self aware on the blog and temper my own tastes with some different stuff. So, check out these bands, all of which are playing here soon.

First I'm going to link a Neocha page and I want to take the opportunity to remind everyone that it's an excellent site where local artists and musicians post their work and network too. It's an amazing tool for delving into local culture directly without the various annoying mainstream media China-isms. 

Also - Neocha have the Next player that gives you desktop access to the entire database of songs. I'm getting excited about version 2.0 which is very close to release and will allow sorting by genre and some other stuff. Watch this space.

So first of all:

Check out the Nanjing based experimental rock outfit Fading Horizon: listen here

Also playing with them that night will be Shanghai's Booji. Read a review with music links here.

Finally. The excellent and original Ourself Beside Me are coming to town with their latest CD. Check out the mindblowing-ly-good single Sunday Girl here. The CD intro is in with the track together at that page so listen on a bit.

The good times just keep rolling in

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There are all kinds of shows coming up, some festivals, some YYT shows a couple of good events at the Dream Factory, hopefully not the last, and a bunch of other stuff.

I don't do true listings or whatever but just skimming the upcoming shows on Douban and mainly at Yuyintang I see some great nights on the way. The following list is not complete, it's just some highlights and I always blog YYT so much because I live round the corner, like it and am a person of habit. That is, I'm always there.

Sat 18th (this weekend) Retros @ YYT

Sat 25th Miniless presents Fading Horizon and Booji @ YYT (experimental/Syd Barret influenced).

Also that night 'Get in the Van 3' at Dream Factory with Boys Climbing Ropes doing the after party at YYT after the Miniless shows is done.

Wed 29th Top Floor Circus @ YYT

May 1-3 Splitworks Canada fest @ YYT (featureing local acts too)

May cont...

Fri 8th Ourself Beside Me CD tour

Sat 9th Brain Failure and The Mushrooms @ Dream Factory

same night Overdose @ YYT

Sun 10th The Honeys @ YYT

Fri 15th Life Journey @ YYT (post rock)

Thurs 22nd Carsick Cars and The Gar @ YYT

Fri 23rd Casino Demon CD release @ YYT

Sat 30th Joyside @ YYT (legendary Beijing Punk outfit)


Soma take over The Dream Factory

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Further update: read Jake Newby's take over at Shanghaiist: here

Update: I mentioned the news came by way of Splitworks and I can now link their take via China Music Radar: here

There's been a fair amount of blogging and events around Soma Art Management and their label, Indietop. In fact, it was my story of 2008 so I suggest you first read this summary with vids and links:

Please, read it, it's the best piece on the whole blog - in my un-humble opinion.

As regulars know, the scene has been growing. The smaller venues are now busy each week and rammed for better bands. At the end of last year and early this year we started to see a smattering of shows move up to the Dream Factory venue (5-800 capacity) with some successes. Most recently, Split Works packed it out for Battles and AV Okubo. And this is where the news comes from.

Soma have now done a deal with the venue that gives them exclusive use from Wednesday to Sunday. If a different promoter wants to use the venue they will now have to either split the ticket sales 50-50 or pay 15 000 rmb up front. This essentially cuts out the majority of other music promoters and makes the venue their own.

What the f*ck are they thinking? Are they really going to put on three events of their own each week? I don't think so. That venue was dying a death and now most of the people who were getting it going will be priced out. Why do they need to basically double the overheads for other promoters?

I honestly hope they can put on their own weekly affordable shows and fill them, but lets look at the track record. Since forming the label proper and signing the three Jiao Ban bands (after the July 2008 show), they have yet to release a single CD from any of them. They had one showcase gig based around a compilation that was mainly filled with guest tracks from non-Soma bands. The Indietop website is still advertising that show from January, by the way. The best shows by Momo and The Mushrooms have been regular slots at YYT on 0093 nights and in support slots. No 'Indietop' in sight.

This is a small scene based around city wide support and DIY culture. If people like Soma use money to aggressively compete with smaller venues and hijack bands for the pop market, it will screw it up. At this point, it just reminds me of Boonna Cafe 2. The landlord saw that cafe doing good business then upped the rent to drive them out, finally opening his own shanzhai cafe Bohxa in the same spot, but tacky and overpriced. An old school dick move.

Say it aint so.
The weekend kicked off with Happy Avenue on Friday. I wrote a review and talked about how singer Wu Hongfei is a big deal and a lot of fans came to see her. Check it out. They are folk-rock but this track is more up-tempo than you'd expect and is a good example of the main body of their songs.

Youtube is still unavailable here in China for censorship reasons. Let me know in the comments if people outside of China have any trouble with Tudou's player. Cheers.

Tonight was a bit of a blur. No pics or vids, strictly selfish enjoyment only.

Hedgehog are one of China's best live acts on the underground scene and were touring to promote their third CD, Blue Daydreaming. The other two are Happy Idle Kid and Noise Hit World. Everyone knows about their shows and this was to be one of the don't miss nights of the year.

So, I was working late today and arrived to an already over filled YYT having missed the first two bands, Pinkberry and Wildcat. Sorry guys.

Then came the bomb (in a good way). I already wrote how my fav Shanghai group The Mushrooms got back to form lately and now they were playing before Hedgehog to a packed hall of fans. Now they are back to their best. The room went off and yours truly was lost in the mosh. Can we have the Mushroom's CD soon please, Soma? It seems like quite a while since they signed. Come on.

After some air it was back into the fray for Hedgehog. Part of their live mojo is that they are in complete control of the tempo and dynamics. It's never really fast or running away, but always just up-beat enough to get everyone moving. I was a bit miffed that they didn't play my favourite live track Wink last time around but this time they played it right up front. Great. The only casualty of the night was my favourite T which got soaked and stretched out of all proportion. Not only that, Brad's new Dig Dug T-shirt shits all over mine anyway. The night was made even better by recent improvements to YYT's sound system which made a big difference.
Friday night at YYT and I'm back in action. Got footage too, will show up here soon courtesy of Tudou.

Happy Avenue 幸福大街 are a popular folk-rock act and the venue was full of their local fans. They have been on the go for a while and had two CD's and a book by the singer (Wu Hongfei) available on the night. They played a long two half set, bringing out the faster songs in the second half. Solid performance although, I'm sorry, songs about apples and butterflies are just not my thing.

Sinophiles need to look this band up. Wu Hongfei is a big deal. The local fans followed her upstairs to the band room after the show to get their books and CDs signed. The music is a blend of local and European folk styles with some modern guitar rock thrown in.

Monroe Stahr decided to go on second, being the more rock of the two bands and risked the whole thing where fans of the folk band go home directly afterwards. This time there was enough people left over to make it worth their while.

This band have been busy. Only a couple of months ago I was chatting to singer Nicky Almasy in The Blues Room and he was talking about getting a proper band together. Now they already have a full set of original material and a nine track CD currently in mixdown. They worried about the sound but tonight it was great. All the songs are tight and the band play with confidence. I especially liked You Hated London, done with a disco rock London-style beat. I wasn't going to video them, but the performance was more than good enough, so look out for that too. 

More sickness and links/top tracks

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new sign at yuyintangYou may have noticed that the blog has slowed down lately and that the last post was a guest post. That's because yours truly has been up and down with the flu for five weeks now. And, Youtube has been out in China for two weeks.

Well, I'm back in action this weekend and will use a different host for videos for now. That means more videos will come up at this blog but not on the Youtube channel. So watch this space.

Here's two links:

Jake Newby on the upcoming weekend's shows in Shanghai

Jake again, rounding up the announced line up for the Midi Festival

And now, here are some classic recent tracks from the China rock scene that I have been listening to over and over again.

Reflector: Wu Fan Nao

Casino Demon: Wa ha ha

For Casino Demon you'll have to look down the player and select Wa Ha Ha as it's a few songs down. I also recommend the one after it, Teenage.


Hard Queen CD realease @ Yuyintang

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hard queen cd release
This weekend your regular blogger Andy was ill. Boo hoo. Luckily Jake Newby was there and here's his guest write up:

Rammed. That was YYT tonight. If this was a call to arms, then it was fully answered. The renovations at YYT may have given them more room but it still didn't seem enough last night as people were forced to queue in the pouring rain to get in. Once in, there was barely room to move. Or, as Brad Ferguson put it, "great."

You know the story by now about Hard Queen's struggle to reach this point and they fully deserved such a huge turn out. I got in not long after 9pm, thinking I was early, yet still had to push my way through the crowds. Boys Climbing Ropes opened with a typically energetic and tight set. They seem to get better every show and were on top form, but this was Hard Queen's night.

Despite Zero donning big sunglasses and playing it very cool, the band looked a touch nervy during the opening couple of songs. They soon settled down however and by the third or fourth track in seemed to be really enjoying themselves. DaMen in particular played the entire set with a huge grin on her face. The band gave a great show, delivering the tracks from their Holiday EP as well as cementing their Mod credentials with a cover of The Kingsmen's Louie Louie. They also added a fantastic cover of Michael Jackson's Beat It before closing out the night in traditional fashion with their version of White Stripes' Hotel Yorba.
0093 studio
Today, China Music Radar correctly singled out an article by Lisa Movius at That's Shanghai. The article talks about the 0093 studios and their importance to the scene. Readers of this blog will be familiar with all this, of course. 0093 and Tianpin Dian (Candy Shop) also got some coverage over at SH magazine before it went down. There's an interview with Jiang Shaoqing there somewhere. Jake, can you link that in the comments if you have it?

And here are some oldish 0093 posts by me going back even to pre-blog times at Shanghaiist.:

Said in Samuel L. Jackson's voice: Count 'em, m*th** f***k**, I double dare you!!!! That's a tasty burger. 


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

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