Soma Live: Indietop bands @ Dream factory

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ding jia somalive
It's been a month or so since all this controversy and for the first time since taking over, Soma put on a show at Dream factory that featured all local bands. So I went to check it out first hand.

The show was a Douban promoted singles event, odd, and here was the line up:

Before I go through some stuff - this was essentially a good show. So do read on.

As well as the singles night promotion, there were sheets of construction card handed out from which you could make a little model robot/monster thing. More misplaced weirdness. The turn out was a reasonable YYT show but a two-thirds empty Dream Factory. After a year of managing these bands you'd think Soma would build on their fan base and appeal but apparently it's 'marketing by numbers' all the way. Another fatal mistake was opening the doors at nine and then not starting until ten - with the promotion. First band was on at 10.30 for an all local crowd (except me, Jake Newby and my mate Steve). There was no way we'd get to the end with even half the people still around.

One more thing before we get onto the show. I hadn't seen Pinkberry for a while and we hung out before the show got going (while Sonnet's Lezi hosted the promotion bit along with people in panda suits). So ... remember the Pepsi Incident? That's getting stirred up again. After PB guitarist Toni Yu joined in the angry denouncing of the Pepsi sponsored TV show, the band decided to stay on and compete - they only ones to do so. And ... being the only true experienced band left in the running, went on to win the whole thing. Douban netizens are crying conspiracy. Anyway, you can see the whole thing on TV tonight if you're interested. On STV's E-music show at 9.30.

candyshop somalive
So, on to the show. Momo took the stage first. Since joining Indietop they have gone more cutesy but put on a tight professional show. First thing, yes, the sound was a massive improvement. Still had problems, if you stand right at the front of the stage, like first two or three rows of people, you get behind the PA and the vocals/drums disappear leaving you with the roaring guitar amp only. We'd heard rumours of Soma asking the Momo girls to lose weight and do the idol thing and singer Ding Jia did in fact appear wearing a lightweight tank top and shorn of a few pounds. You can't really tell from Jake's photo at the top of the post as it adds lines cos of the lighting etc. 

Anyway, a great surprise was to come. At the end of the layered indie-pop set, Dingjia ditched her acoustic guitar and the band played two of their older songs, garage rock style - with the new tight playing and great sound quality. The band were visibly uplifted and we got a glimpse of what could be if the management went with the band and not the brand. So to speak. 

Next up, Da Fresh played well and their musically layered songs benefited from the sound quality. It was however, ballad after ballad, kind of jangly brit-pop meets boy band. A bit much for me. Also. With 11.00 having rolled around already for this younger local crowd, the room was visibly thinning out already. Little Nature got on next. When they first appeared at Yuyintang they were a standout act. An energetic pop-punk three piece with catchy songs and punchy, tight playing. They still haven't quite got it back since adding a member and going through a Soma makeover. Also, strangely enough, I think even the Soma staff had gone home or switched off at this point as the sound quality started to disappear.

So, the advertised event finish time rolled around ... and it was time for the last two bands, the  one's I had come to see. Candy Shop took the stage to a sparse looking hall, but that never stops them giving 100%. They launched into the first song but were bemused to find the sound so out that half the elements couldn't be heard at all, to us or the band. The second song was all about the sound guys waking up and trying to sort it out and then by the third it was on with the show. The bands front people are excellent. Melody Li, apparently trying to appeal to the Soma male management with her own weight loss, and MC YKE  are full of energy and charisma. Standout songs 4TT, Wo Men and Wo Shi Chaoliu had most of the remaining crowd jumping and excited for the first time that night.

And then there was Pinkberry. Pinkberry were professional, the sound rocked, the songs were all dead on. They had the new bassist (who also plays guitar in Sonnet). Toni rocked the punk rock riffs with his Les Paul and Marshall stack combo. Xiao You strutted around the stage with energy and confidence. But, it was 12.30 at a Douban 'promoted' event and there were really just 30 of us left in the deserted hall. Pity, it was a classic Pinkberry performance.

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It's a shame, really it is. They have done a job on the sound and lights and the place feels like a pretty decent venue. Just doesn't seem like their hearts are in it...

Lezi found me at YYT the other day and so we met at DF last night. He's a nice guy and we talked a bit.

For me the problem is, and of course Archie you know all this ...a larger venue is a venue ... it's not bar. People come to see bands and the bands have to have a fanbase. You can't market the bands as products to promote your venue. People have got to love the bands.

With Mushrooms, Pinkberry (on Soma now)and Momo, they have three bands who could bring in the young Chinese crowd. But it's all what ifs right now. Lets have some of those CDs out, lets have the music available for people.

Also, a bigger venue can't run off a small stable of regular bands like a YYT you have to get people (acts) in. So to speak.

I dunno, you'd think I was just stating the obvious here.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Best published on June 6, 2009 10:50 AM.

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Video: Momo playing at Dream Factory (2009) is the next entry in this blog.

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