November 2009 Archives

Revisit Hang On The Box with Douban

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Not so long ago I posted a bit about Beijing experimental rock outfit Ourself Beside Me. This ended up with me seeing them up close at Yuyintang, a great show.

Guitarist Yang Fan was originally in a very famous Beijing scene band called Hang On The Box. I have never seen them, they are no longer together, and have not had the chance to get into their music either. Until now.

Surfing into their Douban page I found that they have a selection of classic tracks there from across their career and all available for download too.

So go there now and check them out. Right here.

They formed the band when they were all just 15, by the way. Rock In China wiki has all the details. Read all about it.

Where's Waldo Andy? More Mushrooms photos

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So, another gallery has gone up of the Mao grand opening night from the Mushroom's set. You can see it here. Also. Jake wrote up the night here and the night and some of it's surrounding articles have inspired him to write this

Long term readers of the blog will know who the Mushrooms are and should not be surprised that they have come through. Never mind the genre (they have long since moved on from genre rap-metal to ...err ..modern emo/commercial metal?), their shows are great and they have buckets of that magical appeal that all these analyst types are clawing around for. 

This is it, your moment is in:

mushrooms live mao crowd me

Photos: Mushrooms live @ Mao Shanghai

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On Friday we were at the Mao grand opening where we saw a great Mushrooms performance and had much fun throwing ourselves about. Photos have started filtering through. These are from this gallery here.

mushrooms mao one

mushrooms mao two

Heads in the sand when all that's left is sand

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Tomorrow night is the Roots And Shoots benefit at Yuyintang. This is for a great cause and your money goes towards planting trees in Inner Mongolia, you should go.

But ...

Only a couple of days back, I watched Jane Goodall herself on The Daily Show getting stuck into serious activists and calling them extremists. Fundamentalists was used too, making the sick comparison complete between vegans and beheadings. Then she later lamented that, despite her good work, animals and the environment were still on their way out at a high rate. Seriously, WTF. Then why disparage the people trying to address the real problems? This is a widespread attitude that people have.

Have you ever tried out a carbon footprint calculator? To make the 2050 targets (conservative in my view) you will have to say goodbye to meat diets and private cars - and everyone will have to do it. Think it's going to happen without some pushing? 

But here's the news. That's just for carbon output. It doesn't wholly address general pollution and the rabid assault on animals and the environment. So now it's time to really get extreme. Have you ever had a proper search around the net for respectable reports on this? I have - and here's a pretty good summary:

Ninety percent of the large fish in the ocean and 80% of the world's forests are gone. Eighty-one tons of mercury are emitted into the atmosphere each year as a result of electric power generation. Every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. Each day, 200,000 acres of rain forest are destroyed; 100 plant and animal species go extinct; and 13 million tons of toxic chemicals are released across the globe.

That's from the aptly titled There's No Time Like Now To Be Green and there's no time like now to be an extremist activist either. Here's another great short piece that is accessible and has all kinds of links to start you off. Also from Planet Green - Why Wait Till 2012. We need people to be activists. The destructive power is in the hands of nationalist governments and economists that preach big business and 'development'. All we have to do is opt out and start spreading the word. It's as much about challenging power as it is changing lifestyles. Changing lifestyles is just the very beginning.

And before you baulk or reach for your kneejerk reaction, consider the level of denial going on even in amazing people like Jane Goodall - devotes her life to the study, care and conservation of animals, then takes pot shots on national TV at organisations devoted to their survival and full rights. So reader, do you consider yourself to be a reactionary bigot who froths at the mouth and whips out the disdain at people who care? No? Why attack people who advocate for green causes more than you speak out against pollution and animal cruelty? Think about it, do you have your head in the sand too?

Mao lay out guidelines for photographers

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monopod guy in action
Over at the last post on photographers - following the Pet Conspiracy gig at Mao - we had a great mini debate on the matter in the comments.

There were comments from both sides of the debate including some of the snappers in question. 

Finally, Lisa Movius, official English language PR person for the venue, has finished the debate by announcing some trial guidelines that reflect both sides. 

Here is what she has posted:

For Mao we've drafted a basic photo guilelines list - for the audience. It's a double standard, but we have to give professional photographers shooting for press, for the venue and for the bands greater leeway - but we'll keep their ranks limited. So here's what we're trying out, and we welcome further input:

"Audience photography rules
1. No flash photography
2. Please only take photographs during the first three songs of each set
3. No tripods in the front section
4. Be respectful of your fellow audience members
Professional media photographers and videographers please register with the front desk to obtain a press pass. Be advised we have a limited number of free press tickets available each show for journalists and photographers who reserve them in advance - please inquire at the desk for details."

Who knows how it will or won't work in practice but this is a good step and will hopefully spread a bit of awareness at least. I have to add that my own views are way past what is represented here but Lisa has joined in the debate taken all sides into account and actually organised something at the venue - so fair play there.

Video: Misandao "F*cking Cops"

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So, I'm a journalist for Time or CNN or whoever and I've heard Carsick Cars ... why aren't Chinese bands political? What? There are other bands? Why wasn't I told about this, it's my job to project my middle class values all over anything I touch, research is for our interns!

Anyway, watch the video, it won't be there for long. PS Misandao state they are an anti-fascist band on their page. The end of the video is them taking the swastika you see at the beginning and burning it - so watch the lot.

Photos: Fearless live @ Mao Shanghai

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So, well, errr .... I wasn't at this show. I wasn't at the Sunday Yuyintang show either. I'm sure this has happened to other people. Saturday, got back from work late at 9, felt very tired and fell asleep early - only to then wake up at 2 am feeling wide awake. Next, I thought "at least I can catch the Sunday gig". Of course, having been awake since 2 AM I got home from work on Sunday at 6.30 PM and promptly fell asleep for the entire night again. Weak.

So, anyway, here are some photos of Fearless playing Mao on the Hell United metal night. They come from here.

fearless mao mao

fearless at mao live

Candy Shop live @ Yuyintang

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candy shop strip Great Friday night at Yuyintang and Candy Shop's first time to officially headline the venue on a weekend.

Check out their Douban page here and listen to the fourth track called 我们

So here was the line up for the night:

Candy Shop
Forget And Forgive
Lei Ren
Black Luna

The turn out was great and, as predicted, mainly local. There were a lot of students down and they were equally up to see Forget And Forgive, who are emo. You see, local students like their metal and their emo. Trust me.

I only caught the end of Black Luna's set. They are an all-girl pop rock group whose singer and band leader recently joined Candy Shop to replace Melody Li. The first thing I noticed was that they have a new lead singer, signalling that Sammi's move is final. Next up was Lei Ren who, by their standards, played a fairly restrained set of TV Theme covers and parody songs.

The first band that people got excited about were Forget And Forgive. They played a four song set of emo-tastic material. They switched between thrashy riffs and screaming and catchy sung choruses, all in the emo style. They are a new band and were quite good, but not good enough yet to ignite the crowd which was big enough to break into a mosh.

Candy Shop have come on miles and miles. They have a full set of good material and an energetic show. For whatever reason, they really appeal to the local crowd and from the get go people were up for the show. After a bit of teething with the sound in the opening track, they ripped into their set and the audience went for it. The band were well prepared for the night with badges and stickers to give out as well as a couple of signed posters. They really gave the student crowd a taste of an energetic gig with jumping and dancing and I'm sure they won many new fans.

Also, after calling him out on the podcast, blogger Swiss James did in fact come down. Nice one mate. To be fair, if you follow his blog you'll know that James likes his rock.

Miniless 2009 showcase flyerMost countries with music scenes have one or two industry centres or a defined main scene. Here it has to be Beijing with the most bands, the most developed bands and the labels.

Smaller city scenes that break out or get fame tend to be associated with a type of music. Take the Manchester or Liverpool sounds or the classic example of Seattle. Say "the Seattle scene" with no other context and people will think of the Grunge style. I'm sure there were other good bands playing but that's what people associate it with.

Of course, within the grunge scene and the Seattle gold rush there were diverse sounds, but that's how it played out.

So what I was thinking is: What about Shanghai?

There have been brief sparks that died again or have yet to really ignite. At one point Banana Monkey were going to lead the modern Brit-rock charge. Top Floor Circus are inspirational but they haven't inspired. Fans of legendary track Karaoke Forever (a local dialect play on words that means never go to karaoke) still go to KTV, they just think the song is funny. The Jiaoban bands signed with Indietop and haven't released a significant album between them 18 months later. There are many more examples.

So who is getting it together in Shanghai as poised to take advantage of a potential scene elevation?

I think it has to be the Miniless collective.

The reason: these groups have kept their eyes on their music and followed through. Now we have top quality albums, in both material and production, out from Fading Horizon, Lava Ox Sea, Muscle Snog and Eight Eye Spy - with Boojii not far behind. All these acts are different in their own way but they share organisation, images and philosophy. Most importantly they now have top quality recordings that can be accessed outside of the scene. After all, when a scene gets noticed or named it is by definition done so from outside and usually by the main hub.

If you were based in Beijing and were asked to comment on the Shanghai scene what would you say - as a kind of defining soundbite? Well, now they have those five CDs to get excited about and here's the thing. Muscle Snog, Eight Eye Spy and Boojii all went to Beijing to record - these are the bands getting signed up by the main hub. So think about it.

Perhaps this time next year Self Party and LOS may sell out a show at Yugong Yishan, full of fans eager to see a 'Shanghai sound' Miniless act.

Andrew Field on Bon TV

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bontvBon TV is the Blue Ocean Network. They make TV shows about China in English. Recently, China Music Radar have been watching.

First they checked out a talk full of platitudes and stereotypes that failed to even mention a single band in the first 45 minutes and were not impressed. Here .

Then they came across something much better.

Andrew Field is someone with a brain. That's an expression that means he is thoughtful. Obviously. He has made a Beijing scene based documentary called Notes From The Chinese Underground and appears on Bon TV to give an hour long interview about it.

Both parts can be watched at CMR here.

Watching the interview I was blown away to actually see someone who knew the scene properly and who blew off the types. He even made a point of saying that people always look for the Chinese-ness and judge the music on that, then makes a good case as to why that's misguided. This is well worth sitting through, although nothing new to people who know the scene well. We'll have to look out for the movie too.

Alright, that's enough now

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jeremy you arsehole

I was going to leave this as an aside for the pod, and since the last time(s) I had decided to drop this and leave for the venues/other punters/bands to sort out, if they cared.

If you've ever been to a gig in Shanghai you'll have noticed that event photographers and overenthusiastic hobbyists with expensive toys often use them as their personal studios. They generally break several rules that are accepted, and even enforced everywhere else. For example:

* No flash photography at shows.
* No taking pictures of bands or punters without permission first.
* Don't annoy or block people who paid money to see the show.

The Pet Conspiracy show was particularly bad for this. It pretty much killed my enjoyment of the first two bands as I was constantly looking at them as they buzzed around in front of me and tried to directly take my picture continuously. Despite my best attempts to keep out of their shots and concentrate on the show - there I f*cking am, in a gallery posted at Shanghaiist. 

The douchey photog in the black Antidote shirt was on fine form, boogie-ing away as he worked and running around like hyperactive kindergarten kid. At one point free t-shirts were thrown into the crowd and as Jake bent down to pick one up, that guy literally ran across to jump in front and whip it out of his reach, before throwing it back to the DJs to be thrown out to someone else. It's like he had a one man mission against the paying audience. I see from this gallery that the guy strutting around the crowd using a flash next to people's faces must have been Kosuke Sato. 

Perhaps I'm getting everyone mixed up. I know, why don't you all post your headshots and resumes at one site so we can all know who the top party photographers are.

But really, that's enough guys, please. I saw photographer web2asia of Flickr at the show with his camera and he somehow managed to not get in the way at all. It can be done.

Youtube Youku: Joyside "Sunday Morning"

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So Joyside are done and they've had their last ever show. But, they seem to be as productive as ever since the split. They've posted a bunch of songs up at their Douban page, as well as some videos. And there's even a trailer there, via Tudou, of a documentary film of the last show to be released next year.

For now, here's an animated video for their anthem "Sunday Morning". You may also recognise it from here

What's it all about?

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From Wikipedia, which quotes an amazing book I read at college Subculture, The Meaning Of Style.

A subculture is a group of people with a culture (whether distinct or hidden) which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong.

As early as 1950, David Riesman distinguished between a majority, "which passively accepted commercially provided styles and meanings, and a 'subculture' which actively sought a minority style ... and interpreted it in accordance with subversive values".

In his 1979 book Subculture the Meaning of Style, Dick Hebdige argued that a subculture is a subversion to normalcy. He wrote that subcultures can be perceived as negative due to their nature of criticism to the dominant societal standard. Hebdige argued that subcultures bring together like-minded individuals who feel neglected by societal standards and allow them to develop a sense of identity.

More hot nudity on Kungfuology

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So, with the Pet Conspiracy gig tomorrow at Mao all eyes were on their daring new back to nature photo shoot - as reported by our man Jake here. I then followed up by reporting on previous avant garde antics by Shanghai's own Torturing Nurse here

But stop the press. If, like me, you have the Pleasure To Be Here CD from Boys Climbing Ropes  then you have probably opened it up and checked the inside.

Kaboom! In your faces! BCR, also on Friday's bill, were way ahead of the game coming in before either of the aforementioned acts. By the way, you all know I'm using those 'in your face' type comments ironically ..right? But, also, you know ...snap!!

bcr bathroom

Avant Garde-off: Torturing Nurse revisited

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pet conspiracyHave you seen the Pet Conspiracy post over at Jake's blog yet? Go there now. And watch the video - they're in town on Friday night at Mao - watch the video

So, Pet Conspiracy started out as an art project and this kind of thing (pictured) is fairly normal in other arts scenes around the world. But in case you were getting all excited about the potential provocateur action hitting the shores of China - let's have a look back to a show in Live Bar last year.

Before we kick things off - it all started with a chat with Ben Hogue out back of Yuyintang, then went on to his blog and ended up on my blog here.

Feel free to catch up in your own time.

noishanghai 20
So, here's the simple explanation. Shanghai's avant garde scene has it's bar set by noise artists Torturing Nurse. A little over a year ago, with pictured artist Jia Die soon on her way off to study in Sweden, they threw on a special performance with Beijing noise-ist Yan Jun called torturing Torturing Nurse.

You can guess what happened ... or can you. This is ultra conservative China after all. 

Here's the video - Youtube only - find a way, it's mind blowing.

It's in that gallery that you'll find these and more. In your face, everybody who is not Torturing Nurse. And did I mention, watch that video and go to the show on Friday - Pet Conspiracy are going to be awesome.

that show one
that show two
that show three
that show four

Picture: Frank Fen @ Mao

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Lot that long ago we went to a show featuring Mortal Fools at Mao Shanghai. MoFo guitarist Toni, also of Pinkberry, has put a gallery of newer pics from the show and reminds us that although it was the last show with that line up, it was not a goodbye show.

frank at mao

The F-visa Ghetto: redux

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I used to blog a bit about the area I live in and how it was turning into a hipster paradise, also named the F-visa ghetto. The gist was that I noticed it was becoming a destination for music  and music people. I predicted it would grow as it was both downtown and had plenty of cheaper rents (within the context of Shanghai prices). 

Now, I was having a play with this site E-dushi Shanghai and I've made some little maps for y'all to check out. These are by no means comprehensive but the give you a quick idea at how much it has developed, despite development. If you see what I mean. There are plenty of other attractions there such as The Loft and Cotton's Xinhua etc. 

Click on all pics for the large, ledgible, versions.

Postcard overview showing the boundaries and main streets

postcard large

Xingfu Road strip and JuJu

juju detail postcard

Dingxi Road

dingxi road postcard

Mao and Redtown

Mao Detail Postcard


Yuyintang e city

Youtube Youku: Gala

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A little over a year ago I saw Beijing band Gala play live at Yuyintang. Revisit the review here. The surprise was how popular they were and that YYT was packed with student fans who you wouldn't normally see at a rock club. After a bit of research I discovered it was because they had the underground equivalent of a hit single with their song Young For You, which you can check out at their page here if you want to know what interests the local kids who are not necessarily actively into indie music. 

Well, I was looking them up today and saw a post from the band on their Douban group dated March 2009. They basically apologize to fans for having done basically nothing in the five years since their Young For You CD. You can read it here but it's Chinese langauge only. 

Fittingly, there's also this nostalgic sounding video available there:

About this Archive

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

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