Most 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.