Maybe Mars Showcase @ Mao

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pk14 usa timfranco
Photo of PK14 in the USA by Tim Franco

So, Friday night and Maybe Mars rolled into town with four of their bands:

Apart from newcomers Rustic, these bands are the finished product. Each one with one, or more, albums of top quality songs and a polished sound and performance. This being at Mao Livehouse Shanghai, with all their fancy lights and top quality equipment, I was so excited to hear a loud show that still kept the individual sounds of the bands. 

But it was not to be. The sound was all over the place with each act getting about two tracks that really hit the mark. Only PK14 had the audience so pumped up by their mere presence that it simply didn't matter. The guitars were especially bad with sounds ranging from bone dry to a wall of mid-range whine. Only Yang Fan of OBM reproduced her trademark sound. The lights were all over the place too with no hint of a master setting that defined the space. Just a bunch of flashing in a cavern. 

But it was still a good night. It's Maybe Mars.

The audience seemed baffled by Rustic at first and the hall was still filling up but they ended with a flourish. With two more tracks to go, Rikki Sixx spat his beer up into the light stream creating a mist fountain, the guitars were pointed into the crowd and a dance broke out for the first time of the night. I was there to rock out to 24 Hours after their amazing Yuyintang show but they were hampered by poor sound and what seemed like poor monitors too. But still, buy that CD, it's so f*cking good.

Ourself Beside Me played a good set. The sound was the most intact of the four acts and they did a solid job after a few months off the gig circuit. The audience seemed into them too despite their experimental sound not usually being for everyone. Good for the audience. PK14 are just legends so none of the above really mattered. Everyone started to go nuts as soon as they saw singer Yang Haisong, me included, and they enjoyed the reception that their status deserves. Half way in to the set I spotted Maybe Mars' Michael Pettis and decided to stalk him. We spent some time backstage chatting, with Nevin Domer too. I was a bit star struck the whole time though, as Yang Fan was right there by me the whole time. Swoon. She's just so badass/cool and a great guitarist. 

The whole crew are back next month with Carsick Cars. Watch the blog for details.

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it bothered me that ourself beside me chose to face each other rather than the audience. this struck me as quite unprofessional and really turned me off their performance.

Hey Andy

I agree with you the sound was shit. I just finished listening to Rustic's demos on their douban page and it totally changed my opinion of the band compared to the two of their live sets I've seen (much more positive on them now) -- the first one at YYT I didn't know what to make of them and on Friday, everything was just droned out.

The funny thing was listening to people's opinion of them versus 24 Hours. Some Chinese people I spoke with loved Rustic, but though 24 Hours weren't their thing while as some of the foreigners I was with thought the exact opposite.

Looking forward to the next showcase in February.


I was standing at the very back, just behind the sound guys, and to me the sound was excellent - at least compared to YYT or the old system before (WTF times). Rustic was fun, lots of energy, 24 hours great (I really liked the slow start and how they picked up the faster rhytm), OBM soooo coooool (my favourite; they are getting better and better), PK14 OK (IMHO). There were lots of foreigners around me hardly paying any attention to the music, and some were trying hard to discuss their China experiences in spite of loud music - straight into my ears. Why don't they find a better place to do that?
I noticed lots of people could not get the vibes when OBM and 24 hours played, somehow reminded me of this great violinist who played in the subway undercover and hardly anybody noticed him, while the overpriced tickets for his concerts were sold all out...

All in all great night though I still prefer YYT for the intimacy - you are so close to the artists that it changes the way you percept the music.


Ourself beside me pretty much always do that. They have the kind of triangle formation and then Yang Fan turns to the audience when singing usually.

They were amazing at YYT last time and in a smaller venue, the half turn thing wasn't a problem.

I'm OK with it except for one point, I want to see what she is doing on the guitar. She has some great sounds and runs. I'm always thinking, "Wow, what's that she's doing."

John, yeah. 24 hours were so much better at YYT. But there's a huge gap between Rustic and 24 Hours' recorded material. But, they're totally different concepts, I guess. I think they would benefit froma second guitar (Rustic).

yeah, i can see how at yyt the turning-in-thing wouldn't be such a problem. but on a big stage with a pro outlook like mao's i don't think it plays out so well. it reminds me of when eddie van halen used to turn around before doing his awesome eruption solo featuring the then relatively unknown technique of two-handed tapping.
i once saw offset:spectacles doing the face-inward thing too, and it gave me a similar feeling of unprofessionalism. i feel like that kind of thing is well suited to the rehearsal room but nowhere else. anyway, i thought the rest of the night was great and i thoroughly enjoyed rustic's brand of cock-rock. it was good to see some showmanship and a sense of humour.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Best published on January 23, 2010 11:23 AM.

Youku: it's not always a Perfect Day in the China music biz was the previous entry in this blog.

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