Expo: my last word

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rev flyer
Well, the announcement of the gig pictured to your right marks also the beginning of the Expo. So it's time to stop speculating and to wait and see what happens. There could have been some greater action or concern perhaps, but most of our efforts to push this story (and that of Top Floor Circus) have been met with apathy or condescending excuses that side with the man

What am I talking about? Well that's what this post is for.

First, revisit the Top Floor Circus episode here. It is the most recent indicator/fact we have on this issue. Their ban has been extended to the end of the Expo.

So, here is the point. I hope I'm wrong about this, and if I am, I will be erring on the side of facts.

Since I have been here in 2001 the following happens. When there is an event of national significance, there comes a crackdown on the music and art scene. History and fact tells us that when the Expo comes, there will be closures and cancellations across the board - and the Expo has the longest duration of any event so far, potentially causing real long term damage to the scene.

Some recent examples. The fledgling 1234 Rock Festival (in Shanghai), organised by Frank Fen, was closed down by the police as it coincided with the NPC ... in Beijing. During the Olympics, the entire music scene (rock and indie) was closed by the police for the entire month. The most recent Modern Sky festival was told that all it's overseas acts (half the bill) couldn't play with 24 hours notice. Just this month Mao had their double night gig featuring Taiwan based band 1979 cancelled, again a clash with the NPC.

Some venues get tentative passes (Dream Factory) and, of course, Jazz doesn't bother anyone. But anyone who is honest with themselves knows that the standard practice is to have wide ranging clamp downs and almost always with just 24 hours notice. For the Beijing Olympics this included small businesses near the site and VISA entry across the country.We all know how it goes.

The only coherent reason given to me in support of saying it won't happen is that they surely can't do it because it goes on for 6 months. But isn't the treatment of Top Floor Circus a statement of intent? Loved on the underground scene, they barely registered with the general public. Yet, when the gov caught wind of their song making fun of the Expo, they are called in and banned from performance and have to disappear the song. Straight up totalitarian censorship in the Orwellian mold, not only is it not allowed, but it must be removed from history too.

This event is in bed with those people all the way. If you claim to love independent art and music, you shouldn't be giving it the time of day. But again, I'd love to be wrong. 

I can't really imagine a whole six months without bands playing at the mainstay rock and indie venues here. Venues will be probably be tentatively open but be continuously fucked with. One thing is certain, if the Expo goes ahead and there are no problems and it's business as usual - it will be a ten year first.

You, reader, can test it yourself. Assume the Expo is an open cultural celebration that goes hand in hand with the city of Shanghai. Put on a couple of local rock bands at Yuyintang during the main Expo period. Then print out flyers to promote it and go to the Expo site. Stand somewhere near the China pavilion and hand out flyers for the show all day long. Say you are promoting local culture to interested visitors to the city. See what happens. be sure to do it independently, not from an official stand. I know a good punk band you could book.

If you think you already know what will happen, tell me in the comments, and also say what you think about it.

So, anyway, lets all go down to YYT for the show, the day before the Expo site opens. Let's party like it's 1999 and if there's more gigs on in the following month - we can all be pleasantly surprised. 

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If a group somehow does manage to convene from a whole crapload of personal endeavors, I pray for everyone's safety and also for minimal backlash from the man. It would be awful if the man tightened measures even more during the Expo and after it finishes.

... after it finishes. Indeed.

The tighter regulations that came in after Bjork are still going. And it killed off a lot of endeavors to bring in regular mid-scale tours. The larger operators have fallen one by one since then too. Although, the people at Outdustry and CMR may be able to add other reasons.

The general improving of the scene in recent years has mainly been a slog between underground venues and their own audiences. Fighting a bit harder to, and being a bit smarter about, communicating with the people who would like to see an underground indie rock show already. Splitworks have done well to take a venue like Dream Factory which lies between sizes and in a loophole, and use it well.

But, as to the glass ceiling on the scene that is set by gov attitudes and a lack of real industry - if anything it has slightly lowered lately.

Yes, I hope everyone who has ever been to Yuyintang, Dream Factory, Mao, Livebar ect. will be at the grand finale. I hope ur wrong too Andy...

In all honesty, i'm sure it will be ebb and flow and staggered.

But going on factual track record, it could well be simply shut down. Let's wait and see.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Best published on March 22, 2010 4:54 PM.

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