Ooohh, controversy ... and more, the Shanghai sound

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Update: Beijing Gig Guide added a post to the debate here and the comments at the Beijing Noise original post are racking up.

Two things.

Firstly, a couple of weeks back Max at Rock In China Wiki send me the outlines for three articles he was going to publish on the site. One was suggesting that Maybe Mars bands and D22 shows were soaking up all the Beijing scene's representation. Another was reminding us of all the other bands still there. A third was intoducing the good work done in other cities like Shanghai (where I came in).

The RIC Wiki is undergoing a server change so Max published the first two at the Beijing Noise blog here:

Rock In China Declares Independence, Puts the Smack Down on D-22

Then a few of us commented but the comments were stuck in moderation for a while so Matthew Neiderhauser published his reply via China Music Radar, who like the debate:

The Shanghai article is not out yet but I have an interesting story. A while back I did an article here and a podcast in which me and Jake had been throwing around the idea that Shanghai would soon move away from being known as a commercial pop-rock haven due to the work of Miniless and their upcoming CDs. 

Shanghai: Soon to be famous for experimental sounds?

Well, a local friend of mine went up to Midi and while she was there her group met some new friends who were a mix of local and international students. They got to talking the scene on one of the evenings. The Beijingers said that the scene there was a bit odd as the fans don't get easily excited or impressed and they've seen the main bands many times. 

Here's the thing, they admitted being very interested in the Shanghai scene now and mentioned Boojii as an example of a more interesting band. Another student admitted defecting to Strawberry for half a day specifically to see Boys Climbing Ropes and thought it unfair that they were on right up front as they are a great band. The Miniless bands were all talked about and also the idea that Shanghai music fans are more enthusiastic and willing to rock out and have a good time.

This is very encouraging. Although now we need Beijing promoters like Hotpot and Modern Sky to stop doing ridiculous things like putting on bands midweek and for three times the going price. We're not that enthusiastic.

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I agree with a lot of what Max says, although I have to say that a big reason for the coverage of Maybe Mars bands is that they play popular styles of music. Who do you think New York (or Austin or LA or...) hipsters would rather hear: Carsick Cars or Miserable Faith? I also have to give credit to Maybe Mars for their great work promoting their bands. As for Matthew Niederhauser's comment about D-22 not being just a grandstand for Maybe Mars bands, I have a little story.

Last year, a friend's (Shanghai) band was invited to play at D-22 by Nevin. He offered the standard 70/30 split, with all the bands on the bill splitting 70% of the door evenly. We discussed some support acts that could help draw a crowd, and decided on two fairly well known bands. Nevin said to expect 150-200 people, though, so we were just hoping to make enough to cover one-way tickets, but the band had just played a huge 400+ pax show in Shanghai, and the communal account was in the black for the first time ever, so everyone was feeling good.

A couple of weeks before the Beijing show, Nevin sent out a very professional looking email to all three bands, detailing the sound check and performance schedule. I was impressed and made a note to start doing that if I ever had my own club again. He later sent a message that he would be on tour with his own band, and that I should contact the bar manager with any further questions. So, the band and I showed up at D-22 a few minutes before the scheduled sound check time to find the place empty except for a mute bartender. I called the "manager", who didn't answer his phone, so I sent him a text message. As the other bands showed up, I noticed that the lineup had apparently changed, and there were now a total of four bands on the bill, two of whom were complete unknowns. Also, the poster I designed hadn't been printed.

The sound guy showed up an hour and a half late, and told us that the other three bands would all sound check first. I was still calling the manager and he still wasn't answering. When the bass player lost his temper and pulled the sound guy aside for a chat, Bian Yuan and Liu Hao of Joyside happened to be walking by and tried to turn a simple disagreement into a fistfight. Finally, the manager called me back and said he didn't know who I was, what bands were playing that night, or even that he was in charge. The bass player gave up and walked back to the hotel while the rest of us tried to decide what to do. By the time the other bands had sound checked, we were informed that they were
opening the doors, and we'd have to just do a quick line check later. In the end, around 70 people showed up.

Ask any band not signed to Maybe Mars about their experiences at D-22, and you'll hear worse stories than mine. And you'll hear the same stories about just about every shitty rock club in China. The only thing that makes D-22 any better than any of those other shitty clubs with shitty student bands is the Maybe Mars stable.

Note: Nevin called the next day to ask what happened and apologize, so he seems like an ok guy.

Max, there is another kind of group, I suppose, still based out of the old Yangpu Area. A bunch of bands are there, mainly students and Live Bar and 021 bar are the main places. It's loose but they all have Yang Pu Band written in their Douban pages and stuff like that.

I don't know so much about it.

Also, the NOIshanghai collective of avant-garde and noise bands are a big deal. They are led by Torturing Nurse.

The Rock 0093 stable is still going but under the name Rock Shanghai. They joined up with the website of the same name. They are still fronted by Wang Tiantian and Jiang Shaoqing of the studio, and Fan Qie Chao Dan for the folk collective.

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Best published on May 6, 2010 6:23 PM.

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