June 2010 Archives

Thumbnail image for subs at mao album tour 2010
OK, I'm back a day or so early.

Also, I have a huge backlog of posts to get through at Indie Everything over the next few days.

One thing I have been doing is listening to my new Subs CD over and over. I bought it at this show. It rules and marks a turning point for the Subs where they let their more gothic/new wave influences take centre stage.

So now, the art and music blog NeochaEdge have decided to make it available for listening in its entirety. 

So go here now and check it out.

Summer Holiday

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This blog is on holiday until July 1st 2010.

In the mean time, follow Jake's blog here.

Drop me an e-mail at the usual place: andy(at)kungfuology(dot)com

Say hi if you see me at a show.

Thumbnail image for subs at mao album tour 2010
This show has already been adequately reviewed by Jake here and by Luwan Rock here.

The photo comes from Adam and the blog post title from Jake.

Including this show and other events before and after, this was pretty much one of the best days in my existence. So this review is probably not going to be very objective. The Subs are my favorite band in China too. 

For the first time, in my opinion, everything went right at Mao Livehouse. The main bands were spot on and could properly play to the bigger venue and on that stage. The sound was loud and rousing, but all the music and instruments were clear. The lights weren't overdone. And everyone was dancing. Everything started on time too. 

And it was the Subs!

Quick props, Pinkberry sounded amazing and they played tight, but at nine o'clock people had only just started to arrive. Boys Climbing Ropes were also immense and Little Punk gave her best performance to date.

The Subs came down to promote their new CD, their first full length, The Queen of Fucking Everything. By the way, it's immense. They are still the band it seems. They have nearly eight years and four CDs of material. The new album includes more laid back and atmospheric tracks than we usually hear from the relentlessly aggressive Kang Mao and at the start people held back a touch as they tuned into the new songs. Then they ripped into Red Hair and that was that, it went off. So much so that I even had to take a half time break.

I even got to talk to Kang Mao afterwards who is a vegan and shares my general world view. Another big part of why I love the band so much. Wu Hao wore a PETA shirt for the show, in fact. Yes, I'm a fanboy.

The fact is, that The Subs always raise the bar. On this occasion they have showed that a band in China can stay independent, can stay away from gimmicks and ads - and still develop into something mature and great. They are a force and coming away from this show I can't believe they were originally going to play the tiny 021 Bar in Yangpu until Jake stepped in. 

Anyway, for me that was the show of the year. Summer is here now and a lull is on the way. Venues are struggling to fill weekends for July at the moment and here an announcement: I'm taking a summer holiday myself.

I'll still be doing a bunch of stuff but just not writing about it.So there'll be no posts until July 1st.

Don't stop mailing me though, it makes me happy. 

China metal mania - the rejoinder

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metal horns yuyintang
After commenting on a previous post about metal bands from other Chinese cities, and after my call out, Erik has come up with the goods, so check these out.

Everything after this line comes courtesy of Erik, thanks man.

Chaotic Aeon: very influenced by Morbid Angel, but still incredibly exciting on their own right. Should be even better with a live drummer. Would desperately like to see them live in Shanghai sometime this year.

Zuriaake: like a cross between Burzum and Summoning "with Chinese characteristics". Good music to relax to. 

Varuna: same guys as Zuriaake. Going towards a more spacey direction reminiscent of Arcturus and maybe Oxiplegatz but they definitely have a sound of their own. 

Hellward: yet another Zuriaake side project (at least I belive Zuriaake to be the main band). This is pure 80s black metal like Bathory. Some songs are a bit off but there are a few real headbangers on that album. 

Be Persecuted: they play suicidal black metal, not a favourite sub-genre of mine but they do it well enough and are actually pretty big in that scene. 

Explosicum: sounds like your standard throwback thrash metal mixing Kreator with the bay area influences. These guys have serious skill though and the debut hints at greatness, much like Japanese Fastkill. 

I have to mention some of my favourite bands from Beijing as well. Beijing might, next to Singapore, be the most exciting scene for Asian underground metal outside Japan right now. 

Ritual Day: the kings. So what if they sound a bit Swedish (Dissection, Sacramentum and Necrophobic come to mind), they are too damn good to write off as copycats. Don't know if they're touring or anything, would be amazing to see live. 

Tengger Cavalry: mongol folk music meets black metal, a totally unique concept. Sometimes folk metal sounds way too tacky but this totally works. 

The Metaphor: evil and super heavy thrash inspired by the very darkest American bands, like Morbid Saint. Their theme is a bit juvenile ("Evil rulz!") but it's easy enough to ignore. 

Skeletal Augury: black/thrash with a heavy horror theme. It feels like half the album is taken up by horror movie samples but when they actually play they're tight and vicious. Did a gig together with Chaotic Aeon in Beijing last December. If you're interested in picking any of this up the main labels to seek out are Pest Productions and Areadeath.
Here's a an excellent vid of Fearless playing their new track at Yuyintang last Friday. It's complete with vocals this time and at about 3.10 you can hear some awesome dual guitar work.

I'm a bit annoyed with some comments after the last Fearless vid though. Check them out here. It's a bit much to write off a band completely just because they are not 100% groundbreaking and clearly original. By that logic you'd have to hate on 90% of all bands in the world. People seem to do that more easily with Chinese bands, like it's a superiority thing. Then Erik goes on to name some bands he considers examples of better bands - the implication being that they are strikingly original. But doesn't rejoin to link any of them.

Where's the vid or track to show us what you mean? Watch this vid, Fearless are clearly a great band, their gigs are rocking and this is definitely a side of Chinese cultural activity you won't find on a tour group. I spent my teen years hardcore in metal and, like in Shanghai, it's a solid community with no haters. 

The 2006 documentary If You Want You Can looks at why the small town of Gloucester, Massachusetts has such a thriving music scene.

In it, Paul Franklin talks about the Fishtown Art Space, a non profit youth centre and live music venue: 

The venue is basically the meeting hall of the music scene. Music is the glue of everything that goes on there. You know, you meet up at the music hall, you're there for the bands, you find out where the next show is, that sort of thing. Without a good venue there is no music scene.
He is not talking about a large theatre where famous acts or international bands could be booked. He is talking about a community oriented space that is committed to letting younger locals have a space to express themselves and develop - and that's what makes a scene.

Yuyintang anyone?

Pairs live @ Logo

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pairs live
There were a lot of shows on over the weekend and a lot of stories to tell. Split's Transmit event was going on, 696 had their show shut down before it started (thanks Haibao) and there was a metal battle at YYT. There was more too.

However, I'm all excited about DIY band Pairs so I chose to go see them at Logo. They didn't disappoint, but Logo did. The whole point is that it's DIY, sure, but I used to play gigs with bands in pubs with our own stuff and also in our rehearsal hall and all that - we still had a mic that worked well enough to hear the vocals and a drum kit that didn't fall apart, ending the set after just four songs.

Anyway, they were good and I really hope they somehow kickstart a bunch of similar bands who just go for it and don't try to be polished genre acts.

If you want to get a proper idea of what I'm babbling about you have to check out a movie called If you want you can. I just watched it courtesy of Xiao Zhong from Pairs via Super Sophia. It's inspirational.

Now I'm going to go all Perez Hilton on you. The usually insufferable ego-fueled drunken douchebag behavior of people at Logo was offset nicely by the presence of PK14's Yang Haisong, who was down with Nevin from D22. They had come on over after the Transmit China show at Dream Factory to try and catch Pairs. I, of course, had to take the opportunity to harass poor Yang Haisong all night like a gushing fanboy.

Also special mention to Photon Fucking Torpedoes who ended up shouldering the entire night by himself. 

My Ren Hang 任航 prints

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There's a certain amount of crossover between the indie music scene in China and more adventurous young artists too. They are in the same boat, environment-wise. Ahem.

It's a natural relationship with lots of high profile examples. Popil doing the PK14 and Hard Queen shirts. Bigger Bang's Pupi is a renowned artist. Kaine Lv's mural at Yuyintang and her work on their flyers, now at Splitworks. You could go on and on, there's so much good stuff. I'm not going to track down and link all this stuff so I'll throw a link this way.

One of my favorites is Beijing based photographer Ren Hang, who does stark urban China images that often feature sterile apartments, naked bodies in odd positions ... I'm not an art critic obviously but he's very good at externalizing the urban experience here and has a streak of surrealism and rebellion in him. I dunno, if you are used to living in Chinese cities and hanging out then I think you see his work and it strikes a chord. So, anyway: I got in touch and bought a couple of prints and here they are (they still have packaging on them):

ren in my room

Youtube Youku: Fearless rehearsal vid

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Lets kick off the month with some metal.

Shanghai melodic death metal / speed metal band Fearless have just released a video of their latest track in rehearsal. The quality is good and it's worth a watch if you like the style. This version is instrumental. 

Death to false metal, of course.

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