July 2010 Archives

Douban annoyances

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Readers of the site by now must be familiar with Douban.com.

It's a Chinese social networking site that is centered on the arts. Instead of games and annoyances, it uses an amazon and IMDB style search to allow everyone to list, review and share their favorite culture.

It also has an amazing system of "minisites" where you create band pages. When you log in and look at your main feed you can filter out everything but minisites, leaving you with a newsfeed of all your bookmarked bands. This includes events, blogs and music/photo/video uploads. It is so good, that the entire China underground rock scene uses it almost exclusively.

And then suddenly last week, without warning or explanation, the minisite feed was taken out.  Strangely, the filters for the main feed were too. I mailed the helpdesk and got no answer. It sucks.

I did eventually find an answer though. On exactly that day the same thing happened to a bunch of sites here in differing degrees.

road via doubanIt's slow and hot and some people, not me, are taking the opportunity to write longer articles on more in depth topics. I have been doing a bunch of other stuff, check Indie Everything, but writing thoughtful pieces is not part of that. 

I want to point you at two articles doing the rounds.

The first is from We Live In Beijing and is written by Pete DeMola. It's a massive in depth article with interview snippets about a new emerging experimental scene in Beijing based around a regular night at D22. Blimey, it's good.

The other article is over at China Music Radar who are struggling valiantly to keep track of the massive boom in music festivals going on right now. Warning: it's not just about major music festival organised by labels and music peeps, it includes pop, jazz, tourism stuff and whatnot. The main thrust being that suddenly, mainstream city folk and business peeps see gold in them thar hills.

Slow Summer, B-side Lovers

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b side lovers
As regular readers may have noticed, it's the slow time of year. Also, I've been a bit busy with my own stuff.

Here's something to keep you going though.

Beijing band Hedgehog changed their bassist not so long back. Bo Xuan was a founding member and driving force in the band and the appearance of a new band, B-side Lovers, featuring the other two Hedgehog members sparked stories that it was all over.

It wasn't. Hedgehog found a new bassist with a Douban ad that clearly stated their intentions to work on a fourth album and tour again. They have since played Yuyintang here in Shanghai with the new line up.

Meanwhile, Atom and Zo's side project continued. They have played shows and now they have four complete tracks up at their page.

So go there now and have a listen

Sister Whale and others @ Yuyintang

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whale logo
This weekend I opted for Yuyintang and their show called when we are together.

Here was the line up:

I have written a lot about Pairs lately so I want to talk about Sister Whale mainly with a quick round up of the others. You can find a full review at Layabozi here. It's like a real review as opposed to my reports.

Sister Whale is a solo act. She performs a kind of retro folk in the vein of 60's style with a hint of Velvet Underground. The first half of her set was done with guitar and the second half with a piano sound. To give you more of an idea, her other act is called Grand Flower Children. She is confident and stylish, but I think the show was undermined a bit by it being a bar crowd and people not being familiar with her songs. If all the songs were available beforehand and the atmosphere was more intimate, it would be perfect. 

Pairs were good as usual, there was a new song about hat-wearing indoors and people who date indoor hat-wearers. Yes, like me. Ann play a kind of space rock with flute lines and long instrumentals, they are pretty tight these days too. Baby #13 are also good musicians and gave a good showing. Check the pages.

Yet more video: yet more Pairs

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Sorry everyone. Youku user Laohutracy has put up three Pairs videos and this one is full length from the same show. Worth a watch. I dunno exactly how to describe it, low-fi noise-indie? Watch it and give it a go. 

So here it is:

Video: Pairs @ YYT

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This is a short clip from the end of Pairs' last Yuyintang set. Xiao Zhong (Rhys) invites someone else to play the drums and let's loose a bit. The song is the end of Yangpu Qu.

Video: White Eyes @ Mao Beijing

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Not so long back I posted a bit about T**w*n based punk group The White Eyes. They came over to the mainland but only played Beijing. Boo hoo. Recently they have stuck up three videos from the show at their Douban page. By the way, their Douban page has their latest album in its entirety, so go and listen to it now.

So here's two of the vids:

Having already been tipped off lately about metal bands from Zhengzhou, another friend, Zoe, put me onto this band from her hometown of Xinxiang, just down the road from Zhengzhou in Henan province. Well, across the river, technically. Google this 河南省新乡市.

Fengyi 疯医 The Fallacy are a post punk band in the tradition of P.K. 14 or The Retros. They are hoping to tour sometime during the summer break once university is out.

Bands from Xinxiang usually had to play in 7livehouse in Zhengzhou but there is now a newly opened livehouse called Ark in the city itself.
pairs live
First up. 8 Eye Spy dropped out of the show and Pairs stepped in. So here was the line up:

Next up an explanation. I had a busy week and had resigned myself to a night on the sofa. I'm knackered. However, I know people involved with all the bands and they are all great and do wonders for the scene, without exception. So I dragged myself along hoping to get through most of the bands.

Of course, the first band got on a full hour after the advertised start time so I only got to see the first two acts before bailing.

I dunno, it's a huge venue for the scene, it's summer, it's a hot stormy night, there are other big shows and the World Cup. And yet what looked like eighty or so people still came out to support ... and the venue can't even get within an hour of the advertised time for them.

I know it wasn't the band's fault but what I'm thinking now is that scene venues have to admit that, for whatever the reason, they generally can not start on time if there are more than two bands. They cannot organize it and should pare down the line ups.

So, the bands made me happy again. The Fever Machine play well executed desert/psychedelic rock with great riffs and muscianship. The drumming was especially tight and frontman Dan Shapiro has definitely found his niche. This was my first time to see them and fans of Rock should not miss their shows.

Pairs are not really suited to cavernous venues like Mao, well, so you'd think, but this band have spirit and they are good where-ever they play. After a brief intro track, Xiao Zhong got things started in true Pairs style. Their opening track is I spent my birthday with a bunch of cunts but he announced it as "this song is called, my girlfriend had to pay to get in" and then, "I spent my soundcheck with a bunch of cunts."

With the ice broken and smiles on the fans faces, they played their four most recognizable tracks, finishing with Yang Pu Qu. After Xiao Zhong joked about the smoke machine, the mischievous tech lads got joke revenge by disappearing guitarist F two or three times. However those guys have a band of their own, one that could learn a thing or two from Pairs.

Back home on my couch, Holland knocked Brazil out the world cup. I really wish I'd had the energy to catch Boojii too. Lately I've been listening to their excellent CD Reserved at home a lot. It's great and you need to have it.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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