August 2010 Archives

hama mannequin
Friday night and all was not well in the world of music. I was heading over to the metal show at Yuyintang when it transpired that the man had decided to check out all venues on the rock scene as part of a report they are doing. Others noted it here and here.

By coincidence, Mao Live were doing the latest installment of Genohmang that same night. It's a drinks promotion and doesn't have any cover charge or ticket sales. So despite getting the visit, they were not required to cancel the show. I made it there in time to catch one band in full:

Kind of an average turnout considering it was free and nothing else was on, but enough to make the place seem lively. I caught the last song of space rock band Ann. Manbanpai play straight up pop in the folk style. The songs are driven by wandering finger-picked guitar and they kind of meander along. The lead guitarist fills in with light jazz riffs and solos and the whole act is very nice. It seemed odd to see young, cool looking people on stage with guitars playing easy-listening, but if it's your sort of thing, they play it well. Singer Hama has developed a good vocal range since her previous days in J-rock act Second and seems to have found her style. 

I went out to see Chaos Mind, though. Not really the same thing.
festivals shot
I'm sorry for all non-Chinese speakers. I have to blog this as it's massive on Douban right now and relevant. 

Zinging its way about China's most used site for underground music and arts at the mo is a note on 2010's boom in music festivals here. It comes from Pet Conspiracy's band page and is called, loose translation by me, All the festivals we played were trash.

The gist of it is that there were a massive bunch of festivals suddenly this year as investor fever trumped gov arts policy, as they are all investors themselves. The band played twenty and found that they were all let downs due to a culture of third-rate business man's tricks. 

China Music Radar have been following this carefully.

Here's the full text of the note:

2010年中国大大小小的音乐节有一百多个,就象90年代,一个城市就有一百个迪厅一样,政府好象突然对摇滚乐宽容了起来,主办方都成了乐队的救星,midi 摩登 热波 西湖成功了,然后大家都觉得自己可以,最后才知道自己根本就控制不了局面,为什么?投资方是政府,是企业,是景区,很少有能站在一个角度去思考问题的。今年大大小小我们参加了20个音乐节,刚开始的时候真的觉得是个好事情,但演着演着,这种好心情就没了,两个问题要不是策划人根本对音乐不感兴趣,要不就是策划者控制不了局面,最后这一切就都成了闹剧,乐队乐队埋怨你,主办主办埋怨你,观众观众埋怨你,还赚不了太多钱,理想也没实现,你说这是何苦呢?这些音乐节策划人都应该向midi 摩登 热波 西湖取取经,不是问你们怎么赚着钱,怎么营销的,应该问赌注是什么?今天有个哥们的哥们打电话说要办个音乐节,哥们的哥们问:你们是宠物阴谋乐队吗?虎答:宠物同谋。哥们的哥们问:你们是有两个外国人吗?虎答:是的。哥们的哥们问:那你们挺国际化的,我们想做个国际化的音乐节,再找几个中国知名乐队一起,虎答:好,哥们的哥们问:你觉得唐朝黑豹多少钱,虎答:不知道,应该很贵 哥们的哥们说:某某景区出钱,还会有一些当地企业赞助,怎么才能让乐队和这些赞助很好结合再一起,虎答:让我好好想想吧,想好了通知你再见。哥们的哥们说:好想着点,大家都有钱赚,再见。 三分钟后虎短信给哥们的哥们:让唐朝穿上唐装,让黑豹穿上皮草,宠物阴谋我和晕晕可以带个假发,装外国人。半小时后们的哥们回复:好。。。让我想想。 操我们参加的音乐节就是一个垃圾场,我们热爱音乐,热爱音乐节,但是我们讨厌三流商人的戏法。 希望你们2010年听到你们想听的音乐,享受到你们应该享受的音乐节,因为你们花钱了。
candyshop shandaNote: regular readers will be familiar with my personal stance and words on advertising in music and all that. There are whole other discussions about movies and games too. This is just some news. I'm not connected with Shanda or any agency regarding stuff in this post.

While most of us have been kicking back this summer others have been going into overdrive.

Shanghai band Candy Shop are self-described mixture-pop. That is, they are an independent band that play and write their own stuff and can rock live, but the style is definitely a kind of more mainstream pop. They came up through the original 0093 showcases and now have a page full of quality recordings and fans at Douban. A search of my blog brings up a bunch of posts going back two years.

This summer, Candy Shop have been working with China's largest online games company Shanda writing and recording eight tracks for them. This culminated with them playing the Shanda stage at Chinajoy, see photo, along with a hundred of the showgirls. Think about this and listen to the new track at the page (单恋杀) and consider that they basically just did it all by themselves starting as a bunch of friends at 0093. 

The tracks are already out and feature in these Shanda games

泡泡战士  龙之谷  星辰变  拳皇  魔界2  传世英雄传  英雄传奇  mochi

Here's one of the vids/songs: 龙之谷 trailer
And here's a SINA review of the China Joy show

Duck Fight Goose stuff

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dgf one
Duck Fight Goose are one of the Shanghai scene's best bands who have recently won new fans and attention with their excellent performances with Ren Hang/Boojii and with Handsome Furs.

They play largely instrumental death-ray rock. In this review they are described as being like math-rock with less focus on showcasing technical mastery and more on the texture of the music. 

They are also already all over mine and Jake's blogs if you read around. 

So, looking at their Douban page, they have just posted up a new recording. The regular set is, as yet, not recorded but I hear it's all underway. The new track Angel Sphere is an electronic based track that departs from their familiar material but retains the feeling and spirit. Rehearsal tapes of Theme and Ghost is Online are still up on the page ... as is the Guai Li show at Yuyintang next month, so I assume you can catch them there.
Boys Climbing Ropes at d22
Well we've all been moaning about how the summer is slow, and it is. There have been a few good events now and again but September is nearly upon us.

I was just going through the listings via Douban's various host pages and I've spotted what could be the first legendary Yuyintang weekend of the season.

The stars have aligned and a group of top bands representing three different cities have come together for two days of pure quality and madness, followed by a bonus day of death metal if you're down for the marathon. And would you believe it, this is actually, Boys Climbing Ropes first true weekend headlining gig at YYT and they are pretty much Shanghai's main attraction live while The Mushrooms are in the studio.

Day one: Friday night (Sept. 10th)
The Fallacy (Henan, Xinxiang)

Post punk bands that move a crowd

Day two: Saturday night (Sept. 11th)
Pairs (SH)

Lo-fi indie and dance rock, more crowd madness

Day Three bonus: Sunday night (Sept. 12th)
Hydrophobia (Japan)
Bestial Invasion

Horror, death metal - if you make all three shows, finishing with this one, mail me and you'll get an honourable blog mention. 

Final note, I saw tons of writers, scenesters and industry ppl at the Handsome Furs show and it just reminded me that I usually don't see them at other shows that often. Make all three shows here and you'll get your spurs, for real. Come on.

Beijing DIY goings on with Pangbianr

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Up in Beijing you can now tap into the DIY side of things via this blog called Pangbianr.

It's well good. It's actually a collective/indie label/everything, it just happens that the blog, by Josh, is well laid out and full of interesting stuff. They are now looking to start some projects in the DIY mould.

For example, check out this excellent post on Beijing's Raying Temple venue/studio.

So follow this and try to support it any way you can. When you show support for things, they tend to do more.

This blog has been on holiday

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Hello everyone. Sorry. Last weekend, on very short notice, I buggered off to the place you can see in the photo for a week on the beach. 

You should be able to click on the pic for a massive version. I took that one on the trip.

It was great.

That's one of the two beaches with swimming and chair/beach-umbrella rentals on China's famous Putuoshan: an island national park by the Hangzhou Bay. Back to gigging next weekend. See ya all there.

andy temple

evening view

pb zb
While the going's slow I want to take a moment to reflect on Shanghai pop-punk band Pinkberry. 

Go here to listen to their first EP. Listen to the tracks marked Go! Boom!

After looking at some photos of their show this month at the Inmusic Festival at Zhangbei, I realized how far they'd come. The band is the brainchild of guitarist Toni Yu and singer Xiao You. Toni was the guitarist for old school punk band Mortal Fools. Xiao You is an ambitious and intelligent local girl who studies at Shanghai Film School and has an amazing voice on her.

I first blogged about them in September 2008 when they supported Old Doll at Yuyintang. And then went on to cover them as much as possible. Here's a brief selection:

This band started out by showing promise beyond the other new bands out at the same time. They then developed a set through a number of live appearances, breaking into support slots at higher profile shows. Then they rode out line up changes and a little controversy to sign with Zhu Lu He Feng and get their first CD out. Off the back of that, they've been playing the festival circuit this year. 

This makes me happy. It bears out what should have been obvious to everyone: Toni can write songs and Xiao You has the voice and appeal to make it. They are now a Shanghai mainstay. Good job, everyone.

Video: Guai Li "Devil Rabbit"

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Beijing new wave punk band Guai Li have just posted this video to their Douban page. They are now on Maybe Mars and have a new album coming out soon. This is Devil Rabbit.

Thumbnail image for duckfightgoose
Image of DFG at Beijing's D22

Friday night was the big Splitworks' gig at Yuyintang featuring the following bands:

You can read Jake's regular review here.

There's not really a lot more to say apart from some thoughts I was having. The show was both amazing and yet disappointing at the same time. Hear me out.

It was a great turnout, a wonderful atmosphere and show and we were watching three top bands. Pairs and Duck Fight Goose are the breakout bands of the Shanghai scene this year, for differing reasons, and Handsome Furs are a quality international act. All three were excellent and the show was a resounding stamp of quality for the scene. I felt so proud. 

On the other hand, a combination of prohibitive pricing and clique behavior in the scene meant that a ton of people who should have been there weren't. So a huge section of the local scene, bands and fans alike, will be unaware and dismissive of this major event. The various collectives and groups within the scene could have taken so much away from the show ... but it's like the tree falling in the forest thing, innit?

If no one saw it happen, it's like it never existed. Or heard it. Err. Wait a minute ...

Summer re-runs: playlists

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andy farm
Yes, it really is that slow at the moment. I just spent ages trawling individually through near two hundred band pages. Douban still haven't restored the feed filters or made any announcement on it. Nothing doing.

China Music Radar have a new post up confirming what we've all heard already. Festivals this year have been pants and they all lie about their numbers too.

So, I was looking at this Layabozi playlist from Pairs' Xiao Zhong and thought ... oh, I've done that. They called it a journey in rock but it's actually quite diverse. Sort of. I write stuff under the songs too. It's from the start of 2009. 

AV Club crosstalk on festivals

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candy monster
Before we get going with this link, let me remind you that the place to get all your China festival news is China Music Radar. So check it out.

So. I don't really like festivals.  They are shit for seeing live music and the other aspect - the experience / hang out - rarely comes together as it should for many reasons. 

But, instead of ranting about it, I'm going to link this amazing AV Club discussion (text) on it that just came out:

Here's the opening:

Every summer I face the same no-win situation: Do I man up and set aside my instinctual aversion to outdoor music festivals, which I've come to associate with overstuffed and B.O.-heavy crowds, wallet-killing concessions, poor sound, and even worse sightlines? Or do I surrender to sanity and stay home, which will inevitably make me feel like I'm missing something, especially after I read all the reviews online about how "mind-blowing" and "awe-inspiring" such-and-such band was. Really? You really thought it was that good after standing in flip-flops in the punishing sun for eight hours in a sea of awful, inconsiderate drunks? Is it possible that I actually hate live music?
Dan Shapiro
Outside of Kungfuology here, there are few mainstays in the music blogging world of Shanghai. This is especially true of Chinese language sites too. Get it together, someone.

One of the other regulars is Dan Shapiro (pictured) who has been writing City Weekend's music column for ages now. He's usually pegged back by CW's bad formatting and general reputation but check it out - a site revamp has left his page looking pretty good.

A scroll down the page shows a lot of quality posts. Check out this mini-interview with Duck Fight Goose's Han Han:

With more interviews and previews and less reviews, it seems to compliment us just fine, so add in the feed. Do it.

youtube Youku: Pinkberry @ Zhangbei

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Shanghai pop-punk band Pinkberry have just been up at the Zhangbei festival. Here's a video of them there. It's not the most intelligently shot vid I've seen with no crowd or indication they're at a festival but I'll take it. 

Two tracks, watch through for Pinkberry Song.

Boojii, Ren Hang and DFG @ Yuyintang

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boojii at yuyintang
UPDATE: here is a full independent review from Layabozi 

Full disclosure/warning: me and Jake organised this event so this is not an independent review, just how I feel it went.

The event was to promote more avant-garde art forms and included two bands and a Beijing based photographer.

There was a good turn out, especially considering it was a niche event, and a good crowd of people who were really into the acts. Great atmosphere and we were pleased as punch. Duck Fight Goose opened and killed. They sounded great and the set was amazing. They defy description ... errr .. on the page it says death-ray rock so there you go. After the set people approached me to ask who the band was and if they could get a CD.

After a brief announcement by Jake Newby it was time to show the pictures. Ren Hang is one of Beijing's cutting edge young artists and we were all excited to put on the slide show and see how it was received, no one more than Ren Hang himself who was right in there for the show. Everyone packed into the main hall to watch it and the atmosphere was amazing with photos often getting cheers, whoops and applause! There was about 15 minutes of photos to a looped atmospheric track. People loved the explicit shots but what we saw, when Ren Hang's work was displayed on the screen in succession, was the subtle beauty of the shots. Really. I couldn't have been more happy about how it went down. It was like rock art or whatever.

The night was closed off by an excellent Boojii set. They played most of their CD Reserved, which is excellent and the sound was great too. San San wore her collar of legs and everyone enjoyed the music. Mission accomplished.

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