August 2011 Archives

Ren Hang hardcover book out now

| | TrackBacks (0)
ren hang xiao na
Beijing based photographer Ren Hang is one of the leading lights of the underground/avant-garde arts scene here and frequently crosses over with the music community.

We had him down for an event and several shoots. 

Ren Hang is an amazing artist, cool to be around and prolific like Stephen King, he just doesn't ever stop. Now he has a hard cover full-color retrospective of his work from 2009-2011. I got my copy today and it's entrancing. 

You can buy it from Taobao here
And here is his Douban page, with 50+ demo galleries (censored of course, it's not for everyone)

I can't stress this enough, this collection is a landmark record of urban youth culture and the China experience, from its fringe recesses. It should be on your shelf next to the classic PK14 albums. Also, it is free of all advertising and commercial influences. It's DIY produced and all proceeds go back to the artist.

Finally, I know that last paragraph seemed a bit gushing or contrived but let me be as honest as I can. After ten years in Shanghai, around mainly local people, Chinese urban apartment blocks and concrete jungle developments, having relationships and existing under the everyday city conditions here ... I really see it all reflected in the work on a symbolic and harsh level. It has a clarity about it that goes so beyond the piles of retro kitsch and 'sinica' out there.

Christen Cornell is doing a PhD at Uni of Sydney on Chinese art spaces. She has a blog full of interesting articles. Here is a long interview with Yan Jun, the Beijing noise godfather and the torturer of Torturing Nurse at that infamous show.

And while you're there, why not check out another excellent interview with Josh of Pangbianr, Beijing's DIY superhero.

Youtube Youku: Mushrooms need you

| | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)
The Mushrooms are having a special gig at Mao Livehouse on September 12th where they are making a call to get 1000 people to the show, then they will get the long awaited album out. Here is a video showing various people from the scene recording bits to support the event.

It's Chinese language only.

At the beginning of 2010 I'm sure they could have pulled this off. They filled Yuyintang to capacity several times and had old Mao looking close to full and had really built a fanbase. But after signing with David Tao's new label they all but disappeared for over a year. There have also been line up changes in the guitar department. 

Also the gig is on a Monday at two in the afternoon. Is that a public holiday then? I'll be there providing my wonderful employer doesn't make us work on a holiday. 

Trash Sauces feat. Duck Fight Goose @ Yuyintang

| | TrackBacks (0)
trash sauce dfg
Due to the rigors of being legal in China, Yuyintang's shows are starting later and are advertised less on Douban. This is clearly having an effect on the audiences with younger locals taking the hit. But still we push on ...

This Trash-a-Go-Go show had two talking points - The Beat Bandits are calling it a day after this weekend, and Duck Fight Goose were playing. As it happened:

Phantom Five

What a pity about The Beat Bandits. This was the third time I'd seen them but by far the best performance. The sound was good and all the shuffling and chugging that is so essential to Surf Rock was tight and energetic. Well, go out on top, I guess.

Phantom Five were new to me. They are a pub-rock type band headed by Jeff of BeeDees Bar. And that's what they did. Solid, professional pub rock. A bit out of place I thought but that's just me.

Much has been said of Duck Fight Goose. They came out as a Miniless Records supergroup and wowed music fans with their experimental stylings on the Flow EP. They combined the band's avant-garde leanings with solid tracks that rocked live ... and then ... abandoned all of it for a completely new set. The new material, soon to be released through Maybe Mars, combines the band's previous style with the current fetish for all things cool in the late 70's and early 80's. You could apply any number of subjective applied-in-hindsight terms ... post-punk, synth rock, German experimental and so on. The results were amazing.

Some of the new tracks are obviously more restrained than the older material. Once the CD is out, Glass Walls, the set opener, will become a huge underground hit here. But as the set went on we were treated to a wide range of sounds, beats and concepts that left most of us in a trance-like state of awe. Behind the tables of effects and mixers, the subtly simple and crystal clear rhythm section held it all together perfectly. They have developed a distinct sound and there's no easy comparisons to be made. At the show, I think I witnessed it all come together.

Then I went home, sorry, Battle Cattle.

More news, shows and blog stuff

| | TrackBacks (0)
smokingcat flyer
The end of this post has a blog policy announcement so go read all the way please.

First up, check that flyer. That's right Moon Tyrant, fresh off the Mongolia tour, are heading up a show at Yuyintang, where you will be able to hear them clearly. Shanghai hardcore/metalcore stalwarts Loudspeaker provide the support and Fearless will do an acoustic set. 

And at 25 RMB that's a huge bowl of awesome.

Talking of shows, I'll be at the Trash-a-go-go feat. Duck Fight Goose show tonight ... which comes with the news that it will be The Beat Bandit's last show. Check out the full story here at SH24-7. With the Instigation's future in doubt too, and newer bands just getting off the blocks, the Trash people are in trouble. They don't just promote shows, they specifically want to foster garage style music in Shanghai. 

So - if you play and want to get a garage band together, get on that and go see those guys.

And finally. The blog stuff. I just had to make an edit to a post by request - something I'm always happy to do - but it was ridiculous and I want to clear up a few things. Let's start with the facts so far.

*In over three years of the blog I have never posted up stuff against anyone's will, have always honoured requests for secrecy/non-reporting and have always dealt with accidents promptly and with minimum fuss.

*In case of concern, there is a blog e-mail (in the about page) where anyone can drop me a quick mail or request - themselves. I answer all of them promptly.

It's easy. And the implication of this:

*There is absolutely no need or justification for anyone, in general, to make dick-ish comments to me on this subject. 

*There is absolutely NO REASON why anyone should be making emergency calls to me at hours where I may be sleeping about it.

*Drop me a mail and,  AS USUAL, any requests will be honoured with minimum fuss.

And finally. If the problem comes from a third party and you yourself don't see a problem - then perhaps you should talk to them, not me. 

Black Rabbit Festival and recording news

| | TrackBacks (0)
Pictured: The Curry Soap

Not many posts this week, except gig reviews. Don't forget, the reviews are basically organic ways to introduce readers to active bands they may not have heard of. So click those links.

Splitworks' Black Rabbit Festival is drawing near check out the dates and line up at Smart Shanghai

Vivien of Muscle Snog has recently been updating her solo project The Curry Soap. If you like ambient and experimental music go there.

Duck Fight Goose have finished principle recording for their upcoming album and are heading into post-production. They will play a show at Yuyintang this Friday night. I'll be there for sure.

Shanghai grunge rockers Androsace are back in action after the summer break. They hope to replace the current demos with full quality tracks and some new material in the future so watch the page. They will play Live Bar on Saturday as part of the 6 year party for the venue.

This post has been edited by request - Aug 26th 2011 - mail for details

Rock Nadaam @ Mao Livehouse

| | TrackBacks (0)
moon nadaam
The Rock Nadaam tour came back to China this weekend and I caught the Shanghai stop. Shanghai's DJ B.O. took some Shanghai bands to Mongolia and tonight they came back and were joined on stage by two Mongolian bands. They were:

A-Sound (Mongolia)
The Lemons (Mongolia)

Guests: Beat Bandits

I was doubtful of getting through the entire mammoth line up as I got off work 15 mins before kick off and had to be back at work 8 the next morning. I was determined to see a Mongolian band though. 

I got there dead on nine and The Beat Bandits had kicked things off with their instrumental surf rock stylings. There weren't many people there at that point though and Mao is cavernous. Well that is the lot of the opening band at a mid-size venue show. The band fill a niche and fans of the genre will not be disappointed. Then the place started to get a decent amount of fans in and out came Moon Tyrant.

At this point I have to say though. The sound at Mao, the acoustics, the mix, the equipment and so on, is still not sorted out. Everyone sounded like they were playing in a tin can behind a blanket to varying degrees - although it was just about good enough to let the fans enjoy the show. So Moon Tyrant rocked around the stage with front man Ivan providing good energy and movement. This is important, everyone is always blown away by Kang Mao's performance when Subs come to town but how many bands take the hint. Not that many, so kudos to Moon Tyrant who don't need hints.

Ho-Tom has two incarnations, the folk-poet loner with the focus on nuanced lyrics and the full line up with focus on the music. We saw a four piece play fuller tracks that included harmonica solos. Boys Climbing Ropes played a great set with some new tracks. People cheered Little Punk's entrance on to the stage and much singing along was done. The band have been reliably great for a long time now and their sound is their own, so go to the link above to get the sound.

So ... I've rushed through and can finally get to the Mongolia band I saw, A-Sound. They came out wearing sunglasses, swaggering and with the clearest sound of the night ... and played a professional but normal sounding set of typical Brit-rock with a syrupy edge to it. I'm not one of those people who expects bands from other countries to fuse folk in there but I do like to feel the band has their own take or idea or edge to their music. Well, they what they do very well. A Mongolia counterpart to Shanghai's Crystal Butterfly? An inside tip tells me that Mohanik are the ones to check out from Mongolia.

Anyone want to talk about The Lemons in the comments?

Finally ... hat tip to B.O. for putting the whole thing together. 

Youtube Tudou: Broken Promises live @ Yuyintang

| | TrackBacks (0)
I took a few videos this time around, at the Summer Screaming show, but there were all kinds of glitches for some reason. Ah well. This shorter clip of Shanghai's Broken Promises came out pretty good. So in the review I mentioned they had a cool singer who really looked the part and led the charge. So here you are ...

Summer Screaming live @ Yuyintang

| | TrackBacks (0)
dragon pizza summer
The latest event from promoters Playful Warrior brought us a mixture of styles, but all in the -core / heavy music category. The line up:

Murder Party (Nanjing)
From The Red (Nanjing)

I liked all the bands but objectively speaking, Dragon Pizza are the ones to watch there.

I saw three of the bands with full attention. From The Red were a 50-50 mix of grinding metal / screaming ... and big Emo choruses with riffing. It worked though. Plenty of people in and up for some moshing. Next were Dragon Pizza. They are still playing mainly the same songs from last year. They play metalcore and have their trademarked frenetic changes of style and pace. Two bars of double time hardcore jumps into a skate punk chorus back into a spacious funk riff with slap bass and back to hardcore. The guys play well and Yuki's bass always grabs the attention. They know how to work the crowd too. 

Broken Promises are a newer metal band from Shanghai who have now racked up a lot of shows with this collective. Their biggest weapon is the vocalist Nv Wang. She is 100% metal, tattooed and has the look to front a metal band. Metal fans here like them and they did well. 

Xiao He & Jeffery Lewis live @ Yuyintang

| | TrackBacks (0)
xiao he yyt
Pictured: Xiao He

Saturday night at Yuyintang and promoter Abe Deyo had brought Jeffery Lewis to China with Beijing's Xiao He in tow. That's 'she-ow her' for non pinyin readers.

This show started late at ten, but even then people trickled in and the place really filled up just in time for Jeffery Lewis to start his set. There are, of course, reasons for the later starts, the same reasons that YYT had to take down all flyers from Douban earlier in the week. It's more trouble to be fully licensed and legal than not apparently. 

Xiao He used to front the band Mei Hao Yaodian (translated usually as Glorious Pharmacy by the band in those days). They were a virtuoso ensemble playing a mix of styles that leaned into jazz, blues and funk. Now Xiao He plays experimental folk. He took the stage with a guitar and his laptop/effects. The songs were long and often based on vocal loops. He wandered from the audience at times, as he is wont to do, but the reception was good. His combination of throaty folk vocals/chants, folk guitar and noise loops, with a dose of Chinese indigenous sounds, seems to create a unique blend.

Jeffery Lewis suits Yuyintang. He brought the merch, including his own comic books. He played with a bassist and drummer mixing his anti-folk and also straight rock and punk. Some tracks used YYT's screen to show visuals that he'd drawn himself. All in all a kind of underground/independent buffet. 

The 500th post

| | TrackBacks (0)
Ling Yin Si
Welcome to the 500th post in the Shanghai Music Scene category of the blog.

It's only relevant to the scene in a meta way, but well .... 500 posts. Coincidentally, this month marks exactly ten years in Shanghai for me too. (Not ten years of the blog though.)

Must make a special mention of Jake Newby the first person to really 'get' the blog and understand, through his own local scene experience, what it is/does. He then joined up and now has 416 posts of his own here ... yes, that's 916 together. 

We are not famous and the blog has never advertised outside of people we know. But saying that we recently went over 10 000 individual, non-bot IPs a month. It makes us happy. So thanks for reading to those of you that read it. 

What else. We have resisted all offers to put advertising on the blog. There have been some surprising offers from big mags and newspapers looking to reach the China 'creatives' market but we have always said no. It's very important to us to have 100% integrity and independence on the blog and we can proudly say not a single one of the 916 posts were in way profited from or paid for etc. 

Righty then, roll on 501.

Even More SH247 interviews: Pairs

| | TrackBacks (0)
Alrighty, we're having a bit of a Pairs-a-palooza lately and also linking lots of SH247 interviews. Well, it's because both of those are producing tons of quality stuff.

Shanghai 24-7 have yet another quality long and detailed interview, this time with Xiao Zhong of Pairs ... it's so long that it's coming in two parts, you'll have to keep tabs on part two yourselves or I'll start to look like their RSS. 

And here's an excerpt:

Hmm, yeah... Fuck MTV! That Iggy thing was really weird. I basically got an email with subject: 'MTV Request'. I opened it and it said, "We need a picture for an article we're doing". So I wrote back and asked them if they wanted a quote, an interview, anything. They basically said nope, we'll write the article. So they wrote the article and I read it - it was pretty cool. I wrote back to them and said that next time they should come along to a show. But they lived in New York! So they'd never seen us. They basically get different info from different blogs. They then said to give them some advanced warning before we released anything. So... I was like 'OK, here's your advanced warning, we 're doing a CD, what do you want to do, an interview or something?'. Then she says "If you win 'Artist of the Week' we can do an interview". What the fuck? What the fuck is 'Artist of the Week'? So I looked it up, and saw what it was! I sent it to (Jake) Newby as a joke. I said, 'I don't care who people vote for as long as it's not that bitch Tulipa, she's got a kick arse street team!

Youtube Youku: Nova Heart @ BJ Mao

| | TrackBacks (0)
Former Pet Conspiracy vocalist Helen Feng first left the band to concentrate on her project Free The Birds. Now she's back with a new solo project Nova Heart.

The Douban page features band info, three new demos from the upcoming album and two videos from a Beijing Mao appearance. Here is Beautiful Boys.

Youtube Tudou: Puppets of Distortion

| | TrackBacks (0)
Here is a video of the Shanghai band Puppets of Distortion taken at the All In Black night on Friday. I'm jostling at first but the video/sound gets clearer at about a minute in where the atmospheric break ends and the heavy riffs kick back in.

If you like heavy music, it's just awesome either way.

All In Black metal night @ Yuyintang

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)
Friday night and another packed out metal show organised by the guys from Fearless and friends.

The theme of this one was All In Black. There was a line up change that included one band not playing and Fearless themselves having to round out the night with an acoustic unplugged set due to drummer issues. So here are the bands that I saw in full:

By the way, while reading this you should go to Puppets of Distortion's page and listen to this demo there:商品 the others are rehearsal tapes so don't be lazy, find that track.

First of all, again, the venue was packed out and the bands got a full mosh pit of dedicated headbangers. It was awesome. Puppets of Distortion were a real surprise, they mixed metal, noise, modern rock and goth stylings. The set was heavy and energetic but there were interesting breaks and dynamics in there. Their frontwoman was really versatile too. Of course, you'd know this if you were listening to the demo like I told you to. Do it. 

RIP also brought their own spin on the genre. They had a large line up that included a flautist. They made good use of the flute and synth with epic sounding instrumental passages in the black metal - folk metal hybrid style. The crowd were loving all the bands and the pit energy did not let up.

In fact it got more intense for Screaming Christ. They play straight black metal and I found them a little plain in the past. But I'll judge by the audience. The band came out and played their tightest performance to date and they really fed off the crowd energy. Also, the vocalist came on in full hooded robe and spiked gauntlets - and drew shouts of Niu Bi throughout the whole set. The mosh went on unabated to the last note of the last track. Metal fans just need their metal.

So, there was something for everyone and it was a good night in general. Another win for the metallers. 

Pairs album release party set for Sep 30th

| | TrackBacks (0)
pairs in xian
Photo by Jessica from Douban

I recently blogged about Shanghai super-duo Pairs having recorded a new album up in Beijing.

Well, now the band have released details of the release show. Other bands take note, Pairs will have an extensive merch table which you pay for by donation (you choose the price) and will include, new CD, the older CD, the HK 7", buttons and all kinds of stuff. Nice. Here's the English announcement.

Pairs are releasing their 14 track CD 'Summer Sweat' on Friday, September the 30th, in Shanghai at Yuyintang.

Doors open at 9pm, and our friends the Horde have kindly accepted our email and drunken toilet invitation to play - on the condition they do a Creedance Clearwater cover - will start at 10.10pm. On the dot. None of this we'll wait for me people trash.

Pairs will play at 11pm, and may do a Creedence cover. It's not in our contract though, so don't hold your breath.

'Summer Sweat' was recording in Beijing with Yang Haisong mid June in around 4 hours. Each copy has been hand folded, hand stamped, hand numbered and hand stickered and each copy will come with our home made DVD 'Shanghai Sweat'. It will be available by donation on the night, meaning, if you want to drop 1 kuai in the bucket you can, if you want to drop more, you can.

We'll also have a bunch of other stuff on the table available for donation, like our 7"s, badges, self titled CD, unreleased Pairs demos and some other odds and ends.

Entry will be 20yuan, with the four groups involved getting an even share. There will be a low rent DJ spinning some tracks to keep the night kicking on.

If you want to get involved in someway, or put something on the merch table or something, let us know at
So here's a hint: Pairs are awesome and have consistently made their stuff available dirt cheap or completely free. So if you claim to support the scene come to this show and come ready to show some cash-love. They deserve it.

Video: Dabaoge: Little Punk

| | TrackBacks (0)
Via The Push Shove

Quick note, sorry Andy, sorry Nick ... there are all kinds of sites and stuff like this that I don't post because of their involvement with the ad industry A.K.A. Satan. In this case though, I think the guy behind it is a genuinely nice person who I've met and like. It goes a long way.

Little Punk of Shanghai indie band Boys Climbing Ropes has a solo album, which regular readers of the blog will know. The style is lo-fi indie-folk. Here it is on Bandcamp for free DL.

Now here she is doing a video with Dabaoge. LP and BCR guitarist Jordan perform acoustically in one of Shanghai's old lane neighborhoods. The picture quality is pretty good despite being compressed for a streaming site (Miller, tell me how you did it!) and it's so Shanghai. The vocals seem quiet at first but watch on.

0093 Four Year Anniversary @ Yuyintang

| | TrackBacks (0)
0093 four years
Has it really been four years since 0093 started putting on its showcase gigs? Let me see, when did I review the fourth show at Shanghaiist? ... yup, early 2008.

Another anniversary: it's August 2011 I've been in Shanghai for ten years.

Strangely, this show was pretty much exactly like the early show I reviewed back there - many bands, mainly newer or playing covers, with two experienced bands in to round things out (Joker and Runaway Snails)

胶壳乐队 Joker
暴走蜗牛 Runaway Snails
大囍福乐团 Bigger Xifu
布莱梅乐团 Bremen
Forsaken Autumn

I like Forsaken Autumn. They are newer and clearly still on the journey, but they have their original songs, all in a consistent shoegaze style and there are moments in their set where you get that dreamlike atmosphere. Keep it up.

Joker were solid although it's always odd to hear a traditional blues band in the middle of a bunch of indie rock. Most people were here to see the Runaway Snails. Despite the late start for them, they had die-hard fans who stuck around, even waving a big felt tomato at singer tomato. He (Fanqie) started off as a folk singer-songwriter and ran the older collective Folk 0093.

They have a slightly altered line up that includes Top Floor Circus' Mei Er. For newer readers, this band play a mix of folk-rock, spoken word, cabaret and TV theme tune music with an emphasis on humor and banter. In fact, listening to them at the show I realised they've arrived at a style that makes them like a more populist version of Shanghai's Lei Ren. I should take back some stuff I've said about those guys.

The main difference from four years ago until now? Back then it was 20 paying customers and all the other band's members ... now Music Fever and 0093 fill a venue on a Friday night with real fans.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2011 is the previous archive.

September 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.