If you really want to splash out, you can hire a table and play dice using a Chivas Regal-branded cup. In fact, it's hard to find anything in the club that isn't Chivas Regal-branded, evidence of Chinese youth's attitude to corporate sponsorship. Almost everywhere else in the world, it's seen as (at best) a necessary evil, a pollutant of artistic integrity; here it is actively welcomed, and not just by superclubs.Exactly. At best, evil and a pollutant of integrity. He is wrong in attributing it to the Chinese youth at large though. But what worries me is it's general acceptance here among the foreign contingent who are supposedly more aware of this. Of course, as I've pointed out before, a lot of 'ex-pat' writers and players on the scene here willfully and happily work in PR, Advertising and probably think there's nothing wrong with it. In fact, they are being paid to actively promote it.
Andy Best: September 2009 Archives
Well, Jake's away and it's an eight day holiday for me too. I thought I'd share some surfing with you. It's a familiar recent genre: Mainstream English language journos on the emerging China music scene. It did throw up a good quote though.
Firstly, I noticed that a Google search of Shanghai rock scene throws up my blog as the first result. Yay. So then I changed to Beijing rock scene and surfed into this 2008 Guardian article:
It's ... errr ... true to the norms of the genre, but I was interested in one particular observation. Lately there has been a lot of blog discussion and local Douban discussion on ad agencys and corporate sponsorship and the related issues.
Dan Shapiro has been throwing up both sides of the coin at his blog lately.
Here's the paragraph from Petridis that interested me:
Also, did you catch this review in the same paper that mentions Boys Climbing Ropes?
Anyway, got time on your hands this week? Comments are free and available without registering. What do you think about that article?
I was looking at the latest edition of a mag I had officially sworn off giving any mentions to on this blog as I had been tipped off that it featured China Music Radar.
That was a bad sentence.
In the article, CMR main blogger Archie Hamilton was nice enough to recommend this site. However, the mag only showed the pure domain address. I suddenly realised that I had never got around to throwing up a placeholder there that leads people into the blogs themselves. Ooppppsss.
So now there is. It's super minimalist without making a point of it and it features some link love too.
I mentioned last post that this could be the last Mushrooms gig in Shanghai for a while. What better time to check out the new Mao venue and see why The Mushrooms are such a big deal to local fans?
This is not a promo - this is my favourite Shanghai band to see live. Blog fans and YYT regulars all know this - spot the Andy ... and the Jake if you're good.
OK, it's the one we've all been waiting for.
Soma art management, followed up their disastrous and controversial stint at the Dream Factory by signing up to try again. This time they have joined forces with the Japanese investors behind Mao Beijing to open up their own venue.
It's round two of the fight to perform a great leap forward to the age of middle size music venues.
Ladies and gentlemen, here are the rules. Mid-size venues usually clock in at about 1500-2000 people. Mao makes the minimum requirement at a formidable 800. You need bands who meet the Brad Ferguson Standard, one hour of quality original material with which to headline such a venue. You need a promoter who knows which bands will do that for you. You can no longer rely on hacking a dodgy PA or inadequate acoustics. To counter your visibility you need clear and consistent laws and procedures regarding operations and a g*v*rnm*nt who are happy to let you work within those guidelines.
And we're into the preliminaries.
Jake and I were invited to pop our heads into the venue, which was heavily under construction, a week ago. Soma peeps were very nice to us and left us with the genuine impression of wanting to do it right and do it well. The space looked amazing and there was no hint of PR gloss in the after-talks, it was all fully open and friendly. The manager of Mao Beijing and rep for the Japan side of the operation explained to me how they invested and stuck with Mao Beijing for over two years until it became successful on a weekly basis. Good start.
It was however, still very much under construction and it didn't surprise me when the official opening featuring My Little Airport was dropped. So now we had the "low-key soft opening", so it was pitched to me the Sunday before. Saturday night was to be a free show featuring Momo, Sonnet and Life Journey.
When checking to see what was happening on my way over it turned out that "low-key soft opening" meant "actively promoted sponsored event with 1000 pre-bookings taken". Thanks for the heads up guys. So, yeah, it was packed.
OK ... so, the space is amazing. A perfectly sized pit in front of a properly raised stage and the square venue being raised around that so that pretty much every one of the 800 people can get a view of the band. Really good sound. I came in to the middle of Sonnet's set and it was loud and clear from every vantage point. It really is Shanghai's first proper mid-sized venue that meets the standards. So credit where it's due.
But ... that where it ends. The show, as much as it went off fine, was not any indicator on how it will work in the future. This was a very SOMA night much in the vein of these previous two I was at. This was a free promotion crowd, not a die-hard show going crowd. They shunned the bar and filed out en-masse around their early bed-times/ last train times - despite a tight crowd pleasing performance from Life Journey still being in full swing. As I entered, some non-plussed looking punters walked past me with fingers in their ears. Ooohh, it's so loud at gigs. Also, after Momo and Sonnet did their on-time and short sets, leaving the place warmed up and ready, there was an onstage promotion for Casio before the main band. It went on a bit and involved audience games and Lezi hosting (again) in his panda suit.
The night was simply not an indicator of how things will go for ticketed rock shows when a particular month has to be held down by local acts. So we'll have to wait and see.
... and here's something else. The Mushrooms are in the closing stages of negotiating a record deal that might take them off to Ta*wan . So the 3rd October may be the last time they'll play an affordable gig in Shanghai for a long long time. So come down to Mao for that one if you're yet to check the place out.
Once upon a time, not that long ago to be honest, SARS was 'over' and the Yuyintang collective were yet to open their own venue. Various people were hovering, looking to get some shows started downtown, away from the Yangpu micro-scene. We're talking the turn of '03 - '04. For a time, they tried Harley's Bar in Xu Jia Hui. In case people get confused, shows there did cling on until, for a time, 'old Yuyintang' and Harley's ran simultaneously.
Sometime or other, a new mag called 8 Days sent an event photographer down (perhaps the very first time) and my love affair with Shanghai ex-pat paparazzi began. It hard to pin down the time, but it had to be around a full year before the last show there. This was taken from their website at the time.
Andy Best and Evans at Harley's
And here's an even earlier pic of Evans Zhang, pianist and rock singer extraordinare.
Evans and her hand painted shirt, painted by Lin Lin now of YYT
Every one or two months a gig in the underground scene just goes exactly right. The band kicks ass, the sound is great and the venue is packed. It breaks out into crowd surfing, jumping and good natured moshing. Anyone who has been at these shows knows how special they are. Unsigned bands playing small bars back home are just that. It's a unique experience here when it goes off right.
Anyway, the first half of the Reflector set at YYT was like a religious experience. Every time I watch this vid or hear the song I get genuine pangs. The vid lights up a bit after 45 seconds to show the extent of the fun and how packed it was that night. Wish I had a similar vid of that Mushroom's gig ... or even knocking about with Jordan and Devin of BCR at the Carsick Cars Show.
Reflector at YYT
And finally, one for the Brits and people back home ... also from a while back. It's two scousers in a rowing boat on Hangzhou's West Lake ...
So what's up?
Just thought I'd shoot out a post to see who still has me in their RSS by accident.
This is Andy reporting from the hipster paradise/ F-visa Ghetto. Talking of which, we have now added Dada Bar to Xingfu Lu, creating a little strip of music bars run by people who have a clue about music. Good job, Michael O-zone. We are also adding Mao Shanghai live house this weekend. Some more key local musicians have moved in, like Levi from Mortal Fools, Yuki from Dragon Pizza and Bafang of Zhi Wang. Also, Brad Ferguson now has the makings of a custom guitar workshop in the basement where Ju-Ju studio is.
We also had Cotton's Bar put a second location in on Xinhua Road, right opposite the lane where I live now ... well, you can't win them all.
So, talking of Mao Live House. I went there on Sunday with Jake for a kind of press tour thing. You can read all about that at Jake's blog on this site - right here. There are some photos too.
This weekend just gone signalled the return of the gig season after a quiet late summer. The gig was Bigger Bang at Yuyintang and you can read a write up here.
You can also check out all their songs here at Douban.
Here's a random link for movie lovers: get a hold of Crank 2: High Voltage and watch it using the AV Club's MP3 fan commentry track by Zodiac Motherf*cker. Now that's funny. Although it's probably another case of a parody of extreme violent/sexist/racist movies just ending up being violent/sexist and racist. But as ZMF says on the track ... where else can you see shit like this? Indeed. Ownage.
Finally, the original blog on Kungfuology.com was a vidcast about Kung Fu. It got sunk by the Olymp*c visa crisis and then the financial crash that sent me and my partner in web stuff into a tailspin. But, I have time again now, and I still have the equipment too. So if anyone wants to make some vids about underground music, biking, kung fu or anything else cool ... I have the gear and it's all free. Get in touch.
And leave a comment on this post, you don;t have to register and it'll cheer me up. Laters!