shanghai music scene: January 2010 Archives

Youtube Youku: Chaos Mind @ Yuyintang

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My own footage of Six Shot, and the busiest crowd of the night, won't upload because of the GFW and Shanghai Online's pathetic service some connection problems I'm having. 

So here's someone else's footage from the same night. It's Chaos Mind and their song Just Waiting For.

Weekend bits and bobs

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new sign at yuyintang
I've been home all day nursing a sore head, more on that later, and just wanted to blog some bits and bobs.

Jake's piece on Candy Shop and the PETA show at Yuyintang came out in Time Out this weekend. We were not going to do any off-Douban promotion until after the show, to stay off the man's radar until it was in the bag. But, we did. So yeah, shameless self-promotion there.

Over the weekend I met some blog readers at the shows, all nice people. And I think some of them didn't know Jake's blog. So. Yeah, there are two blogs. We kind of cover each other.

I'll leave it up to Jake to review the BCR show fully. Although the head, yeah ...

I was so happy to see a good crowd going off for BCR but it was a bit spoiled by some a**holes. Some complete w*nkers were just standing around doing random two handed pushes on people with a run up, but not really dancing or joining in themselves. Others, like the tall guy with beard and beret, were throwing their elbows into bystanders heads. A mosh is a mosh, but people at the fringes could barely dance. At one point said tall guy and some other guy I never saw before just floored poor Super Sophia in what could only be described as an attack. 

No matter what kind of mosh, indie-show jumping or metal windmilling, there is a kind of code where everyone is in it together and knows the limits. Right at the end, I randomly caught that c**t's elbow in my face and then backed into a clash of heads. Ouch. Josh, how's your head?

Finally, we were having a laugh at/with Time Out over lunch today. We're all happy that Time Out ran the music feature and it's definitely the best of the ex-pat mags already. It's just that the editor has called the lifestyle (buying guide) section consume. Steve joked that the fashion section should be called conform and the news obey.

Playful Warrior night @ Yuyintang

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warrior flyer
There was some big show or other on at Dream Factory tonight, but it was of no consequence to metal and hardcore fans as Yuyintang hosted the battle of the -cores.

Loudspeaker hardcore
Chaos Mind metalcore
Six Shot deathcore

Newcomers Lala Ying supported.

Of these five bands, Lalaying and FAF are the younger newcomers and the other three are well established bands who thoroughly embody their style. 

Good turn out and plenty of true fans ready for some heavy music. Lalaying got a good reception but are new and need a bit of development. They broke up their thrashy set with a sweet ballad and only the bass player looked really badass in her spiked neck collar.

FAF were the first to get the crowd moving with a longer than usual set. Ding Ding intro'd their Story of the Year cover version as their favourite track which was odd as their opening two original songs Escape and Parasite were the clear winners. The crowd had a good time, but they were waiting for the real hardcore. 

Six Shot had the perfect slot. At this point the room was as full as it was going to get and they were they first experienced band on. They have improved a lot since I last saw them and have pared down their sound into relentless grinding. This was as violent a mosh pit as I've ever seen at YYT. Full of mad windmills, straight out punching and non stop action. The most impressive sight was the girls giving as good as the guys and never shirking from the pit centre. The band were badass and the front man even growled/gurgled the brief banter between tracks. It was metal heaven and such a great show.

Then we passed 11 p.m. and a bunch of people disappeared. A pity as Loudspeaker and Chaos Mind are equally as good as Six Shot. Loudspeaker used to be a skate punk band but then they changed their sound into hardcore. They continued right where Six Shot left off.

I was wondering on the pod about bands in Shanghai who are developed and can play full sets. I shouldn't discount the metal scene. The three headlining tonight acts tonight all had unique sounds with a modern edge to them and sh*t can they rock the room. Hell United just keep getting stronger.

Zhang Qian Qian, indie folk storms Douban

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zhang qq
Not that long ago Zhang Qian Qian (pictured) came down to Shanghai to play Yuyintang. It was midweek and I missed it.

Zhang is one of the best indie-folk artists around and incorporates many elements into her work. I'm always impressed with her fluttering vocal style and well judged sense of tempo that keeps slower songs full of subtle energy. She is is also well known for being more extroverted than her contemporaries.

Go now to her page and listen to the tracks there (live).

While we are on the subject of indie-folk. 

I was having a look around Douban's band pages. They are called 音乐人 musicians at the site.  These are relatively new at Douban and the Chinese underground has moved there gradually over the past year and a bit. Douban is a social networking style site with 2.0 functions that is geared towards music, books and movies. It has a couple of million subscribers but is still nowhere near the user numbers of mainstream sites. Well, it's not mainstream, is it.

So anyway. Now the figures break down like this. A new or part-time band with a couple of demos up will get 3-500 subscribers and their songs about 5-800 listens. This after being active for a few months. A listen is counted by individual members and once only per member.

Popular bands like the Maybe Mars bands or New Pants or whoever now get around 5-8000 subscribers and 8-10 000 listens per track. This is a recent thing too. So it's definitely growing. Basically, a good band on the underground could now use their Douban base to fill up any gig they play and create an honest revenue from shows. 

However, when I looked at the list of top performing musician pages I got a shock. Right up there with the 10 000 + club were Shanghai indie folk acts Coverpeople and Mogu Hong. Look at Coverpeople's page. The average amount of listens is over 20 000 and the best almost 40 000. They triple the numbers of the best Shanghai rock/indie band, The Mushrooms. Although the shows are not comparable, perhaps almost inverse. Who knows what it all means at this point, but there it is.

Relentless blogging on BCR

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As I type I'm sitting in the Kungfuology studio mixing down our latest podcast. That's right, I'm hanging out in my bedroom.

So, one of the things we're going to talk about is the upcoming show on Saturday at Yuyintang. Boys Climbing Ropes are releasing their new CD. You should, of course, go and click on the flyer there for a larger version and details.

Now. I just finished receiving a promo track to use on the pod from bassist Morgan Short. It's Whale Song. If you go to the shows, you'll know it. The CD has been engineered and produced by Brad Ferguson on the usual zero budget ... but ... blimey ... drops scone and tea cup .... I can't believe how good it sounds. 

This is both BCR and Brad at their best. I'm blown away and listening to the track over and over. I just had to blog this moment. Check the podcast later tonight at Jake's place.

Maybe Mars Showcase @ Mao

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pk14 usa timfranco
Photo of PK14 in the USA by Tim Franco

So, Friday night and Maybe Mars rolled into town with four of their bands:

Apart from newcomers Rustic, these bands are the finished product. Each one with one, or more, albums of top quality songs and a polished sound and performance. This being at Mao Livehouse Shanghai, with all their fancy lights and top quality equipment, I was so excited to hear a loud show that still kept the individual sounds of the bands. 

But it was not to be. The sound was all over the place with each act getting about two tracks that really hit the mark. Only PK14 had the audience so pumped up by their mere presence that it simply didn't matter. The guitars were especially bad with sounds ranging from bone dry to a wall of mid-range whine. Only Yang Fan of OBM reproduced her trademark sound. The lights were all over the place too with no hint of a master setting that defined the space. Just a bunch of flashing in a cavern. 

But it was still a good night. It's Maybe Mars.

The audience seemed baffled by Rustic at first and the hall was still filling up but they ended with a flourish. With two more tracks to go, Rikki Sixx spat his beer up into the light stream creating a mist fountain, the guitars were pointed into the crowd and a dance broke out for the first time of the night. I was there to rock out to 24 Hours after their amazing Yuyintang show but they were hampered by poor sound and what seemed like poor monitors too. But still, buy that CD, it's so f*cking good.

Ourself Beside Me played a good set. The sound was the most intact of the four acts and they did a solid job after a few months off the gig circuit. The audience seemed into them too despite their experimental sound not usually being for everyone. Good for the audience. PK14 are just legends so none of the above really mattered. Everyone started to go nuts as soon as they saw singer Yang Haisong, me included, and they enjoyed the reception that their status deserves. Half way in to the set I spotted Maybe Mars' Michael Pettis and decided to stalk him. We spent some time backstage chatting, with Nevin Domer too. I was a bit star struck the whole time though, as Yang Fan was right there by me the whole time. Swoon. She's just so badass/cool and a great guitarist. 

The whole crew are back next month with Carsick Cars. Watch the blog for details.
Oh the internet can be a marvelous thing, even when it's limited and erratic in your place of abode.

What started as an innocent Google search for a certain keyword related to the Shanghai scene ended up turning out a surprise video. I can immediately deduce the details but I'm not telling you how or what. All I can say is it looks as if some employees need to be treated with more love by their bosses (joking chaps) and that this vid has made my day, well ... perfect.

This is genius, and believe me, it's all about the finger biting moment at 2.35 onwards. I almost fell out of my chair. But then again, I may have an odd sense of humour.

Friday choice agony problem

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rustic in hong kongFirst of all, this is the funniest photo ever and somehow a perfect fit for the band (Rustic). It's from their Hong Kong trip during their run in the Global Battle of the Bands comp. The red suit, shades and half-turn, the hostesses taken by surprise, one covering the face, one leaning out of shot and one with the stern look, the mama-san coming forward with the no-photo gesture, Rikki Sixx's snakeskin pants-clad backside poking in the side. It's pure gold.

But anyway. This Friday, January 22nd 2010 has the first clash I just can't decide since the scene got big enough to have more than one must-see show on in one evening. Let's kick off with the two shows.

At Mao, the Maybe Mars showcase with:

The Gar
24 hours

At Yuyintang the "Puma Uncovered" I don't know what the f*ck it's about show with:

The Mushrooms

OK. So the Maybe Mars showcase speaks for itself. It's at Mao, the sound should be great and all the bands are great. It's PK14 headlining ... PK14.

The other show is called Puma Uncovered, with the 'Puma' taking headlining position in the promo material and the tag line also refers to a DJ ipod battle ... and then the bands are in there. It's annoying as a big bag of annoying things and I'm sorry if I get this wrong or something. But anyway - it's The f*cking Mushrooms and Ziyo (Helen from Pet Conspiracy's other band) at Yuyintang!   

Ah, my head hurts ... this one or this one?

But look again at which six bands are all playing in Shanghai on Friday night. If that doesn't get you out to a indie/rock show then there's no hope for you.

naka naka dcw
Saturday night at Yuyintang and back to the old ways: an 0093 showcase.

You might have wondered what happened to these. 0093 shows used to be monthly, clearly identified and great. Well now they are officially Rock Shanghai (the website) shows and a bit more erratic.

The night promised a loaded line up of unpredictable quality, just like the good old days but was transformed by a strange turn of events. You see, last night's good jive show went on past one and YYT got some heat from some bus using local fans. So tonight they pared down the show and ran a strict 9-11. So, when I ambled in at about 9.45 I arrived just in time for a top quality show by:


I posted a lot on DCW lately and how I was loving their two excellent demos at the page, the same one I linked on their name there. They had their best live sound yet and the thrashy parts really kicked in. Singer 'naka' was in the screamo zone and their standout tracks Say Goodbye and Some Just Want Everything really stood out. They really tore it up tonight and it's a pity it wasn't sardine-can full, it would have been carnage. This had to be just one show away from their first big mosh pit.

Second opened with a J-rock cover and sounded a bit limp at first. But, they really picked up during their original material. By the end of the set they were also sounding as good as they've ever sounded and the audience really enjoyed the closing track. Their set was really anchored by the bass-drum pairing of Sei and Xiao-Zhu. They were solid and bassist Xiao Zhu has real swagger these days. Unfortunately they are about to lose their guitarist Eleven to sexism marriage. 
The Mushrooms played Yuyintang on New Year's Eve. Here was the report. The show was delayed from a police raid but it finally went ahead. As usual at their shows, it was packed, nuts and everyone sang all the words.

The video is of varying quality, but as it goes on you can hear all the fans singing and cheering the entire track. So, yeah, this is 为什么你爱他 (weishenme ni ai ta).

Where we've been ...

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Thumbnail image for by Wee Ling
It was a slow week on the blogs here at Kungfuology with one reader even suggesting we check Jake wasn't dead. Nice. Well the ravages of the real world caught up with us, but it was mainly good stuff.

There was a convergence of personal projects that all came through within a hectic three days of each other.

My band's new single, Paris 68, went live. It's produced by Brad Ferguson who works miracles on zero budget and a bedroom.

We had the first ever mainland China PETA shoot. It was shot by Tim Franco and is for this free show at YYT next month featuring Candy Shop and Forget and Forgive. It's to promote the pics and

Splitworks provided the studio.

The photos are not officially out but there are two previews. Oh oh, who's that in this one

Jake was also at FrFrFrFr studio in 696 Weihai Lu covering the shoot for Time Out Shanghai as part of their article on Candy Shop. We were made up when the event listing went live at the end of the week along with the previews but that didn't free Jake from his workload at the mag. Luckily we both made it to Yuyintang last night to catch the good jive show ... which I'll leave Jake to review.

Finally. Yes, the podcast is coming soon, it would have been this week, so stay tuned for that.

Triple Smash and FAF live @ Yuyintang

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faf dingding
Pictured: FAF singer Ding Ding 小丁丁

So, tonight was the first night of a three night run of great gigs at Yuyintang, starting with the last show of Triple Smash's China tour, continuing with Beijing sensation Bigger Bang (plus veterans TooKoo) and ending with Candian indie-folk act Great Lake Swimmers.


So, reasonable turn out for Triple Smash, whose members are well known on the scene and well liked too. But, mingling before the show I heard that people were also there to see support act Forget and Forgive. 

The night started with J-pop cover band Wildcat who, errm, played some J-pop covers.

Next up was Forget and Forgive whose excellent catchy emo songs Escape and Parasite are rocketing about Douban right now and earning big buzz. The songs sounded good live and there were enough people ... and they finally got the reaction they deserved with the crowd going for it for the first time. Nice.

Triple Smash are are post-rock band with emphasis on the rock. They played tight and with energy but this is listen-to music rather than pogo music. Their instrumental songs follow the post rock template of lull, swell, crescendo and lull but guitarist Li Xing gives it bite. They have come back from their first mini tour of southern Chinese cities a much more honed live act and everyone enjoyed the set. Try to pick up their excellent EP, When The Light Goes Off.

Quote of the new year, bits and bobs

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joe chou
Hi all.

Firstly, Jake is back from his hols and blogging like a mad diarist sweating out his opium binge in a candle lit Victorian study.

Don't ask.

Anyway, I'm supposed to take it easy on the ole PC in general so be sure to check Jake's blog and add the feed for the main flow of posts at Kungfuology. Prolific as ever, his feature in the first edition of Shanghai Time Out on BCR's Little Punk is outstanding too.

So, over at Smart Shanghai, all round good guy Tom Mangione has writtten an excellent piece on local blues guitarist Joe Chou. Read it in full here.

Here's the part where he explains why he made the shift to a full time music lifestyle.

He told me that Joe had played music all of his life, but it was only after a serious car accident that almost killed him that he became serious about it.

Before then, it was just a hobby that he dabbled in while working in Beijing real estate. However, after the car wreck, Joe decided that he'd do nothing but play music, and music alone. As Joe himself put it when I asked him about it later, "I was sick. I was diseased, and I didn't even realize it. Every day I would go to work and talk to people who I didn't like and do things I didn't want to do just so that I could make money. It was all I cared about. So many people are like this, especially here in China. But now I've found a solution."

Emo-cam: FAF live @ Yuyintang

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Not long back I wrote this post claiming that new Shanghai emo bands Double Control Where and Forget and Forgive were breaking through. I just want to say that this is not like two years ago when watching new bands was twenty people in the room and it felt a bit like hipster band spotting night.

I read a couple of lists and review articles on Shanghai live music in 2009 lately and saw that they reflected what I see at these gigs, almost no ex-pats bar the 5 or so usual suspects. But the thing is, these bands are no longer the prospects or the maybes. They are filling up Yuyintang and bringing new people to the scene. Their gigs, especially the Mushrooms, are the kick-ass shows where it goes off in the crowd. And ... they are really connecting to local fans who come ready to sing along to every word.

I present to you item one, a video of FAF playing their catchy-as-fuck tune Escape in YYT recently. There is an intro medley thing at the start so please note, the song actually starts at 1.43 minutes in. Once the song starts, the sound is great, the local kids are dancing and the singer 丁丁 can even point the mic to the crowd for the chorus ... after barely 8 months since forming fully. Believe me, Youku loads fast, skip to 1.43 and be amazed. Unless you are down on Emo, of course. Ha.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the shanghai music scene category from January 2010.

shanghai music scene: December 2009 is the previous archive.

shanghai music scene: February 2010 is the next archive.

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