Results tagged “The Mushrooms” from Jake Newby

The Mushrooms release debut album this weekend

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It's taken them a while - about six years in fact - but The Mushrooms will finally release their debut album this weekend, with an afternoon show at Yuyintang. The album has been available for a little while now after David Tao's label finally relented and put it out, but this Saturday will see an official release show for the CD. 

Regardless of what you make of the music, you can't begrudge the band this moment. There's a brief recap of The Mushrooms' story here, but typing their name into the search bar on either Andy's blog or this one will give you loads more background if you want it.
I just lost all of my Midi photos. Not sure how it happened, but yep - woosh, into the ether. Nightmare. Anyway, the third and final day was a memorable one and wrapped up a successful festival that will hopefully have encouraged Midi, and the authorities, to do it again next year.

The first notable action of the day came courtesy of The Mushrooms, making their first appearance in Shanghai in... ages. They acknowledged the fact, before explaining that their debut album was coming soon and playing a bunch of new songs throughout their set. The Mogu army was in good attendance and in full voice for the more familiar tracks though, with 'Mama' and 'What's Going On?' particularly getting the large crowd going. It was a triumphant return, let's hope we don't have to wait so long for their next appearance. Check them in the video here.

Boys Climbing Ropes then set up on stage, which was confusing as they weren't scheduled to be on until later. Once they were all set up, a bit of stage-side debate followed, only for them to unplug and go off again. Instead, the band originally slated for that slot (who were running late and nearly didn't make it) turned up and played. When Boys Climbing Ropes did eventually take to the stage, they gave a great performance to a large and receptive crowd. Every song had the crowd going and the dust they kicked up from the mosh pit was enough to make Century Park look like downtown Beijing. They were fantastic.

The Mushrooms for Meters Bonwe

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It's been a while since we heard anything from The Mushrooms - they went and got signed and haven't really done much since, which unfortunately seems to be something of a pattern for the band: they get a break, then go quiet for ages. But now they've popped up flogging Meters Bonwe's range of jeans. There's lots of gratuitous shots of their trousers obviously, but stick with it for the band talking about their city and their influences as well as footage of 0093 and Yuyintang. The band are on a few festival line-ups in the next couple of months and let's hope the tune sound-tracking this video is evidence that a record is finally on the way....

The Mushrooms to release EP

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mushrooms mao one.jpgAbout time. Pu Pu announced on stage last night that The Mushrooms are set to start recording their debut EP next month. Their debut EP, after however many years. We've been made to wait a long time for this record, but it's great news that they've finally got one on the go. Pu Pu has told me that he reckons they'll record for two or three weeks and that they're aiming for a release at the end of July. 

This is a band that has been covered here at Kungfuology a fair bit, but with good reason. They are one of the best performers you can see here. Seeing as how we're coming up to a birthday, I decided to have a little hunt for the band's first mention on the site. I think it's here, back when they were still called Crazy Mushroom Brigade and where Andy describes them thus:

"They are one of a handful of Chinese underground rock/punk bands that are in total command of their instruments, sound and performance. Watching them is a religous experience, but, as they are native to the Shanghai scene, they haven't made the step up to play to a good sized crowd like they deserve."

They've certainly got that crowd now. Can't wait for the EP.

Yu Shu benefit gig, Yuyintang

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P5090102.jpgSunday night saw a gig of remembrance for those lost in the Yushu earthquake in Qinghai earlier this year. The show was headlined by Gua, a band from the province who were personally involved in helping victims in the area. 

Unfortunately, I was pretty exhausted by the time I got to this gig and thus I only stuck around for a couple of songs from Gua's set. That's no reflection on the band though. They were tight and had a good sound, I just needed to get some sleep. I know, I'm getting old.

So yeah I only saw the support acts. Luckily for me, the support acts included FAF and The Mushrooms. Actually on reflection, having them as support acts maybe contributed to me having no energy by the time Gua came on.

Nuka Cola, a fairly new band, opened the night. They play the sort of rap metal that The Mushrooms used to play before they developed their own sound more and they're clearly inspired by the Mogu Tuan boys. It's early days for them, but they had plenty of energy and got the crowd going a bit.

Most people were waiting for the double whammy of FAF and The Mushrooms though. Fair enough, so was I. FAF came on and the crowd started to move for the first time. They played a fairly long set given that they were the second support band, but no one minded. They've added a new song to their repertoire as well, one that sees Xiao Ding get out a semi-acoustic and play something a bit different to their usual sound. It works though. Yes, I know they spend a lot of time sweeping their emo hair out of their eyes; yes, I know the keyboardist looks like Elmo on crack when he does his screamy bits; and yes, I know there are a few cheesy choreographed stage moves at times; but fuck it, I really like this band.

Speaking of bands I like, The Mushrooms were up next. I'm not sure I even really need to go in to how fucking good The Mushrooms were do I? Really? Alright, just a little bit. They were brilliant. It'd been a couple of months since their last show here, during which time they'd played up in Beijing and impressed by all accounts. Not surprising really. Pu Pu was on fire as usual and looked like he might explode at times. The band were tight and professional and everyone lapped it up. There were screams every time Pu Pu announced the name of a song (not from me I mean, from the Mogu Groupies at the front) and plenty of people knew all the words. 

Good news then, that The Mushrooms are going to release an EP soon...

Top Floor Circus welcome again in Shanghai?

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tfc big-thumb-350x396.jpgUPDATE: Hmm, seems like this won't be happening after all. Venues are understandably still a bit worried about attracting unwanted attention.

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This is one of those posts where I'm going to have to keep specific details at a minimum I'm afraid. No one seems too sure how confirmed/public this is at the moment and so I don't want to get anyone into trouble if it's not really supposed to be happening, but - whether they're allowed or not - it seems that Top Floor Circus will be playing a show in Shanghai in the next few days. If you're not sure why this is a big deal, then you can follow the story of their anti-Expo anthem and their subsequent performance ban by clicking on the links in this post.

The gig that I've heard they will play at still doesn't list them as amongst the acts in its online listing, hence my reluctance to say which show it is, but if I can get permission from those involved I'll post the details here. In the meantime, choose your gigs wisely this weekend.

It's not the most obvious choice either. That would be Saturday's Xiao He show up at 696 Livehouse, but Zhi Wang (Lu Chen's other band) will be in support for that, not Ding Ma. Zhi Wang are also due to release a full length album in the next month or so, so keep an eye out for that and for them gigging more regularly in the next few weeks. Xiao He, if you haven't seen him before, is an amazing live act incidentally and well worth checking out. He was superb at Strawberry at the weekend and you can read about the last time he came to town, supported by Zhi Wang as well, here.

I'm not going to do a proper weekend preview post this week, but other than Xiao He and Zhi Wang, there are a couple of shows I wanted to highlight: Reptile & Retard at Yuyintang tonight, just because they're brilliant, and the Qinghai benefit show at YYT on Sunday. That one has a band from Qinghai playing with some top special guests from Shanghai including FAF and The Mushrooms.

Quote of the day: Pupu from The Mushrooms

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3759691341_a630bda6df.jpg"上海人可以不摇滚! 但摇滚人不能没有育音堂!"

"Shanghai people can not rock, but rock people can't not have Yuyintang"

Photos: Top Floor Circus in Hangzhou

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p429323666.jpgLast weekend saw a couple of local favourites playing gigs out of town. Naturally, The Mushrooms playing Beijing for the first time was a big one and it sounds as if it went down pretty well. Congratulations to the band and to Splitworks for getting them up there. Read about the reactions here.

The other gig I had in mind though was Top Floor Circus playing in Hangzhou. Whether this was an open defiance of the performance ban or just them testing its boundaries, it seems that gigs outside of Shanghai are going to be ok for them. They've got another show booked in Nanjing for early April. No word on whether they played that song, but here's some photos from the show, which looks pretty packed. 

JUE is here

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hanggai.jpgUPDATE: Pete from weliveinbeijing.com has linked to his excellent preview in the comments. I recommend giving that one a read too. Check it out here. 

Despite posting previously about what a good weekend it was going to be for live music, I managed to miss all of the shows I listed in said post. Largely it was because I was busy organising and then recovering from this show. It's not often this blog strays into reggae/trip-hop territory, but I have to admit to being blown away by ChaCha's set. She is an incredible singer and is about to go on tour backed by DJ Drunk Monk. If they're in your neck of the woods go check them out, you won't regret it. You can hear more of her stuff here and also see the tour dates to see if she's coming your way.

Anyway, this weekend is big 'un as well. Yep, it's that time of year again - the JUE Festival is back. This time round Splitworks have gone even bigger taking in a whole bunch more acts and shows and venues and what not. It's kind of started already, but musically you're looking at Hanggai's show on Friday at Yuyintang as the real b-of-the-bang. And that's not a show to miss. Why? Because this is what happened last time.

The festival has gotten plenty of coverage in the local media and, while a lot of that coverage has been of the international acts coming in, this being Splitworks-organised means that we can expect plenty of local acts to be involved as well. In fact, they're taking blog favourites The Mushrooms up to Beijing for their first ever show in the capital as part of the festival.

The full schedule is here and one of the better write ups so far is here. It's on CNN-"mediocre bands"-Go, but it's by Ric Stockfis and features interviews with some other friends of the blog so go give it a butcher's. It also has a sneaky mention of a possible return for Yue Festival - the JUE precursor that rocked Zhongshan Park a few years back. That, hot on the heels of rumours that Shanghai might be getting it's own May holiday festival this year in the vein of Beijing's Strawberry and Midi or Chengdu's Zebra. Fingers crossed they don't get scuppered by that weird little blue thing.

The Mushrooms and others, Yuyintang

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4352588695_49e112aa03.jpgIf this was The Mushrooms' last show in Shanghai before heading up to Beijing as part of Splitworks' JUE Festival, then they certainly left on a high note. But then, they don't really know any other way. If you're reading this up in the capital, then go and see this band when they come to your neck of the woods. They might not be as hyped or as artsy as the bands you've got up there, but they sure know how to put on a live show. Even though the regular Mushrooms mosh-set had been decimated by Chinese New Year and even though they were playing with a new guitarist, The Mushrooms didn't miss a beat and tore Yuyintang up just as they always do.

Yuyintang had capped the entrance at 400 (or at least said they would), clearly fearing a repeat of the crush at their five year anniversary, but the New Year meant that the fears were misplaced. It was nicely busy, but not so packed you couldn't move. Momo kicked things off and, given that The Mushrooms and Little Nature were both on the bill as well, it felt a little like an old Jiao Ban night for a while. Live, and without the Soma guys in sight, Momo's sound was stripped of all the computerised voices and over-production and was much more guitar-driven. Thank fuck. They weren't exactly the Momo of old (or rather, Happy Strings), but they were much better than the Soma-fied version you get on their Douban.

Next up came Double Control Where, which seemed like a mistake to be honest. They certainly should have been above Little Nature on the bill, but never mind. They had their female keyboardist with them, who added some nice backing vocals and an extra layer to their sound (I'm sure the last couple of times I've seen them she hasn't been there, but I might just be remembering that wrong). They played a solid set, but things didn't really kick off like they could have done. Everyone seemed to be waiting for The Mushrooms.

We still had to make it through Little Nature before we could get to them though. Another band hit by the Soma curse, they seemed a little lacklustre - although in fairness the new sound guy at YYT wasn't helping matters by having the guitar turned right down. By the time they got the sound right, they only had a couple of songs left, but they still didn't really do it for me even then. Luckily, The Mushrooms came on to finish things up and, as always, they didn't disappoint.

Happy New Year! 虎年吉祥!

New Little Nature and other stuff

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little nature.jpgLittle Nature (remember them?) have put up a new track on their Douban. It's an English-language version of their track Different World, which always had an English chorus anyway. Click here to listen to it (it's the bottom track) and see what you think, then get on the comments and share your thoughts on the song - it's an interesting look into the mindset of Soma that they've recorded an "international version" of the song. I think I've probably said enough in the past about Soma, so I'd be interested to see what people think. The band, shooting a music video that hardly anyone's seen in the photo here) are also going to be at the Yuyintang New Year's party on February 12, a night that also features Momo, Double Control Where and The Mushrooms.

If you click here, you'll find a few videos from the Playful Warrior show that Andy wrote about here. Apparently, Mr Best has one of Six Shot himself, but it hasn't gone up yet Mr Best's video isn't happening. Keep your eyes out for that one.

Mai Mai has a couple of live recordings up here from a show he did this weekend and that I only found out about after it'd taken place. Damn.

The Mushrooms, Yuyintang

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pupu.jpgNew Year's was celebrated at Yuyintang with an emotastic night featuring F.A.F (Forget and Forgive), Double Control Where and The Mushrooms. It was crazily busy. It was so full that we were getting crushed stood in the second room with the tables, not even in the main stage area. So I didn't get to see F.A.F this time (though they sounded good from next door) and only caught a bit of Double Control Where's set. Of course, I fought my way in for The Mushrooms and they gave a typically strong performance. You can read a bit more about the other two bands here.

The shows were kind of overshadowed by the arrival of the police half way through DCW's set however. Apparently someone had called the police to complain about the number of people in the venue. It was probably pushing 500, which Yuyintang has seen before, but usually people spill out into the park. Given the cold weather and the state of Tianshan Park, this didn't happen last night however, creating a crush inside.

So they showed up and had a walk around the venue. Luckily by this point the crowd had thinned out a bit, but this may be because there were people out on the street in front of Yuyintang, which the police were unimpressed by too. The police walked around the venue for about half an hour, with a few more officers showing up during this time and it seemed for a while that the gig was going to be shut down. Eventually, the show was allowed to continue (unfortunately for DCW the sound seemed to be poor once they picked up their set) and people were told if they left the venue they wouldn't be allowed to re-enter as the police were most likely going to be checking on the street situation for the rest of the night.

Although the gig was ultimately allowed to continue, there could of course be further ramifications for Yuyintang - particularly if they don't sort their crowd control out and keep letting people in when the venue is already crammed full. With the Expo on the horizon, live music venues in Shanghai are going to have enough problems without attracting more attention from the police with incidents like this. Hopefully YYT will be able to smooth things out and this won't be a sign of things to come from the police. We'll see. 

The Shanghai bands of 2009

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bands2009.JPG
I was talking to Elaine at Shanghaiist the other day about the Shanghai bands who had a good year in 2009. They've been doing all kinds of lists over at the 'ist this week (including this one from Archie Hamilton on the best China music moments of the last five years) and she wanted to do one on the bands of the year. I gave her my opinion and I've summarised it below here. 

Despite the hopes of some that 2010 could be a strong year for international music acts in Shanghai, it could be a disastrous one for the local scene. The Beijing Olympics effectively caused a shutdown of local gigs and the Expo is threatening to do the same - the difference being that Expo runs for six whole months. Mao has already been called in for a chat with the powers that be after they organised a Top Floor Circus show that saw the band voice dissent against Expo. They've since had a subsequent TFC gig banned. Yuyintang is now talking about closing down for a few months in 2010. The impact that the closure of these venues would have is enormous and is something to be deeply worried about.

2009, on the other hand was a strong year for Shanghai bands. Here's five who particularly stood out for me in the past twelve months.

What other people are writing about

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hollerado.jpgUPDATE: According to Brad in the comments, about 300 people were at the ReTROS show. Not a bad turn out, but not good either - last time they were in town there was around twice that many. Given that there was a quality support act in the shape of Boojii as well, you've got to think that a turn out of 300 is disappointing. Of course, promoting events here has never been all that easy, but for this show it seemed particularly poor. 

I didn't make it to ReTROS and Boojii at Mao last night - I wasn't feeling too great. If anyone did, I'd be interested to know how it went so drop us a line in the comments. ReTROS always draw a big crowd, but the promotion for this show had been pretty dire. My feeling is that you can probably just about get away with it for ReTROS because they're one of those bands that people seek out the gigs for, but the fact that Shanghaiist didn't even include it in their music preview last week shows how little marketing had been done. If someone went, I'd be interested to know what the turn out was.

So yeah, I'm feeling a bit crappy, but I'm hoping to make it to tonight's Hollerado show at YYT. I don't usually spend much time on foreign bands on this blog, that's not the point, but I recommend checking this show out. I saw them at Midi back in May and, though I'd never heard of them at that point, I enjoyed their set. Their music is pretty easy to get into, but the thing that struck me about their performance was how genuinely excited they seemed to be playing China. The crowd could see it too and it made for a great atmosphere. They were one of the few Western bands to play that festival who didn't patronise the audience. The fact that they're back within the year shows how much they enjoyed themselves in China and you can read more about them and their love for the country over at Mr Shapiro's blog here.

While you're there, you might want to check out his piece on the year in Soma records and all of their era-defining achievements. That's here.

Dan writes that the label's lack of any releases has been due to a 'restructuring of priorities' and their concentration on opening Mao. And Shanghai's hot shot venue is the subject of an insightful piece over on the Radar. Go read it here. As well as an appraisal of the space, the article talks about how Mao and Soma have changed the game in Shanghai and how promoters who were bringing bands in before Mao opened, are now being cut out when the same bands come back to town. It's a very interesting read.

Meanwhile over at Layabozi, Zack has not only joined the ranks of The Mushrooms admirers, but has eloquently expounded his views on the recent photographers debate. Click here to read his thoughts.

Elsewhere on the interwebs, CNNGo and Shanghaiist have managed to arrive fashionably late to the Top Floor Circus anti-Expo party. I wrote last week about how the band had put a twist on their song Shanghai Welcomes You when they played the 0093 CD release and now, following a translation of the updated lyrics over on ChinaGeeks, both sites have posted the video and regurgitated the translation. Shanghaiist at least realises that it's a new take on what is now a fairly old Ding Ma song and drops a link to this here blog. Anyway, the kids are digging it apparently, sticking it up on their Kaixin wang pages and bbs fora etcetera. The video has been receiving a lot of hits, hopefully helping the song to become a real anthem by next May.

育音堂万岁!

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yyt5.jpgAs China Music Radar pointed out a few days ago, "this weekend marks significant birthday celebrations for 3 of China's most enduring musical institutions". The Shelter held their two year anniversary last night, Splitworks will (unofficially) celebrate their third birthday on Sunday when Hollerado come to town and Yuyintang are five.

While other venues have come and gone with varying degrees of importance, Yuyintang has been crucial to the development of the Shanghai music scene in the five years that it has existed. And last night was a classic Yuyintang night: packed, sweaty and great fun.

Mao had shown that it's easy to cram a venue full when you make it free entry, but Yuyintang last night was ridiculously busy. At 9 o'clock on the dot (the advertised start time), they stopped letting people in it was so busy. Half an hour later, they relented and just abandoned the door as people built up on the street outside.

Having fought my way to the lockers on the stairs, I was slapped on the back by Pupu of The Mushrooms who told me they were about to go on. The trouble is, there were so many people, the band could hardly get down the stairs. People let them through eventually so I followed them down and managed to worm my way into the middle. And then I couldn't move. I was properly squashed in. It was the sort of crowd where if one person moved even a little, everyone moved and soon the whole room was swaying from side to side. That was before The Mushrooms even came on.

Earlier Yuguo had gone on at 9pm (they had to catch a train or something, hence them being first), but they were already done by the time I got in. Plenty of people were there for The Mushrooms though and they tore into their standard performance, i.e. blistering. A few people flaked out after a while, partly due to the crush and the heat (most of them were still wearing their winter coats and sweating like crazy) and it became possible to jump a bit more, but it was still packed. And The Mushrooms are always at their best in front of that kind of crowd.

You could tell it was an important occasion for them and they didn't disappoint with their set. Pupu led the crowd in a chant of the venue's name as well and talked about the place's importance. When he thanked Yuyintang for everything they'd done, you knew it was genuine. As he put it, "no matter what else happens, there's only one Yuyintang."

Top Floor Circus, Mao Livehouse

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dingma.jpgThe curse of the podcast struck again with a disappointing turnout at Mao last night for the 0093/Rock Shanghai CD release. In fact, the curse stretched to the two podcasters as well - Andy was sick and I had to work, meaning I didn't get there until late. Actually the crowd wasn't too bad - it was the sort of audience that would have looked fine in YYT, but that looked poor in the much bigger Mao. Especially after Mono had had the place completely packed the night before.

So I got there pretty late. I'm not going to review the show properly, as I only really saw the one band, but there were a few friends of the blog who I know were there for most, if not all, of last night so feel free to add your own round-ups in the comments.

The one band I did catch and that I'd darted across town to make sure I saw, was Top Floor Circus. We talked a bit on the pod about how you're never quite sure what to expect from Top Floor CIrcus, but they were in full band mode last night and were on top form. It's been a while since I last saw them like that, but they played a great (and hilarious) set. Lu Chen performing air fellatio while acting as a prostitute during 进来白相相 is an image that will be burned into my mind for a while. They closed out with a reworked version of 上海欢迎你 that was given a more negative twist with a chorus of "Shanghai doesn't welcome you, we've got no culture and no renminbi".

After that, I saw the opening few moments of Firefighter, but I needed to head over to Swiss James' leaving thing so only saw a little bit. The rest of the crowd was leaving as well at that point. Someone who did stay on though was Pu Pu, lead singer of The Mushrooms and later, following a message from Lisa Movius, it became clear why. Apparently, Firefighter are a Mushrooms cover band. Lisa had mentioned this to me earlier in the night, but I thought she just meant they sounded a bit like them. Nope, according to Lisa they actually played covers of The Mushrooms' songs. Bizarre.

Anyway, there certainly wasn't 500 people there last night, which means they've still got some CDs left. If you didn't make it along to Mao, head over to 0093 and see if you can get your hands on a copy. 

Listen here

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pupu.jpgThe Mushrooms have made the full length demo versions of several tracks available for streaming on their Douban artist page. Go check them out now by clicking here. I still feel The Mushrooms are best experienced live (like this), but these are some decent recordings and it's nice to have the full versions available. With tracks like this, someone should sign them to a label or something - it'd be easy to get these recorded and a proper album put out pretty quickly right? What? Oh.

I shan't bang on too much about why The Mushrooms are so good but, even if you don't dig these recordings, you should really check them out live some time. They are a fantastic live act. Look at the reactions on the faces of the crowd in these photos - tells you all you need to know.

Another quick listen that I'm going to tag on the end here just because - 8 Eye Spy have put up a track from their forthcoming (or maybe out now?) album. It's called 上西天 and you can listen to it here.

On those Maybe Noise albums (8 Eye Spy and Muscle Snog), the latter certainly seems to be out in Beijing so it's just us down here in Shanghai waiting for it now. You can probably find it on the Taobao (I haven't looked yet), but Shanghai Tattoo have said they'll let me know when it's in. When they do, I'll let you know too (as long as there's a copy left for me when I go to get one).

The Mushrooms and Crystal Butterfly, Mao

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mao.jpg"Firstly, I'd like to thank Mao for inviting us to play here tonight" - Li Pang, Crystal Butterfly frontman and Director of SOMA (i.e. the company running Mao). Does it work if you thank yourself for inviting your own band to headline the official opening of your venue? Well anyway, headline they did.

Having been open for nearly two months now, this was Mao's official opening apparently. According to the press release, "since its soft opening late September, Mao Livehouse Shanghai has lifted the bar several notches for the city's live music scene with dozens of well attended, highly acclaimed shows by musicians from around China and around the world." I've got to be honest, I'm not sure I can name one dozen shows at Mao that fit that description so far, let alone dozens plural, but the venue certainly looked good last night - it was absolutely packed.

The Mushrooms in Hangzhou

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pupu.jpgThis weekend was the West Lake Music Festival down in Hangzhou. Pet Conspiracy (in town next weekend) and Carsick Cars were there together with locals October Capricorn and Shanghai's own The Mushrooms.

There's a couple of video clips of The Mushrooms performing at the festival on the official site. I say of The Mushrooms, this one is just of a girl on someone's shoulders with The Mushrooms playing in the background. This one is of the band though. It's only a minute long, but you can see Pupu doing his thing and hear people in the crowd singing along. It's basically more evidence that The Mushrooms are a top notch live act. According to this report, even the security guys were pogo-ing along.

Anyone who's read mine or Andy's blogs before no doubt knows all about The Mushrooms, so I won't go through the whole "I don't really like the genre, but I love this band" thing here. There's plenty about them on this site if you look for it. One link I will throw in though is to this video, which is the full version of 为什么你爱他, the track they're performing in the second video from Hangzhou linked above. Give 'em a play.

More photos of The Mushrooms at the West Lake Music Festival here
crystal butterfly.jpgSpeaking of websites promoting events, the 0093 compilation CD release will be held under the banner of BBS forum Rock Shanghai. You can read about the CD itself here and the night should feature several (if not all) of the bands on the record. Top Floor Circus, Pinkberry and Bang Bang Tang are all confirmed at least, which makes it a great line-up already. The gig will be taking place at MAO, not at Yuyintang as I stated previously, on November 28th.

The week before, on November 20th, MAO will be holding their opening party. I know, I know, they're already open, but that was just their soft opening period, as is often the way here in China. They're now ready to harden up, as it were, and that night will feature Jason Falkner, The Mushrooms, BIZ and, interestingly, a return for Crystal Butterfly.

Crystal Butterfly, who have also just set up a Douban page, are part of the older generation of bands who were formed in the late '90s. They emerged following the split of Lunar Eclipse, other members of whom went on to form The Honeys (playing tomorrow with Yuguo at YYT incidentally). Crystal Butterfly are fronted by Pang Pang - one of the main guys behind Soma and consequently MAO itself.

Since 2005, when they released their Magical Mystery Tour album, the band's appearances have been a bit sporadic (they've had a bunch of trouble with their former record company too) but I imagine being in a band and seeing what the MAO stage is capable of is a hard mix to ignore for Pang Pang. Maybe this is the start of a comeback?

Finally, the gun-toting Dan Shapiro has started doing regular previews of forthcoming gigs over on CW, giving you a more in-depth overview of where to spend your weekend, but while I'm mentioning some upcoming shows, here's a few others I'm looking forward to in the next couple of months:

Oct 31 - 24 Hours release their new album at YYT
Nov 6 - Pet Conspiracy (craziness from the capital) at MAO
Nov 7 - Hanggai (Mongolian folk outfit) at the Dream Factory
Nov 21 - Boojii, Duck Fight Goose, Boys Climbing Ropes, Resist Resist, Triple Smash rock for Roots & Shoots at YYT
Nov 29 - Zhi Wang and Xian (Shanxi duo) at 696 Live Bar
Dec 5 - ReTROS promise some new songs at MAO

Since I left you

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karakul.jpgI said I wasn't going to do this, but I changed my mind. I'm sure you've all been keeping track of this stuff while I was away, but, seeing as I was sans internet, I've been playing catch up and can't believe I've missed some of the stuff that's gone down. Here's a round-up:

After all the hype, Mao Shanghai opened. Andy's review of the opening night is here and there's his write up of the Mushrooms gig that followed a few days later here. We've been hinting for a while that this could be the last Mushrooms show for quite a bit (making me doubly gutted to have missed it) and I wish I could say more about why this is, but rest assured all will be revealed when I'm allowed to say something. Rounding out the first slew of gigs at Mao was the Rock Shanghai anniversary party. I'm looking forward to catching a show there soon.

The Global Battle of the Bands competition returned to Shanghai. Despite a good turn out of local talent in Beijing (they had 20 bands, of which 2 were laowai acts), the Shanghai leg wasn't quite as successful. I speculated on some of the reasons for this before. Nevertheless, 7 acts took part and you can read all about it here.

Then, the real craziness kicked in. Maybe we should all be used to the ridiculous whims of the Party, but I was still pretty shocked to read about the decimation of the Modern Sky Festival on China Music Radar. That was followed by Andy posting that the ban extended too all gigs by foreign bands which apparently led to the bizarre spectacle of The (International) Noise Conspiracy standing around in Yuyintang unable to play at the gig they were meant to be headlining. What. The. Fuck?

Midi Shanghai: for real this time?

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midizhenjiang.jpgIs a Shanghai Midi finally on the cards? Rumour has it that there will be a three-day Midi School-organised festival in early November in Shanghai. Plans are for it to take place in Zhabei district's Daning Lingshi Park (the one with the beach near Circus World) on November 7th, 8th and 9th. The line-up will apparently feature several local bands including Top Floor Circus, Cold Fairyland, The Mushrooms, Sonnet and Yuguo. It sounds as if this festival could be a "上海站" ("Shanghai station") for Midi, perhaps in collaboration with other cities/stations around the country. 

Though I've had this information on good authority, this is probably still one for you to file under "I'll believe it when I see it". When a music festival is announced in China (and this one's not yet official) it's never really certain that it will take place until usually a couple of days before - and some times even that's no guarantee. Midi, for some reason, seems to be particularly adept at creating their own melodramas in the run up to their events and generates more gossip and rumours than all the other festivals put together. Just a few weeks ago, the word was of Midi going to Chengdu, the current talk is of it being in Wuhan and there's even whispers about a Midi in Anhui in 2010. Add to that the failed attempt to bring Midi to Shanghai back in May (when it ended up being in Zhenjiang instead) and you've got yourself a recipe for skepticism.

It'd be great to have a festival like Midi in Shanghai, but, if it does come, is Lingshi Park really the place to put it? It hardly seems big enough to be honest. JZ have got their annual jazz festival out in the huge Century Park in Pudong in mid-October - a different breed of festival of course, but a far more suitable venue you'd think.

Then again, Midi Shanghai is still a long way from being confirmed. Don't get too excited just yet.

Triple Smash and Five Pointed Star releasing EPs

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triple smash.jpgI suppose you've probably guessed already from that picture there, but Triple Smash have announced that their debut EP will be released on... October 7th.

Triple Smash are the instrumental rock band formed by guitarist Jerry Li after he left The Mushrooms about a year ago. Most of their gigs have been as Zhong Chi's backing band, but the Indiechina showcase back in July gave them a chance to do their own thing and they impressed.

They'll be performing at a few shows in the run up to the EP release, first supporting Guangzhou bands Golden Cage and Dahua@Mei tonight at YYT, then with half-Brit, half-Chinese outfit Strobolight (as well as Duck Fight Goose) on Friday and finally with China's answer to Mogwai, Wang Wen on September 11th. So there's no excuse not to catch them really.

Also releasing an EP soon are nu-metal band Five Pointed Star. They've been playing gigs on the fringes for a while now - often involved in the 0093 showcases and playing out at Yangpu's Live Bar - without headlining too many of their own shows downtown. They did take part in the Shanghai Night Fever event last month and gave a good account of themselves, but they were a fair way down the bill. That's set to change though with their Awake EP and a dedicated release party at Yuyintang on September 29th at Yuyintang. 

While we're on the subject of forthcoming releases, Lezi has posted a topic on Douban stating that Soma's Indie Top 2 compilation is nearly done. They're just putting the final touches to a record that will feature 14 tracks from local artists. For some background on the ultimately disappointing first Indie Top CD, check out coverage from Mr Best here. Anti-climax doesn't really come close to describing what happened last time around with Indie Top, but Soma claim to have listened to the feedback and taken it on board when producing the follow up. We'll see.

Finally, one of the bands who featured on the first Indie Top compilation and will most likely feature on the second are Little Nature. These guys are apparently in the final stages of producing their album too. The band have been a bit flat the last few times I've seen them and seem to have lost their old energy. Will the CD bring it back? Again, I guess we'll have to wait and see.

The Mushrooms and Angry Jerks, Yuyintang

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The Mushrooms22:08:09.jpgHere's a paradox for you: I don't really like shouty rap-metal, but I really like The Mushrooms. It's odd and it means that I often seem like a hypocrite when talking about other bands, but if you see The Mushrooms perform live, then you get a pretty clear explanation. Take last night for example, they went on last in the double-header with Angry Jerks (which will be repeated in the Jerks' hometown of Nanjing in a few weeks) and brought the house down. If the Soma-produced Mushrooms album ever sees the light of day, it'll be interesting to see whether it can really capture the energy and atmosphere of their live shows (how do you really record the kind of performances that can bring band and audience members to tears?!). In the meantime, they remain one of the best live acts in the city.

They rounded off a night that had opened with Double Control Where. And this is where my hypocrisy comes in and I feel a bit guilty. They're good Double Control Where, they're just not really my thing. Yet they play a shouty-chorused metal that isn't a million miles away from the aforementioned headliners. Indeed, with the singer's bleached hair, they look a bit like a shanzhai version of The Mushrooms. That's no criticism - the band weren't purposefully ripping anyone off at all, they just looked a bit like them (mostly the hair). Anyway, they were a lively opening act and the crowd really got into it.

Second were on, err, second and this was the, ahem, second time I'd seen them. Sorry. UPDATE: I tell a lie, this was actually the third time I've seen them (caught them at the Shanghai Night Fever event last month too) rendering my lame puns even more pointless. I found myself a bit more engaged by them than last time and they gave a pretty strong performance. They're aren't many all-girl bands in Shanghai (though I'd say the gender balance on the scene is better than most, if far from equal) but Second eschew the cutesy pop-rock trappings that the other girl groups seem to go for and their show is all the stronger for it. They're not exactly Happy Strings (the punk outfit that became Momo) but it's refreshing to see an all-girl band that doesn't feel the need to go all shiny happy girly girl. If you know what I mean.

xiaohe.jpgI've been out of town the last couple of weekends so there's been no gig reviews. To be honest, it's been a bit quiet in Shanghai anyway. Not literally of course - last weekend's metal extravaganza and BrainWave Communication's night of noise put pay to that - but there's only been a handful of shows that I would have gone to anyway, truth be told. Not this weekend though, this weekend's a good 'un.

First up on Friday night is avant-garde folk artist Xiao He. You might know of him from Glorious (sometimes Glamourous) Pharmacy, or 美好药店, themselves in town in early September. Even when it's just him and his guitar, he's a great performer. Last time he came to YYT solo, he was supported by Lu Chen and both produced pretty pared down sets. This time round, Lu Chen is supporting again but by way of his experimental project Zhi Wang. Meanwhile, the cover of Xiao He's new album sees him sporting a look that falls somewhere between Beijing opera and The Village People. Whether these factors will make for a more dramatic show than last time remains to be seen - these two are rarely easy to predict.

Next, The Mushrooms are joined on Saturday by Angry Jerks - the "psychobilly" band from Nanjing. It promises to be a lively double-header. Rap-metal isn't really my thing (one of the shows I wouldn't have gone to were I in town was last weekend's Linkin Park gig), but The Mushrooms' live show is infectious and I, like many people, have been won over by their performances, especially since they've recovered their mojo in recent months. Double Control Where and Second are also on the bill for that one.

That leaves RESO 7 to complete the hat-trick. I wrote a bit about that one last week and, as I'm still knackered from my travels, and am generally fairly lazy, here's just a quick recap of who's playing: Mai Mai, Ben Houge, OK=NO and Torturing Nurse. They'll also be collaborating with each other in the second half of the night.

So, three nights, three great gigs and three completely different genres. I can't wait.

The details: All of these are at Yuyintang. I'm not purposefully featuring them so heavily, it's just they're putting on the best shows right now. All of these will start around 9:30pm. Xiao He is 60 kuai, Mushrooms and Angry Jerks are 40 and RESO 7 is 30.

Battle of the bands returns

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GBOB_challenge09_on_white.jpgNo, not that one. Not that one either. This one. Starting next month, the Global Battle of the Bands competition is holding heats in Shenzhen, Beijing, Hong Kong and in Shanghai on September 27th. There'll then be a China final in Hong Kong before the winners from China are flown to London for the big finale where they have the chance of winning $100,000 and "global promotion". This will be the competition's second year here.

If it passed you by last year, don't worry, you weren't the only one. The competition suffered from being held in The Melting Pot down on Taikang Lu and from being on a Sunday night. The bands who competed were Lan Cao, The Mushrooms, Momo, Dovetail Joints, Little Nature and Guitou Hunter. This being The Melting Pot, the crowd was largely indifferent and the eventual winners were Dovetail Joints, who just edged out The Mushrooms.

This year, though it's still on a Sunday, it'll be at Yuyintang, hopefully ensuring a crowd more interested in music than dice rattling. That, after all, is what the event is all about according to Chris B, National Director of GBOB China. Although she doesn't mention anyone by name, she is perhaps also mindful of some other recent band competitions when she says
"We're looking for real bands who play real music, not because they are good looking, can dance or can be a good TV star! Playing real music, whatever age, whatever genre. Also at the event, the audience votes count for 25%, so if a band is popular their fans can make a difference. All those working on GBOB China are musicians themselves, we know how hard it is to get our bands and our music recognition, this is a way of doing it."

Live recordings from Yuyintang

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Yuyintang have created an artist page on Douban, which basically allows them to upload songs to an embedded music player. They're using it to put up live recordings of tracks from their gigs and right now they've got a selection of songs from the Animal Patterns Party. They're also mooting the idea of releasing a monthly CD or free download of the live recordings from the gigs (that's what the vote is about at the bottom there). You can check out the page here and start listening.

If you prefer to see the performances rather than just hear them, you can check out the livehouse's Youku site here. That's where they're sticking all the recordings from that camera perched on top of the aircon unit at the back and they're pretty good quality. So far you can see bands performing at the Animal Patterns Party again plus Self Party supporting The Radio Dept (as well as a video of the Swedish outfit themselves). Here's one of Pu Pu and The Mushrooms shaking their thing for you.

Pepsi fight back

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sweet journey.jpg UPDATE: Literally as I was hitting "publish" on this post, I got a message from one of the "indie integrity bandwagon" jumpers to say he'd just posted on it. I think you know who I mean. You can read his response here.

Remember back in April when Pepsi announced they were doing a Battle of the Bands contest? Any initial excitement was quickly nipped in the bud when the preliminary rounds of the competition descended into farce: poor production values (if any), ignorant presenters and judges, plus a lot of disrespect to the bands.

Pu Pu of The Mushrooms (a band whose t-shirt you can see on one of the members of Sweet Journey on the right here ironically) decided to take a stand together with Zhang Haisheng against the competition and announced that they would be boycotting the competition. Numerous other bands joined them, while Pinkberry went on to win the Shanghai round.

Well the competition is still going on apparently (minus Pinkberry now) and it has an English-language blog to accompany it. The blog talks to various people behind the scenes and discusses the show and issues associated with it, though fails to mention anything about the massive recent accident in Guangzhou where people are rumoured to have been killed and where Pepsi apparently ordered a press blackout.

Anyway, nearly three months after the boycott, Pepsi have hit back, belittling the bands' stance and chiding them for boycotting an event that was clearly packaged as corporate from the off. Here's a taster:

Animal Patterns Party, Yuyintang

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Black Luna animal.jpgCandy Shop animal.jpgPoppy animal.jpgSecond animal.jpgmortal fools animal.jpgmushrooms.jpg

A brief bit of history: Over a year ago, The Mushrooms (then Crazy Mushroom Brigade) were one of the up and coming Shanghai bands and were tipped for big things by a certain music blogger. After a series of great live performances enhanced their reputation further, the band were signed to Soma and appeared on the Indie Top showcase CD. At the same time, they went through a line-up change with guitarist Li Xing leaving the band. Soma turned their sound pop, an album with the label was delayed (and has still failed to materialise) and the band floundered. But The Mushrooms had been tied into a less than beneficial arrangement before (when they had a lengthy stint at "live music" bar Melting Pot) and they used their experience to break free and organise their own shows. The shows were huge successes and The Mushrooms not only got their sound back, but also re-established themselves as one of the best live acts in the city.

Phew.

So last night was the third of The Mushroom-organised parties at YYT and this time round the theme was animal patterns, meaning the place was filled with girls wearing leopard skin print dresses. There were five bands in total as well as an extra special guest appearance from another of Shanghai's top live acts.

Channel One summer music series

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Momo stand.jpgSo I decided to go check out the Channel One summer music series today. It's basically eight local bands playing a string of shows in a shopping mall over the next few weeks, organised by Soma. You might have read about it in the Shanghai Daily:

"Channel 1 is a new fashion, dining and entertainment center catering to local hip and trendy demographic. Most of the bands are rather young and fresh, [...] with a hip and naughty style appealing mostly to their own generation born after 1980 or even 1990."
Hmm. Or maybe you saw it in this week's Access Asia update where they admitted they didn't know any of the bands who were playing and included a photo of Pinkberry with the caption "One of the bands (honestly, we have no idea which one)"*.

Ok, so the press coverage hasn't been great. But there are some good local bands on show there and I was curious so, putting aside my uneasiness about seeing rock bands in a shopping mall, I went to watch Hard Queen.

Hey, what's going on?

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pupu.jpgI caught several great shows at the weekend. But something struck me about two of the three: the size of the audience. Coverpeople's audience was small and that was to be expected, but it was a bit thin on the ground for Guai Li at YYT on Friday and for Carsick Cars and PK14 at the Dream Factory on Saturday.

It struck me as strange because YYT has been packed on a regular basis the last few weeks, regardless of who's been playing. Guai Li (quite apart from my mild crush) are one of the up and coming Beijing buzz bands and support from Duck Fight Goose (an admittedly new band) and Boojii meant a good overall line-up. Yet come half nine - the advertised and planned start time - Yuyintang was pretty empty. This meant Duck Fight Goose didn't come on until a fair bit later and, though people did start to drip in, by the time Guai Li were on it was hardly rammed.

Likewise, Dream Factory pulled in a decent sized crowd on Saturday night, but given that Carsick Cars and PK14, two of China's biggest indie bands, were on the bill it should have been packed.

There were competing shows on both nights. Second Hand Rose were at the Dream Factory on Friday, but they appeal to a different crowd and a friend (who incidentally left part way through SHR's set complaining they were 很土, ha!) told me that that was only half full. On Saturday, there was a good bunch of local bands playing at eno, while YYT had a pop punk act from Xinjiang. I don't know what the turn out was like for those two, but given the size of the crowds at some recent gigs, there should have been enough rock fans to go round.

So where was everyone? This Saturday, The Mushrooms have their their latest theme party while Ziyo are at the Dream Factory the same night. Will it be the same story? Is this the start of a summer malaise? Is it because the universities have broken up? Or something else? As The Mushrooms will no doubt scream this weekend (packed crowd or not), what's going on?

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