Results tagged “banana monkey” from Andy Best

Girls Like Mystery / Death To Giants live @ YYT

glm kevin
Pic: Kevin Wright of Girls Like Mystery

This gig was a week ago Friday and I am a dirty procrastinator. There you go.

Also, I only caught two full sets out of five bands. This show was the School's Out Part 2 gig with five bands on the line up:

Daydreamer (空想家)

I arrived to catch the very last song of Daydreamer's set. The band have a good local following and promising nihilistic song titles like Fuck The Rest and 玩手机 (play on my cell phone) but the songs tend to be big tracks with classic blues-rock conventions as the base. They had a load of fans/friends in the crowd, who all left the venue within one or two minutes of the last song ending. I always harp on about this, but it reminds me of the 0093 showcase days where a six band bill would start out full then lose like thirty or so people after each set - literally within seconds of the last song - until the last band had about twenty plus staff to play to. Singer Chen Li (陈粒) had a good rapport with the fans and her solo folk page also has a good Douban following. 

Death To Giants, as well documented now, are a great great band and consummate entertainers live. This set featured appearances from Threshold of Forest and Mike Corayer. Bassist Nichols and Corayer did their scat vs trumpet duel (scat as in the vocal style - get your minds out of the toilet) and it really went off. Super.

I haven't really written about Girls Like Mystery here but this show really pressed home to me how they have developed into a good band on the scene. GLM are Kevin Wright (vox, bass), Micheal Herd (guitar), Mike Arone (keyboard), Adam Poole (drums), Mike Corayer (trumpet) and Todd St Amand (cello). The style is big tunes Brit-rock. Kevin is humble and open about the band's beginning, jamming out some covers with himself, Arone and Poole but now they have a live presence and play a good set of cathartic original rock tracks. Wright's look, voice and personality is a perfect fit for the style and he credits Arone's greater involvement with songwriting for the development of the material. 

Video: Banana Monkey Double Trouble MV

Shanghai retro-rockers Banana Monkey have been on and off since their 2006 heyday when they momentarily ruled the scene. One of their oldYYT shows was a real highlight of my time here. Now they are on again and have posted up a video for the track Double Trouble. The song is old but the vid is new and cut from a YYT performance. Check it out.

AV Club's year in band names

It's that time of year again. Readers of the blog may get the impression that I don't follow music outside of the China scene. But that's just the topic of the blog, not me personally.

My favourite end of year feature is the AV Club's band name round up.

This is one of the funniest lists you can read ... adopts serious voice ... because it's true. Although I still think 2007 can't be beat. These were real band names from that year:

Gay Witch Abortion
Happy Mother's Day, I Can't Read
The Asbestos Tampons
Statutory Grape
Slut Barf

Makes you think though, what China scene band names would make a list like that? Looking through my Douban band pages, I see that most band names seem quite normal or at least they suit the band. There are some odd ones but none as off the rails as the attention grabbing cries for help that come from the massively over saturated and competitive scenes back home.

We have the Retros for acronyms (Rebuilding the rights of statues) or PK14 (the public kingdom for teens).

Elephant Maker, Double Control Where and Banana Monkey are a bit random. What do you all think?

Banana Monkey / The Mushrooms live @ Yuyintang


Well ... what the f%*k do I know? Tonight's show at Yuyintang was going head to head with Battles at Dream Factory, essentially stripping it of hipsters and ex-pat party types. Then, on top of that, the night was marketed (to mainly local rock fans) as a silk stockings night. If the ladies wore a mini skirt and stockings, they get in half price. And the weather was miserable. Seemed like a perfect recipe for a dead night.

So yeah, I turned up near doors open time and had to queue to get in. It was already over 300 when I bought my ticket and ended up being absolutely rammed with overspill into the park, just like the Halloween Subs show. To top it off, there were wall to wall local indie and rock girls ...yes ... almost all wearing short skirts and stockings. As co-owner Zhang Haisheng said to me later on, never bet against the discount.

So, yeah, it was rammed and a great night. The main room was bursting and everyone got jumping about halfway into the set of Banana Monkey. Lead signer Bono was visibly dissapointed with the crowd at first and asked them to get jumping between each song. But to be fair, they still haven't found their mojo since reforming and the point at which the crowd got going was the point at which the songs were tighter and the performance better. By the last song I finally felt like I was at a BM show and the band went out in rock style, taking turns to throw down thier instruments and attack the drum kit.

Next up, the Mushrooms were the headlining act. And ... finally, the new line up has tightened up and settled in and the energy we were used to from the Mushrooms was back. What a good time for a return to form, in front of a packed room of adoring fans who knew the words to every song. Front man PuPu has never been short of charisma and with the new line up solid, it was back to his old self. I did want to get some footage, and Youtube is back but once in the mosh zone there was no chance to get out again. Great band, great night. Perhaps we could schedule a hipster friendly show on the same night as local rock shows all the time? It's win-win.

Chinese New Year: the show and the holiday

new year gig flyer
The Year of the Ox is almost upon us. For non China residents I should explain that this means a week long public holiday and also half the people you know going back to their home cities for that time. Also, the holiday is only really three days and rather than just give you the rest of the time, you have to make it up by working weekends and overtime right after. It's either dead or nuts or up and down between the two.

So. Tonight is the night before the big one and Yuyintang are putting on a show. heres' the line up:

Banana Monkey
Cold Fairyland

It starts at 9.00 p.m. Yuyintang is directly next to the Line 3 station Yan'an Xi Lu. This will be the event to be at if you love alternative/DIY culture made by a community for each other. This is where you should be if holiday music makes you want to stick forks in your ears. 

I should also mention that I will be taking a holiday too. I know how bad this sounds, but i'm going to use the time to concentrate on finishing a novel (s). No - really. I have a professional set up for this and have been slack in handing stuff in. There won't be any new blog posts for twelve days, when YYT hold the 8th Rock 0093 showcase. So Happy New Year to all and I'll leave you with my own specially penned line for the Year of the Ox:

牛year,牛B !

Upcoming shows I'm off to in January

 warm songs flyer
Believe me, I still have no plans to start any kind of listings or be a regular website type thing. So, be clear, this is not everything that's going on in Shanghai, it's just what I'm thinking of doing. This is often determined by the distance between my house and Yuyintang, i.e. a short walk. 

I don't think this month is slowing down, but ... the schedules are not filled out as far in advance as they were lately. It's a Yuyintang weekend for me first:

Friday 9th: "Warm songs for a winter's day" showcase featuring seven bands in the folk style. That's the flyer pictured. Mogu Hong (Red Mushroom) is the only familiar name for me. Check her out.

Saturday 10th: A Brit-pop style night featuring Shanghai's own Hanging Gardens and The Way from Ningbo. The Way are really cool, check out an older review. While you're at it, read a magazine feature on Hanging Gardens here.

Sunday 11th: Abe Deyo brings legendary Hardcore Punk act D.O.A. to Shanghai who will be supported by one of the hottest bands in China right now, Demerit. Look ahead in the post to find another show by Demerit and check them out here

For all you stalkers out there, do stalk me, no problem. You know, as long as you are the talking type and not the stabbing type. Don't know anyone in the scene? No one else going to the show with you? Drop me a comment or a mail (via the about page) and we'll go together or meet there. It's all good. After just one show you'll be able to dump me for all your new found friends! Or your money back!

Continuing ... 

Friday 16th and Saturday 17th at Dream Factory: Up to the larger venue for the Jue Festival. On Friday is the main Demerit show that also features Pinkberry. Then on Saturday we have the Maybe Mars showcase with Ourself Beside Me, Carsick Cars and Snapline. These shows are being put on by Splitworks who are adamant about splashing out on pro sound set-ups and trained sound engineers. I'm especially looking forward to Ourself Beside Me.

Looking into my crystal ball I see one more show planned in advance. It's at YYT on Saturday 24th and features Sonnet, Banana Monkey and Cold Fairyland. Sonnet have been getting tight again and Banana Monkey are a big deal on the scene ... remember this story? This will be the first time I check them out since they re-formed. 

Ok, that's all for now. Now to figure out my Douban problem. I have a bunch of friends there, mostly local and all of whom I see have been to the same shows. The problem is that 80% of Douban users use nicknames and avatars that are not their own pictures ... and have no indication of who they are in their profiles either. It's like the thing with getting an "it's me" text and not wanting to say "yeah, but who are you?" in case you offend someone you know. Arse.

The Worst Band Names / Happy Holidays

av club article
Well, we had the Banana Monkey reunion show and tonight we have the Keep Loud Festa and the Miniless Showcase. Unfortunately the whole weekend is a write off for me as the time of winter and holidays is also often the time of flu and illnesses. For those who know Evans, she's doing fine now and is at home resting. The blog will be back in action next Saturday for the Jiao Ban Two night at YYT. If anyone goes to any of the above shows this weekend, do send me a mini review or photos by mail.

Here's a couple of photos from last night's gig courtesy of Schokora's 56minus1 blog.

So, here's my pick on the net for the holidays. When I first read this feature last year at the A.V. Club website I was crying tears of laughter at some of the band names. Here's the intro to the feature from the site:

Each year, The A.V. Club receives hundreds of albums, thousands of press releases, and several thousand more show listings for hundreds of venues around the country. At any given moment, our editors are besieged by information on bands, most of whom we've never heard of. Sifting through all that info, we inevitably encounter questionable band names. Actually, you could argue any moniker is questionable, but we keep an ongoing list of the worst and funniest ones we see. Then, come December, we whittle them down for our annual Worst Band Names feature. This list isn't a compendium of the worst names of all time--or a statement on the quality of their music--just the ones we encountered this year.
Put your favorite one in the comments (remember, you don't have to register just select anonymous) ... now read it! The Worst Band Names Of 2008.

Happy Holidays!

Banana Monkey reform and bring back Five Dollar Shakes

banana monkey bono
Well, the event gigs and big shows just don't stop coming lately.

This Friday at Yuyintang sees the return of Banana Monkey and their event brand Five Dollar Shakes. This one is Frankenstein and I'm always banging on about Wolfman at the old YYT to anyone who will listen. It was a truly great underground show and Banana Monkey rocked. So, first of all, why not check out the band's music directly:

BM at Neocha
BM at Myspace

So what's the big deal here? Here's my take. BM are a tight professional act and the Shanghai scene is so small that adding just one tight band makes proportionally big waves. And here's the downside. Sonnet, who also recently reformed and play on Friday, were slack at their comeback. For want of a better expression, they lacked match fitness. I hope that BM have matched the hype with a truck load of practice. 

Morgan of Boys Climbing Ropes wrote about this over at SmartShanghai. Couldn't locate the direct page but here's a lengthy quote:

Local garage rock supastahs Banana Monkey are back together after an uncertain future, an album on hold, a photo shoot with Vogue, a drummer change, and a management change, taking the stage at Yuyintang December 19 for their first show in several long months. 
If you're new to the city, for the last few years Banana Monkey have been Shanghai's success story in waiting, and were the only band in town able to bring it all -- they had the look, attitude, snappy dressing, sound, songs, technical ability, and could easily blow any band off the stage with their live performances. Detractors would complain that their influences were all too apparent (*cough* The Strokes *cough* *cough*), but no one could argue that for what Banana Monkey were doing, nobody could do it better.

And on a final annoying inside joke note, come back or no come back, Shanghai's hope or no hope, if it goes off I'm throwing down with Brad. 

Youtube channel top views and more

It's almost a month since the last round up of the blog's Youtube channel so let's have another look. 

I appealed to people to promote their favourite videos by getting their friends to watch and sending it up the charts. This seems to have worked a bit in some cases, although Miniless Record's Self Party is still at the top. Darn it. We still haven't had a vid break out into the Youtube mainstream and pile up a ton of views yet either. Curses! Why aren't people queuing up to watch unclear, bootleg videos of amateur bands they've never heard of in a distant country they know nothing about? Beats me!

I do have a couple of other things to post about today so I'll get the short one out: Banana Monkey have split. Not only were they a good band who had stuck together and 'got good', they also did a lot of organising on the scene. Some of my favourite shows were the movie themed gigs down at the old Yuyintang. I first saw them and Happy Strings (now Momo) at Wolfman Attacks Yuyintang. Follow the link to have a listen and a nostalgic moment - here.

And now ... the current top six of my blog's mainly insignificant video channel:

1) Self Party play the Miniless Records showcase at Yuyintang: 168 views watch
2) Bang Bang Tang play Yuyintang: 158 views watch
3) Boys Climbing Ropes live at Control: 131 views watch
4) Hard Queen's August Yuyintang show: 108 views watch
5) Modern Cheese at Yuyintang: 101 views watch
6) The Rogue Transmission live at Control: 99 views watch

BCR and the Rogue Transmission blow the top six apart! Good show. Next step, one of the top six bands simply has to persuade some high traffic site like Shanghaiist to post their video and it will skyrocket into an utterly untouchable position. Or, if you want a real promo video, just ask. I have a flashy camera (Canon XL2) and a light and will do it for free/a laugh. 

Lastly, I saw that a piece mentioning Chinese rock music appeared in the Guardian's famous Comment Is Free section. So firstly:

The article in question - here
The nice guys at Danwei who broke the story - here

The piece is actually about fetish-ising things cos they're Chinese and judging them unfairly. It makes some interesting points (unintentionally). Namely, that even being 'positive' is bad if it's a stereotype. Anyway, the article is all over the place and I've no idea why it's in CiF. The main thrust is not really what I cover on the blog here either. She does mention Carsick Cars and The Subs. Apparently, the song Zhong Nanhai is not only about the brand of ciggie but referring to the Zhong Nanhai building in Beijing. Shows how much I know. I wonder if Alice also thinks it refers to the actual Zhong Nanhai, the South China Sea? Do we have a CSC lyrics expert on hand?

Long weekend blather

two cool
It's the mooncake-tastic mid-autumn festival which means a public holiday long weekend. I'd love to throw in the words wish and happy in there somewhere but it's a miserable grey day with intermittent rain and thunder. I did get a chance to read around the English language sites and mags and find some stuff on the scene. I've recently put up a lot of reviews and vids so why not throw in a chat? Warning: it's inane and uninformative, you might want to bail now.

First, I was reading SH magazine which has a big feature on live shows and festivals this month. The feature is written by Jake Newby whom I met via a brief stint at Shanghaiist. Jake is a good guy. So before I start the blather, who not read it online:

So the article is saying how that after a quiet summer, now everything's back with a bang - so to speak. First up - the JZ festival. Oh, wait a minute, Jazz. 

... flips ahead ...

Avril ... something happening in Beijing ...

...flips back to correct feature ...

World Music ... Nordic experimental DJs playing in a greenhouse ...

Well, there were a couple of bands in there somewhere that I liked. China Now is not too bad, I suppose. What was the other thing I was looking at today? Ah yes, that new website I mentioned here. Spicy Duck Neck (dot com). Today I saw they posted a review of both TooKoo and Control. Well, they also cover Jazz and anything remotely musical but now I have the first evidence of crossover. This is good - now readers have a chance to see a contrasting viewpoint. And, as usual, read what I'm talking about in full first:

Yes! We have a discrepancy. Where I felt that people 'got' BCR by the end of the set and there was a good response from the audience. Layabozi doesn't share my view. So is this an indication that I see the scene through rose-tinted glasses? Will you ever really ... care. I'll tell you who won't care: BCR. I recently bumped into them at shows a bit and have a confession to make. Bassist Morgan's appreciation of Iron Maiden makes me a convert. In fact, if anyone ever wants anything from me in the future, start by mentioning your belief in the far reaching influence of the Dave Murray/Adrian Smith partnership.

Finally something a bit more serious. Yan Shuai, the singer from TooKoo, was interviewed for SH magazine's 60 Seconds feature. I'm sure it will come online shortly. Here's a quick sample featuring his picks for mainland China bands:

Banana Monkey are good. Their style is more indie than us, but I like to listen to indie too. ReTROS are really good live too. They are really professional, on an international level almost, and I like their attitudes towards music and life - they're very low key.

Summer Picks Redux


hard queen yuyintangSo, not so many posts ago, I mentioned the City Weekend summer picks and the fact that I was one of the pickers. These five songs by Shanghai bands represented the ex-pat pundit/fan's choice and led me to rant on about Cold Fairyland.

With three weeks of no shows at the moment, I have decided to follow on from Aric's picks post with another five - this time from 'locals'. Lucky for me, they all have pages where you can hear the music, but not every page has the exact song. Sorry.

It should be mentioned that Frank Fen and Kevin Zhong had their tongues firmly in their cheeks for their picks (themselves) and the E-mails/texts were punctuated with laughs and groans. They are both great guys who don't take life so seriously.  

So here they are - five songs by Shanghai bands to listen to during the summer 'break'.

1) Evans Zhang - local muso and previously researcher for Gig Shanghai
    Mortal Fools: Yang Rou Chuan (Shish Kebab) myspace page

2) Sheena Du - singer with Hard Queen
    Banana Monkey: Drunk Daddy neocha page

3) Kevin Zhong - guitarist with Top Floor Circus and Muscle Snog
    Muscle Snog: All Tomorrow's Parties myspace page

4) Frank Fen - singer with Mortal Fools
    Mortal Fools: Age Of Assholes myspace page

5) Sam Dust - sound guy at Yuyintang and singer with Chaos Mind
    Yu Guo: Chunxiao (Spring Dawn) myspace page


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