Results tagged “boys climbing ropes” from Andy Best

Boys Climbing Ropes return - and so do we (once)

Oh no.

When I started my notes for this I saw that the final official Boys Climbing Ropes show "The Last Waltz" was June 2012. Five years ago. Writing this, it doesn't seem that long ago. Feels like an age. The music gods decreed that all significant acts will one day reform and play a festival and now the same can be said of legendary Shanghai act Boys Climbing Ropes.

The original line up will play Splitworks Concrete and Grass Festival the weekend of September 16th two days from now.

Here is my round up article on the significance and legacy of the band.

So, me and Jake went to the Splitworks office with Little Punk and Devin Gallery from the band and, together with Splitworks DaBoss Archie Hamilton, had a nostalgic conversation on the band's history, the blog and the music scene back in the 00s. It's essential knowledge and it's here, embedded below:

Retrospective: Boys Climbing Ropes

Thumbnail image for Boys Climbing Ropes at d22
This month we passed one year since the split of Shanghai band Boys Climbing Ropes. The Last Waltz show was a two night affair on June 1st and 2nd 2012. Coincidentally, the blog was on hiatus at that time so I never wrote anything about it.

BCR were a band on the Shanghai scene that were around for six years. They started as a 'let's do a band' thing for two Canadian college buddies and ended up a significant and beloved force on the scene with equal support from local and ex-pat crowds.

Doubt it? Watch this video from the Shanghai Midi festival: BCR 'Two Dogs'

The band also took a teenage prodigy from small town Jiangxi Province and let her develop into one of the key voices of China independent music: Huang Pei A.K.A. Little Punk.

They retained the same line up the entire time: Jordan Small, Morgan Short, Devin Gallery and Huang Pei. The band put out three releases across the latter four years of their existence: A Pleasure To Be Here, Except For The Darkness and the split Summer And Winter Warfare.

BCR Douban page (info, tracks, pics and videos etc.)
A Little Punk album on Bandcamp (Ahem, yes, one that involved me. Hey, it's free.)

Their success in reaching people was down to the style they developed. Many bands limit themselves strictly to the conventions of a genre and therefor appeal mainly to that genre's specific fans. Other bands, especially those driven by ex-pats, tend to work within a musical area they already love, from previous experiences, regardless of the sounds, feelings and scene of the city they are in - and also apply rigid preconceived notions when dealing with the city around them. Boys Climbing Ropes developed with the China scene, working with the post-punk and synth sounds favoured by the more profound China scene acts and reflecting accurately the modern urban experience. It came across so organically and completely that they were still able to write songs about Canada without breaking the spell, and without losing, for example, Jordan Small's own personal, unique voice. 

And the songs were always good. Except For The Darkness saw Little Punk find herself within the band and start to impose her presence on stage too. The first time they played Yuyintang and opened with Little Person was a revelation and from then on every show was a great show and the band's pull went up exponentially. Everyone who saw a show immediately wanted to take a picture of/interview/work with Little Punk. All the band members had settled their own signature sounds and chops. The sets now always closed with Life Knife and resultant mayhem in the pit.

The final year of the band felt like a stay of execution after Jordan Small put back his plans to return to Canada, largely because of the band's sudden jump in success. Rather than go on to put out a triumphant first full album, they settled on three tracks as part of a spilt. Songs like Grow Up Stop Fucking Around were instant hits but seemed to foreshadow the band breaking up and reflect the members' resignation to the fact. The live shows started to reflect this in some weird but moving energy from the crowds. There was a sheen of pre-nostalgia and emptiness, the pits got more and more crazy, sometimes irresponsibly. Time was palpably, desperately, running out. 

And then Jordan left, Morgan and Pei Pei went to Beijing and the band was no more, underlining one of the main themes of the band's work: the magnified transient nature of things and our inability to deal with it. I mentioned the band's ability to reach out further to new fans, but for those of us who lived the scene, were present and invested in it emotionally, it was a deep blow. 

Going back to the first release, A Pleasure To Be Here, an early indicator of the BCR's eventual direction is Dirty Bots. The signature sounds are emerging and I loved the duet vocal lines. Ironically, they dropped the track live in favour of pushing the new material, and said similar direction. Calculate! was a big hit live and brought out Little Punk's stilted bursts of post-punk energy, so beloved of Ian Curtis fans. Little known to people who didn't get Pleasure, The Night Boy is a showcase of Little Punk's emergent vocal style and haunting qualities. 

Musically, the BCR songs are a classic collaboration. The drums and bass lines had consistent styles and tones, drove the tracks, and never overstepped their boundaries. Devin Gallery started out as a rapid ska-punk drummer and in BCR learned to control space and dynamics to serve the new style: although he retained his instincts towards the frenetic at the live shows at times. Morgan's bass sound became recognisable with the distortion and hard picking. If I had to pick a triumphant moment for Jordan it would have to be Whale Song. The track is driven by his signature arpeggiated riffing and heartfelt lyrics and every time I hear him explode on the line "lost out in the ocean," it paralyses me. From Summer and Winter Warfare, Grow Up Stop Fucking Around is the best example of all the elements working together, reflecting the songwriting journey before. 

BCR's struggle on a limited and underground scene is to be admired and a lot of attention has rightly fell on Shanghai's DIY ethic and can do attitude. We can look on their output, framed against the limitations of full time jobs, and marvel that it existed at all. But I cannot look back on six years of the band without wondering why we don't have one or maybe two full albums on a label like Maybe Mars or Modern Sky. The work was there, the songs were there. With Little Punk they had a genuine iconic Chinese artist in the line up, who was also known to and respected by all the people involved in the labels and greater scene. It's not easy to explain but I can't help feeling there was a criminal absence of meaningful support from those in the greater China scene with the power to do so. The idea of it being partially related to having a majority of ex-pat members keeps creeping into my mind. But also, assisted or indie, that final release should have been a big one. But perhaps ultimately that dark, sporadic final year will better serve the memory and integrity of the band as time continues to slip through our fingers and out into the uncaring ether.

Residence A live @ Yuyintang (Jue Festival)

Saturday night in Shanghai and the Jue Festival was in Yuyintang Livehouse for the show of the week headlined by Beijing's Residence A. Here was the full line up for the night.

I hadn't seen Boys Climbing Ropes for a while and they were excellent. The new material from Summer and Winter Warfare is now at the same level live as the older favorites were last year. I really liked Grow Up and they closed with Two Dogs. There was a new song in there too, one that sounded quite Punk. 

The Mushrooms back in Yuyintang on a Saturday night? This band get a lifetime pass from me for the summer of 2009. It's all in the blog have a look. But, as frontman Pupu said in a recent Timeout interview, the style has changed after working with their new label. They played well, sounded great and are definitely still Rock with a big R. But the raw energy and screamo stylings have been replaced with slick blues/pop rock and more polished vocals. 

Residence A blew me away right there in the first track. They were loud, clear and tight ... and they could perform too. The music was a faster paced version of the China scene noise-indie and post-punk that most defines it - suck it, haters. This band were worthy headliners and a clear cut above most other bands. But something quite odd happened. I suppose there were a few musical hints earlier on that I let pass ... by the end of the set, the material transformed into straight guitar pop that reminded me of Beijing band Gala. Weird. Most people there didn't seem to be bothered by it, probably because the night as a whole had been so good. 

That was the theme of the night, setting aside your personal tastes we had three bands who all sounded loud and clear and gave big performances: Splitworks can bring it with the local talent. 

Duck Fight Goose album release party @ Yuyintang

dgf one
It felt like Friday the 16th had been coming a long time. Duck Fight Goose's first full length recording was me and Jake's most anticipated release of the year. 

Then it came. Here was the full line-up:

Next Year's Love and BCR did their thing, I want to make a special mention of something though. And I mention it because it's rare. When BCR play a show as an opener, especially when it's an important show for the last band, they always have their shit together and play a tight reasonable length set, doing their best not to delay or upstage the following band. 

So, I got my copy of the album and watched the show. Songs that are now familiar to me like White Highway and Glass Walls stood out and were great. Tracks that are new to me were still a bit lost in the wall of sound and loops at times. But that's DFG, their music is ambitious and layered and you need to spend time on it - the the rewards are big. The night was packed and the atmosphere was great. I got home and listened to the full album. It's great. Go to the page and hear Glass Walls. Or ask yourself why you didn't come out and get the full album. 

Duck Fight Goose release (reminder)

dfg flyer rel
It's here.

I know, I go on about them a lot on. But this Friday, December 16th, Duck Fight Goose are releasing their album at Yuyintang. And you should go.

Look at that line up. 

And it's Friday night too.

To top it off, DFG have an official preview track from the album at the page. Just follow the link above and play Glass Walls, right at the top there. This should be one of the shows of the year on the music scene. Be there.

Youtube Tudou: BCR Grow Up

To round up the series of posts on X is Y and Boys Climbing Ropes' joint album Summer and Winter Warfare, here's a video for the track Grow Up. 


Long BCR interview at Layabozi

Thumbnail image for Boys Climbing Ropes at d22
Note: be sure to get to the very end of the Layabozi article because there's a great gallery of the interview there for all people who know the old 'F-visa Ghetto.'

Other sites are always stepping up with good long features these days. Here comes another long form interview from Layabozi.

The guys took Boys Climbing Ropes' Morgan and Pei Pei (A.K.A. Little Punk) and had a sort of Xingfu Road nostalgia trip. It resulted in a great interview that is reflective, personal and genuinely interesting.

Here's a sample quote:

LYBZ: Going back to the songs of the album "Grow Up". It says "grow up, stop fucking around"? Has someone said that to you?

Pp: I think Morgan likes to say stuff like "stop fucking around!!!" because it makes the song less serious or less poetic
M: It's like someone says some kind of criticism of your life, I find that if you take the criticism and repeat it eight times in a row to music that constantly builds, you can turn it around as, like, not a criticism anymore, to some kind of weird anthem, like "you will always be a loser."
Pp: Yeah! Totally influenced by that one. They repeat it like ten times.
M: That one of Titus Andronicus. So he takes the criticism and spins it back, and you turn it into an anthem then it's okay to be a looser, or it's okay to not grow up, it's empowering. Then grow up, stop being an idiot get your life together, stop being an idiot and get your life together, you take that and you know, you turn it into your own little thing.

X is Y split album tracks on Bandcamp/Douban

Photo note: the photo is from the band's site, I have not edited it. I am not a 'rice king.'

Second photo note: knitted crowns by LP

I was just at the Yuyintang release show for Summer and Winter Warfare, the new split album from Boys Climbing Ropes and X is Y. Both bands are from Shanghai and the album was produced by Brad Ferguson.

I want to take this post to give X is Y some deserved credit. First links:

The band have been working hard this year. X is Y play intelligent indie rock that makes detailed use of time signatures and dynamics. Since settling on a line up they have been adding an impressive catalogue of material. The Douban page now has the complete LP Shoulder, the tracks from the split album and a recording of Never Sever. On top of that, the band were kind enough to send me an unreleased track from the upcoming Miniless records release. It's great.

On the show - the band have also greatly improved their live chemistry and found a new level of energy on stage. X is Y is yet another win this year for the Shanghai DIY and collaborative model.

Friend or Foe album on Bandcamp

Most readers know I don't really do 'reviews' and I only really preview shows I'm going to myself. There are exceptions.

Well, firstly, Dan has first call on blogging the recent releases in Shanghai:

Now. Friend or Foe, the Shanghai space-punk band. Yes, I just made that genre up, have made their new album available on Bandcamp. Bandcamp is great.

I'm a fan of Burnt Out Buildings myself. As well as being a good track, it made me want to make another song called Burn All Buildings. Shout outs: production by Acid Ponies and Nicholls, art by Ivan/Twin Horizon. 

This Wednesday, BCR/X is Y have their release show at YYT.

Rock Nadaam @ Mao Livehouse

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

A-Sound (Mongolia)
The Lemons (Mongolia)

Guests: Beat Bandits

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone want to talk about The Lemons in the comments?

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

I.D.H and Boys Climbing Ropes live @ Yuyintang

There was all kinds of madness happening over the weekend. The big draw was the Dead Elvis show on Saturday. But poor me ... I have been a bit out for the count with some cold or other so I rested up on my sofa and went for the Sunday show.

This night was all about the post-punk and related styles.The turn up was how you'd expect for a Sunday night at ten o'clock but a good group of people none the less, including some hung-over refugees of the previous two nights who genuinely felt they had to catch these bands.

BCR kicked things off. We've already said enough about this band and they are currently touring all over China on weekends. This time we got to hear some of the new material, which has developed well. The song Two Dogs with its infectious synth-punk opening, is going to be up there with the hits like Life Knife and Whale Song for sure. This band just keep going.

IDH wore their influences on their sleeve - literally. No, really. Front-man Xiaoyu had a prominent Bauhaus tattoo on his left forearm that the punters kept commenting on to each other. The band played a long professional set and went through the whole run of late-70s early-80s sounds by switching the line up. They had three members, one always on drums. The other two cycled between different combinations of bass, guitar or synth. To be objective about it, I felt the band really kicked it out when they used the synth and bass sound. Anyway, it was a delight for fans of the genre. A kind of connoisseur's satisfying conclusion to a weekend of gig madness.

Youtube Youku: BCR play in Beijing

Shanghai was representing in the capital last weekend with X is Y and Boys Climbing Ropes playing in Yugongyishan and 2kolegas respectively.

Beijing DIY music blog Pangbianr blogged it all here.

And here's the video of BCR at 2kolegas, the track is Little Person. And if you like your post-punk stylings, BCR and IDH will play Yuyintang this Sunday 21st.

Big (ger) weekend issues - make your choice

fuck you twitter
Preface: I have nothing against Mao as a place for seeing a band, I also have no affiliation with Yuyintang. The split of the gigs in a coincidence, in fact, YYT hosted the previous Puma show.

So, I recently blogged the upcoming weekend of Sept. 10 + 11th - a massive weekend of great bands at Yuyintang:

It has come to pass that Mao Livehouse have also put on attractive shows (in a way) on the same nights. That may sound normal as they are both venues, but the stars don't often align in this small scene so that 'good' shows clash. Anyway, here's the thing - both Mao shows are fully branded promotional events.

On the 10th we have a Dickies promotion that features appearances from Queen Sea Big Shark and Lu Xing Tuan. On the 11th we have a Puma Archive Uncovered show featuring Mavis and her 100% band (plus others that are not actually declared on the Douban event).

On the one hand you have gigs that are marketing events designed to sell you stuff, in a roundabout way. Like a big living version of a 'cool' ad on TV. They are a thoroughly offensive invasion of a cultural space that we create together to, supposedly, avoid stuff like clothing ads and to express ourselves honestly. And you're even paying for it. It makes me sick. The Puma one even has a thing to make everyone turn up wearing Puma shoes and Tees, the whole audience. I have, in fact, just been sick.

On the other hand you have bands playing at a smaller community oriented venue. You buy the ticket and the money goes to the artists in return for their music and the shared experience. Yes, that's right. Want to help the bands make money, just give it to them directly. And did I mention that those bands and those shows are fucking amazing.

This is like one of those quizzes that reveals something about you personality:

Which shows will you go to this weekend:

Fri: a) BCR b) Dickies event
Sat: a) Streets Kill b) Puma event
Sun a) death metal show b) some swanky wine bar

If you answered all a's: You are a music fan who likes to see the local scene thrive, you have strong sense of independent music as an extension of the human endowment of freewill. You are a wonderful human being.

If your answers include any b's: You are a cunt.

The first big weekend, as I like it. It'll be emotional

Boys Climbing Ropes at d22
Well we've all been moaning about how the summer is slow, and it is. There have been a few good events now and again but September is nearly upon us.

I was just going through the listings via Douban's various host pages and I've spotted what could be the first legendary Yuyintang weekend of the season.

The stars have aligned and a group of top bands representing three different cities have come together for two days of pure quality and madness, followed by a bonus day of death metal if you're down for the marathon. And would you believe it, this is actually, Boys Climbing Ropes first true weekend headlining gig at YYT and they are pretty much Shanghai's main attraction live while The Mushrooms are in the studio.

Day one: Friday night (Sept. 10th)
The Fallacy (Henan, Xinxiang)

Post punk bands that move a crowd

Day two: Saturday night (Sept. 11th)
Pairs (SH)

Lo-fi indie and dance rock, more crowd madness

Day Three bonus: Sunday night (Sept. 12th)
Hydrophobia (Japan)
Bestial Invasion

Horror, death metal - if you make all three shows, finishing with this one, mail me and you'll get an honourable blog mention. 

Final note, I saw tons of writers, scenesters and industry ppl at the Handsome Furs show and it just reminded me that I usually don't see them at other shows that often. Make all three shows here and you'll get your spurs, for real. Come on.

Subs, bitches! (yes, me too) - and an announcement

Thumbnail image for subs at mao album tour 2010
This show has already been adequately reviewed by Jake here and by Luwan Rock here.

The photo comes from Adam and the blog post title from Jake.

Including this show and other events before and after, this was pretty much one of the best days in my existence. So this review is probably not going to be very objective. The Subs are my favorite band in China too. 

For the first time, in my opinion, everything went right at Mao Livehouse. The main bands were spot on and could properly play to the bigger venue and on that stage. The sound was loud and rousing, but all the music and instruments were clear. The lights weren't overdone. And everyone was dancing. Everything started on time too. 

And it was the Subs!

Quick props, Pinkberry sounded amazing and they played tight, but at nine o'clock people had only just started to arrive. Boys Climbing Ropes were also immense and Little Punk gave her best performance to date.

The Subs came down to promote their new CD, their first full length, The Queen of Fucking Everything. By the way, it's immense. They are still the band it seems. They have nearly eight years and four CDs of material. The new album includes more laid back and atmospheric tracks than we usually hear from the relentlessly aggressive Kang Mao and at the start people held back a touch as they tuned into the new songs. Then they ripped into Red Hair and that was that, it went off. So much so that I even had to take a half time break.

I even got to talk to Kang Mao afterwards who is a vegan and shares my general world view. Another big part of why I love the band so much. Wu Hao wore a PETA shirt for the show, in fact. Yes, I'm a fanboy.

The fact is, that The Subs always raise the bar. On this occasion they have showed that a band in China can stay independent, can stay away from gimmicks and ads - and still develop into something mature and great. They are a force and coming away from this show I can't believe they were originally going to play the tiny 021 Bar in Yangpu until Jake stepped in. 

Anyway, for me that was the show of the year. Summer is here now and a lull is on the way. Venues are struggling to fill weekends for July at the moment and here an announcement: I'm taking a summer holiday myself.

I'll still be doing a bunch of stuff but just not writing about it.So there'll be no posts until July 1st.

Don't stop mailing me though, it makes me happy. 

Ooohh, controversy ... and more, the Shanghai sound

Thumbnail image for guiali d22
Update: Beijing Gig Guide added a post to the debate here and the comments at the Beijing Noise original post are racking up.

Two things.

Firstly, a couple of weeks back Max at Rock In China Wiki send me the outlines for three articles he was going to publish on the site. One was suggesting that Maybe Mars bands and D22 shows were soaking up all the Beijing scene's representation. Another was reminding us of all the other bands still there. A third was intoducing the good work done in other cities like Shanghai (where I came in).

The RIC Wiki is undergoing a server change so Max published the first two at the Beijing Noise blog here:

Rock In China Declares Independence, Puts the Smack Down on D-22

Then a few of us commented but the comments were stuck in moderation for a while so Matthew Neiderhauser published his reply via China Music Radar, who like the debate:

The Shanghai article is not out yet but I have an interesting story. A while back I did an article here and a podcast in which me and Jake had been throwing around the idea that Shanghai would soon move away from being known as a commercial pop-rock haven due to the work of Miniless and their upcoming CDs. 

Shanghai: Soon to be famous for experimental sounds?

Well, a local friend of mine went up to Midi and while she was there her group met some new friends who were a mix of local and international students. They got to talking the scene on one of the evenings. The Beijingers said that the scene there was a bit odd as the fans don't get easily excited or impressed and they've seen the main bands many times. 

Here's the thing, they admitted being very interested in the Shanghai scene now and mentioned Boojii as an example of a more interesting band. Another student admitted defecting to Strawberry for half a day specifically to see Boys Climbing Ropes and thought it unfair that they were on right up front as they are a great band. The Miniless bands were all talked about and also the idea that Shanghai music fans are more enthusiastic and willing to rock out and have a good time.

This is very encouraging. Although now we need Beijing promoters like Hotpot and Modern Sky to stop doing ridiculous things like putting on bands midweek and for three times the going price. We're not that enthusiastic.

Stegosaurus? (剑龙?) CD out now

steg cover
Shanghai based band Stegosaurus? have just put out their first indie CD here in the city. I have one.

It's first important to note than when a band here puts out a CD completely off their own back and funding, it's a massive achievement and should be supported. On which note, there is a release party coming up at YYT.

Yes. That's this Saturday and yes, that's Boys Climbing Ropes on the bill too.

The band play straight rock with entertaining lyrics and big concepts. Combined with their great harmonized vocals they are like Bare Naked Ladies but honest and without the smugness. You can hear tracks from the CD at this page. Dance With Me even features Xiao Bai from Bang Bang Tang.

My favorite track, and a good 'un live is Batman. Which reminds me. After the Reflector gig at YYT they were playing this CD loud over the system and it sounded great. So we should probably take time to credit the producer Adam Gaensler. You can contact him through his very geeky music blog Luwan Rock. Good job all round.

Photos: Local King 3 @ Mao

The last time I did this someone called me out in the comments. Keep in mind, the debate was always about the behaviour/ethics of photographers in live shows, not photographs themselves. But by all means bring it up in the comments if you have something to say on the subject. I'm all for keeping it alive.

And on to the Local King gig. Caught some snaps up on Douban, here are a couple. As before, note the to the side position and no use of flash.

local king candy shop

local king jordan

local king kk

little punk at mao

Local King 3 "Genohmang" @ Mao Livehouse

local king
A lot to get through tonight. Local King 3 went down at Mao - for free - and featured five bands:

Bomb Shelter

Bomb Shelter are an AC-DC cover band and went on last so I wasn't around for them, sorry guys.

So, free. Yes, the place was full and jumping. Great. Although everyone's patience was tested when the doors didn't open until 20 minutes after the first band was supposed to be playing.

First on was Pinkberry. I wrote about them at the recent Yuyintang show and said they were coming back to their best. They were better again tonight and the song 'Live in Live' is becoming their signature song. They sounded good from down front and Xiao You is performing well, although she was sick tonight.

Candy Shop came on with their usual energy and were well received. Unfortunately, their set was broken up. They had to run an on stage promotion for the drink you see in the flyer there. Basically, couples had to get on stage and play charades to win free drinks. Alas, it all came apart when they brought up a couple and a non-Chinese girl had to guess the word 'Ge Noh Mang' from her friend's mime. That's Shanghainese slang for the people who crowd round accidents and fights. So that's like asking me and Jake to take Lebron James and Kevin Garnett in 2 on 2 b-ball. It dragged on and poor Candy Shop's set suffered. They made a good come back with their track 'Wo Men'.

Sonnet were next. They had complex video intros to their songs and all kinds of bridges and gimmicks. They presented themselves like super stars and even did their latest single We all have a sorry yesterday acapella with all the members up front. They had the bassist back in the line up, which was good and to be fair, the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves. Personally, I like Sonnet when they play tight snappy tunes with dance rock beats. They closed out with their old show closer, a cover of YMCA.

At that point I'd been keeping my eye on the crowd. At free gigs that feature bands who attract young locals you see a lot of new people. I felt they were having a good time, but were apprehensive as they maybe didn't know what the standard was or what it was supposed to be like.

And then BCR came on and told them with authority.

This is no disrespect to the other bands, I like them all, but ... from the first strike of the guitar, Boys Climbing Ropes owned that stage and filled up the venue with their sounds and presence. They got everyone's attention and were a true headlining act. They rocked the place. They were loud, fast and tight, everyone knows the songs and those who didn't were all impressed. Little Punk's vocals were properly mic-ed up and crystal clear, it made so much difference. It reminded me of the Pet Conspiracy gig in that here was a band who properly owned that larger space. 

Can we now have a BCR headlining show at Mao please? Properly promoted, full up and on before midnight, preferably.

Weekend bits and bobs

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.

Relentless blogging on BCR

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.

More hot nudity on Kungfuology

So, with the Pet Conspiracy gig tomorrow at Mao all eyes were on their daring new back to nature photo shoot - as reported by our man Jake here. I then followed up by reporting on previous avant garde antics by Shanghai's own Torturing Nurse here

But stop the press. If, like me, you have the Pleasure To Be Here CD from Boys Climbing Ropes  then you have probably opened it up and checked the inside.

Kaboom! In your faces! BCR, also on Friday's bill, were way ahead of the game coming in before either of the aforementioned acts. By the way, you all know I'm using those 'in your face' type comments ironically ..right? But, also, you know ...snap!!

bcr bathroom

Boys Climbing Ropes live @ Yuyintang

wedding book
Friday night at Yuyintang was a wedding themed free party that was, in fact, part of Brad Ferguson and Da Men's wedding party. The flyer on the YYT site was the Chinese wedding papers (pictured).

So, yeah, congratulations guys.

The original line up included Hard Queen and Duck Fight Goose but after a few pieces of bad luck only Boys Climbing Ropes remained. 

So, it was now up to the happy couple to step up and play the support slot at their own party. Brad and Damen took the stage and played some country hits. Sheena from Hard Queen got up there too at one point and they went through Hotel Yorba, which is a regular Hard Queen cover.

This was my first time catching Boys Climbing Ropes since their summer break, having missed out on the Handsome Furs show. The played mainly newer material with only Calculate making an appearance from the Pleasure To Be Here CD. The mics and vocal mix were good today and the combination of Little Punk and Jordan's singing came through really well. They have the material and the presence to step up to be a headliner now. All they need is to push themselves a bit online like the Mushrooms do with flyers and regular activity in the groups on Douban or whatever.

What I mean is, I'd like to be at a sold out BCR show because I like 'em. Selfish me.

Zhong Chi's web release Homeless

Following hot on the heels of her entire first album, Zhong Chi has now web-released her new single through Douban and Street Voice.

You can hear it here:

It's about the plight of Polar Bears, which brings me onto why I like Zhong Chi. Zhong Chi's music is very much produced (by Soma's Lao Yao) and mainly electronic/ambient. I'm not into that at all. I'd go for Boys Climbing Ropes' Polar Bears. However, she sings about the plight of animals and the environment. Something people seem to be very much in denial about. 

There was even a recent seminar type thing, attended by all kinds of intelligent people who perceive themselves as liberal or caring, talking about how we can save the environment through the power of consumerism; a stark and brutal ideology where by the earth and its life are the playthings of the human elite. 

Just as I imagine many people appalled by animal cruelty are raving about the steak at 'M' is their next conversation. We may be mainly trapped in a global system where we can only struggle to make tiny choices. But embracing the destruction isn't going to help.

So there you have it. Listening to Zhong Chi makes you think a bit. And there's no harm in that.

Video: SPIN Earth report on Get in the Van Three

SPIN Earth have just posted up a video about the Get In The Van Three show at Dream Factory and YYT.  It has live footage from all the bands involved and some talking too. It also has a bit of a Reeb fixation. The bands are The Dropkicks, The Gar, 24 hours, The Rogue Transmission and Boys Climbing Ropes. Check it out now.

See full report...

Overdose live @ Yuyintang

A tough choice from shows tonight was eased by the fact that Hard Queen played both Friday and Saturday allowing me to see both them and Nanjing punk outfit Overdose. Overdose are straight up punk and have a new CD out Die With Me:

Overdose on Myspace (six great tracks starting with Fuck Your Fucking Band)

As I got into Yuyintang a cover band was closing out their set. The ones who wear the white shirts and black ties. They play well, but, they're a cover band moving on ...

... it was a whirlwind night for me and I got a few surprises. Overdose have had a line up change since I last saw them. On bass now is Adam, who is in someway related to the D22/Maybe Mars crowd. I also saw Morgan from Boys Climbing Ropes and indie promoter Abe Deyo is back in town. On the local side of things, Lu Chen is coming down to a lot of gigs lately too. 

Overdose took the stage. Singer Ruan Ruan is pure punk. To be fair, so are the rest of the band. Ruan Ruan, with her signature gothic black suit and bleached short hair, never disappoints with her ballsy performance that shows the whole range of old-school punk gestures and facial expressions. Backup vocals were sung Lemmy style into high mics and Du Wei's tattoos are just as intimidating as his drumming. The set was solid and despite the average to low turn out there were some seriously hardcore fans who at times were literally dancing by themselves. These included Lu Chen, Little Punk and Fabi from Rogue Transmission.

One bizarre anecdote. As I was going in, so were a group of highly strung and obnoxious party types. Just inside was a table with the band's CD on sale but no one was there to take the money. As I asked about them, as the other group looked too, I was told "No one here to sell them right now, sorry." As I turned away, deciding to wait until I saw an older staff member to sort it out later, one of the girls in the group appeared to openly steal one, whooping in the process. There's also been an outbreak of people coming to YYT and trying to blag in for free or get on a list etc. Wankers with no respect for the venue and band's culture and struggles.

Hard Queen CD realease @ Yuyintang

hard queen cd release
This weekend your regular blogger Andy was ill. Boo hoo. Luckily Jake Newby was there and here's his guest write up:

Rammed. That was YYT tonight. If this was a call to arms, then it was fully answered. The renovations at YYT may have given them more room but it still didn't seem enough last night as people were forced to queue in the pouring rain to get in. Once in, there was barely room to move. Or, as Brad Ferguson put it, "great."

You know the story by now about Hard Queen's struggle to reach this point and they fully deserved such a huge turn out. I got in not long after 9pm, thinking I was early, yet still had to push my way through the crowds. Boys Climbing Ropes opened with a typically energetic and tight set. They seem to get better every show and were on top form, but this was Hard Queen's night.

Despite Zero donning big sunglasses and playing it very cool, the band looked a touch nervy during the opening couple of songs. They soon settled down however and by the third or fourth track in seemed to be really enjoying themselves. DaMen in particular played the entire set with a huge grin on her face. The band gave a great show, delivering the tracks from their Holiday EP as well as cementing their Mod credentials with a cover of The Kingsmen's Louie Louie. They also added a fantastic cover of Michael Jackson's Beat It before closing out the night in traditional fashion with their version of White Stripes' Hotel Yorba.

Youtube channel roundup for March 2009

It's that time of the month again. And it's time for the obligatory notice for newbies. Most of the live videos I post here are taken by myself and stored at the blog's Youtube Channel. You can see a link in the sidebar.

Or you can click here to visit.

So, we have a new number one, discounting my Sick Sunday parody vid which is at almost 2000 views. Hard Queen have just opened their new website in anticipation of the CD launch next month. They posted up some vids there and included one of mine. The new views have pushed them all the way.

Here we go then. if these are all old news to you, be sure to check my movers and shakers below that:

1) Hard Queen live @ YYT (August): 444 views watch
2) The Rogue Transmission live @ Dream Factory: 378 views watch
3) Bang Bang Tang live @ Yuyintang (Oct): 338 views watch
4) Bang Bang Tang (Lollipop) older vid: 324 views watch
5) Boys Climbing Ropes live @ Dream factory: 319 views watch
6) Bang Bang Tang live @ Yuyintang (Nov 2008): 299 views watch

Among hot new vids are Reflector @ YYT and Momo @ Gua'er

Youtube channel roundup for Feb 2009

It's that time of the month again. And it's time for the obligatory notice for newbies. Most of the live videos I post here are taken by myself and stored at the blog's Youtube Channel. You can see a link in the sidebar.

Or you can click here to visit.

The top six is ranked by all time views, not month by month. So, after the regulars, I'll be linking a couple of newer vids that are moving up fast. The major story of this post is indie pop band Bang Bang Tang (singer Xiao Bai pictured) who have taken three of the top six places.

Also, a quick note for those who read the posts as they come out. There's something going on with the net here and it's playing with my ability to access my server at normal speeds, hence the quiet few days. 

Right then:

1) The Rogue Transmission live @ Dream Factory: 360 views watch
2) Boys Climbing Ropes live @ Dream factory: 291 views watch
3) Bang Bang Tang live @ Yuyintang (Oct): 287 views watch
4) Bang Bang Tang (Lollipop) older vid: 280 views watch
5) Bang Bang Tang live @ Yuyintang (Nov 2008): 265 views watch
6) Self Party live @ Yuyintang: 260 views watch

And now, the two fastest risers from recent times. One is the DIY music video I made with Pinkberry for Runaway. The others are red hot Shaoxing Brit-poppers The Way. Enjoy.

Pinkberry, BCR and me on the radio


Update: It works now

Louis Yu is a PhD student in Canada who has a college radio show about indie music. He recently spent some time in Shanghai interviewing as many scene people as possible and collecting a bunch of CDs to play.

Here is a half-hour section from his University of Victoria show yesterday in which he discusses my blog article and then plays Pinkberry and Boys Climbing Ropes. There's 8 minutes or so of discussion, then some songs then a bit more on BCR. All in English. 

Around the net: Morgan of BCR on 'the scene'

boys climbing ropes shoot
When I'm writing up magazine articles and linking their online versions, there's one name always absent. 

Smart Shanghai is a major webportal for the ex-pat crowd and since Morgan Short is the editor (and also in one of the regular bands on the scene) he posts up a lot of stuff about music. I was previously loathe to mention that site because of it's infamous forum, a magnet for bigoted trash. Well, the forum is closed these days so there you go.

Morgan's band, by the way, is the excellent Boys Climbing Ropes. Go immediately to their Myspace page before reading on. They are an indie/folk/punk combo with great songs and one of the few bands doing something outside of the usual genres.

So, for whatever reason, Morgan has prefaced his write up of the in progress Jue Festival with an essay on why he thinks the scene here is good. 

It's inspired by people back home asking him why he's in China. He asked them what it was like in the music/arts back home and found that it sucked. Here's a quote:

This year, living in China was easier to justify than previous years, because this year I made a point to ask all my friends in bands, friends working in recording and producing, friends in media, and friends doing DJ parties, about how their life was going in terms of the public and critical reception of their work, and if they still enjoyed what they were doing -- if it was still "worth it" in the 2-double-0-9. 

From the varied group of people I talked to the common thread was dejection -- dejection with having anything to do with the "music industry." Really good bands I knew from way-back-when has stopped touring, DJs were sitting around not doing anything or presiding over the death of their styles, people working in recording were forced into commercial work, and just a general feeling of drained malaise was shared by all. 

And here's another:

And thus the defense of living in Shanghai: 

Because there is no real possibility of people making real money on music, because there are only a few places to do it in, and because there just isn't really a dominating audience for one genre of "underground music" over another, everybody is sharing audiences, everybody is sharing venues, and the people who are involved in making the 'soundz from the underground', such as they are, find middle grounds to collaborate with one another. 

I agree wholeheartedly about music back home. The lower reaches of the scene do suck for all the reasons he quotes. I've not been going to many techno shows myself mind you. There's still a few people i'd like to ban from shows. Yeah, watch more diverse stuff but have some standards. 

When STD put on a show with Hedgehog then played dance club music between bands it just reminded me of the opening to Irreversible where the guy got his head stoved in with a fire extinguisher. Also, after a merciful break, the big-flash photographers with no respect were back again for DOA. Pointing their huge powerful blinding machines back into the crowd during moshes ... continuously ... through every song. Unfortunately for me, I was stuck directly behind P***z, a serial offender of the worst kind that thinks shows exist as a kind of personal studio.

Err, so yeah, read Morgans stuff.

Youtube: Mo Xie live @ Yuyintang


This was a packed weekend in which I saw a whole range of performances. This included the latest 0093 showcase, Beijing folk singer Mimi Liang, Boys Climbing Ropes' best show ever and Hedgehog, one of the best live acts in the country. So, without further ado, I bring you an obscure death metal band from Suzhou. They are very good and student metal fans here knew them enough to make a trip away from the university neighbourhood and pay entrance to see them (an extremely big deal on average student budgets). Mo Xie have great arangements, stick with the track. Death to false metal.

Also. At the risk of making my wife think she's in a sham marriage, will the guy I met at the Hedgehog show who knew me from the blog and was about to video the show please get in touch via e-mail or the comments. thanks. Due to the loud rock band playing, I only caught 50% of all conversations I had.



Hedgehog live @ Yuyintang (Dec 2008)


hedgehog flyerI made it to the third show in two days. Also, this is Hedgehog and it was a packed show. I made the decision to enjoy this one to the max so no photos, sorry. Or videos. Just to round off this preface, monopod guy was absent and photographers don't get much of a look in when you have over 300 people in YYT.

Amazing turn out as usual at STD promotions. Hedgehog's last visits were packed out mosh fests and they are a genuinely good live act. The only annoyance was that STD DJs decided to play Dance music before and in between the bands. Err ... don't, thanks. I for one come to YYT to watch rock because I am consciously avoiding that sort of music. After the bands is fine, I can go home.

Both tonight's bands have good pages with several quality tracks for listening to:

Boys Climbing Ropes

BCR came on to a packed room and did not dissapoint. Great sound and for once you could clearly hear both the singers. Little Punk now has a distinct stage persona and all the songs went off great including the new material. It was great to hear a band with an original sound playing intelligent music with a soul in Jordan's lyrics. Especially after almost an hour of techno over the speakers while we were waiting. In what was to be a pattern for the night, though, they didn't play my fave track Dirty Bots. Hedgehog didn't play Wink either, you see. 

Hedgehog have evolved a lot since they last came. They have a lot of material and are very self-aware. They knew exactly which tracks were the favourites and seemed to have planned their set carefully to build and build as the night went on. Toy61 Festival sent the room into action and it remained that way for the rest of the set.  It's becoming a cliche to say this now ... but ... the drummer, Atom, is surely one of the best around. She is both imaginative and in perfect control of the dynamics. That fact that she looks like a elementary school student (she really can't be anything over 4'10") still elicits a ton of superlatives from newcomers to the band.

So many interesting people down tonight I have no idea who to mention. Frank Fen of Mortal Fools was down plugging this show like crazy. Sean Leow of Neocha was there as was fellow Web 2.0 guru George Godula. Brad Ferguson was down with Hard Queen drummer Da Men (Shanghai's own female drum powerhouse). It was Super Sophia Wang and Jake Newby's birthdays, so, yeah ..happy birthday again. Actually, it must be said that over the three shows this weekend I met a lot of people from distinctly different groups and heard quite a few not-for-the-blog stories - so you'll all have to say hi in person next time to hear them. 

Youtube channel top views for December

It's that time of the month again where I round up the blog's Youtube channel. So, for all those who just check the featured posts and have not surfed the back catalogue, I now have 63 videos there to look at. 

Now, the top six has been a little bit skewed because of this: douchebag scandal and video. In the name of science it's safe to discard it as it's clearly not one of the band's live vids. However, the Sunday Morning video does give us some more interesting insights into the world of blogs and Shanghai. 

Youtube views count only individual IPs and thus give us a direct figure on how many different people watched it. So, the Douchegate scandal was a big blog story here and then my video on it got featured posts on Shanghaiist and I Love China. We must be wary of the link at Danwei as it was a small link added to the main post when the article had long been buried on the page. Moving on, all that attention and posting translated into around 1 500 views. So there you have it.

And now - the current top six at my channel:

1) The Rogue Transmission live @ Dream Factory: 302 views watch
2) Bang Bang Tang (Lollipop): 222 views watch
3) Boys Climbing Ropes live @ Dream Factory: 220 views watch
4) Self Party live @ Yuyintang: 218 views watch
5) Hard Queen live @ Yuyintang: 182 views watch
6) Crazy Mushroom Brigade live @ Yuyintang: 168 views watch

Self Party are still holding out for post-rock and experimental while the Mushrooms bump Modern Cheese out for the first time. Watch the Mushroom's vid and sigh - the altered line up I saw at the Indietop showcase has a long way to go in recapturing the level you see in the vid. 

The Subs live @ Yuyintang (Halloween 2008)

little punkPromoters S.T.D. had a great success last year with their Halloween rock party and decided to repeat the formula this year by bringing the Subs to Yuyintang. Fair play. From the start it was clear this was going to be a huge event. It was also clear from the Regurgitator show at Logo that they would oversell the venue if necessary. Not very responsible of them, but luckily a bunch of the people there seemed to filter away before the last band or stay out in the park. Yuyintang is packed at 250 people. A friend, George, came at twenty minutes after the official start and had ticket number 280. And it went on from there.

Really, the place was rammed at the start and on came Yellow Riot, the one off Clash tribute band formed by members of The Rogue Transmission and Mortal Fools. I have to say, as cheesy as it sounds, they kicked ass. All the numbers were dead on and the sound was great. The bursting venue loved it and people were dancing and going for it from the first chord of the first number. At that point though half the people there couldn't have got into the hall if they wanted to. Luckily most were too drunk to care at that point.

Next up, out the back for some down time. Never has having a park out the back door been so useful at Yuyintang. It was quite a sight with most people in costume. I finally had a conversation with Ben Hogue and Jutta. Great people. Ben is taking time out to work full time on his art and sound installations. You can follow his events at his new blog here. In no time at all, the sounds of Boys Climbing Ropes warming up came floating out. Again, the place was rammed with people just up for anything. The first song went off without a hitch and the audience went nuts again. Then, the BCR tech curse struck. Jordan's guitar went completely off and once back on, the overall sound needed another track to get re-balanced. However, after heroically recovering the rest went well and the crowd barely seemed to notice anyway. Special props to their costumes too. Nice.

Before we get onto the Subs - a special announcement regarding photographers. At small underground gigs there's no special place for you, that's true. Also, taking some photos is fine. What is not fine is this ... getting near centre front with a big camera and separate pro flash and staying there for every single song, blocking the view and frequently blinding me with said flash. So, yeah, that was me in the mosh constantly nailing you on purpose.

The Subs have not let up. They are super-pros and Kang Mao never drops her performance level for even a second. I was going to watch from the back but as the third song kicked in I couldn't help myself, it was in for the rest of the show. I was caught by Abe who snapped me, proof that even hipster douche bags like me can't resist the lure of the Subs show mosh. Any music fan that has a chance to see this band live should never pass that chance up. This is the China underground show to miss your best friend's wedding for. They played a selection of songs from all three of their CDs and delivered on every track. 

Special mention to BCR singer Little Punk who was the first into the pit for every Subs track and looked so rad in her costume 'corpse surfing' the crowd. Nice.

Corpse surfing pic courtesy of Christian

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?

Midi, Modern Sky, Youtube and a failed adventure

midi festival old promo
The Beijing festival news/ongoing thing has become relevant to me this week. In case you haven't got a clue what I'm talking about, you can follow the whole thing on China Music Radar. Basically Modern Sky is on and there's going to be a preview show in Shanghai. What that means is that the three bands going up from Shanghai will play Yuyintang on Thursday before they go.

They are: Cold Fairlyland, Top Floor Circus and No. 33 Island.

I'm going specifically to see Top Floor Circus, a punk act. I'm a little bit wary though. Top Floor Circus have been on a semi-permanent break for ages. When members have had the time to perform, they have done so solo or in side projects - Lu Chen solo and Zhong Ke in Muscle Snog, for example. No. 33 island are new to me. They list Syd Barret among their influences and it shows:

No. 33 Island - myspace

A few posts back I did a round up of my Youtube Channel (available via the side bar). I got to this from selecting see all and then ordering them by views, just for fun. I have low views there compared to major channels or Youtube celebrities but they represent a more discerning readership of people who care about our scene. Reading of the top row gives a top five but I went for six in the post, seemed better for some reason. 

Anyhow, looking at it today we have a new entry into the top six. It's post-rock group 21 Grams. Who is reading my blog and checking out all the post-rock/noise? Ben Houge, do you read this? Curses! Micah, you too.

By the way, since there are obviously fans of this kind of music lurking here, you should check out Ben's stuff too: Ben Houge.

Another fast mover is the Boys Climbing Ropes vid from the Control show. In fact, they are only one view behind 21 Grams at time of writing and could break the top six anytime. It is also worth noting that they have double the views of show headliner PK-14. Come on everyone, let's turn this into a reality-show fiasco. We need new IPs checking out your favourite vids. 

I blogged of a potential adventure to Bar 288 on the weekend. I'd love to tell you how it went ... really. But, I want to keep the focus of the blog on the weekly reviews and vids of shows. I'm keen to avoid a total breakdown into slagging off and complaining. Needless to say I was praying for Yetis. Come back Mummy Three, all is forgiven.

Youtube: Boys Climbing Ropes @ Dream Factory

I uploaded three videos from the control show on Saturday: BCR, Rogue Transmission and PK-14. I wasn't sure about making a dedicated post for one of them. But, looking on the channel today, I saw they've been watched a bit and sitting at the top of the leader board is ... Boys Climbing Ropes.

So here is their excellent track, Pleasure To Be Here, performed live at the 'Control' gig held at Dream Factory. It may be my imagination, but it seems way faster than on the CD. You don't have the CD? I'm sorry, what kind of hipster douche bag are you? Without this track on your I-Pod you might as well throw out those tight pants right away.

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.

'Control' PK14 live @ Dream factory

rogue transmission
So, ladies and germs, may I now bring your attention to the main event. Well, something like that. It's been a while since Brad Ferguson had The Subs and PK14 down to Windows Tembo and tonight was the first 'big show' since then. I had a personal mission to finally get a BCR song on video for the site. This is my third show in three days and I'm coming down with something or other. I almost didn't make it. However, I was determined not miss a patented 'big show'. Can I say that just one more time ... 'big show'.

There were four bands playing tonight so without further ado, lets have the contenders:

I arrived an hour after the door time and completely missed Hard Queen. Luckily for me I saw them last night. I went down into the stage area and was happy to see the place filling up nicely. Now was my chance to see these bands play with a better sound to a decent crowd who were ready to mosh, dance and go nuts. 

I last saw Rogue Transmission play at Windows Underground. From where I was standing that night, the sound was terrible and I didn't come away with much. It was a different story tonight. While not perfect, the sound was clear and loud. The melodies and colour in the material came out and the energy was certainly there. Front man Dan Shapiro is a real rocker and the crowd were really up for it as the band put on a good old rock show. The 'big show' was all going to plan. 

To be honest, I was not sure how Boys Climbing Ropes were going to go down. The crowd were warmed up and had just flipped out to rock. PK14, the headliners are also punk rock. BCR are more experimental and nuanced. Looking around the hall I saw mainly international students and ex-pats, most of which had probably never seen or heard BCR before. The band also have a hard time getting their sound across at times, due to the shit heaps equipment in smaller Shanghai clubs. The audience stuck with the first couple of tracks while they figured it all out and then got the payoff for tracks like Dirty Bots and Pleasure To Be Here at the end. The sound was ok and people around me were getting into it with dancing up front. Good stuff.   

So, finally PK14. They were solid. People didn't go as nuts I thought they would at first. Again, with a crowd of mainly ex-pats, a lot of who haven't followed the band, there wasn't much awe/excitement as there normally would be with these veterans of the scene. It all got going a couple of songs in though. The sound was percussive and full of middle most of the night, but that just seemed to suit PK14's choppy guitar style. I didn't make it through to the bitter end as the thing I'm coming down with started to sap my energy. I almost accidentally blanked Archie from Splitworks on the way out as he'd shaved off his trademark beard. Archie has just come off a national tour with PK14.

So, readers, were you at the show last night? What did you think? Who did you like? The comments section is open and does not require a log in. 

Little Nature & Momo live @ Gua'er

I am loving it - living in my hipster's paradise. Well, so says me: check it out. Lisa calls it the F-visa Ghetto. I like that. Also, when I say 'paradise', it's relative to the city i'm in. Dan Shapiro put out a tip on a Little Nature show at Gua'er Music Bar over at his CW blog. Gua'er just happens to be opposite the end of my lane, two minutes walk from my door.

Little Nature are on the up at the moment and I really wanted to see them (for the fourth time). The support for the night came from Momo. These two bands are Bar 288 regulars and they'd brought a lot of their crowd over to Gua'er. There was a good turnout of genuine music fans and I didn't recognise many people from Yuyintang gigs. I did see Little Punk, singer with Boys Climbing Ropes up at the front. Momo got things started as soon as I stepped in.

I first saw Momo as Happy Strings in the old Yuyintang down in Longhua. I was really impressed and have seen them a few times over the past couple of years. They play garage rock mixed with their own brand of playful melodies. I always like their shows but they haven't really done much in all this time, just maintained a respectable level. I would like to see them take it up a level with a full set of new originals. I did get something new. Since changing their name, Momo now open the shows with an unplugged style sing-a-long intro track. I thought it was strange at first, but the audience were really into it. It'll be up in the video channel soon.

Little Nature ripped straight into their melodic punk set that reminds me a bit of Green Day prior to the Dookie era. They are brimming with energy and confidence at the moment and it makes for a good high energy live show. This was the first time I saw them playing their own show and not buried down in a multi-band night. They were certainly up to the task. Alas, I often moan about their 'Happy Birthday' song being out of place in an otherwise great set and now I see it's a real fan favourite. People were singing along and, to be fair, there was more than a hint of irony from the band as they belted it out. They don't have a myspace style page at the moment so you'll have to make do with my video, which is a bit raw sorry. Check the channel or the next post.

Shy Tall Mighty live @ Yuyintang


new sign at yuyintangTough choice tonight with one of my favourite Shanghai bands Hard Queen playing in a new venue across town. Finally I was tempted to Yuyintang by the words old school punk. I will see Hard Queen at Dream Factory next weekend. I must admit laziness playing a big part too. Since moving house last week, I am now literally five minute's walk from YYT.

Special mention: Upon arriving I was very impressed with the new sign. Check the photo. A professional looking light-up sign to go with the mural. You see, I hit all the important, insightful details when reporting the scene, like who has the nicest sign.

As support act Modern Cheese were setting up on stage I had a chat with Abe Deyo (promoter) and Jordan Small (of Boys Climbing Ropes) that was quite interesting. I'm hesitant to talk about it for fear of starting something off that may not be that good for the scene here, but I will anyway. We were talking about indie labels in Shanghai and how much they can financially support a band, or not. Jordan mentioned that he'd rather just self finance as it was comparatively cheap for foreigners. The Boys Climbing Ropes CD is good and they have a track playing on radio back in the USA in some capacity. The CD cost less than 8000 RMB to record. Strolling back later it occured to me that a good way to get your band noticed would be to come over and be based in Shanghai. You could play shows at will, headlining any venue you like, when you like and make a CD and marketing for ten times cheaper than back home.

Of course, if you do bring your band over to Shanghai, be sure to live here

So Modern Cheese kicked off and I immediately noticed the line-up change from last time. They have added a singer. At the last show, the guitarist was also the lead singer. With this addition, the songs now have some good back-ups and harmony vocal parts. It made a difference. Their first two tracks are their usual strong ones but like the previous show, the rest of the set lacks the same energy and focus. I often talk about how support acts play on way too long here and don't seem to get the concept of supporting. However, I mellowed and like the idea that YYT gives new bands a chance to play and that's what's important. I didn't, however, count on Modern Cheese. The set ended with the guitarist bringing on a stool and launching into an intimate monolgue with the audience - followed by what amounted to a second, solo set. Anyway, this band do have chops and ability and they are still worth checking out in the videos.

The Shy Tall Mighty took the stage next. No one seemed to have heard them before and there weren't any CDs knocking around the door or shop. I was mildly surprised to see the two frontmen apear - two middle aged British geezers. They just went straight into a high energy old school punk set, London accents and all. The crowd, who'd been very patient up to this point, instantly took to it. They never dropped the energy level and did a solid enjoyable show. They are not based in Shanghai though, and I'm not sure we'll see them again anytime soon or have cause to follow their development. Fans of good ol' Punk should definitely catch them if you have the chance. 

To finish, I want to mention that Kongzhong Huayuan (Sky Garden) are playing Sunday's 0093 Rock Party. I mistakenly reported their name as KongDE Huayuan last time. I really want to catch them again and see if they've improved any. Fans of Coldplay-esque jangly guitar bands should come too. 

Modern Cheese 

Brad Ferguson already back on his hoss


controlI have open commenting now, does that mean I might end up with those people who comment on spelling errors? Err, I can spell horse, Brad is from Texas ... it's one of those really really funny jokes ... really funny.

I recently posted on Brad Ferguson's split with Windows Underground right here. Just two weeks later he's already back and promoting a new series of rock shows in Shanghai. This time Brad is branding himself with a catchy name Control. Not literally of course, oh thoseTexans.

The first show is going to be at Dream Factory on the 13th September and Brad's doing it by himself and out of pocket so Shanghai based readers should get along and support the show. Here's the line-up:

Boys Climbing Ropes
The Rogue Transmission
Hard Queen

The release of their excellent CD City Weather Sailing has established PK-14 as pretty much the top punk/rock act in China now. The CD quality, production and conception is right up there and you can even get the CD details via I-tunes - oooooh. That's rather flash for the China underground scene. They are worthy headliners.

I should also mention that when I was following up with Brad on the details for this post he was careful to say that nothing's planned beyond the first show. PK-14 had already been booked for Windows Underground. So, let's have a repeat of the Tembo Subs show - get to the show make it a success and a good time ... and maybe it'll lead to more shows. Also, if you don't go, those spelling-nazi commenters are going to hunt you down.

Bonus Post: Self Party @ Yuyintang


rylan mcpheeThis post is more of an anecdote than a gig review but I did get new vid material so it's worth doing. Earlier in the day I had been to see Hard Queen at Eno. I wasn't going to check out the Miniless showcase at Yuyintang but I got a call from Rylan McPhee, buddy of mine, who was already there. So I dragged myself and my tired, heavy head to the show.

I got there in time to see Self Party play. To be fair, they were not that bad despite an average to washy sound and the habit of repeating the same four bars more than thrity or so times in each song. Shoe-gazing fans will like them, I'm sure. The problem was my tired head and the end of the anecdote. Into their final song they got feedback and sound problems and when they looked to the desk they saw it was empty. The sound guy was off at the bar drinking. So, like any good experimental band, they openly laughed to each other on stage and proceeded to abandon the song in favour of continuing feedback and noise.

Unfortunately it was so loud that my prospective headache immediately jumped into nausea-pang-laced throbbing and sent me off home. So, I had to abandon the rest of the show and leave the Clansman of Cranbrook to continue his good work alone. That's clansman with a C, readers nursing a hangover. Yuyintang was packed again and it's good to see the venue get good crowds for all the different styles. A final point, just lurking at the edge of the photo is Morgan Short. Morgan is the bass player for Boys Climbing Ropes who have a CD out called Pleasure To Be Here. Check out the linked page.

Post-rock night @ Yuyintang


21 gramsI have to admit, I'm lost with modern music terminology. I have tried but it's evolved from a few genres into a complete system of jargon. So, I headed down to Yuyintang to see 21 Grams and Wang Wen in the hope of finding out what post-rock is all about.

Well, if this show is anything to go by it means long indulgent instrumentals that are atmospheric or ambient in feel. In Wang Wen's case there was a lot of crossover into jazz as well, especially some of the drum beats. Yuyintang just can't go wrong at the moment. This was a Tuesday night show featuring instrumental bands and yet again it was packed.

You can see vids of both bands at my youtube page

It was another interesting night for bumping into people. This time round was Sean from Neocha. Neocha is an online community for artists and musicians in China. Check it out. The best feature of the site, from the music point of view, is their Next MP3 player. You download it to your PC and then it plays random tracks from their complete database of songs. More importantly, Sean knows his soccer. Respect.

This was also a CD shopping night at YYT's in-house shop. I got PK-14's new CD and also CDs by Sko and Wang Wen. I also picked up a copy of Pleasure to be Here by Boys Climbing Ropes. It's really good and I'm quite taken with their song Dirty Bots. To finish off, I was amused to see that some cheeky bastard has started to sell their own CDs outside the venue. Then again, they had badges (buttons in USA English) and T-shirts that YYT don't have in their shop.

Next up, got a tip off from Abe Deyo about a battle of the bands tomorrow night that includes Hard Queen. 

Joyside live @ Windows Underground


rogue transmission warm upI went down to the recently moved Windows Underground bar last night to see the famous Beijing punk band, Joyside. This was part of a special event called Get in the Van and features a three band bill then a free minibus over to another bar for dancing and DJs. This was the second van event, both organised by Dan Shapiro who fronts the band, Rogue Transmission. As well as Joyside and Rogue Transmission the line up featured folk-punk act Boys Climbing Ropes.

Joyside are huge here and the venue filled up. However, my night was basically ruined by the curse of the 'bar gig'. It's a strange affliction that affects normal 'venue' gigs in the underground scene too. They seem to operate by different rules that may suit some people but just not me.

Why can't shows start on time? Coming late to a show and missing some of the support act is normal and not a big deal. This one was door at 9 then start at 10, but they waited until 10.45 presumably until it filled up more. So, i'm fine with multi act bills, especially in a smaller local scene - but - it drives me nuts when they become triple headliners or sometimes quadruple and more. Have a bunch of support acts but don't hold back the whole show for them to get more people in and, for god's sake, don't let them play full sets.

So Rogue Transmission plays a solid traditional rock set but it was basically 12.00 midnight, Euro 2008 about to start on TV and me starving to death. Yes, 12.00 at a show where the door opened at 9 and the second support act was just warming up. So I missed half of Boys Climbing Ropes getting something to eat then came back in time for Joyside.

And ... the sound was awful, I couldn't hear the lead vocals or the guitar, and Joyside were wasted and all over the place. Let down. Not to mention that half the people there were from the 'party crowd' who looked ready to hit the bund clubs after the show. Joyside are huge, like I said, and their real fans still loved every minute of the show.


andy dan xiao punk

Me, Dan Shapiro and Little Punk of Boys Climbing Ropes.


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