Results tagged “douban” from Andy Best

Shanghai band: The Spondees

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spondees
I am the wrong person to talk about spondees to. Like Edgar Allan Poe, I don't think they actually exist and can't be used in their absolute form without creating something distinct from English usage and pronunciation, to even attempt them for effect would require a pause that then makes the two-foot measurement wrong ...

... wait a minute. Sorry about that.

The Spondees are a Shanghai band made up of three heroic ex-pats. The band has been around for nearly five years with a few line-ups with Matt Saunders keeping things going. They have a good page at Reverb Nation and also a Douban page.

The Spondees are a hardworking, every-week-gigging, bar-band-style-band who play all original material. To be honest, I usually completely exclude what we think of as 'bar bands'. However, Matt Spondee is an awesome guy who has reached out to a lot of people in the, and I love this quote, "local pseudo-bohemian sub-indie anti-scene" ... or as we know it: the music scene. They take themselves seriously enough that we should too. Also the band are playing shows in Yuyintang and Mao and Matt comes out to support other people's shows. So give them a fair listen and look out for their continued presence on the gig circuit. Finally they are consummate musicians and performers, putting just as much into playing the old Fanfare location to twenty people (yup, I was there) as they would to a weekend night at a larger venue. 

Regrouping Shanghai bands this summer

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guts gezi
Many younger local acts in Shanghai have a hard time keeping a line up together for more than a year. That's not news. A couple of bands are pushing through though.

Pictured are Gezi Tuan (格子团) English name Guts, although the name translates to 'grid'. After a reasonable start then losing members (sound familiar?) they are back in action. I was rehearsing in the room next to them this week and we all remarked that they sounded really together. So if regular indie stuff, but with a bit more distortion and a bit less irony, is your thing then try to catch up with them I should note that the demo there is from the old line up, I think. 

Monkey Shines are on round three. They are a combination of uptempo pop punk and emo, but the demos can give you the full picture. They have just released a new one with their third singer in three years. Drummer Xiao Zhong ( 小钟 not 小中) has been around the block, starting out with the original line up of Little Nature. Anyway, check out the new demo at this page, it's the first one 《无恶兄弟》. 

Reminder: re-TROS

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retrosvert
Recently the unique IPs per month stat for this blog got (in context) really high and I'm not sure who the readers are exactly. I'm assuming that the majority are new to the scene and not Chinese, or outside the country.

That's one reason to justify this post. The other is that after a semi-recent conversation with a Shanghainese friend, I was reminded that a lot of ex-pats and visitors at shows are unaware of the importance of the ReTRoS to local fans, and also of just how amazing they are. They same goes for PK14 but I already post about them a lot.

So ReTRoS are amazing and really important to local fans. How easy was that. 

You can listen to both their albums here:


And seriously, Watch Out! is a world class post-punk album and if you like it, start listening to PK14 more and also Feng Yi, SKSA and so on. These bands will stand the test of time on the scene here. I was also really excited by the debut album of London post-punk sensation Savages, but on comparison they have a way to go before they produce an album like Watch Out! 

Local blog: Small Oranges

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jiujianpro
Note: the blog and articles linked are in Mandarin language, well written and poetic Mandarin with pop-culture references too i.e. a bit beyond Google translate etc.

Click pic for slightly larger, un-fuzzy version.

Small Oranges is a locally run blog that includes many music reviews: including a lot of Shanghai live shows. So if you want to get an insight or another voice, and you have a semi-decent grasp of the language, here's the place for you. It is written by 'Jiu Jian' (九间) who is highly regarded on Douban too. 

First some links then some disclaimers:



Now. Couple of issues to beware of. The blog has a wide range of topics away from music, itself not a bad thing, but coupled with a bad theme and horrible navigation it makes it hard to get around. The front page has no direct links to categories or tags - which themselves are confused throughout - or an archive. Live Music is a major category, but does not appear on the tabs at the bottom. Also, many pages are dead ends.

The thing to watch for is the next page navigation. If you look at the footer, there will be arrows of sorts ">>" at the right end. That is what you use to advance the page displayed. So if you click into my link for the live reviews category, itself a category within a category, hence it not appearing anywhere, you use those arrows to get to page two and so on. 

Once you get the hang of it, there's loads of good stuff in there. The movie reviews are insightful too, if that's your sort of thing.

Pics from our Friday show

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On Friday we (Astrofuck) played Yuyintang with Italian touring band Serpenti and local punks Friend or Foe. It was good show all round. As a result we have live recordings of previously unavailable tracks. Also, Rachel Gouk was on hand to take some pics. They came out great too. 

Here is a gallery of the pics. You can go here to listen to our latest track Five Kuai Bullet. And here is Rachel's blog with all her relevant links.


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Slinkrat: Marquee 7 chat / sadness

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Pic: Xiao Zhu playing with Second at Mao Livehouse Shanghai in 2009

This post is going to come across as an old person whining. So before that: I'm basically reposting a mini-interview with the singer from Shanghai rock band Marquee 7 over at the Slinkrat blog:


One part of the interview really got me thinking. I saw Marquee 7 playing their first open mic show in YYT and singer Sharon is good, and yet she mentions the first six months of trying to get a band being so hard she almost fucked it all off. But she also mentioned that bassist Xiao Zhu nearly gave up and sold her bass at one point recently.

It's brought something about the scene into relief for me. Xiao Zhu has been a local music  community mainstay since 2008 and I first saw her playing in the original Second (重结晶 zhong jie jing) line up in early 2009. Pertinent to my upcoming point is that they first played at the Rock 0093 showcase night, Number 8, February 2009 to be exact. The idea that she, or anyone local, would have trouble hooking up a band is troubling to me. 2009 was the year that local bands could get 3-400 ppl into YYT and sometimes even more into the soon to be opened 'old' Mao and that the YYT and 0093 Douban groups were a swirling centre of activity. 0093 had enough bands through their doors to throw out 6-8 at every showcase of which half would go on to self-organise and play regular shows. 

It seems to be clearer than ever that the effects of the Expo year have still not been fully recovered from. 0093 was forcibly evicted to make way for Expo events' wine storage, I shit you not, and didn't get a decent new location back until over a year later. Top Floor Circus got in trouble with Da' Man. Both these events saw a huge winding down of local band activity for the period of the Expo and even Yuyintang, after a couple of warning raids that saw its sound desk impounded for a while, focused on the Expo international acts and influx of ex-pats for a while. Then a new boom of ex-pat run bands started becoming super active (there was only one or two active ex-pat bands of note for the whole ten years before that) and this has caused an unfortunate displacement of sorts, in a way. Finally, there has been a coincidental exodus to use Weibo that saw the Douban groups die. It has led to less communication and organisation than before - those are the facts. People should definitely admit this to themselves and go back to more Douban use for online organising. Basically the centres of community and organisation that had peaked by mid 2009 all took hits around the same time and are shadows of their former selves when it comes to grassroots local activity.

We can't control the gov stuff, but other points there make you think, and here's a controversial idea which I'm not that sure of myself ... if something is discovered like Live Bar, where there's suddenly regular gigs by student bands practicing at Left Rock, that has sprung up organically, should a bunch of experienced bands and or promoters, of any background, descend on the place, so to speak? I guess what I'm thinking over right now is when is helping actually helping and when is it not - in the context of sustainability. That's just one example.

I know this: buying a ticket and seeing a show as a punter is always helping. So go and see Marquee 7 play.

New demo from The Fallacy

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The Fallacy (疯医) are a Chinese post-punk band from Henan. We've had them on the blog a few times before and helped to bring them to Shanghai once upon a time.

Go to their page here and check out their new demo The Balcony.


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Stalin Gardens album drops on Douban

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julienFull disclosure:  I have a personal relationship with a member of this band.

Edit: there was a track naming mix up at the Douban page. The track I quote at the bottom is Last Days, not Under The Black Moon.

Stalin Gardens are a younger band on the scene made of Chinese and French musicians who are dedicated to the no wave style and formed via a mutual love of the group Swans.

After a rocky start trying to settle a full line lineup, they played memorable shows at the Maybe Mars anniversary show and with Mr Ray at Yuyintang for Wooozy. Now they have recorded a debut album at Shanghai's Post Tape with Brad Ferguson producing.

The album is available for listening at their Douban ahead of traditional release. It is called Shanghai Void and is notable to me for reflecting both the China scene influences and life in the city itself, not to mention some excellent turns of phrase and an excellent recording of fan favourite / child cancer epic Osteosarcoma.


"Lights out. The city's mine ... "
Last Days

New tracks from Next Year's Love

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I recently posted about the Next Year's Love 7" vinyl release show. It was also part of a new bar opening 390 Shanghai. Here's the post:


The band made two new recordings for the release. Smash the Pink Bugs is an older song and usually the live show opener while True Love Song is newer. Both sound excellent and are now available for listening at the band's Douban page:


Right under those tracks you can also hear, and get free downloads of, their self-titled four track EP. 

YYT punk fest will be Dragon Pizza's last ever show

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Xu Qi
Yuki, the bassist for Shanghai punk-metal-core band Dragon Pizza, just reminded me that their show on the 19th will be their last one ever.

That sucks. Dragon Pizza are one of the best live acts in town. They are great musicians, play a tight set and entertain too.

I bought my Shanghai guitar, the black Ibanez, from Xu Qi (pictured) when he worked at Blue Hand seven years ago, maybe more. 

The show is the Shanghai Punk Festival on Sunday 19th August at Yuyintang. Full details here. It features bands all day including the legends Top Floor Circus and Nanjing's Angry Jerks.

Next Year's Love EP out

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nylEP
Full disclosure: I was directly involved in the making of this EP. I invite all readers to keep your eyes peeled for independent reviews. Mr Fossy and Pangbianr are in the running.

Next Year's Love are a Shanghai all-girl synth punk trio. After gaining many fans through a string of shows last year they have capped things off with this 4-track EP also titled Next Year's Love. It was organised by Qu Records and produced by Brad Ferguson.

The links:


Again, I'm biased but I think the band and Brad really managed to successfully combine all of their influences onto this EP. There's the synth punk, the retro pop, the girl rock and even the drone/discordant elements. And what's more, when me and Brad had to carry YYT's old mixer desk down the 0093 stairs it was possibly the most dangerous / funny-in-hindsight gear carrying adventure ever. 

OK. Go to one of the links and immediately listen to "I Know" as your gateway. It's my favorite. Enjoy.

The White Eyes new EP and vids

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whiteyes.jpg
The White Eyes are a garage punk outfit from Taipei. They originally had a well-deserved reputation as a raw and raucous live act, led by singer-mastermind Gao Xiao Gao. By the time they arrived on the mainland to tour their album Kiss Your Eyes they were a polished and consummate modern rock act who also kept their punk energy.

Now they have a new EP out called Dead Boy and an accompanying video. So time to check them out.

(scroll down for the MP3s ... third tab for videos)

Don't f*ck mountain! Zhi Wang are (sort of) back.

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zhiwangcover
Zhi Wang are an electronic/noise/experimental band that includes Top Floor Circus' Lu Chen and legendary ex-Fuckndrolls vocalist Ba Fang. Ba Fang is based in Beijing these days so don't expect any shows in Shanghai soon.

The band put together a 19 track album and now, for the first time, it's on their Douban page in its entirety for free download.

Oddly, for an album that's quite out of left field it has a genuine single on it.


Scroll down to the tracks and play track two 莫干山. The lyrics take the name (Moganshan) and pun-slate it into Don't Fuck Mountain, then go on from there. It's catchy as hell and I just played it about 20 times in a row. Pun-slate. Yup, that's what I said. Chinese prankster types do it all the time so there's a shitty word for it. You're welcome. Pun the Chinese then directly translate it into English to make it extra funny. Check out the album now. It's great.

Strange Corners of Douban: Chinese Football

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chinese football
Note: Sorry I'll have to talk a bit vaguely about this at times as some of the funny pages are quite unharmonious.

Douban is the online home of Chinese bands where we can get demos, vids, news, show info, pics ... the lot. But one of the other pleasures is browsing the side communities and projects.

There are all kinds, from student singer-songwriters, to bands' side projects ... to locals getting all sarcastic with the pop culture references and humor. 


You can browse from there if you're down with Douban and know the language a bit. Browsing is the only way really, here's something safe and here's something else. Hats off to you if you spot the main joke there.

chinese football two

X is Y split album tracks on Bandcamp/Douban

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xisyBW
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.

Following Chinese bands on Douban

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ann douban
All images click for larger

Update on Douban's ongoing changes and motherfuckery when it comes to following bands. Some good news, in fact. At the bottom.

So, previously. And for those who are utterly new to this. All active Chinese bands use Douban's xiao zhan 小站 for their homebase. 

It used to be that following the band page would put all their updates into your main newsfeed/timeline and then there was a filter that showed only musician pages - then called 音乐人 yin yue ren. Sweet. You could add in all the active bands on the scene and get continuous updates and links to shows, demos and videos. 

Then Douban took out the filter and combined all stand alone pages to be the 小站. For a while, we had to go individually to each artist page. That meant over 200 for me and Jake. Then they introduced the 喜欢 like button and following a band's feed became a separate, hard to spot, option. This option: 关注Ann的广播. Guangbo 广播 is feed. See the first picture.

So you could create a new profile. Add only band pages and no friends. Then go to each page and follow the feed. Finally you'd have a time line of band updates again. Of course, band pages are fully 'editable' now so the band may have hidden the feed, and thus the option to follow it.

But now, Douban have finally added back a feed of sorts. Now we have the My Mini-sites 我的小站 tab which shows a chronological list of bands who have updated and their last two updates. See the photos below.


kungdou

xiaozhan

Death To Giants live tracks up

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Shanghai lo-fi-high-skill duo Death To Giants are on the go again.

I first wrote about them here describing them like this:

Death to Giants combine the punk, playful intensity of modern lo-fi duos with a dose of virtuoso technical playing and vocal harmonies.

Now they have updated their page. They made a higher quality live recording at the most recent show and have posted up the tracks. The results are great.

go there now and listen ... and remember, anyone can learn to count in Chinese.

Youtube Youku: Carsick Cars interview with Mogo

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This video comes courtesy of label Maybe Mars and their Douban page.

Go there for a great selection of tracks from all their bands: go go go scroll down on the first page you see there for the tracks.

This video is a 5 minute long interview with Carsick Cars frontman and creative force Shou Wang. There is a little bit from bassist He Fan too. But, for those without Chinese skills I should mention it's all in Mandarin with no titles. He talks about the new line up and then his influences and his work with electronic sounds also. It's set to a nice montage of songs and various classic photos from their career so far.




Top Floor Circus' Shanghai represent gallery

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Jake has already written about this here. Top Floor Circus are letting people upload covers for their new album and all that.

For those new to the blog or scene, Top Floor Circus are Shanghai's most famous and respected punk band. They sing in Shanghainese, deal with local issues, are excellent performers who got fame following in G.G. Allin's footsteps - Aric will never forget the bottle up the a** show. They even got banned by the government during the Expo for making joke songs about it all.

The full gallery is here.

Shanghai represent!

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dm2

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The Slow Lane

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baghead
Been a lack of posts lately. Let me explain and in doing so preview some up and coming posts.

We are in the middle of a mess of public holidays and make up days. The Expo is still on and, for that and many reasons, the scene is dead compared to previous years. 

I mean the part of the scene that I tend to cover, the home grown stuff that gives indication of where the domestic scene is going. 

By the way, one of the other reasons is the trend of more established local acts deciding to take time out of the regular scene to focus on advertising work and promo events.

Another is that 150 'party people' and transients watching a touring overseas act has bugger-all impact on the scene. "The scene" meaning people based in the city creating music and dedicated regular audiences who support/contribute it. "The scene" not meaning the sum of entertainment events happening in the city at any one time. 

Expect a big write up of the Expo summer when it's done next month, followed by a return to regular gig going / writing. It would help if Douban would restore the feed filters for checking band updates. It would also help if bands were updating.

Candy Shop work with Shanda, play Chinajoy

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candyshop shandaNote: regular readers will be familiar with my personal stance and words on advertising in music and all that. There are whole other discussions about movies and games too. This is just some news. I'm not connected with Shanda or any agency regarding stuff in this post.

While most of us have been kicking back this summer others have been going into overdrive.

Shanghai band Candy Shop are self-described mixture-pop. That is, they are an independent band that play and write their own stuff and can rock live, but the style is definitely a kind of more mainstream pop. They came up through the original 0093 showcases and now have a page full of quality recordings and fans at Douban. A search of my blog brings up a bunch of posts going back two years.

This summer, Candy Shop have been working with China's largest online games company Shanda writing and recording eight tracks for them. This culminated with them playing the Shanda stage at Chinajoy, see photo, along with a hundred of the showgirls. Think about this and listen to the new track at the page (单恋杀) and consider that they basically just did it all by themselves starting as a bunch of friends at 0093. 

The tracks are already out and feature in these Shanda games

泡泡战士  龙之谷  星辰变  拳皇  魔界2  传世英雄传  英雄传奇  mochi

Here's one of the vids/songs: 龙之谷 trailer
And here's a SINA review of the China Joy show

Douban annoyances

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Readers of the site by now must be familiar with Douban.com.

It's a Chinese social networking site that is centered on the arts. Instead of games and annoyances, it uses an amazon and IMDB style search to allow everyone to list, review and share their favorite culture.

It also has an amazing system of "minisites" where you create band pages. When you log in and look at your main feed you can filter out everything but minisites, leaving you with a newsfeed of all your bookmarked bands. This includes events, blogs and music/photo/video uploads. It is so good, that the entire China underground rock scene uses it almost exclusively.

And then suddenly last week, without warning or explanation, the minisite feed was taken out.  Strangely, the filters for the main feed were too. I mailed the helpdesk and got no answer. It sucks.

I did eventually find an answer though. On exactly that day the same thing happened to a bunch of sites here in differing degrees.

Around Douban in May

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wozhouling
Sorry to start off the post with an insider muso joke but I have to put this somewhere. Last night at our blog party, Zack Smith said, "The wah-wah pedal is a gateway drug to jam-band-ism."

The picture you can see to the right is Chinese folk singer extraordinaire Wu Zhuo Ling (吴卓玲), also a member of A_Z

Listen to her latest tracks at her always active Douban page

Dan Shapiro's new band The Fever Machine also have a new demo out at their page. Check out their excellent brand of desert rock that reminds me of the current new wave of technical-meets-stoner-rock, like Them Crooked Vultures. 


Suzhou based melodic death metal band Mo Xie (莫邪/Mo ye) have a new demo and photo gallery at their page. I saw these a while back and was blown away. Believe it or not, death metal is always popular with the university students here and you get to meet a whole different crowd at the shows. 


Another feature of Douban is individual members of various bands who keep Douban pages of their own as a kind of notebook for their ideas. They are usually just full of rough demos recorded at home and various thoughts and pictures. One such page is 小宝大宝宝迪瑞尼亚 (Xiao bao, Da bao, Bao di, Reina) ... or more simply, Reina.

Go here and check out the bottom track, minimalist (really) pop track Biu Biu

Finally. Despite being officially defunct for over a year or more, underground pop sensation Gala have put up their old tracks at Douban. I saw them here. So why not revisit their classic track Young For You which was a viral hit with students nationwide. Go on, re-live a golden time when English language songs could be sung completely in the ... err ... reverse Chinese character romanized method. You know, like the way footballer's names are done on the TV. 

It's a catchy track and was genuinely popular at the time.

B-side Lovers post demos

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b-sides
This is not really Shanghai scene related so to speak but I'm just desperate to get the 400 now. Ha.

One of my favorite China bands is Hedgehog. They rule and are all over the blog. 

A little bit back, one of the founding members Box (Bo Xuan) quit after three albums and much acclaim. The stories were proclaiming the end of Hedgehog despite ads on Douban for a new bassist to continue business as usual. Eventually the bassist arrived and they did, in fact, continue on as usual. 

In the lull a new Douban page appeared for a new band called B-side Lovers. This was featuring hedgehog's Atom and Zo in a back-to-basics stripped-down grunge format, that they kind of started with in the first place.

Since then, as I linked back there, Hedgehog have been playing live and working on their fourth CD. But also, B-side Lovers have gone on too. To wrap up a series of Beijing appearances they now have four demos on their page. 


If you like this kind of thing I might suggest catching upcoming pared-down grungy two piece Pairs, who are next playing Yuyintang a week Saturday here.

Bonus question: I saw pics from the Strawberry festival on Douban that showed ex-Hedgehog bassist Bo Xuan playing guitar for a new band. Anyone know which band that was?

Alpine Decline coming to 696

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alpine decline
Lately, a bunch of overseas acts have been readying the cannons and sailing over to attack Shanghai. A few have been in touch via the blog too, all nice people. Puressence are at Mao and appear to be a very big deal. Exile Parade, also from the UK's north-west (like me) will do Yuyintang on May 5th.

The act that most appeals to my tastes though is L.A. two piece Alpine Decline. They are Pauline Mu and Jonathan Zeitlin, both formerly of Mezzanine Owls.

Here is their demos for China page

They have gone commando and will play Live Bar and 696, contacting both venues directly themselves. They will also turn up and just use available equipment. They hail from the L.A. scene, their previous band was described as having "A haunting Jesus and the Mary Chain rattle" and they are playing in 696. AND ... it's the same night as Peaches at Mao.

So clearly this is the time to check out the new 696. Friday 23rd of this month. Here are the gig details at Douban.

Ourself Beside Me Douban updates

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obm concept art
Beijing based experimental rockers Ourself Beside Me have started back into the action.

They burst into everyone's consciousness with their amazing eponymous CD on Maybe Mars whose standout track was Sunday Girl. Since then they have split opinions at their shows. You have drooling fanboys like me who are in awe of their effortless cool and harsh but dreamy songs. And you have people thoroughly repulsed by their near total dismissal of the audience, both on stage where they play facing each other and in the material where very little concession is given to the listener.

After breaking a spell of inaction with appearances at recent Maybe Mars showcases they have now started working again. Their Douban page now features three new demos, all loose-ish jams and a gallery of conceptual artwork. 

Here's the page, I recommend going in at Qita 2

Here are some previous blog articles about them.

Pinkberry EP release show and free track

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xiao you
Well, fair play to Lezi of Sonnet and now label Zhu Lu He Feng.

He formed a label, singed four bands and has got their first release coming out within three months or so of starting. Sign bands - release music. It proves we should all 学韩涵 (learn from Miniless).

So first out of the gate is Pinkberry. They have a CD coming out called Go! Boom! and the release party at Yuyintang has been announced. They have a new track available at their page which is a Chinese language version of their song Live In Live, now titled 我听到天使的声音 (I heard the sound of an angel). The track has big flashy production and a retooled sound. 

Listen to it here at their Douban page. Although all the old demos are gone now and the other track is singer Xiao You guesting on a Tim Wu hip-hop song.

The event is at Yuyintang on Saturday 24th of this month. Check the flyer and details here via Douban. Other bands playing are Sonnet, Joker and Manbanpai so expect a busy night with mostly local fans. And me and Jake.

End note: Blimey we have been following this band since this show. And now they have a CD coming out on a scene label. Good job guys.

Surfin' around: Guai Li and other newish stuff on Douban

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guiali d22
Having seen Guai Li at the third Maybe Mars Shanghai showcase on Saturday night, I was inspired to pop back to their Douban page. They don't seem to pay much attention to it but I was happy to see the recent addition of a high quality recorded track there.

It's great and represents the band well so go there and listen now


In other news, Hedgehog are rolling back into town on the 18th supporting USA's The Thermals. That's at Yuyintang.

Were you a one time big fan of Bare Naked Ladies? Do you like indie rock that is funny and at the same time musically rewarding/infectious? Shanghai based rockers Stegosaurus? Are on the verge of finishing their first CD and bringing the genre back into style. Check out four demos at their page here.

Melodic death metal legends Fearless are still my favourite Shanghai metallers. They now have a label listed on their Douban page 17 studio so look out for additions to the two instrumental demos already there. Here's their new logo too.

OK, I'm done for now.

Photos: Maybe Mars @ Mao

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Saturday night was the third Maybe Mars showcase in Shanghai. The first one was a year ago in the Dream Factory, the second was just last month and you can read about the third right here courtesy of Jake.

Anyway, a mate of mine just put some of his show pics up on Douban so I thought i'd repost a couple here. They are of Guai Li and Carsick Cars.


guai li mao one

guai li mao two

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Pics and Douban: Second, Ourself Beside Me, BCR and more

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second zhu
So, we've just finished recording the 3rd Podcast of the second season, look out for that at Jake's blog soon. 

We mentioned a couple of things. We talked about Douban and 'following' your bands there to create a feed for them. Also, we mentioned Schwarzenegger's viral phrase girlie men and how in the China rock scene the girls were often way cooler and more badass than the guys.

No sooner had I finished that, I logged into Douban and caught some new pics by bands that feature girls. 

Shanghai all-girl rock band Second have just uploaded this 'backstage' gallery. Despite a brief break to find a new guitarist, they still appear to be active. That's bassist Xiao Zhu pictured to your right. 

Boys Climbing Ropes have finished adjusting their Douban page. As well as the CD liner bed shot they have settled on songs Whale Song, Dirty Bots and Night Boy. They are all available for download, if you are signed into the site.

And while we're on the subject of cool gals on the scene why not throw in these ones. It's Xie Han from Ourself Beside Me and then the undisputed queen of China rock Kang Mao of the Subs. So what's wrong with that, Arnie?


xie han


zz kang mao

Zhang Qian Qian, indie folk storms Douban

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

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

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

While we are on the subject of indie-folk. 

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

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

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

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

Cigarette Butt & Yuguo live @ Yuyintang

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yantou flyer
Christmas Day and it's off to Yuyintang to catch a Leonard Cohen-esque miserable band. Yes!

On the bill for Cigarette Butt's EP release tour:

Yu Guo 羽果 

Yu Guo were also performing as Cigarette Butt's backing band as they are essentially a duo. Both bands hail from Nan Chang City in Jiangxi. It is worth pointing out that Yu Guo currently have their entire Live In Shanghai 2009 Album on that page for free download.

Now. Cigarette Butt are an excellent deadpan, miserable folk-indie duo. They are best sampled when looking dead ahead and miserably singing This is the sunniest song. Go there now and listen to it, it's this one 最阳光的歌 Also note the hit count and and fans. The kids love this act.

Yu Guo opened with excellent sound that showcased Xie Hui's virtuoso vocal performance. They are a super professional band who rehearse full time and are managed by Zhang Haisheng of Yuyintang. They have recently been to Spain too, check out the nice photos. Tonight they played a shorter set of tracks from their first album Lost Paradise. The youngish, local audience were suitably entranced by Chun Xiao. Everyone's fave.

Cigarette Butt lived up to their sound live. Vocalist/guitarist Ah Bu 阿布  is a tall and formidable guy with real presence. He took centre stage and never smiled or betrayed any emotion other than annoyance and subtle misery. Fellow performer Wang Ranran 王冉冉 is petite and quirky, contrasting Ah Bu. Yuguo are a tight band and the music sounded good. I went away lamenting the lack of an industry (as usual). Yu Guo and Cigarette Butt are not exactly my style of music but listen to the songs at their pages - if there was a halfway functioning national music industry, like in Taiwan, both these bands would be massive and well loved.

Photos: Boojii

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Shanghai experimental band Boojii have recently released their first album on Modern Sky. Here's what Jake said. You can hear the track Detective M at their page here. I'm a big fan of 猫酱 too.

boojii two

boojii one

Duck Fight Goose demos available

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duckfightgoose
Duck Fight Goose are the newest act from the Shanghai based Miniless collective. Jake calls them the Miniless Supergroup.

They share three members with Boojii and they are fronted by Miniless founder and Lava | Ox | Sea frontman Han Han. On their page the members are listed as Duck, Goose, Panda and Dragon.

Lately the band have been putting on a steady stream of shows and are already getting a good reputation. Their music is experimental but anchored by tight rhythms and  prog rock riffing.

So. Now up at their page are three demos. Although, they are basically rehearsal tapes but it will give you a chance to check out their style and hopefully whet your appetite for the next show. Don't forget: The universe will be saved by animals!!! 动物拯救世界!! 

Dongzi folk CD available online for DL

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dongzi
I have previously moaned on the blog about the bizarre ex-pat expectations of Chinese rock and punk to contain some ethnic flavour in order to be 'real'. I've also moaned about some bands who do this just sounding like the world music genre.

However, if the genre is folk it's all good. Because, you know, folk is supposed to have that stuff in there. 

Then again, when I check out folk shows I'm not always that impressed and the recorded material doesn't seem to come over live. One performer I've seen who can really captivate the punters in that folk way is Dongzi. And now his excellent CD Shi Fang 十方 is available online.

You can go here to hear and download all the songs.

A good place to start is the very first track you see there. It's called Qiang Tou Cao 墙头草 which is a type of grass that bends in the wind. It's a metaphor for followers. Also, I'd love to introduce an artist in the north China hard folk style. Anyone like to recommend an artist in the comments?

Top Floor Circus - Shanghai Welcomes You (Celebrity version)

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lu chen tee
I have to get something out of the way first. Recently, some sites and people who previously might have given you the impression that they are big Expo supporters, have started posting on the anti-Expo anthem of the underground Shanghai Welcomes You.

Let's establish a time line. When was the song first being performed by and enjoyed by people on the cultural scene who are painfully aware of the real ramifications of the Expo?


Yes, one year late, chaps and chapettes. Never mind there's still time to get some values and get off the Expo.

So. Another disclaimer. If you don't have a reasonable grasp on Mandarin and a bit of Shanghainese too, the song is going over your head.

And finally to the point of the post:

At their Douban page, Top Floor Circus have posted up a hilarious version of Shanghai Welcomes You. It is done in the style of a celebrity anthem where various stars take turns singing the lines. It's not that new and doesn't feature the newer, angrier, version Shanghai Doesn't Welcome You. Still ...

Go to the page here and check it out. It's near the bottom (上海欢迎你) and is the one with over 14000 hits as of today. 

Pepsi fiasco: Shanghai scene story of 2009

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pepsibattleofthebands
It is fitting that I write this on the eve of Yuyintang's 5th anniversary. YYT is the community model of live music development that was always about the bands. It is the model that worked. Not a business model. Yuyintang simply asked, how can we get bands to play gigs and write music. Why? Because of those pesky humans and their desire to make culture and express themselves. Something that has been going on before the idea of mass marketing, fame or money from art.

As YYT and 0093 successfully triggered a larger scene and a stable downtown presence, the next questions started to be brought up by many people with a different mindset. How can we make money off this or do it full time? There were many aspects to this and many differing approaches and results. But it was all up in the air and there was a sense of mixed feelings and shakey steps. Without a mainstream industry to speak of and with a deeply conservative government that routinely practices censorship, some flirted with the idea of corporate and ad driven sponsorships. 

The bands had vague notions of conflict that had never been tested in reality and the champions of this new approach were, unsurprisingly, people from within the branding and ad industries. And then one day in stepped global giant Pepsico and lit the fuse that would blow up into the scene story of the year.

First came the announcement. The story broke over at China Music Radar and then at Shanghaiist

With a RMB1m prize purse (including cash, equipment, a national concert tour and recording time in LA), and "up to 5,000 concert auditions", Pepsi have made a commitment to the "real" Chinese underground music scene by announcing a new reality TV program to air over 7 months on the Zhejiang satellite network.
This was April 3rd 2009. I commented at Shanghaiist on the post and chose not to blog it directly.Why, I thought, would local rock and underground bands be interested in a talent show put on by a company that markets junk food to kids. CMR's post date of April 1st seemed more relevant to me.

pepsipinkberry
Behind the scenes though, the regular bands of the scene, the better bands and the likes of Yuyintang had decided to give it a go and see. Soon they would all go to the judged 'audition' rounds. 

And then I largely forgot about it. But, this is not about me.

Douban.com is the site the scene uses to communicate. Sean Leow of Neocha called it BBS 2.0 but it's much more than that. It allows you to create separate feeds for friends, groups and band pages so you can easily follow the band uploads and news as it comes out in one stream. At the end of the first week of May, the regular Douban channels were hot with talk of the Pepsi comp. People were angry. Some kind of massive fallout had occurred at the filming and the major scene figures and bands were calling for a complete boycott of the show.

Here's how I broke the story:Pepsi / SMG TV bands show a predictable fiasco 

The lead statements on Douban came from Zhang Haisheng of Yuyintang and Pupu of The Mushrooms: Pupu's statement (Chinese language)

Helen Feng (Pet Conspiracy) added her experience at the Beijing event via China Music Radar: More big brand BS, and I quoted it in my follow up here: More Pepsi BoB BS

The bands and scene people had come face to face with naked, soulless corporate/branding culture. Having been seduced by the usual rhetoric about caring, culture and mutually beneficial arrangements, they were faced with uncaring and ignorant shills who were there to sell junk and expected the bands to simply tell their peers to buy. The musicians were treated with infuriating levels of disrespect and the whole set up was painfully amateur. 

From Helen:

Apart from the in your face branding that made us dizzy, we were also shocked by their serious lack of taste. In the back were a few skinny models in hot pants and a halter-tops also adorned with said logo stretched tight against none existent boobs selling the soda at the bar. Even the people working there had to have said logo painted on their face.

Having never done a battle of the bands before, said soda company had forgotten that unlike other talent contests, bands don't usually come with a back-up tape in hand so had allocated no time for stage changes. In between the bands, the MC (namely me) was suppose to interview the lead singer. This was a bit ridiculous as the lead singer was usually down on the floor plugging in equipment. When I expressed this to the sponsor, the responded by saying "well just tell them to hurry up."

Still with one minute allocated for stage changes, even the speediest of musicians could not get their equipment plugged in on-time. The head of said Soda company came charging backstage screaming at the staff saying things like "tell these kids if they don't get their equipment plugged in less then three minutes they will have points deducted from their total score."

markpepsi douchbagBut was this short lived anger or would it live on and turn into a new level of awareness around brands and branding. Well, it certainly was angry and one kickback was the minor scandal that followed involving the band Pinkberry.

A boycott was agreed by the quality Shanghai bands via Douban and one of the voices on the threads was Pinkberry guitarist Toni Yu. It came as a massive shock just a few weeks later when it turned out that the band had secretly stayed in the comp - and with all serious competition having pulled out, went on to win the whole round. A very mean-spirited Douban thread then went up in which the band were pilloried. 

Here is how Jake Newby reported the incident at Shanghaiist: Pinkberry and the Pepsi pullava 

In a way, the reaction to the Pepsi Fiasco set the tone for the breakout bands of the year in Shanghai. Bands such as the Mushrooms and Candy Shop, both regulars in various band competitions up until that point, went back to traditional indie scene organising. They put on their own shows, worked on the Douban communities and fans, improved their music and expanded their sets. It was this - and not comps or brand friendly management - that has led these bands to be local fan favourites and on the verge of bigger things. 

You might almost say they've done it in spite of 'help' from 'labels', who don't release records, gigs in malls and big sponsors like Pepsi. As we come up to 5 years of Yuyintang it is telling to see that the bands who are doing things are those who did their own groundwork. The story of 2009 is that the various attempts at brand cooperation and sponsorship simply didn't work. But the community based models did. Brands don't want to help bands, they want to help themselves. 

One amusing post script to the affair was the belated reaction of Pepsi themselves. Well maybe not Pepsi so to speak. 


During the Shanghai run of the show, Pepsi employed an intern called Jay Mark Caplan to run an English blog of the show. He only knew about the incident at all via scene regular and Pepsi comp stage manager Abe Deyo and his post comes on July 28th - nearly three months after the thing was done. In his post he dismisses the bands and calls out bloggers (linking my post) as jumping on the bandwagon.

Revisit Hang On The Box with Douban

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hangonthebox
Not so long ago I posted a bit about Beijing experimental rock outfit Ourself Beside Me. This ended up with me seeing them up close at Yuyintang, a great show.

Guitarist Yang Fan was originally in a very famous Beijing scene band called Hang On The Box. I have never seen them, they are no longer together, and have not had the chance to get into their music either. Until now.

Surfing into their Douban page I found that they have a selection of classic tracks there from across their career and all available for download too.

So go there now and check them out. Right here.

They formed the band when they were all just 15, by the way. Rock In China wiki has all the details. Read all about it.

Where's Waldo Andy? More Mushrooms photos

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So, another gallery has gone up of the Mao grand opening night from the Mushroom's set. You can see it here. Also. Jake wrote up the night here and the night and some of it's surrounding articles have inspired him to write this

Long term readers of the blog will know who the Mushrooms are and should not be surprised that they have come through. Never mind the genre (they have long since moved on from genre rap-metal to ...err ..modern emo/commercial metal?), their shows are great and they have buckets of that magical appeal that all these analyst types are clawing around for. 

This is it, your moment is in:

mushrooms live mao crowd me

Photos: Mushrooms live @ Mao Shanghai

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On Friday we were at the Mao grand opening where we saw a great Mushrooms performance and had much fun throwing ourselves about. Photos have started filtering through. These are from this gallery here.


mushrooms mao one

mushrooms mao two

Photos: Fearless live @ Mao Shanghai

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So, well, errr .... I wasn't at this show. I wasn't at the Sunday Yuyintang show either. I'm sure this has happened to other people. Saturday, got back from work late at 9, felt very tired and fell asleep early - only to then wake up at 2 am feeling wide awake. Next, I thought "at least I can catch the Sunday gig". Of course, having been awake since 2 AM I got home from work on Sunday at 6.30 PM and promptly fell asleep for the entire night again. Weak.

So, anyway, here are some photos of Fearless playing Mao on the Hell United metal night. They come from here.

fearless mao mao

fearless at mao live

The History of The Subs

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Wu Hao and Kang Mao
Whilst talking to YLK in the comments at Jake's blog I made this comment and realised afterwards what an impact the band has had on me.


Their live shows have been pretty much the highlights of my eight years in Shanghai and though I was a bit distant at first, way back when in Harley's, I have grown to love this band. 

So, checking in at their Douban group I noticed that they have a kind of potted history of the band. It's a kind of convention to list up all your gigs in the description box of your Douban group, but they add in CD release dates and some other stuff too. It starts thus:

*2002年02月,于北京组队。
*2002年05月,现任贝司手加入,乐队成员形成稳定状态。

Feb 2002 The band formed in Beijing.
In May the current bassist joined and there was a stable line up.

Click into the post to see the full list. Chinese only for now. Maybe people could translate their highlights in the comments? Can we see the early Harley's gig there, where I bought Subs Life?

Bands are back on at Harley's

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fealress flyer
A couple of weeks ago I spotted a flyer over at SmartShanghai that seemed to indicate that Harley's was up for putting bands on again.


But was it an indicator that Harley's were coming back to the scene or was it the work of an intrepid new promoter, blissfully unaware of the history there? 

Well, it turned out that the band The Rainbow Danger Club is the new band from once frontman of the now defunct The Living Thin. I heard, from the, ahem, grapevine, that the promoter / DJ didn't turn up until the very end, to collect the door money. The night may now relocate to Logo. But hey, it happened. And ...

Now floating around douban is the pictured flyer. The Yangpu death metal massive is putting on a show there soon. It features Fearless, who are well good. 


They play melodic death metal and their set features an amazing cover of Iron Maiden's The Trooper. I have to admit being a metal fanboy, by the way. You'll notice that this show clashes with 24 Hours over at Yuyintang, the latest Beijing based hot band to be brought down by STD. But. If you are going to see Fearless then you probably think that bands like 24 Hours are only fit to be your eternal slaves in Valhalla. 

Mushrooms farewell gig?

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I mentioned last post that this could be the last Mushrooms gig in Shanghai for a while. What better time to check out the new Mao venue and see why The Mushrooms are such a big deal to local fans?

This is not a promo - this is my favourite Shanghai band to see live. Blog fans and YYT regulars all know this - spot the Andy ... and the Jake if you're good.


mushroommaoflyer.jpg

The Mushrooms at it again

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mushrooms party three flyer
There are all kinds of good shows coming up this month at Yuyintang and we even have Guaili coming down from Beijing. But something else is catching my eye and not for the reason you may think.

Singer Pupu of The Mushrooms decided to take matters into his own hands a couple of months ago and do promotions to get people into his shows. It started of as a bit of an ironic laugh but was an immediate success. I was sceptical but the highlight of the shows turned out not to be the whole ladies night/dress up idea (thankfully) ... it was the bands.


What happened was that The Mushrooms, who are excellent live performers, got a full house to play to and it all kicked off like it should every time they play. 

Scroll through this gallery to see how nuts the show was.

They shouldn't need to keep on with the promotions thing, in theory. It should be enough now that we have a band who can put on a show like the fabled gigs by better Beijing bands. Anyway, I'm blogging this because this will be the gig for action this month ..and by that I mean of the crowd surfing type. Also, there are five bands on the bill this time which will suit the late arriving crowd as The Mushrooms will be on later than usual.

New Momo demos out on Douban

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ding jia somalive
Before I write this I should make something very clear:

I like Momo and fans of indie pop/cutesy should catch their show which is excellent. 

Despite the big change of direction with Soma, I followed them since they were the Happy Strings and they put on a very professional live show these days. Not my usual music taste but in the old days they were very DIY and an integral part of the struggling scene so I'm happy to support.

So first the point of the post: 

There are two new demo tracks up at their Douban page. That'll be the two at the bottom of the player marked demo.

While we're at it why not see a recent video of them performing one of those tracks:


Or look back at their Soma debut as Momo. Or check out their Gua'er mini show. Or read a feature on Shanghai girls in rock by Jake Newby that includes singer Ding Jia.

Alas, one of the two demos has disappointed me a bit. At a recent show Momo played two of their older tracks and they rocked. It was a reminder of something. In the Happy Strings days I was always impressed by Ding Jia's voice. During the chorus of Start you could hear depth and colour in the singing. If only we could have Momo's original style but with the new professionalism live. When you listen to the vocals at the start of the new demo of Qingtian Wawa 晴天娃娃 the producer has destroyed her voice and turned it into a helium cartoon voice. 

Momo are now a band with experience, style and a good live show. I hope the producers can keep their soul too.

Douban: Brain Failure

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brain failure cover
Regular readers will probably notice the drop out in posting lately. There's many reasons, but fear not ... i'm doing my best :(

Here's some good news for fans of Rancid style punk and ska. If you click into Beijing scene band Brain Failure's Douban page they have six quality tracks there now. And they all rock.


Also, if you click on the albums under the MP3 player, you'll see a lot of those are availble to listen to online.


For overseas (not in China) readers, you might be pleasantly surprised to find their excellent stuff on Amazon, including a joint CD with Boston's Big D and the Kid's Table.


Ah, memories. In front of me ... a picture's worth a thousand words and i've got three, wait a minute, err ... fucking Big D! Thanks Trisha, wherever you are (Boston) for sending me their demo back in college and changing my life. 

Zhong Chi's entire first album online

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zhong chi easyworldBefore Soma started their Indietop label and got into venue management they had Zhong Chi.

Sarah Zhong Chi is a protege of Soma head honcho Lao Yao and months before signing the new bands he wrote and produced her debut album Easyworld. Of course, they then were faced with the fact of there being no industry for the album to go into.

It is pop music that is inspired by ambient and trip-hop sounds with lyrics that focus on the environment. It's quite good, especially the title track. And now, it's available in its entirety on her Douban page - for listening, not downloading.

Check it out

Since forming Indietop, Soma have been promoting Zhong Chi again. When doing shows, she is backed by the rock trio Triple Smash. This band feature ex-Mushrooms guitarist Li Xing (Jerry Li) and David Chiang of Six Shot. This is a bit of a strange reversal for Soma as Lao Yao has taken most of their acts in a more commercial direction.

Bits and bobs / music by the Fuck'ndrolls

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ba fang
As you read this post, please open up the link to Neocha and listen to a song by the Fuck'ndrolls.


The Fuck'ndrolls were a short lived but legendary three piece fronted by singer Ba Fang (pictured). Also in the band were guitarist T-bluse and drummer Tim Anderson, who plays for The Mortal Fools. The reason I bring this up is because me and the wife were chatting to Ba Fang and Lu Chen at the Subs gig. Having disappeared for a while, Ba Fang will return with a new band that will also feature Lu Chen. More info as it becomes available.

Meanwhile, as Yuyintang gets all organised we see the start of a regular New Faces Underground night on Wednesdays. This is an interesting turn of events. The regular 0093 shows were basically just that. Then the YYT schedule filled up with established bands and 0093 got squeezed out a bit. Now the schedule has been organised but the prolific 0093 have already opened their own performance space and held shows at Live Bar too. 

A quick glance at the 0093 Douban group (Chinese language only) shows several O3 Space shows on the way. 0093 will return to Yuyintang with 0093 Rock Party 11 on the 12th of June. The line up features: Blunt, Bloody Mary, 大新鲜乐团 (Da Fresh), My Chilly Hurt, Conterspell and 8MG. 

8MG are currently the subject of a ridiculous personal vendetta gossip thread that is racking up the comments. It's called 8mg are the most ignorant band I've met. While we're on the subject there was an even funnier naive post attempting to denounce scenester/indie folk artist Fanqie Chaodan for wanting to have ... sex ... with a girl. The horror! Unfortunately, the poster was completely unaware that everyone knows each other and that all the commenters are taking the piss. 

Finally, it's a holiday on Thursday, Dragon Boat Festival. See you all at Yuyintang for the Mushrooms/Sonnet gig. 

Casino Demon CD unrelease release @ Yuyintang

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casinodemon cd release
Following on from Carsick Cars on the Friday night was another Beijing band on Saturday, Casino Demon. Before reading on, be sure to go their Douban page and listen to their songs. I recommend Wa Ha Ha.


Casino Demon were here towards the end of November last year. Read about that here. It was a good show, and I was won over by the band. Now they return to Shanghai for a 'debut album release party'. Well, yes, let's get to that before we go into the show itself.

There was not a CD in sight all night long. Also, the show seemed to be badly organised. The band had an indifferent sound and there was no support act on the bill. The Snot Rockets did their usual rent-a-support emergency service. When we talked to the band after the gig, they said they had a manager and they called him to see when he was bringing the CDs over. It turned out that the manager was drunk at a house party in another part of town, and after initially promising to get down in half an hour (after the band had already finished) he finally never showed. 

The show itself was solid but not sparkling. Casino Demon are good enough, and have enough presence and song quality that they will never be bad. We bobbed about to the punchy Libertines style rock and tried to spot people who might be there for the Free The Robots after party later on. That is, people who look out of place in a rock venue. I dunno, they were probably all, mercifully, at Free The Robots at that point. The band didn't come back out for an encore and Jake Newby grabbed the set list and confirmed that we were thus robbed of hearing the best track, Wa Ha Ha. 

Yuyintang revamp website

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yyt newsite
Yuyintang have finally gotten round to revamping their site.


It now appears in a visual calendar format that fits onto one page/your screen. Calendar boxes will display thumbnails of the flyers for shows on those nights. It's still in progress though, so be gentle. You will note that this blog has a featured link there. Just to be clear, I have no business arrangement or deal with YYT, I just go there a lot. We are all just music lovers.

Also, over at Douban, a couple of locals rumbled the English blogosphere and posted links to China Music Radar and my blog regarding the Pepsi contest. Of course, it's a bit silly cos the poster is unaware that me, CMR and the people reported on in the posts all know each other. But you can see one of my posts translated there. There are also some quite complimentary comments, but have to be honest again, those are friends and people I met IRL


Finally. With Sun Lu now up at Live Bar we are seeing an active Facebook group spring up and more info coming out there. Expect more quality shows too. 

Fading Horizon (Nanjing) live @ Yuyintang

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fadinghorizon flyer
A lot going on that night. Want to start though by pointing out that Youtube is still down here in China and while I was using Tudou as a temporary stop-gap, it seems that a permanent solution may be needed. In the mean time, no vids this weekend, sorry.

Get in the Van had The Gar and 24 Hours up at Dream Factory but your intrepid blogger worked until 9 and was working again at 9am the next day. So it was off to Yuyintang to see Fading Horizon. This was the official CD release show and they are on Miniless, a maverick experimental collective/label from down this way.

Have a listen to Fading Horizon right here right now.

Also on the bill were Shanghai's own Boojii and 8 Eye Spy. I got there just too late to catch Boojii who went on first and 8 Eye Spy but made it in time for Fading Horizon. 

Fading Horizon mix the layered shoegazing and noise style experimental rock with some clear hooks and beats that work. Yuyintang wasn't as packed as some of the sell out shows of late but it was just as cool. Dreamy soundscapes drifting across the hall and fans who seemed to be as into shoegazing as the band. There was a cheer of approval when they went into the opening riff of the strongest track Twice. I'm listening to the CD as I write and the production is really good. Certainly one of the best offerings from the Miniless stable so far. Fans of obscure and original experimental bands should definitely start to follow this label. Self Party were also a big hit here last year.



Douban: Pinkberry and Loudspeaker

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pinkberry new promo shot
Things have been afoot in the land of Pinkberry since their triumphant best show with Reflector at Yuyintang.

The douban page has now got two new demo tracks and a gallery of their latest photo shoot. The tracks are Live In Live and 片. Also, more importantly, Pinkberry have replaced their bass player, hoping to add experience and build on their recent progress.



Also around the world of Douban. I have been checking out long term Shanghai punk band Loudspeaker. Loudspeaker have gradually shifted from skatepunk with a twist of hardcore punk to hardcore punk with a hint of "metalcore". We've noticed it at the shows and now they have three good quality tracks available on their page that showcase the sound.

Have a listen here

In other news. If you have been following the Soma thing, Li Pang made a lengthy stream of BS reply at Shanghaiist here. I'm not posting on it anymore so have a look. 

Sick again: some tunes and news

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AK47 tour
I'm proper sick. Boo hoo. It's tonsillitis and I can barely speak. Hey, stop cheering.

That means that this weekend is shaky for me and I'm not sure which gigs i'll make, let alone review. Check out the flyer there. Friday night at Yuyintang is the AK47 tour and CD release. 

Have a listen to their demos at Douban here.

Also, the Midi festival rumours are flying again. This time we have Shanghaiist linking China.org.net. They report that the festival will not be in Beijing at all ...wait for it ... but in Zhenjiang. That's a city on the banks of the Yangtze between Shanghai and Nanjing. Surreal. I'd take all these reports with a pinch of salt. By the way, you will never ever catch me trying to break these Midi stories or post them first or whatever. I agree with Dan.

Their source at Zhongguo Wang

Finally, have any clue what I'm listening to while sick at home? Care? No? Well, Hedgehog are coming back to Shanghai to promote their new CD Blue Daydreaming in early April. There is a preview track up at their Neocha page.


Cough, splutter, cough. Moan ...

Red Banana and other stuff

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red banana
Big weekend coming up at YYT. The Rogue Transmission returns on Saturday night, which should be a good party night, but the Friday gig has not really been promoted much so I did a bit of snooping.

Musically, this has the potential to be another nuts show like Reflector, although I'm not sure Red Banana has the same fan base. Red Banana are from Hefei, the capital of Anhui province. They play pop-punk as well as listing brit-pop among their influences. I went to their Douban page and found they have ten full tracks there for listening starting with the excellent Hello.


So go to the show on Friday and we can make it like this. Don't worry if you can't read Chinese, scroll down and you'll see the MP3 player. If you ever go to my China links and see a bunch of code, just pop in your system disc and install Simplified Chinese into your net browser, then all will be revealed.

On another note, you may have noticed that I took out the recent comments sidebar a while back. This was because it showed up spam before I could add it into my list and annoyed me greatly. However, this means that if you comment on older posts, like more than six back and off the front page, I'm not likely to notice. By the way, this site's archives are in a title only list format and very easy to troll through.

So, while trolling through older posts recently I found a bunch of comments I'd never seen. These included a long answer from Cold Fairlyland's Lin Di on the Melting Pot post and a comment from the film makers about Chinese Rock'n'roll!!!

So here's the etiquette. If a post is not very active then people won't go back to it once it's off the front page. On a blog that posts often you just comment on the latest post and make an anchored link (no full addies please) or a brief reference to what you're talking about. So there you go. If you check any of those two links, for example, and want to comment on them ... use this post. Ok.

Douban: quick listens

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douart
I mainly use Neocha and Myspace Music when linking to band's online music so it's time to give Douban a little exposure.

Douban is a web 2.0 social site for people who like arts, books and music. It has a section where you add groups (for example the groups of bands you like) then you get all their news in one aggregated feed. All the Chinese underground and indie bands use it. And here's a buzzword for you, the last time I talked about Douban with Neocha's Sean Leow he described it as "BBS 2.0". This will mean more to you if you are familiar with the Chinese language net world.

So, they have artist pages for the bands there too and I was just having a look around lately. So ... I give you excellent recent demo tracks from four of Shanghai's upcoming bands:

Sonnet "Stupid Baby"  post-pop, brit-pop - listen
Pinkberry "The Pinkberry Song"  pop-punk - listen
Five Pointed Star "Dui Bai"  nu-metal - listen
Muscle Snog "Female Worker Bee"  experimental, post rock - listen

You'll have to open the links in a new tab and press play on the M3 player there (see picture guide).

The Mushrooms update their online profiles

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pu pu bleachHaving been signed by Soma's Indietop label, had a line up change and shortened their name from Crazy Mushroom Brigade to just The Mushrooms (Mogu Tuan) ... takes breath ... The Mushrooms have lately updated their online homes to reflect their new selves.

They now have an official Douban artist page with promo shots and a track from the upcoming CD:

Douban page for The Mushrooms

Singer Pupu has also made a new Tudou channel for preview clips and updates:

Pupu @ Tudou

From here on out I'm going to use the English tag The Mushrooms for articles on the band so keep that in mind when searching for older posts. So yeah, older posts. Let's do a retrospective:

Crazy Mushroom brigade live @ YYT
Video: CMB live @ YYT
Crazy Mushroom brigade enter ex-pat thought
YYT's Lin Lin picks CMB in interview
Jiaoban One @ YYT
Video: Jiaoban One
Indietop release compilation CD
The Mushrooms debut new line up at the Indietop Showcase

Upcoming shows I'm off to in January

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 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.

Winter Madness @ Yuyintang: Special Metal Edition

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flyer winterBusy day today. I just got back from an afternoon show and then it's Hedgehog later on back at the same venue. Including last night, by midnight, I'll have seen nine bands in 24 hours. Just like my own private festival.

Today was a special treat. I hadn't really looked into the show much. It was during the day, Candy Shop were headlining and the other bands' names sounded like metal bands. I got there and was suprised to see a good hundred or so people inside of which I was completely alone in two categories (everyone else being Chinese and under the age of 22). Well, if you don't include the staff.

So, the university scene metal fans were down for the day. I must say, they were hardcore and made the regular scene feel full of party obsessed posers by comparison. I met some people from Douban, took a while to sort out IDs mind you as most people on Douban use aliases, cartoon avatars and have no indication of their real details on their profiles. I was pretty easy to spot though so it worked out just fine. Cool to meet 'Challe', 'Datou Junjun' and the guys from Fearless (who share my appreciation of early Sepultura).

The bands:

Mo Xie (Suzhou)
Fearless
Hai Gu Si
Jing Jiao Ji Du
Tianping Dian (Candy Shop)

Only Candy shop have a page and they were musically the odd one out on the bill.

So, the first four bands were relentlessly hard death metal bands whose super tight songs were peppered with gothic keyboard riffs that mimicked church organs and some haunting half-time riffing. The ultra fans soon made a front row headbanging zone and even whipped off their shirts to do so. Guitars were shredding and the singers all used the gargling/screaming style very well. I don't want to paint too broad a male metal sterotype here, it must be mentioned that a good half the people here were female and just as into it. Challe's Douban pics are of her made up as a corpse. 

The metal highlights were, firstly, the entirety of Suzhou band Mo Xie's set and then when Fearless ripped through an amazing cover of Iron Maiden's The Trooper (made my weekend). Tianping Dian have gotten really good. They were last and completely different to the other bands so they lost about half the crowd before they'd even taken the stage. This didn't bother them at all. They ripped through their now well known surefire hits and got the remaining people jumping away. Saw a couple of other foreigners (2) wander in for the Candy Shop set and all who were there got treated to a new track. Melody and MC YKE showed how far they'd developed their act/talent. The first half of the new song was a half rapped half sung battle between the two, intermittently changing roles. Neither of them missed a syllable. Everyone loved it. Great day.  Death to false metal.

Pink Berries demo track at Neocha

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pinkberry promo shot
I got to like the newish band Pink Berries lately after seeing them a bunch of times at Yuyintang. After talking to the band a little and joining their Douban group I have got some updates.

Firstly, the official way to write and spell the name is actually Pinkberry, although singer Xiao You joked it was a reflection of her English pronunciation. 

So, also they have just finished a new demo track and a set of high quality promo pictures to go with it. They have taken the pics and the track Pinkberry 小不点 and opened up a Neocha account.

So check it out: Pinkberry at Neocha

You can learn all kinds of stuff when you actually bother to check the band's page, I have found. Did you know that 0093 Studios have a footy team? Joking aside, there's the language issue for me. I'm stuck between having learned it to a certain spoken level (no so hard) and then pressing on to get all the reading and vocab down (too lazy). Anyway, I'm here to blog the shows I go to really, not be one of those interpret the meaning of China people. Here's a story that has a point about that. Some people may be aware that I speak reasonable Cantonese, learned from friends back in the UK for fun. Well, it went on until one day I found myself able to hold conversations and understand people when they talked in a normal fashion.

So, around that time I was in a Chinese restaurant in Winchester, Charles' House, and suddenly I realised that I could now understand everything the staff were saying to each other. I got a chill down my spine in anticipation of the secret world I was about to enter. Here's what I heard:

Hey, got those noodles for table six?
Siu Mak, refill the tea, would you?
Do we have another menu at reception?

... ah, yes.

Youtube channel: Shanghaiist vs Douban

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channel
Newer readers to the blog may have noticed that I post videos here but may not have been to the channel and checked out the back log. So, before we get going:


Now, a happy coincidence last week has led to an interesting experiment. This involves two sites. I give you ...


...and

Douban (Chinese)

So, a bit of background. My Youtube channel's most popular video last month was at around 150 views and my poor little blog has about 2000 individual IPs (individual readers) across a month. Oh, writing that has made me realise that most of my readers don't pay much attention to the vids. Poor me, I know they are bootlegged vids but isn't that part of the romance of the underground? Ahem ... anyway.

When I was posting at Shanghaiist around March of this year, they got 200 000 IPs in a bad month and as much as 800 000 when Kenneth Tan ran the Edison Chen photo scandal stories. Their readership is English speaking Shanghai ex-pats and then overseas readers looking for Shanghai info via the Gothamist network. It's thousands of readers every day. Douban is a Chinese community site for people reviewing and sharing info on movies, music and books. It's very popular and hosts the net groups of choice for Shanghai music fans. A popular site in China like Douban has sky high traffic. Douban has over two million registered members for a start (so it says here). Also, Douban is the site of choice of the local music scene. 

So. After getting a reasonable video of Tianping Dian's great show last Friday, I decided to try something out. I joined Douban and posted the video there in a couple of relevant groups. At the same time on Saturday afternoon, Abe Deyo posted up a preview of The Rogue Transmission's Saturday show on Shanghaiist. He used my video of their Control show in the post. What a nice coincidence, now I could use the viewing figures at the Youtube channel to track how many people at those sites watched the video.

So, at the time of the videos being cross posted, TRS had 121 views and Tianping Dian had 6 views.

Then time passed until now. So there was Saturday night then all day Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Of course, not everyone who reads a post at those sites is a rock fan. I'm sure there are all kinds of factors at play but it's certainly interesting to see what kind of traffic gets generated. At least, just for fun.

As I write it has gone midnight on Tuesday and I'm checking the stats right now.

The Rogue Transmission video: 248 views (up 127)
Tianping Dian video: 28 views (up 22 and no significant difference to a regular video)

A certain net meme comes to mind here: Fail!

Rock in the afternoon @ Gua'er

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pink berries guaer
There didn't seem to be much on this weekend. Well, that's not entirely true. Regurgitator are in town for two shows. But, you know, the blog is about local bands. So, I wandered down to Gua Er (Sus2) bar to check out an afternoon show. I'm assuming that it was on early to avoid a clash with the first Regurgitator show at Logo tonight. There's a thought, you bring over a band like Regurgitator and put them on in Logo (postage stamp in the corner of a regular bar type room with no PA). Afternoon shows did used to be a staple at the now defunct Ark Live House, so who knows.

The line up changed from the flyer and the first act was a guy and his guitar doing covers. So, the final line up was:

Pink Berries
Tianping Dian

Only Loudspeaker have a page with songs but you can find the other two on the blog's video channel: here. So, afternoon show. The place was mainly populated by the other bands, their friends and about ten non-entourage punters of which five were me and people I know. Gua Er's set up is growing on me and they have the balcony level too, which is nice. 

So, Pink Berries came on and played a six song set. I managed to get a video of my favourite track of theirs Xiao Bai Tu (White Rabbit). They are growing in confidence and their set is genuinely catchy. I have a soft spot for kind of three-chord (or whatever) garage/punk rock. If you know what I mean. Next up was Tianping Dian. They have this big line up rock-rap thing going on with a female vocalist singing the choruses. The last time I saw them they had the curse of the new band going on. That is, two or three strong songs up front and then the rest of the set is hopelessly behind. This time they managed to keep a consistent level. This band are quite active around the douban.com rock groups and look like they're going to stick around for a while.

Finally, on came scene stalwarts Loudspeaker. These are the heavier end of the garage rock spectrum. Tianping Dian and entourage had gone home and it was a bit more sparse but Loudspeaker always belt out a consistent high energy performance be it to a packed YYT of their loyal fans or an empty room. These guys just live for playing in a band. Also, they skate and wear stuff like DC shoes and caps which makes me feel right at home. All in all a chilled afternoon hanging with basically the bands themselves. And, as the only non-local in there, my hipster douchebag leanings were fully satisfied. 

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