Results tagged “hard queen” from Andy Best

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.

Hard Queen movie online

Up From The Underground is a documentary film about Shanghai indie pop band Hard Queen's CD release show. The kind people at Daedalum Films have now made it fully available online via Vimeo. And here it is.

Up from the Underground from Shanghaiist on Vimeo.

Ourself Beside Me live @ Yuyintang

After a night of hard rock and punk on Wednesday it was time for a night of cool at Yuyintang. Beijing's Ourself Beside Me are touring to promote their new CD and were supported tonight by Shanghai's Hard Queen. Check them out:

Hard Queen are playing with a bit more poise since their successful CD launch and have developed the songs for the live show, adding longer sections to dancable tracks. Songs Jungle Queen and Loser really stood out and you got the feeling that if there were just a few more people in the crowd it would have broken out into some jumping and action - impressive considering they are a kind of minimalist indie-pop three peice. As it happened YYT was filling up late tonight.

Ourself Beside Me claim their influences as Velvet Underground, Syd Barret and Brian Eno. They are a super cool trio who play experimental rock. I have the CD and saw them at the Maybe Mars showcase back in January but this wasn't the same. Seeing them up close in YYT was a whole new experience.  The band were mesmerizing and apparently uninterested in the audience, preferring to use the time between songs to neck bottles of wine and beer chasers without saying a word into the mics. After a hypnotic and catchy show which left us all a bit star-struck, Yang Fan uttered her first words to the crowd "Thank you". I really liked the whole night and decided to get a souvenir, one of the OBM set lists, but was forced by bassist Xiehan to get her a cigarette in exchange first. Ha. 

0093 shows in other venues

Rock 0093 studios became famous with a series of showcase gigs at Yuyintang last year. Each show would feature five or more newer bands that rehearsed at the studio. 

Here's an article that contains links to 15 previous posts and vids on the subject.

Recently, though, Yuyintang has been booked solid with established acts and big nights ... pushing the groundbreaking 0093 nights out into the wilderness (Yangpu District). 

0093 are running their shows out of Live Bar and their own O3 Space this month. O3 Space was started to house informal shows and the fledgling Folk 0093 collective but is now starting to branch into regular shows too. 

This month you can see four shows in O3 including Happy Avenue and Five Pointed Star. The latest 0093 showcase event "We're Emo Kids" will take place at Live Bar on the 9th. Click here to see the detailed listings with addresses. 0093 will return to Yuyintang on 12th June with 0093 Rock Party 11. Acts are not yet confirmed. 

This is going to be a good Saturday (9th). With 0093 at Live Bar you now have a choice between that, Hard Queen at Canart, Overdose at YYT and Brain Failure at Dream Factory.

Hard Queen movie and show at Canart


screeningHow good is the new hipster paradise, A.K.A. the f-visa ghetto.

Hard Queen recently went from having blown nearly a year of studio time and enduring callous indifference from the scene to re-doing the CD from scratch and holding a triumphant return at Yuyintang.

And now, coming to the Canart Gallery: Daedalum Films are screening their new documentary about the show, Up From The Underground.

Canart is round the corner from my house in the F-visa ghetto. It's easy to find, being just behind the building with C's bar and Sus2 Music Bar. That is, down that little lane between that building and the hotel with the Kedi Store.

Screening starts at 9.30 on May 9th and it's ticketed. That's good for me as I don't get off work until 8.45. What's more, there's a performance from the band after the movie.

True punk fans also have the agony of choosing between Brain Failure @ Dream Factory and Overdose @ YYT on the same night. Good times. 

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.

Magazines: more Midi, Hard Queen and other releases

hard queen
Haven't done a magazine round up for a bit and want to start with a belated link to Jake Newby's Hard Queen article in That's Shanghai.

It's a full feature with some good backstory and you can read it online here:

Next up some material from Dan Shapiro over at City Weekend. First Dan reveals that there has in fact been an official release from the Beijing Midi Music School pertaining to the festival being held in Shanghai. Here are the two previous posts and here is Dan's blog:

Also, in the print edition Dan draws attention to four CD releases happening in April. We have Hard Queen, Hedgehog, Retros and The Gar. Let's throw some attention back at Dan too, the recent Rogue Transmission gig was kick-ass and they have a CD of their own you might want to inquire about.

I have been gearing up for the Hedgehog show by listening to tracks from their upcoming third CD, Blue Daydreaming. And you can too: right here.

Hard Queen CD release: this is another call to arms

This is another call to arms. 

All bands, shows and underground CDs deserve your support. But, every now and again there is an event which I believe is a potential turning point for the scene. This is only the second time I've done this and it must be stressed that there are no 'deals' with the bands/promoters and the giveaways are paid for in full, from my own pocket. This is me putting my money where my mouth is - figuratively and literally.

Hard Queen are one of Shanghai's great underground acts trying to do something different or personal. Here is their new site and you can listen to some tracks here.

Hard Queen have arrived at this day - their 4th April EP release - through many knocks. This included being famously fired from Windows Underground for being Chinese and also having to scrap eight months in the studio last year. All the time they seemed to receive little support from the scene in general who tended not to understand the music. 

However, with the help of producer/promoter Brad Ferguson, they went back to the ethic that Sheena started the band with - do it yourself and be true to yourself. Now the EP is ready. It has been done without a label or any kind of industry support and on a minimum personal budget. All the artwork, design and promotions have been done by friends of the band and the band themselves.

The EP is included in the price of entry on the night and there are T-shirts available too. So here's what I'm going to do - the first four commenters on this post who state they want one and provide a size will get a t-shirt on me. They will be able to collect it when they go to the show.

If this event is packed out and the merchandise is sold out - it sends a message that a local band with limited funds can make original music D.I.Y. style and succeed. So go. And tell everyone you know to go too. 

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

Bits and bobs (March 09)

This quickie post is built around some main news. Please appreciate that I can only talk around it. So, let's begin.

For a certain reason, Youtube has gone all screwy. Well, it's largely just gone here. It's probably related to the same reason it went last time. Humorously, it has gone with extreme incompetence and is showing up now and again in certain servers. Anyway - here's the point: it fucks with my blog! 

If it looks like a month or more's worth of no access I'll host the newer vids on a China based site. 

In the meantime, since we're here at my blog, there are two demo versions from the upcoming Hard Queen CD here:

And. This Sunday's female singers show at Yuyintang happens to be on, and for, International Women's Day. So go.

Pictured: talking of women, it's Kang Mao singing for The Subs at Yugong Yishan in Beijing. A true inspiration.

Hard Queen site goes live

The return of Hard Queen is almost upon us. Hard Queen are one of Shanghai's most original bands with a dressed down alt-pop sound that stands out from the rock crowd. 

Why not start by checking out their show at Eno for Popil's art show. Watch the video.

Hard Queen had developed a great set of new material and played a string of shows that ended in the now legendary Windows Underground last show where the boss banned Brad Ferguson from hiring Chinese bands and Hard Queen trashed the kit and denounced the management to the punters. The band then went into the studio but couldn't agree with the producer and months went by with no results.

So, Brad came to the rescue as the new producer and now we finally have a release date. The new website is now live here and you'll note that the CD will be released at Yuyintang on the 4th April. You pay the usual 30 rmb cover then get the CD included. Good news to international fans of the band Brad is making the CD available on Itunes a little after the release. The CD can also be physically bought overseas through Just one month to go.

Jue Festival one: Pinkberry and Demerit

andy at jue
If I don't preface this, readers surfing in might get the impression that the two Dream Factory shows are the entirety of the Jue Festival. 

The Jue Festival is a multi venue event in two cities over two weeks. I'm covering the two indie gigs that feature guitar bands. It's still going on - here's the schedule. It's being put on by Splitworks.

Let me go to a new paragraph to explain things here. Splitworks put on larger pro shows and usually finance this by booking name acts from abroad. This time they are putting on two nights of Chinese bands at a time where the rest of the scene is slow. You might want to thank them by actually turning up to the shows.

I was hanging with Louis Yu, a college radio DJ based in Canada, tonight. Louis is a little different to most scenesters/musos in that he has a sideline in being a PhD researcher in computers and last worked at NASA. Don't hold it against him. As you might have guessed from the end of the last bit, the turn out was not as good as hoped and it's a larger venue. But never mind that, there was enough people to have a great time and a great time was had by all. As promised by Splitworks' Archie Hamilton the sound was of a higher standard to previous shows at the Dream Factory and there were some impressive amp stacks at the back of the stage.

Pinkberry came on first and, as usual, singer Xiao You was a standout with her great voice and attention to image. I got close in, well lit footage this time so be sure to check the channel. Pinkberry are solid and have good songs, what they need to get up to the next level is to be full-time. Jake Newby has an article on them coming up in That's Shanghai which is the other thing they need: more support. There are not that many new Shanghai bands with ambition like Pinkberry and we have to get behind all of them. Kudos to Splitworks for giving them a spot at the show. And while I'm on about Shanghai bands with great potential who deserve our support, keep your eyes open for Hard Queen in the near future.

Demerit, on the other hand, have reached the next level and fully deserved their reputation. They were worthy headliners with a great set of hardcore punk/metal songs. They were so good, in fact, that despite the hall not being that full they got everyone up front and moving. I was internally debating whether they were still really punk or if they'd crossed over into traditional metal in the vein of early Metallica and Iron Maiden. This was settled in my mind when they played two ballads with classical guitar arrangements and solos. Their riffing was sublime and they know how to rock a show. 

Next up at Jue is the Maybe Mars Showcase tomorrow/today (Saturday). See you there.

Sound Toy live @ Yuyintang

zhengongfu restaurant
This happens to me a lot. Last week I got to the show at the advertised start time of 8 only to find it actually wasn't on till 9 and the bands were still sound checking. So, this week I went 20-30 minutes after the advertised door time only to walk into the busiest night to date in Yuyintang.

This was even busier than Subs at Halloween. By ticket 350 they had to tell people coming in to reconsider buying as they wouldn't be able to see the band. They kept selling though and passed the 400 mark soon after. YYT gets full at around 250. 

So, why not start by checking out the very popular Sound & TOY at their official page.

And, where was I. Oh, that's right, completely unable to get anywhere remotely near the hall to look at the band. Really. I skulked into the seating off to the side of the front door which had been overlooked by most people inside and found Sheena, Da Men and Zero from Hard Queen sitting there. We were shortly joined by Jake Newby and the whole night became hanging out. We could hear the band in the background though.

Sound Toy (from Chengdu) are post-rock but I was surprised at how normal/traditional they were at the show. The Shanghai post-rock and shoegazing scene is much more avant garde and experimental. The band's sound was somewhere in between more pop sounding prog rock acts like Marillion and laid back modern guitar blues like John Meyer. There were no other bands on that night. This was apparently because the crowd were not really rock/YYT regulars and "wouldn't like" either other bands or (referring to Hard Queen) bands that sung in English. That was probably about right. Sitting opposite us at one point was some student's mom who was chaperoning them. 

Other news ... check the photo! Zhen Gongfu Cafe has opened a branch opposite Yuyintang in the station. Pity that it only stays open until 10. 

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. 

Tianping Dian demo and a nuts weekend

tianping dian promo.jpg
Upcoming Shanghai band Tianping Dian are getting it together lately. I've been catching them at gigs for a while now and was really happy to see them rip out a great show in front of a decent crowd at YYT recently. 

I first saw them here. Then I saw them again at Gua'er here. Finally they rocked the house at YYT. 

Video of Tianping Dian at YYT: watch

So now I'm happy to see that Tianping Dian have now recorded a quality demo track and opened up a Neocha page. The song Wo Men (we) is their show stopper right now and I have to admit a soft spot for the style. Although I must admit, if you come to this track knowing they are called Candy Shop, you're in for a shock when you hear it. 

Here is the demo at neocha and here are some pictures.

In other news, this is the so-called peak weekend of the peak month this year. Over at his City Weekend blog, Dan Shapiro has posted up a summary. Read it. I just want to add to that though. Those three shows are the three big shows. At the same time as New Pants there is an indie night at Yuyintang that features Nanjing's V-day and Hard Queen. There's always stuff going on in the 'old' music district at places like Live Bar and 021. So yeah, this is a super packed weekend with choices. Talking of big shows we have The Subs and the Indie Top showcase to come at Dream factory.

As an end note, there may be yet another addition to the hipster paradise. It's too early to make any map edits yet, but the bar on Fahuazhen Road to the east of Dingxi Road has been bought out and is going to put bands on. They have installed J-rockers Slappie Toy as their house band. And since there is a lot of confusion about this in the Shanghai mags I want to say: good venues put on original music. No one with half a brain would count a pub that puts on a cover band on Tuesdays as part of a scene. So lets wait and see.

Update: I just noticed that this is music scene post number 108 (hugely significant in Chinese numerology). Did Tianping Dian just get heaven's mandate to become the ruling band on the scene? You know, if you're into that sort of thing. Er mi tuo fo.

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?

Avril will ... ahem ... 'rock' you

It's the end of the month and new magazine time. Well, that sounds like there are some English language music mags to cover. It may also imply that I translate articles from Chinese music mags covering the local scene. They'd all have to exist first. Yes, it's ex-pat mags time. Luckily for us, a lot of these mags employ writers who are trying hard to sneak decent stuff in there, between the ads and listings. 

Obviously though, I'm going to have a crack at Avril and horribly naive/mercenary perceptions of what 'rock' or 'punk' is. That said I'd better preface this:

This post is mainly inspired by City Weekend running a cover story on local rock and the music scene here. So before the Avril related sarcasm begins, good job! I should also point out that this came about due to the good influence of Abe Deyo who is responsible for the 'local' parts of the feature and is obviously excluded from the following jibes.

The feature is called Rock is Back but is unfortunately based around a big advert for Avril Lavigne's upcoming China tour. So the feature is basically saying one of two things. Either, "Hey, we are clueless about music in general" or "we put shallow marketing above any kind of personal standards." Luckily, the inner reaches of the feature showcase three Shanghai bands:

Did I mention that featuring and interviewing Avril for a 'rock' feature is dumb? Oh, I did. Then, I'll go on. Hard Queen we know all about at this blog. They now have a new Friday night regular spot at a bar called Bee Dee's on Dagu Lu. Correct me if I'm wrong, Brad, and feel free to post the proper address in the comments. Rogue Transmission have done a CD and are currently touring around doing a bunch of release parties for it. They will eventually swing by Yuyintang so I'll catch them there. The big news in the Sonnet section is that they are reforming. I last saw members of Sonnet moonlighting in Top Floor Circus. So did you, if you watched the TFC vid post I made a couple of days back.

That reminds me, the Rogue Transmission and Boys Climbing Ropes videos have stormed up my Youtube channel and into the top six. if people are linking the blog or the vids on other pages, please let me know. Just because it's interesting and a kind of blogging etiquette. 

So back to Abe Deyo. I felt vindicated when I saw Abe complaining on Facebook about something that was bothering me too. Now, everyone in this day and age takes pics and short vids at local gigs with their camera phones and compact cameras. For example, me. I keep it quick, do it from the back or side and limit it to one song. If for anything, this is because I want to pay attention to the gig. Often though, half the peeps in YYT are holding up their cameras for 50% of the set. This still doesn't bother me that much though. What does bother me is that this one guy is now turning up to 80% of shows at YYT with a large HD pro camera and bulky mono-pod and standing dead centre-front filming for the entire set. He seems utterly oblivious to the fact that some people might want to enjoy the show and that they do not pay to see him. Let's hope the novelty wears of soon. If someone is going to film an entire set with a large rig, then make an agreement with the band and venue then get a special position on stage or something. Blah blah rant rant.

'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. 

TooKoo live @ Yuyintang

hard queen
The TooKoo show tonight had 'the buzz'. They're a solid band that have been around seven years and the English language sites were picking it as a good show. No one, including the band themselves, seemed to be able to describe the music though. The word Emo was making a regular appearance which just makes me think of My Chemical Romance. The buzz led to a swollen crowd, which is great for decent shows - but it's not without it's drawbacks. The hall was peppered with people who could have just as well been walking into Volar and Attica or where ever. As well as the dress shirts and trendy club night outfits there was a bit of attitude. One ex-pat formal dress and grooming guy tried to start a fight after being basically bumped into by a dancer/mosher at a rock gig. Give us a break ... no, on second thought just fuck off. 

I started paying attention to the gig when support act Hard Queen (pictured) came on. I'll be seeing them again tomorrow at the PK-14 show. They did a solid set and the track of the night was definitely Loser which singer Sheena Du announced as their fav track at the moment. In the break I picked up TooKoo's new CD. It's a retrospective called "seven years". Echo Rush played next during which I milled about and talked to some people. I even got chased around the park out back a bit by an over zealous guard. I mean really - you have an entire moonlit public park, with lakes and bridges, at your personal disposal and they really expect you to not leave the area immediately behind the club. 

Before we get onto the main act:

TooKoo on Myspace: listen here.
TooKoo Offical Site: here.

So, just before the gig Morgan from BCR was trying to put me off, humorously, by pointing out their good grooming, Emo tendencies and flashy intro tape. I admit, my heart did sink when the bagpipes started playing Amazing Grace and Morgan shot me the 'you see' look. However, they turned out to be pretty good. And no Emo ... not that there's anything wrong with that.

TooKoo brought a banner, intro music and they were good performers too. Like all good bands they had a singer with style and charisma. The music turned out to be up-tempo indie rock that became popular again after the likes of the Libertines. The singer even had on a pork-pie hat. I will put a video in the Youtube channel - but it's a bit spoiled by the habit of Yuyintang to just flash all the lights simultaneously for entire songs. Anyway, they're a good band and are famous as Midi festival veterans in Beijing. With PK-14 playing Dream Factory tomorrow that'll be two 'big' shows in one weekend, a rare blessing for our tiny scene.

Youtube Channel top views

The continued dominance of Self Party on the blog Youtube Channel and the swift rise of the latest Modern Cheese video has confirmed a couple of suspicions. If I put up a post basically begging readers to check out a certain video, they will. Thanks. Also, bands that have their shit together pass on stuff and get others to check it out too.

Lets have a quick perspective check though. My blog readership is up to about 1000 individual IPs in a month. The top rated video on the channel has 140 views. Now, some videos on have thousands of views. Some videos of cats slipping on a polished surface have over one million views. On the other hand, this blog is for, about and by people who like counter culture. My readership and views are actually above the average attendance for the shows I cover. 

So, whatever It might actually mean, here's the current top six viewed videos on my Youtube channel.

The channel itself is here.

1) Self Party play the Miniless Records showcase at Yuyintang. 140 views  watch
2) Bang Bang Tang at Yuyintang. 111 views watch
3) Crazy Mushroom Brigade rock out. 76 views watch
4) Modern Cheese perform with new singer. 72 views watch
5) Hard Queen back at Yuyintang. 64 views watch
6) The Shy Tall Mighty old school punk. 58 views watch

Why not show support for your favourite video by introducing it to your friends and pushing it up the chart? I encourage that sort of behaviour. 

Youtube: Hard Queen @ Yuyintang


Gigs are back despite the sporting event that shall not be named still running on a couple more days. I went to Yuyintang to check out Beijing indie band Gar but came away stoked with Hard Queen. So they get the featured post. Check the Youtube channel for Gar also.



Gar live @ Yuyintang


hard queenTonight was a cautious foray back into the gig world. The sporting event that shall not be named has not yet finished and the official back to business show is tomorrow at Dream Factory. The headliners for tonight were Beijing indie outfit The Gar.

Check out their myspace page here: Gar

Abe Deyo had predicted a limited turn out at Shanghaiist. It turned out to be reasonable but the August ban has clearly knocked a hole in the great turnouts at YYT this summer when we saw shows packed to the rafters with the local student brigade. I got there in time for the support act Hard Queen and spotted a whole bunch of scenesters, even John P of Sinosplice fame.

Hard Queen played a great set and had a nice sound too. They have enough good material to play a full hour of mostly originals. When I first saw them they clearly had standout songs but now the rest of the material is up there too. At one point, Sheena (singer) pointed out a Hard Queen T-shirt being worn in the audience. It's what they deserve. The material is good, they have their own sound and they have come together live - a fanbase is sure to follow. Hopefully they can cement this with the speedy release of their upcoming CD. Song of the night: We Don't Care.

The Gar came on straight after. The timely start and tight scheduling was down to the sports event that shall not be named, no chances could be taken. I was a bit shocked at the sound. Hard Queen had a pretty good sound which then seemed to take a huge dive for the main act. Then, after three tracks of jangly indie type stuff they left the stage. Odd. During this sudden break there was no activity on the stage and no sound checking or repairing. The Gar are a three piece with all the hallmarks of the latest indie trends including long instrumental sections. I came away from the gig feeling like I'd seen a Hard Queen show. 

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.

Windows Underground goes down in spectacular fashion


Windows UndergroundBreaking news over at Shanghaiist that I'm going to rehash here as some of my blog peeps don't go there.

Here's the original article.

So, here's how the story of Friday night went - that's last night. Brad Ferguson, the manager of Windows Underground turned up to work to have his boss tell him that he was now forbidden from booking Chinese bands.

Some background, the Windows family has three popular bars in Shanghai. One of them, Tembo, was not doing much so the boss, a local Shanghai woman, hired Brad to manage in the general sense and to turn it into a live music place. After a great start they moved the whole bar to a bigger location and fitted it out with a good sound system, finally re-naming it Windows Underground.

Here's Brad telling the story from the Sha-ist interview:

My boss forbade me from hiring Chinese bands, saying that Chinese people only want to see foreigners, and that rock is a western thing so westerners do it better. She said she herself would rather see a bad foreigner band than a good Chinese one. We argued about it for a while last night, but didn't make any progress. So, I let Hard Queen, our regular Friday night (Chinese) band, do their final show. The accountant warned me that they wouldn't pay for Chinese bands, but I agreed to pay out of my own pocket. The band are friends of mine, so I also told them why they were being replaced. At the end of their set they said some stuff about the bar and my boss -- all true -- then kicked the drum kit over. The crowd cheered and people seemed to be having a good time. I finished out the night, but when I got home my boss called me from downstairs. She yelled at me for a while, then she called the police. I politely explained the events of the night, and the cops agreed that as there were no damages, no one was injured, and no one broke the law, there was nothing they could do. So, I only got fired.

So, Windows Underground is out of the scene. I'm sorry, but cover bands and cabaret don't count. As Brad says in the article. 

Also, this is not that suprising in some aspects. Windows bars are notorious for barring locals from ticketed events for allegedly not drinking enough. And coincidentally, a few years back when Windows Too was still in Jing An Plaza, I popped in on a New Year's eve and saw the very same owner turning away locals herself at the ticket table in the hall. Bar owners. Again, not surprising. 

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.

Hard Queen @ Eno


hard queen at enoHad a terrible night's sleep and knew I had no chance of lasting out tonight's gig at Yuyintang (Miniless Calling). It's one thing to go to a show tired and grab a coffee, it's another if the show is a showcase of 'shoe-gazing', experimental and long instrumentals. Lucky for me, there was an early option.

Eno is a clothing shop/cafe that promotes local artists and designers. They have a big space and put on local bands at events. Today was a demo for artist Popil and playing the event was Hard Queen. It was a cozy set up and one side of the shop, that you can't see in the photos, has a wide bank of large steps going up to the juice bar. That kind of forms mini stadium seating up one side of the floor space.

I'm used to dingy rock venues and darkness so I was disorientated at first. There was a good turn out and I spotted a bunch of people I knew and ... err, I dunno ... scene people. I don't want to say 'biz' because no one makes money. The great thing about Shanghai is that it's a small scene and all the active members are cool, open people who are happy to talk and are doing really interesting stuff. Hard Queen played the first half of their set and then I went down to say hellos.

The artist, Popil, has a Hard Queen T-shirt out and is also doing the artwork for their soon to be finished CD. One of the CD's producers, Scott, was there as was Brad Ferguson of Window's Underground. I bumped into Nial Ferguson, a super talented Australian artist who I first bumped into via the skatboarding scene ages ago. I also saw Sean Leow again. He is one of the brains behind which you'll see if you followed the Popil and Hard Queen links. Another Neocha guy, Adam Schokora, was there. It's worth checking out his vids over at as he often includes China scene bands.

I should just tag this post celebrity gossip and throw myself under a bus already.

Hard Queen played a couple of new songs and had a great sound. The second half of the set was tight and everyone liked the show. I even left with a signed Popil print although the famed PK-14 shirt was sold out in men's style. Next time.


eno interior

Eno, Popil, Hard Queen and a sparse August


hard queenWell I don't want to jump on certain bandwagons, no matter how true they may be but there's a certain large sporting event looming near in China. Notice how I yet again started a post with a disclaimer. Anyway, the news is ... Sophia of Yuyintang told me straight out that there's only three shows booked for the whole of August at this time. Also, I asked Brad Ferguson of Windows Underground what was going on there and the answer was much the same - very little over summer. Live Bar have yet to update their webpage at time of writing.

There's still going to be some stuff going on. Frozen Street are yet to play YYT this month and Hard Queen will continue their regular slot on Fridays at Windows Underground. Talking of Hard Queen, they are playing at an art event in Eno this weekend. Eno is a large shop/studio/cafe that supports local artists, the launch is for Popil. Popil crossed-over into the music world with her famous T-shirt design for PK-14. Anyway, that's on Saturday at 3.00pm. I'll be there in case anyone wants to stab me stalk me say hello.

Talking of PK-14. I have been listening to their new CD, City Weather Sailing, this week. They have been abroad recording it. The scope/production of the CD is right up there, as good as anything produced by the scene as it's been for the past few years. Ironically though, it takes them away from the raw punk/indie feel that I like. Is that ironic? I think we're heading for an Alanis Paradox here. You know, it starts with noticing that there's no irony in the situations presented in the song ironic and it ends with finding no acceptable definition of Ironic except the traditional literature one - the reader knows something the character doesn't. Wait, is that a paradox?

Battle of the bands @ the Blues Room


flyerTonight I went over to the Blues Room to watch this Battle of the Bands show. I must admit very low expectations. Blues Room is basically an ex-pat bar on Tong Ren Lu with a token 'stage' area in the corner for cabaret circuit light jazz and blues acts. It has no sound system and no sound guy and is basically unsuited to rock or indie acts. Never the less, some good bands were going to play and Tonerider came in as the sponsor.

Aside from bands formed just to play the show one off, the line up was Hard Queen, Mortal Fools and Crazy Mushroom Brigade. I made a point of going to catch up with Hard Queen as I've seen the others several times already.

Well, there was a sub-standard drum kit, two free standing amps and a dark corner of a bar dominated by tables and non-rock people - but actually, it turned out quite well. Brad Ferguson of Window's Underground was on hand to tweak the sound and it exceeded everyone's expectations.

So, Hard Queen. They have a neocha page with earlier demos and pics right here. They went on first and made the best out of the set up. They have a good set of original material including great songs like We Don't Care and Fat Girl Slim Boy. They have a new CD in the works and me and Cameron are looking at shooting a video for them so after their performance I went upstairs to City Diner and talked to both Sheena Du, the singer, and Scott Mitchell who is producing the tracks. So, it turned out to be an interesting night, but I left before the 'winner' was announced. Anyone want to reveal that in the comments?

Here is a video from the Blues Room, but like I said, it was underlit, be warned. Not my fault. Honest.

hard queen blues room 

Noise and midweek madness


noise sceneThis blog is not exactly an academic exercise or full representation of the scene here in Shanghai. It revolves a little around the fact that I live near certain venues and my own taste. I'm going to try to right that a bit this week. To be fair, when bands are gigging in Shanghai, they usualy play all the venues and I rarely miss out on anyone by sticking with the West Side.

So, first I want to talk about the noise scene. Shanghai has a whole bunch of acts who do experimental and noise music. What's more, they are very good at organising and promoting themselves. You could start on their net trail with the NoiShanghai home page - here. The most famous noise act in Shanghai is Torturing Nurse and you can listen to their stuff at their Myspace page. It's a diverse scene: Nurse describe themselves as Harsh Noise while you also have acts like Xu Cheng (sound art) and also Ben Hogue who moonlights from his job as a sound engineer for Ubisoft.

I'm busy this week with two mid-week shows at Yuyintang. And I just want to say that I'm going purely for my blog. Tuesday is Wang Wen who describe themselves as post-rock. I'm just listening to their page now and it seems they do 7 minute long ambient instrumentals. Also, a surprise gig just popped up in the listings tonight for Wednesday. The night is called Hotter than Teppenyaki and the only info is that it's an impromptu metal night put on by ex-pats. Any band that plays a gig with original material is part of the scene - but I won't write up utter piss takes or cover bands. Also, the first show of the weekend at YYT is called "Watch, Bag, DVD" - a famous joke among ex-pats (it's what you hear when you are foreign looking and enter a market). So I think I'm off to Window's Underground to watch Hard Queen instead.


Crazy Mushroom Brigade @ Yuyintang


Went out to Yuyintang last night to see one of my favourite Shanghai bands, the Crazy Mushroom Brigade (Fengkuan Mogu Tuan). They are one of a handful of Chinese underground rock/punk bands that are in total command of their instruments, sound and performance. Watching them is a religous experience, but, as they are native to the Shanghai scene, they haven't made the step up to play to a good sized crowd like they deserve. The scene here being quite small still.

The headlining band was actually a Japanese industrial act called God Deadalist. For some reason they opted to go on first out of a 5 band bill despite being billed as the headliner. A singer and a guitarist played live to a backing tape of the drums and bass. I dunno, it was pretty good but more like looking at a piece of art than watching a good band live. photo at the end of the post.

Evans stayed at home so I hung out with Lin Lin who's a manager there, and also Evans' old classmate, Flower, from her high school days. Also met a couple of Fenebache fans from Istanbul. Cool guys. Last night I also checked out Hard Queen at the new Windows Underground venue. I'd love to see the Mushrooms play there to 4 or 500 people. I should harass Brad Ferguson, the manager, about it, he lives by me.



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