Results tagged “little nature” from Andy Best

Photo from the Douban photo event/meme 普通青年VS文艺青年VS二逼青年 where a three part vert aligned photo shows 普通青年 (normal youth) 文艺青年 (creative youth) and 二逼青年 (lit. stupid c*nt youth, my scouse translation: dickhead youth) from top to bottom. See whole gallery here (1000s of them) 

This is a long one, please follow after the jump.

A couple of months back a one line update quietly made its way onto the Douban page of Shanghai pop-punk band Little Nature (小自然)

小自然(Little Nature)于2011年6月4日暂时停止活动
From 4th July 2011 Little Nature will cease activities
So, they split up. Which doesn't come as a surprise as two of the original three members had already turned up in other bands lately. 

Little Nature started out at the beginning of 2008 as a young student three piece playing pop-punk tunes of their own making with the traditional power trio line up of bass, guitar and drums. They were A-bao (阿爆) on Bass and lead vocals, San Gui (叁鬼) on guitar and Xiao Zhong (小钟) on drums.

Boojii, DFG, Pairs, The Fever Machine @ Mao

pairs live
First up. 8 Eye Spy dropped out of the show and Pairs stepped in. So here was the line up:

Next up an explanation. I had a busy week and had resigned myself to a night on the sofa. I'm knackered. However, I know people involved with all the bands and they are all great and do wonders for the scene, without exception. So I dragged myself along hoping to get through most of the bands.

Of course, the first band got on a full hour after the advertised start time so I only got to see the first two acts before bailing.

I dunno, it's a huge venue for the scene, it's summer, it's a hot stormy night, there are other big shows and the World Cup. And yet what looked like eighty or so people still came out to support ... and the venue can't even get within an hour of the advertised time for them.

I know it wasn't the band's fault but what I'm thinking now is that scene venues have to admit that, for whatever the reason, they generally can not start on time if there are more than two bands. They cannot organize it and should pare down the line ups.

So, the bands made me happy again. The Fever Machine play well executed desert/psychedelic rock with great riffs and muscianship. The drumming was especially tight and frontman Dan Shapiro has definitely found his niche. This was my first time to see them and fans of Rock should not miss their shows.

Pairs are not really suited to cavernous venues like Mao, well, so you'd think, but this band have spirit and they are good where-ever they play. After a brief intro track, Xiao Zhong got things started in true Pairs style. Their opening track is I spent my birthday with a bunch of cunts but he announced it as "this song is called, my girlfriend had to pay to get in" and then, "I spent my soundcheck with a bunch of cunts."

With the ice broken and smiles on the fans faces, they played their four most recognizable tracks, finishing with Yang Pu Qu. After Xiao Zhong joked about the smoke machine, the mischievous tech lads got joke revenge by disappearing guitarist F two or three times. However those guys have a band of their own, one that could learn a thing or two from Pairs.

Back home on my couch, Holland knocked Brazil out the world cup. I really wish I'd had the energy to catch Boojii too. Lately I've been listening to their excellent CD Reserved at home a lot. It's great and you need to have it.

Revitalization of Shanghai Rock pt2 @ Mao

manbanpai mao
Update: here's a photo gallery of the night from Linnea at Era. It includes a shot of me and one of the best people in the scene, Xiao Bai of Bang Bang Tang.

Following on from the previous revitalization show, the second leg stepped up from Yuyintang to Mao. Here was the line up:

Manbanpai (慢半拍) 
Candy Shop (甜品店)
Little Nature(小自然)

It was quite a bold move to go for the bigger space so soon after the first show and with mainly younger/newer bands. All the usual local faces were there too. I started off the night with a kick-flip on FAF's Ding Ding's skateboard out front of the gig. Which gives you a good indication of my priorities in life. 

Manbanpai started things off with their laid back indie pop. They sounded great and played very well, it's just a question of if you like the style. Singer Hama is popular and the band got a good reception. 

Next was Momo. The band came out with matching short sleeved school shirts and dyed red hair. Ironically, their band uniforms (designed to be cute), and Ding Jia's cheerleader skirt, ended up revealing the member's tattoos - having a quite different effect (cool). The sound was dead on and the performance very upbeat. My mate Steve joked that they seemed like metal compared with Manbanpai. Maya's lead guitar, in particular had a great sound and great energy. Good show.

Alas, an error of judgement seriously took down the remaining bands performances. From Candy Shop on, the staff decided to seriously up the volume (not a bad idea in itself). However, we saw this with the Maybe Mars showcase. The PA couldn't take it and most of the following music was an indistinct roar. Strangely enough, by the time FAF came on, they were still turning it up. I really want to see FAF on a big stage again, the show ran late and I had to leave before the very end.

Pity, because my overall feeling from the night was,yes, these bands are stepping it up more and they seemed at home in the larger venue. 

Shanghai rock revitalization @ Yuyintang

Somewhere in the city, tens of thousands of morons with no idea of what they like outside of what they're told by some form of glowing rectangle were feeling remotely proud as a random bunch of fireworks went up over some concrete towers. 

Elsewhere, five young Shanghainese bands were putting on a show at Yuyintang.

This was the first big show after the raids but the night went off without any visits. Great turnout of mainly younger locals and a new sound guy at the desk who was not afraid of turning it up. Good stuff.

Candy Shop went on first and played the best set of the night. The sound was great, the energy high and everyone appeared to know the songs and be genuine fans of the band. Momo followed with a stripped down short set that lacked the tight organization of the recent shows, but there was a sense that this night was more for fun.

DCW are probably the only band who really fit the tag rock in the pure sense. I was really looking forward to them and had been listening to their famous demos Say Goodbye and Some Just Want Everything all day. I got a surprise though, recent line up changes have led to a complete retooling. DCW played all new material and sounded completely different. So, it was like watching for the first time and we couldn't really get into it. The new sound has more straight hard rock in it and the crowd did enjoy some of the shredding.

FAF played their usual opening of Escape and Parasite and were the first band to get the crowd jumping. They blend the more commercial aspects of the Emo style with big guitar riffs and are local favorites. Singer Ding Ding has a great voice and good energy. They finished the set with a ballad and later a Justin Bieber (I know, why?) cover version. People seemed to like it. Little Nature closed the night, by which time a lot of the crowd had gone due to the younger locals-train times thing.

Year of the Tiger: thoughts

tiger new year show
In a few hours we'll have the Year of the Tiger. Last night we went to the Yuyintang New Year show, that's the flyer, and here's what Jake wrote about it:

While there we found out that Top Floor Circus were supposed to play, but the man has extended their ban until ... the end of the Expo. Here's the latest of three posts on that story, which links the others:

Finally, the Year of the Tiger is a perfect metaphor for the whole situation with biodiversity and the environment. Culture is full of sayings and symbols featuring animals, especially animals like the Tiger and no one likes to overuse them more than leaders and nationalists. In reality though, animals are sh*t on and these people do next to nothing to halt the assault on the environment.

Tigers are 99% on to not be here for the next Year of the Tiger, there are less in the wild than in captivity:

mushrooms polaroid
The Mushrooms are the most popular home grown rock band in Shanghai. We recently saw them headline at Yuyintang on New Year's Eve, a show that got so packed that there was an inevitable visit from the rozzers

Well, it's time for round two. It's now the lunar new year and The Mushrooms will headline YYT again. Also featuring on the bill are DCW, Momo and Little Nature.

It's on the Friday (12th).

The Mushrooms also cropped up in the Shanghai Daily lately, although in a generic and suspiciously out of date article. Despite it's publishing date being Jan 29th of this year, it talks about one of the guitarists having just joined the band. A year ago now.

I feel weird linking any of those papers. Their writing on the subject of culture is inconsequential. They spend more time committing things to the memory hole than reporting. We can always play a game of guessing why they chose to recycle this now. Slow day at the office? 

Who cares. Go to the show.

Soma Live: Indietop bands @ Dream factory

ding jia somalive
It's been a month or so since all this controversy and for the first time since taking over, Soma put on a show at Dream factory that featured all local bands. So I went to check it out first hand.

The show was a Douban promoted singles event, odd, and here was the line up:

Before I go through some stuff - this was essentially a good show. So do read on.

As well as the singles night promotion, there were sheets of construction card handed out from which you could make a little model robot/monster thing. More misplaced weirdness. The turn out was a reasonable YYT show but a two-thirds empty Dream Factory. After a year of managing these bands you'd think Soma would build on their fan base and appeal but apparently it's 'marketing by numbers' all the way. Another fatal mistake was opening the doors at nine and then not starting until ten - with the promotion. First band was on at 10.30 for an all local crowd (except me, Jake Newby and my mate Steve). There was no way we'd get to the end with even half the people still around.

One more thing before we get onto the show. I hadn't seen Pinkberry for a while and we hung out before the show got going (while Sonnet's Lezi hosted the promotion bit along with people in panda suits). So ... remember the Pepsi Incident? That's getting stirred up again. After PB guitarist Toni Yu joined in the angry denouncing of the Pepsi sponsored TV show, the band decided to stay on and compete - they only ones to do so. And ... being the only true experienced band left in the running, went on to win the whole thing. Douban netizens are crying conspiracy. Anyway, you can see the whole thing on TV tonight if you're interested. On STV's E-music show at 9.30.

candyshop somalive
So, on to the show. Momo took the stage first. Since joining Indietop they have gone more cutesy but put on a tight professional show. First thing, yes, the sound was a massive improvement. Still had problems, if you stand right at the front of the stage, like first two or three rows of people, you get behind the PA and the vocals/drums disappear leaving you with the roaring guitar amp only. We'd heard rumours of Soma asking the Momo girls to lose weight and do the idol thing and singer Ding Jia did in fact appear wearing a lightweight tank top and shorn of a few pounds. You can't really tell from Jake's photo at the top of the post as it adds lines cos of the lighting etc. 

Anyway, a great surprise was to come. At the end of the layered indie-pop set, Dingjia ditched her acoustic guitar and the band played two of their older songs, garage rock style - with the new tight playing and great sound quality. The band were visibly uplifted and we got a glimpse of what could be if the management went with the band and not the brand. So to speak. 

Next up, Da Fresh played well and their musically layered songs benefited from the sound quality. It was however, ballad after ballad, kind of jangly brit-pop meets boy band. A bit much for me. Also. With 11.00 having rolled around already for this younger local crowd, the room was visibly thinning out already. Little Nature got on next. When they first appeared at Yuyintang they were a standout act. An energetic pop-punk three piece with catchy songs and punchy, tight playing. They still haven't quite got it back since adding a member and going through a Soma makeover. Also, strangely enough, I think even the Soma staff had gone home or switched off at this point as the sound quality started to disappear.

So, the advertised event finish time rolled around ... and it was time for the last two bands, the  one's I had come to see. Candy Shop took the stage to a sparse looking hall, but that never stops them giving 100%. They launched into the first song but were bemused to find the sound so out that half the elements couldn't be heard at all, to us or the band. The second song was all about the sound guys waking up and trying to sort it out and then by the third it was on with the show. The bands front people are excellent. Melody Li, apparently trying to appeal to the Soma male management with her own weight loss, and MC YKE  are full of energy and charisma. Standout songs 4TT, Wo Men and Wo Shi Chaoliu had most of the remaining crowd jumping and excited for the first time that night.

And then there was Pinkberry. Pinkberry were professional, the sound rocked, the songs were all dead on. They had the new bassist (who also plays guitar in Sonnet). Toni rocked the punk rock riffs with his Les Paul and Marshall stack combo. Xiao You strutted around the stage with energy and confidence. But, it was 12.30 at a Douban 'promoted' event and there were really just 30 of us left in the deserted hall. Pity, it was a classic Pinkberry performance.

Listen to the full Indietop CD via Neocha


I know I said I wouldn't be posting but potential posts are mounting up and I want to give you all something to listen to in the meantime.

I have blogged a lot about Indietop and don't really want to go through it all again. They are a label, they did a showcase, they made a compilation CD as a taster to some upcoming CDs. And now, they have a neocha page with the whole CD available to listen to. The CD features some guest acts who won't be recording with Indietop this year as well as their own acts: Momo, Mushrooms, Zhong Chi and Little Nature. I'm a big fan of track 13 which is King by No.33 Island.

So, no need to learn Chinese or surf away, here it is:


Jiao Ban Two live @ Yuyintang

momo tuan jiao ban
I'm back in action. Tonight at Yuyintang, Jiao Ban night part two. First of all, if you haven't already, read all about the significance of this night right here. And secondly, here are the bands involved:

I was looking forward to this a lot and, as I thought, it turned out to be a rerun of the Indietop show except with good sound. And, err, not as many bands. 

First on the stage was Tianpin Dian (Candy Shop). Regular readers of the blog will know all about this band and have listened to their great demo track Wo Men. I also reported on their great new track that they debuted at the Winter Madness show here. The track is called Wo Shi Chao Liu (I Set The Trend) and I got it on video this time. Candy Shop played a good set here despite being the first of four bands and hence with the lower volume. The new song was received well at the end. Must point out though, it's kind of the semi-serious/playful song that they do at the end and is a departure from their other, heavier, material.

Talking of Tianping Dian, we'd been having a right laugh on Douban and had arranged to meet at the show. They are a great bunch and so laid back and friendly. Also, YKE shares my appreciation of MC Hotdog's first CD and the track 1030. Fair play to that. So next on stage were Momo. Their new material is very cute but I'm still impressed with how they've tightened up the live act. They had a loud and clear sound tonight and the audience really liked them. Ex-Mushroom's guitarist Jerry was also playing up there filling in the layered parts from the new CD. He appears to be the SOMA session guy lately. Jerry Lee does have a new project in the works called Triple Smash, more on that in the future.

So yeah, Momo were tight and professional and went down really well. They came back to the small club setting but brought the best aspects of their Indietop show with them. There was one funny moment in the set. At one point, singer Ding Jia called out her number and offered a free Indietop CD to the first person to text her. The girl who won got up on stage and Ding invited her to say something into the mike. She said "I love Tianping Dian." It was taken in good humour.

Little Nature were up next. They had their original three piece line up and flat hair. The only sign of the Indietop show extras was the intro tape they played before coming on stage. They pulled out a good but not great (by their own standards) set that was a little bit sabotaged by a weak drum sound that ate up the snare completely. Last on were the Mushrooms. Their new line up still isn't quite there but this time it was enough to get the crowd moving and to make the old hits ring true. A good turn out and a solid night for Jiao Ban part two. 

Jiao Ban Two: Shanghai scene story of 2008

It is fitting that we have the next Jiao Ban show at the end of the year, especially for this blog. I've watched and wrote about these bands since the start and seen their stories explode (in Shanghai scene terms). I have to admit that it's all got very little to do with me, mind you. First up, here are the four bands playing the show on Saturday 27th:

The original Jiao Ban show did not include Candy Shop. 

Momo have been around a while, previously under the name Happy Strings. I first saw them at the old Yuyintang and really liked them. I didn't get to see them so much near the start of 2008 and this whole story starts with the Mushrooms. 

At the beginning of the year, they had been working super hard and were playing some great shows. I saw them rock the crowd at an early 0093 Showcase and wrote about them early on here - live @ Yuyintang. I also documented their first breakthrough into the ex-pat-iverse here. The singer Pu Pu had awesome presence and guitarist Jerry Li was coming up with great compositions.  Next up was Little Nature. I first noticed them as a standout band and wrote it up for Shanghaiist here. They were tight and had catchy songs, immediately separating from the rest of the pack. 

The next development was that the three bands had become friendly after playing together and hanging out at Bar 288 on Taikang road. They formed a collective called Jiao Ban and decided to put on a show at Yuyintang. I came across the flyer and speculated about the show in this post. At this point Happy Strings had changed their name to Momo Tuan. I went to the show and it was amazing - here's what I wrote. I came away thinking that it was a pity the scene was underground and hamstrung by the political climate. I thought that at least one of the bands would have been signed or at least snapped up by professional management in normal conditions. Before we go on, take a moment to re-live the show (article continues below).

And here's the thing. Not long after the show, I found out via Lisa Movius that the show had, in fact, cemented deals for all three bands with Soma. Soma are an art management company and their label venture turned out to be the Indietop project. Here's how the news was broken at the blog - more magazines and Little Nature

In the run up to the Indietop extravaganza I caught the bands a couple of times. Little Nature played a great set at the 0093 Rockin' in the Free World show. Also playing that night were Candy Shop, who brought the house down with their signature track Wo Men. Here's a video of that too. Following that, I saw both Momo and Little Nature play at Gua'er in a low key afternoon show. Here's how that went - rock in the afternoon. And here's a video of Momo unplugged at the show - Momo. The Mushrooms played outdoors at the China Now festival but I didn't manage to get along. At this point I was still clueless as to the upcoming impact of the Indietop show, on the band's styles, that is. 

Now. Enter Indietop. The three bands had some CD tracks in the bag and an Indietop compilation CD was about to come out. I heard some samples, which sounded over-produced and very pop and I also got ready for the showcase gig at Dream Factory which was to be a landmark event in the year. Here's the first post on it, here's the line up on the CD, here's my call to arms over supporting the show and finally here's the show review. Jerry had left the Mushrooms and all the bands had extra members added or major stylistic changes put on them by the label. I wondered if it could ever be the same again.

And now - at the end of a whirlwind year, the Jiao Ban is back at YYT. Indie labels are small in a small scene and the bands seem to be free to do their own thing too. If you talk to various people on the subject you'll find that even the established Beijing labels require the bands to foot most of the bill in return for services of questionable quality. Anyhow, I'm excited again about this show. It's their chance to show if they've still got it. The addition of Tianping Dian (Candy Shop) to the line up is welcome. Whatever the outcome/effect of Indietop on the Jiao Ban bands - Candy Shop put on a great show at YYT and it'll be a great way to round off the year. 

Come along if you can and, come what may, let's give a final show of support to the most active Shanghai bands of the year. Think what you may of the music or styles, these are the bands who have advanced the scene this year through the fueling of a new label. 

Indie Top One showcase at Dream Factory

Well, it finally came around, the Indie Top show. So much to talk about that this may be the first post where I have to split it and have the main body 'after the jump'. Let's get the formalities out of the way first.

This was an important show and you should read why here: A call to arms

Next, here are the bands who played, along with links to their sites:

Zhong Chi 钟茌
Momo MOMO乐团
Little Nature 小自然 
Sonnet 十四行诗
Wang Xiaokun 王啸坤

There were so many people I bumped into and so many shout outs that I can't possibly list them all. I usually include mainly other English language writers when I do this because to mention everyone at, say, a YYT show who's part of the scene or a band would be to make the whole post a fifty name list each time. Met Lisa Movius for the first time and then Shanghaiist blogger Wee Ling Soh who I got to take one of her famous eyes closed photos of me and Jake. Yes! Talking of Shanghaiist writers, me and Archie bumped into Cameron Wilson at a restaurant later that night and ate with Detroit techno guru Bone (so that conversation went right over my head). 

Quick special mention to my three ticket winners who all came. Thanks guys and I hope you enjoyed it. Lost Mimi at one point but I'm sure I saw you meet up with a friend. 

So, here we go. First of all, this was a well organized pro-event that got a great turnout and a bunch of support. Plenty of CDs and merchandise on the scene and they even had custom made Indie Top ads to play between acts and an MC for the night. Great atmosphere and definitely a success for Indie Top. The buzz at the event lived up to all the hype I was giving it ... phew. So, onto the bands.

Pre-amble. I previously listened to the CD samples and worried that the production had pushed the bands in the pop direction a lot. And here's the thing - I came thinking "Little Nature, Momo and Mushrooms" and left thinking "Zhong Chi and Sonnet". Weird stuff. While the theme for the night appeared to be rock acts getting signed and then lightening up, the lighter acts actually rocked it. Weird weird weird.

Out came Sarah Zhong Chi whose CD is full of dreamy tracks about environmental disaster. The first thing I noticed was the decidedly straight rock backing band that included Jerry Li, formerly of the Mushrooms, and David from Moongazer on guitar and bass respectively. The songs were good and the band gave it some bite live. Zhong Chi doesn't really appear on the regular live circuit in town and I had no idea what to expect but she's cool and the songs worked fine live. Good start. 

Next up were Sonnet. Sonnet are not on the label and were filling out the show. They played a straight set of their regular material and were kind of separate in feel from the rest of the night. They didn't benefit from the sound, which was loud enough to give the show atmosphere but a bit muddy and way short of truly professional. Sonnet have recently reformed and seem to be just about getting it back now. The last two songs they played really came together and seemed to win the approval of the crowd. They play modern indie rock in the vein of post-Strokes stuff like Casino Demon here. 

Little Nature were next. These are a pop punk trio that I have followed from the start at this blog. The sound reminds me of a mid-career Green Day and they were instantly popular with Shanghai rock fans. It's really quite amazing that they were about to come on as a signed act at a big show less than one year later in a small scene like Shanghai. Alas, being signed has changed them a lot it seems. They came out with an extra guitarist and some pop star hair-dos. When I watched these guys at Yuyintang a couple of times they were full of energy with deceptive songs that seemed like three chord rock but had some great hooks and breaks that made them stand out. They were flat here and the label is obviously pushing the pop/idol side of things.

Momo next. Same story, The label has really got these girls to push the cute appeal. But, for Momo, that side has always been a part of them, even when the music was very garage rock still. It's not my thing, but they seemed to suit the new style and performed well. Singer Ding Jia was made to play guitar the whole show too, which is not the norm at their shows. I suppose the label were pushing for a more filled out sound or something. It never seemed to be a problem before. I wonder if these bands are going to keep playing the smaller places now?

Then came the biggest shock of the night. Wang Xiaokun was a mainstream pop star with vids on the telly and everything. I knew he wrote his own stuff and had gone indie, but I was planning to skip him if he went on last. He came on now. And WTF, his backing band were rock and he wasn't half bad. He had a Manchester thing going on. Bowl cut, psychedelic sweater, singing his indie rock vocal upwards into the mike while swaying and breaking into falsetto. He was quite good. It was a total headfuck as his previous incarnation was a talent show idol. He had the good sense to not play any of those 'hits'.

Anyway, on came the Mushrooms one of my favourite bands and an amazing live act. They lost the original guitarist and got two replacements. I don't want to talk about it much. What can I say. This was a kind of coming out party for Momo, Little Nature and the Mushrooms to showcase their new looks and styles. LN lost their punch, Momo's Ding Jia usually has a bit of power and depth behind her voice but it's all cutesy now and the Mushrooms have lost their mojo too (they should get Jerry back). It's part of a planned move by the label to sell these bands. The weird thing is the sudden change, I have seen some of these bands live between getting signed to Indie Top and tonight's show and there was no indication of the change then at all. Who's the Shanghai Mick Jones and when can he start producing? 

Other people's Youtube Tudou: Little Nature at YYT

A couple of weeks ago or so I wrote about an amazing show at YYT. It was none other than the 0093 Rock party 'rocking in the free world'. Read the original post here

I was just trolling around Chinese language web pages and vid streaming sites and came across some footage from that show on Tudou Wang. The video seem to be shot by people from the site Rock Shanghai. The huge logo gave it away. So here are two songs from Little Nature. It's rough but fun and captures the Yuyintang atmosphere perfectly.

Indie Top show: this is a call to arms

Update: Still two free tickets up for grabs, don't be fooled by the number of comments. I should say a free ticket to the first three commenters who explicitly state they want the free ticket. Don't give up without actually reading the comments!

This blog's contents are dictated solely by where I go and what I read/hear about. I'm not in the habit of doing specific previews or listings. However, sometimes you have to break the rules in special cases.

This post is about the upcoming Indie Top showcase gig. Read about it again here. And my message is simple: you must go to this show and force everyone you know to go too.

And here's what I'm going to do: I will buy advance tickets this week and the first three commenters on this blog get a free ticket. Just leave any comment under a nickname. If you fill in the E-mail section I will see that and contact you privately.

Before I explain why, let me list the details again:

The Indie Top showcase and CD release
Friday 5th December at 19.30

Address: Zhijiang Dream Factory, The New Factories, 28 Yuyao Road, Shanghai
地点:同乐坊 芷江梦工场 上海市静安区余姚路28号

Tickets: 50 rmb, 40 rmb in advance
Ticket Hotline: 021 6227 7332

Zhong Chi 钟茌
Momo MOMO乐团
Little Nature 小自然 
Crazy Mushroom Brigade 蘑菇团 
Sonnet 十四行诗
Wang Xiaokun 王啸坤

Now. I think all venues and bands deserve equal support and on principal we should go to as many shows as possible. What we have here though is the possible start of a genuine and regular indie label in Shanghai. Beijing has Modern Sky and Maybe Mars. An amazing turnout at this show along with everyone picking up the CD there, will really make the difference. It will give extra confidence to the newer bands and push them on and will also show the label that they are doing the right thing. We have the power to help make this a turning point.

The Shanghai scene has been booming after the summer break, yes. But the hard truth is that it is still small enough that leaving things to chance can sometimes result in great bands playing to near empty rooms. Another stark fact is that - whatever the reasons and excuses - some promoters and event groups always fill their shows, while others toss the coin. So here's the thing - we the fans should become promoters and plug this show in every way we know how. Create your own events on Facebook or Xiaoneiwang. Mass E-mail. Write about this show for sites and mags. Buy your ticket in advance too. Let's sell this one out.

If this works then do this for every band and venue you like in the future - this scene needs you. 

P.S. See you in the mosh pit during Crazy Mushrooms.
P.P.S. If you are hard-core old school punk/not from Shanghai and sh*t on both indie poseurs and our fine city then The Shy Tall Mighty are back in town that day.
P.P.P.S. But really, go to Indie Top.

Indietop first compilation CD line up

Recently I have blogged a bit about a new Shanghai indie label called Indietop (part of Soma). A lot of this came courtesy of scene writer Lisa Movius. 

The first mention is here and the recent preview of the upcoming showcase gig is here.

There are 13 bands signed to the label including blog favourites like Little Nature, Momo and Crazy Mushroom Brigade. Talking of the Mushrooms brings us to the reason for the post. Mushroom's frontman Pu Pu (仆仆) has just leaked (i.e. promoted) the track listing for the first release from the label on

So without further ado here it is (a lot of Chinese, sorry international readers):

  001 蘑菇团-等待 
  002 小自然- Different world 
  003 钟茌-Chain of Desire 
  004 杜佳宣-我 
  005 MONOKINO(德国)- New kid 
  006 MOMO-小妖怪 
  007 王啸坤-菩提树下 
  008 苏丹-我们的爱情 
  009 LOTZ-老老欢喜侬 
  010 IGO-Super Virus 
  011 冷冻街-窃听机 
  012 十四行诗-stupid baby 
  013 33岛-King 

I would strongly recommend going to the show and getting a CD too. The inside word is that the label boss needed a fair amount of persuading to sign the younger bands and we should send a message that it's a good decision by supporting and spreading the word. If the label keeps going, Shanghai bands can aim higher in the future. 

Indietop showcase coming to Dream Factory

Well, Dan Shapiro was not wrong when he said we were hitting peak season at the moment. The shows are stacking up at an alarming rate.
Lisa Movius just sent me a flyer/tip off relating to Soma Record's new stable of bands. Soma are a new indie label in Shanghai and you can read previous posts on them here and here.

So, the label has an all new brand now Indie Top and is having a large showcase to promote it's upcoming first releases. The materials say that they now represent thirteen acts and are committed to young/new talent.

The show is going down at Dream Factory on December 5th and there's even a discount for buying tickets in advance. You may need to do this as they have Wang Xiaokun playing and he's well known in the mainstream.

Here's the line-up in full:

Zhong Chi
Crazy Mushroom Brigade
Little Nature
Wang Xiaokun
Qing Ma Dao

I have videos at the channel for most of these. Have a look here, here, here and here. If you troll around the blog you can find dedicated posts and links for all of them too. Feed my web stats. 

Pink Berries & Bang Bang Tang live @ Yuyintang

lollipop november
So. The very next night after the oversold massively talked about Subs gig comes the barely mentioned show that doesn't even have any kind of name or billing that I can officially call it. What a shame because Bang Bang Tang and Pink Berries put on their best performances to date.

As the night went on there were a lot of new ex-pat faces showing up. The Subs show has obviously introduced a lot of new people to the club. The first band on was Wildcat who play a bunch of J-rock sounding songs so generic that I got different answers as to whether they were covers or originals. Next time I will try to catch the band early on and get some background as they were fairly tight and got a good reception.

Bang Bang Tang. I see these a lot as they're always playing YYT. I'm not usually a big fan of this kind of music. They play very musical guitar pop-rock. Watching them belt out their very well rehearsed set it struck me that they were just as good as F.I.R. in Taiwan or a bunch of similar bands in Japan. They are great musicians and the singer Xiao Bai has a great voice too. If they were in one of those markets they'd be getting a major deal right now, not playing underground clubs. They have a quality recording on the new Neocha release (free here) and I have added a fourth video to the Youtube channel. And this time the lights don't flash away like a war on migraine sufferers. 

This was a night of if-onlys. Pink Berries had a good, loud sound and after a few bars of intro and a 'we are Pink Berries' they positively ripped into the opening track. I have that one on video too, but with the flashing random lights, alas. This was the best I've seen them. They couldn't quite carry it through all the set but I was left thinking one thing - if they had played the exact same set last night as a support act for The Subs with all those people in there, it would have been a legendary mosh and a career launching performance. 

While Little Nature, Momo and Crazy Mushroom Brigade reside in the rock-soulless Bar 288 and prepare CDs with Soma, these two bands are quietly becoming the next big things in pop-rock and punk respectively. 

pink berries nov

Rocking in the free world (0093) @ Yuyintang

tianping dian warmup
Friday night at Yuyintang and the latest in the now long line of 0093 showcase gigs, Rocking In The Free World, was going head to head with a weekend of first generation rockers up in Zhabei. I assumed YYT would lose a lot of locals to the bigger events - but I was wrong.

Amazing line up. Amazing turn out. Solid famous acts like Sonnet and Sko were up alongside 0093 studios' better acts. The final line up went like this:

Yuyintang was packed out with a great crowd of the coolest fucking people in town. Each band got a decent crowd and the sound was good all night. This was Yuyintang as it always should be. Rocking bands, cool people and hanging out in the park behind during breaks. I was sick with the flu all week and this was just what I needed to pick me up. Keep in mind that I'm easily excited, mind you.

The surprise of the night for me was Tianping Dian. I had seen them twice before and have reported their potential on the blog a couple of times. Tonight was their time to get it together. Sonnet had played a decent set and the hall was rammed. Tianping Dian got straight on and blasted through their high energy tracks sending the crowd into a mosh. They never missed a beat and the guitar sound was especially good. I have a vid coming, but it doesn't do justice to the sound as usual. With so many bands on the bill, the set was kept short but people wanted an encore so the band swapped instruments and ripped out a well funny closer - a dirty version of a famous Shanghainese kids song that had everyone cracking up. I wish I had a succinct genre name for them. They are a kind of rap-rock crossover with female vocal catchy choruses. I dunno.

The other band that really got the crowd going were Little Nature. The Bar 288 bands kind of come in a three for one pack these days. If Little Nature play than you're going to see members of Momo Tuan and Crazy Mushroom Brigade plus entourage in the crowd. They played a tight set and got everyone moving. They do keep insisting on playing Happy Birthday though. Their fans were loving it and singing along, and it's not 100% serious, but every time they play that track it discredits all their previous good work. Saw Dan and Fabian from Rogue Transmission at the show too. Let's not forget their EP release at YYT tomorrow which also promises to be a wild night. 

Magazines and skinheads

old thats cover
I saw the new That's Shanghai magazine today and was all excited. That's because they have been putting out a lot of stuff on local music lately with the music editor being ably supported by Lisa Movius and Ben Hogue. Here's the magazine's online site, urbanatomy

I caught the mag at a bad time it seems, this month they are having one of those complete redesigns that mags have from time to time. It's always confusing at first, like when the supermarket moves its shelves around and you wander aimlessly for several minutes with a vague mental picture of a loaf of bread floating around in front of you. The main effect this time is to blend all the writing in with the many many ads. That could be a step towards honesty, in this case. 

Prior to the redesign, the music section was well defined and well stocked. I still haven't made sense of it this time, but it seems not as good. They also slipped in a new 'nightclubbing' column by DJ Carl Lorimer, also infamous as the prolific reactionary net troll 'moneyinabox' - a big fan of my work. It's comment #4.

Anyway ... good news in Lisa's column, which doesn't seem to be called Rockpile anymore, or clearly defined as a regular column either. The budding indie label Soma have done a new CD which is a compilation of the bands who are currently recording with them for future solo releases. This includes Momo, Crazy Mushroom Brigade, Sarah Zhong Chi and Little Nature. The CD will be out through the normal channels of gigs and the one or two shops that do local CDs. The article does say that you'll be able to get it at Shanghai Book City though.

So. Looking at my options this weekend I came across another 'old school punk' gig at Yuyintang on Saturday. I got a surprise when I checked out the band's page in advance:

Mi San Dao on Myspace: here

That's right, they are devotees to the skinhead movement. Well, it appears to be more in musical and aesthetic style than anything else. It's interesting all the same. Back home (UK) I'd look at this fixture and think 'nah, I don't fancy getting stabbed this weekend' but hey, I watched 'This is England' recently and apparently there are subtle divisions between violent right-wing skins and violent right-wing skins with a specific racist politcal agenda. So maybe it's all OK. I think I'm going to check it out, all the same. 


Adventures in cabaret

bar 288
Yesterday I watched The Mummy Three in the cinema. Yes, I paid to see it on the big screen. This will tell you two things about me. I love good ole fashioned adventure and I love torturing myself. This is quite coincidental.

This weekend's line up at my usual haunts is just not for me. The show of the weekend is going to be Motek at either Yuyintang or Live Bar, depending on which day you want to see them. Motek are from Norway and they play post-rock. Check out their blurb:

Every great passion ends in the infinite... Likewise, Motek is driven by instinct and the thirst for sultry recollections of forgotten emotional states. Sticking layers of effect-laden guitars, underpinned by a needy bass and entrancing drums create the texture of great music for the best moments of your life. This sonic dream closes the gap between wishes, wants and imagination with melancholy, madness, consolation and hope.

... and their link (to be fair) - listen here

I'm only going to stick out more post-rock shoegazing if the band are local and relevant to the scene. Not because I have something against polished, signed acts from abroad - because, as a personal entertainment choice, I have something against post-rock. 

So what am I going to do? I'm going on an adventure.

First of all, I'm going to get a sandwich at Kommune cafe in the Taikang Lu arts area. I swear down it's nothing to do with trying to be hip or a true scenester. It happens to be near the bar and their build your own sandwich deal includes baked beans on the fillings list. Baked beans. Other Brits abroad know what I'm talking about here. After that I'm going to Bar 288, The Melting Pot, to hang out and watch whoever happens to play there. 

Why is this such an adventure? Their house bands include Little Nature and Crazy Mushroom Brigade. They are famed as a local muso hangout. Check out this recent news/endorsement of their credibility, talking about the China Now event: 

This free festival being organized by the people behind Taikang Lu's 288 Melting Pot bar is part of the Shanghai Tourism Festival. According to Head Organizer Ruby Hsiao, "It is the government's intention to support original music, and to earn more attention from the younger generation in Shanghai - Chinese or expatriates."

Well, did you read this earlier post on when I was last there? They filled the dance floor area in front of the stage with tables and let people play dice games with their backs to the great band who came all the way from Korea. They delayed the show start an hour and fifteen minutes because someone there had a birthday and wanted their friends to perform some pop hits to a backing track. They are not trying to support local music, they are treating it like a background cover band and even bumping it for a keyboard guy. And I hope that quote was added in by enthusiastic newspaper editors - letting two rock acts play a park for tourist day does not compensate for the past three months. Unless support actually means kill in the above case.

Since they seem to inspire annoying critical rants in me, I'm going to try again.

I will conquer my fears and my hate and head out of my immediate area at night. Then again, I've just had a thought, perhaps it's some kind of psychological thing. The closer you get to Taikang Lu, the more you start to think and behave like a dismissive, holier-than-thou hipster. Well, lets see what happens on my adventure. Will I actually come back with a good report from a great Mushrooms gig ... or will it all go down the pan and I have to be bailed out by yetis - my god, that film was s*%t! I mean ... yetis! 

Youtube: Little Nature live @ Gua'er

So. Little Nature. I first wrote about them as a standout among new bands back in march here. They played as part of the Jiao Ban, joining the other members at Bar 288. And recently they've even been 'picked' by Lisa Movius in her That's Shanghai column. They are still a new band and this is the opening number, the rest of the set was way tighter. But ... without further ado, here they are playing live at Gua'er Music Bar. 

Little Nature & Momo live @ Gua'er

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

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

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

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

More magazines and Little Nature


little nature That's Shanghai September 2008 edition just came out and you can see the articles I mention here.

Not as much good coverage as last month, but that's OK. Last month was especially good ... remember?

Before I get to Lisa Movius' Rockpile column I should briefly mention the Wang Wen review on page 29. I quote

Unlike the band's high energy live performances, their recorded material ...

Hmmn. Has the reviewer been to one of their shows? I have, and quite recently too. They were typical of a meandering post-rock band. Low energy. That's not a criticism, it was a reasonable recreation of the energy levels on the CD.

Now, I was impressed with the Rockpile column for a third month in a row. Let's be honest, I'm always impressed with anyone who appears to agree with me on bands and music. Equally, if you don't agree with my picks - you don't know anything. Ahem. This month is another pick, this time Little Nature. I have seen this band three times and wrote up the first time for Shanghaiist back in March here. They were the standout band that night despite their Happy Birthday closer. I most recently saw them at the Jiao Ban night at Yuyintang where I was happy to see they had stayed together and started to get a following.

Lisa talks about that night and reports that all three bands (Momo, Crazy Musrooms and Little Nature) met with Shanghai based Soma Records and walked away with deals. This is amazing news for me as they are the three bands I have been relentlessly tipping all year. I especially want to have the Mushrooms on CD. It does however beg the question, who the f*#^ are Soma Records? Obviously not the Scotland based dance label. Hmmnn, Lisa any chance of a fill-in in the comments? If not, I may have to do research, oh no.

These are good picks from Lisa. The Mushroom's CD will be especially good and these are all bands who have room to improve, mature and produce great songs given the chance to record. Let me finish by re-linking (sorry older readers) the demo we did for CW with Aric Queen that features two full songs by Momo (then Happy Strings). The demo that was followed shortly by Aric and CW manager Colin leaving the country. We will still make it if another host and backer come in ...anyone ... sniff.

Momo play live for FNU

Jiao Ban night at Yuyintang


jiao ban nightJiao Ban: Well, having gotten a bunch of varying and confused answers from a selection of Mandarin native speakers it seems that SH magazine got it right in saying it's the name of a collective that includes the three bands playing. They are: Little Nature, Crazy Mushroom Brigade and Momo (formerly Happy Strings).

Continuing on from the Gala show, it seems that school's out for summer. The place was packed again, which is great for the venue and great for the three bands who all deserved a high energy crowd. Little Nature have really come along and have built a genuine following. Everyone sang along to their songs and even I managed to overlook the fromage factor for their now famous closing anthem track Happy Birthday to my Friends as the crowd waved their arms to the chorus then demanded an encore.

Update! I found the Little Nature song on Neocha here

Momo and the Mushrooms have an established fan base and a lot of playing experience. For the Mushrooms set the packed venue turned into a mad mosh zone. The atmosphere was so good that between songs the Mushroom's lead guitarist was able to spend a good five minutes doing a complete comedy bit on Edison Chen and the photos scandal. Did I mention that the temperature in the upper 30's here at the moment? The bands threw water out over the fans between tracks causing whoops from half of them and causing the other half to franctically wipe down their new digital cameras. Nice.  

Happy Strings name change, Yuyintang challenge


challengematchI was looking for some info on up coming gigs here in Shanghai when I came across this flyer. I don't usually do listings or promote up coming gigs, I just find this one interesting.

The flyer (pictured) says that Crazy Mushroom Brigade and Little Nature will play 'together' in a challenge. I have no idea what that means and I'll be happy to tell you all about it next week after I check it out.

The other interesting news is at the bottom of the flyer. It seems that Happy Strings, who me and Cameron made this video demo about, have changed their name to The Momo Brigade.

I may have to stalk them at Bar 288 on Taikang Road to get a scoop on this. I'm not sure if they remember me from our shoot.

Flyer originally found here.


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