Results tagged “live music” from Andy Best

Death To Giants / Japandroids live @ Yuyintang

japandroids flyer
Saturday night and off to Yuyintang for the much anticipated Japandroids show, put on by promoters Splitworks. I got advance tickets, which always feels weird for YYT, as there was a big buzz about the show. And yup it was completely sold out by nine.

Japandroids (Canada)

This show started a bit earlier than most, before I had finished work for that day in fact, so I arrived at the very end of HIMDONG's set. Sorry guys.

Well, YYT was sold out and packed with many people who would not normally come down for local bands, people who are often pretty shitty to the non 'name acts.' Good job then, that along came Death to Giants and slayed everyone. They confidently and expertly ripped through the now familiar set, starting on a war footing with Bigongbijing. The duo did their thing, using only drums and a bass guitar but delivering a masterclass on how to fill space and control dynamics. With a full house to play to, there was also a great raw edge to the proceedings. The set ended with a new, kinda novelty song based around the Family Mart jingle. It was funny, and come on ... it's been four years since 2009 brought along a sudden, shocking influx of ex-pats that took it from 'some' to 'omnipresent' in Shanghai - someone had to do a song about convenience store beers at one point.

The blog has had an upturn of readers lately so it's worth pointing out that I don't usually review the visiting international acts. It's outside of the blog's remit. I should start by saying that Japandroids did a professional job and all their fans really liked the show. They sold the place out and it was a success.  But, I personally was a bit disappointed - my own fault. I had spent the week in a weird state that doesn't quite fit the exact definition of either cognitive dissonance or double think. Let me explain. I had checked out their stuff on the page, so I knew what the songs were like, but at the same time knowing they were a two piece drum/guitar combo with the name 'Japandroids' I was expecting to get something experimental or different. In fact their material is very standard North American folk or blues rock type stuff at heart with the lyrics taking us into near Springsteen territory at times. 

The first two lo-fi modern duos that come to mind in the Shanghai scene are Death to Giants and Pairs. As discussed, DtG use time signatures and overlapping runs to control a wide range of dynamics, mixing in sudden bursts of pounding metal and also delicate vocal harmonies. Pairs blast the air around with a wave of fuzzy noise and punk energy, the guitar chops you into pieces while Xiao Zhong shouts at you with a mix of despair and unconcealed contempt. Torturing Nurse take you into the frontiers of extreme noise, The Other jam reverb soaked loops, Twos smooth layer on layer to create an electronic post-rock landscape. I guess, in the USA scene terms I'm more Lightning Bolt and less The Black Keys? 

Thanks everyone, show non-review

picnic video
Warning: this is about a show that I organised and also played in. Total conflict of interest and you should be aware of this while reading my positive comments.

Thanks to everyone who came down to the Love is Colder than Death show on Saturday night. And thanks to the acts:

The Other
Tzu Sing

To be honest, I was worried that we were putting on an event at the exact quietest time of the scene calendar, in a heat wave and on the same night as several big music events - but also hoped that being different to all those other events would see us right. In the end we got a great turnout with some local fans even getting in before official doors open time so that Tzu Sing just kept playing on from the end of his check. 

Everyone did a great job. Tzu Sing set the atmosphere well and threw in some different stuff, that delighted me but that I'm under loose agreement not to talk about. It's related to one of our favourite 80s movies. The Other built on their last YYT set and added a video projection to the proceedings. I can't really comment on our set, Astrofuck, I guess. We did some new and never played live before tracks, they all seemed to go down fine and I really enjoyed myself. 

The real hit of the night came from Hua Jiao / HIMDONG. Everyone knows that Dong Heimu is a real talent on the scene, but since moving here from Xi'an he has struggled to get a stable line up and is always having to adapt his style. This time he came with a full band and ripped through some amazing post-punk tracks with stylistic hints of China scene post-punk and no wave acts in there such as The Fallacy, 8 Eye Spy and PK14. 

There's some recordings and clips on the way ... and hopefully a follow up night not too far away. 

Astrofuck show "Love is Colder than Death"

laura palmer saturday flyer
Warning ... warning ... full disclosure: this post is talking about a show featuring a band I'm in and a show I organized. Please keep that in mind.

Ok, so our band Astrofuck made its live debut early this year and played five shows that were all a lot of fun and often on weekends at YYT with good audiences. Playing the Woozy night as part of the Jue Festival was really cool and the Nerdcore documentary and performance at 390 was a good time too. 

Then we put out some demos and this music video:

The Funeral youku / youtube / vimeo

Then came the slow summer period in Shanghai and we decided to work on new material, focusing on our more gothy side, and to try to book a show tailored to us. And so on Saturday August 17th at Yuyintang we have ...

"Love is Colder than Death"

It will cost 40 rmb on the door and feature post-punk, experimental, gothy and dark bands. That's probably an inadequate way to describe it. DJ Tzu Sing will open from 9 playing darkwave and industrial styles. Then The Other will play, then us doing a 45 minute plus set including completely new songs we have never played before. We also have HIMDONG closing out with some loop madness. It will be awesome and the perfect antidote to the thrown together, generalized, overpriced SH Summer Sonic night on over at the Stadium. I can say that cos SMG is a multi-billion corporation and we are just some friends putting on a 300 ppl show underground.

Also, we are definitely playing "Dog Fucker's Manual." And for an insight into my upbringing, for the flyer I had to choose one image from pop culture that inspired me. If you recognize it then you found one of my significant formative experiences, when I was about 17. 

Alrighty, enough navel gazing, come on down to the show and here's our probable set list:

Five Kuai Bullet
The Funeral
Love Is Shit
Dog Fucker's Manual
Crystal Heart/Black Heart
Sponsor-friendly Self Harm
I P.M.
I Can't Jump Into The Pool
Sugar Free Coke

And here's a video of The Other playing at YYT not that long ago:

Tudou: The Other

Feima live @ 696 Bar

Thumbnail image for feima flyer 696
This show was Feima's official album / EP release party. I previewed the album here, where you can link to the online version. The show was great and highlighted how much it sucks that they're are going away. Tonight's line up:

Early show tonight, 696 have to call it a night for live music at 9.30 and things were off at exactly the advertised time. Yin have been around a while now and they have original material on the page there. It's guitar based rock in the pop spectrum with some sentimental ballad stuff that their fans like a lot.

I hadn't seen Pairs play in a while and was struck by a major change in dynamic. Xiao Zhong used to get quickly through the songs with minimal explanation and a few funny / caustic comments in between. Tonight he was speaking in Mandarin at each break, thanking people for showing up, making self-depreciating comments, complimenting the previous band, apologizing for stuff ... and yet the personal tracks were even more intense than ever before, especially the new closing song which mentioned having to hold his abdomen while showering, presumably as a result of his hernia and follow up butchery surgery. And then F was cool and commanding, radiating presence without having changed much in the way of her stage positioning or general style. Fascinating stuff and a new album is not far away, although it seems that China has broken Xiao Zhong.

Feima were so good and so relevant and vital to the scene, and relevant to the major musical movements of the greater scene that it sucked - because there's basically one more show after this. I don't know where to start. Firstly the set was a full rendition of the album, in order. They were totally in command of their performance and confidently mixed the dreamy instrumentals, the upbeat anthems, "people in this city are hard to be seen ... all the people, hiding in cars and buildings" ... and the experimental jams. The set closer Feedback Tide was especially good, with Belo and Xiao Tang providing a framework for Jun Er to take centre stage and go crazy with the noise. He used sticks to hit things, an oscillator and pedals to create the feedback and noise loops and also Bebot on the iPad for bleeps, synths and swells. At one point he had all three going simultaneously, operating the touch screen of the pad with his foot. The sound was perfect and they knew exactly what they were doing. Xiao Tang got the bass exactly right both for the style and for the underground set ups here: he used an EQ pedal to boost the mid range and produce a tight, metallic sound that didn't wipe out other instruments or get lost in the mix. Residence A also use this very well and it's a trademark sound of China post-punk acts. 

Next Friday, August 2nd, is the last big show with Naohai at Yuyintang. Be there.

Ready made China tour plan

PK14 have just put their tour details online and it's awesome - not only because they are touring and they are great, but because the map image and list of dates / venues is basically a ready made tour plan for anyone else who wants to do it. Here's the photo and the venue list (in Chinese) ... and look, they are even playing in Xi Ning, Qinghai Province. 

click for larger
tour map

时间 城市 演出场所 
8/28/13 济南 盒子酒吧 
8/29/13 青岛 Downtown Bar 
8/30/13 南京 古堡 
8/31/13 上海 Mao Livehouse 
9/1/13 无锡 大门文化 
9/2/13 苏州 Wave Livehouse 
9/3/13 宁波 CMK 
9/4/13 杭州 酒球会 
9/6/13 武汉 Vox 
9/7/13 南昌 黑铁 
9/8/13 福州 海峡摇滚 
9/9/13 厦门 Real Live
9/10/13 珠海 现场酒吧 
9/11/13 深圳 B10 
9/12/13 台北 The Wall 
9/13/13 香港 蒲吧 
9/14/13 广州 凸空间 
9/16/13 长沙 4698 
9/18/13 重庆 坚果俱乐部 
9/21/13 成都 小酒馆 
9/23/13 兰州 葵Livehouse 
9/24/13 西宁 南墙 
9/25/13 银川 铜管 
9/27/13 西安 光圈Club 
9/28/13 郑州 7 Livehouse 
9/29/13 新乡 Ark Live House 
10/1/13 北京 愚公移山 
10/3/13 大连 赫兹 
10/4/13 长春 重走青春音乐酒吧
10/5/13 哈尔滨 开往春天的地铁酒吧
10/6/13 沈阳 旋转木马俱乐部

Girls Like Mystery / Death To Giants live @ YYT

glm kevin
Pic: Kevin Wright of Girls Like Mystery

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

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

Daydreamer (空想家)

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

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

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

Local bands next Friday

The other
Recently there have been all kinds of high profile shows; Beijing bands, festivals, tours, international acts, provocateurs and DIY promo kings. All of these were top drawer and good at pulling attention.

So we should give some space to something else for the moment, because some local bands have scored a Friday at Yuyintang and there's some interesting stuff in there. 

There's something for everyone there. Candy Shop are a well known power pop group with a lot of live experience and an energetic show. Xiao Xin Yi Yi are a no-nonsense punk / garage rock band, until their Proclaimers cover, when they break out the nonsense in style. Heavenly Hazard is the new band of the former guitarist from Beatrice. Beatrice were a band that was part of the Yang Pu visual rock / cosplay band sub-scene based out of Left Rock and Live Bar. You could even dress up and hang in that scene's rehearsals if necessary. Finally we have The Other. The Other are an experimental, lo-fi, introspective guitar looping type act with dirty sounding shoe-gazing. There is a big scene for that on the net and the original bands called themselves 'shitgaze'. It's the kind of scene that immediately makes you want to give up everything and do only that. Although some acts on Bandcamp sound a bit polished these days. Not The Other. 

Pic: Sister Whale live @ 390 Bar

I've seen a bunch of shows lately and not blogged them. Mainly because they were touring acts from abroad and not really a fit for what I'm doing here. Well, they were all pretty good: Cold Cave, Serpenti and also Wye Oak. 

Opening for Wye Oak at 390 Bar was Sister Whale. Sister Whale is a Shanghainese musician who has an interesting mix of styles somewhere between folk, older art rock and psychedelic. Lets go with lo-fi psychedelia. She hasn't been playing and it was good to see her - appearing with Next Year's Love keyboardist Super Sophia. Bunch of stuff at the page link, check it out.

One gripe about the 390 show: I dunno if I've ever been at a show of that style of music where so many of the audience were talk-shouting and fucking it up. 


Zhu Lu He Feng still doing the campus tours

campus tour 6
Shanghai label, or rather artist management company, Zhu Lu He Feng are not only still going but are launching into Round 6 of their Shanghai university campus tour. 

Here's a post from a couple of years back detailing round two

Here's some other quick links:

When ZLHF started this, it was groundbreaking. While action often used to happen in the vicinity of university grounds, independent student life type stuff inside was still almost off-limits. Now they are into the fifth year of running this. Also, some colleges like Jiao Da even have self-proclaimed Jiao Da bands and a mini scene. 

A quick look at the flyer shows some weekend regulars like Banana Monkey, Plastic Chocolate and Joker, although regular may not be the word. There's a few ZLHF stable bands too, who you don't see playing big shows that often, presumably because of management control and all those other issues that will not be mentioned here. 

Final point: campus shows can be done. Even on a smaller scale. English speaking bands may want to contact Shanghai band Stegosaurus? and, I think, Pairs, who have been to campuses themselves. 

Local blog: Small Oranges

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

Click pic for slightly larger, un-fuzzy version.

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

First some links then some disclaimers:

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

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

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

Pics from our Friday show

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

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

kaine yyt may

Shanghai Strawberry Music Festival 2013 (Day 3)

straw 2013
I have to start by saying that in my 23 and a bit years of watching live music, in any particular country, I've never liked festivals. On top of that, the China festival scene's famous shortcomings have made them a nightmare no-go zone for me for most of the time I've been here. But then, in Strawberry Shanghai 2013, all the elements needed to placate me fell in to place and along I went.

The Expo Park site was nice and just the right size, there was little or no obnoxious c**tish behaviour, the weather was great and the bands I wanted to check out all put in a good turn. The entrance / exit was efficient and well organized, there were plenty of water and drinks stands everywhere. Even the toilets were not that bad and constantly maintained. The atmosphere was good and I met bunches of people. The only slightly confusing brand-issue thing was a small stage called 'The School of Rock Stage' that was clearly the least 'rock' of the stages, excluding the electronic stage of course.

I saw Hedgehog at the main stage. I managed to get right up to the front in the hardcore fans pogo section while the band played all the hits. Got a couple of minor beer showers and photobombed a friend accidentally via the mega-screen. It was great. The real surprise though was The Gar. They played the Love Stage, housed in a converted factory building. At first I felt it was a slightly larger scale version of a typical YYT gig and all that, but they really got going and played energetic and tight. The audience grew and grew and the band moved from hypnotic indie tracks to dynamic extended jams and then by the time they kicked out Two Mothers everyone down on the floor was going for it ... and then, as the crowd were screaming for more and the guitar was keeping the noise alive, feeding back in anticipation ... a staff member came out and reminded them to get off and keep the schedule tight. The Love Stage slots were only about 20 minutes each too. And so, possibly the best band of the day left with a salute to the crowd who were ready for much more. Pity.

Gripes? I dunno, it was good all round to be honest. You couldn't have imagined it existing in that form even 5 years ago here. Second Hand Rose were a big deal, second to last on the main stage. They were polished and professional but reminded me of old AOR bands. A bit meh, I thought. In fact I went wandering around the site after half their set, taking in the evening by the river near the electronic stage. Did the sound cut out for Lenka? Yup it did, but I was watching The Gar at that time. Was there not that much beer around, yeah. But it was there, and people weren't assholes in general, win for me. The biggest gripe for people like me is always the same, and is not really to do with the festival. There were ship loads, Titanic loads of fans there, loads of them, everyone you've ever seen on Douban plus thousands more - all loving the bands, clearing knowing who the local acts were too, and all dressed in style and part of the sub-culture. And yet, the Gar could still play YYT or Mao and if not heavily pushed, get less than 200 in. I'm sure there are various explainable circumstances but could we get, say, 60 more per gig in? And two or three more dedicated local bands. That would be awesome, thanks. 

Spot the Andy, it's not hard.


SF1 grass

Youtube: FaF live at Mao Livehouse Shanghai

I usually don't post Youtube on here too much on account of it still being officially blocked over here. But, scouring about, I found a few Forget and Forgive videos. This one is from last year when they opened for someone or other at Mao. 

It gives you a good idea of the scale and style of Mao Livehouse in Shanghai. Also, around the 5 minute mark, the band start their second track and the crowd warms up a bit, starts moving and it's pretty good. There's a brave crowd surfer. You notice too that this band and crowd is pretty much ex-pat free, take from that what you will. 

Youtube: Subs in 2008 blast from the past

Here is Aric's video from the legendary best show ever in Shanghai, when The Subs played at Windows Tembo in 2008. Tembo was such a runaway success as a music venue that they immediately moved to a bigger location, Windows Underground, then the boss came down to see it directly for the first time and complained that 'no one wanted to see Chinese playing rock, westerners do it better' and it came crashing to a halt. The boss is Chinese, by the way.

The video is shitty, constantly going out of focus. The sound is tinny, like a tin can, and doesn't capture what it was like ... and the interview part at the end is so trite. Also, you can't see how insanely packed it was, included a balcony, until at the end of the song you get a brief glimpse of the hands and jumping. 

But it's fine, check it out.

The Complex Relationship @ Yuyintang

second vox
Pic: Second vocalist Taozi performing at an earlier Yuyintang show

The Complex Relationship of the show's title refers to the three main bands who put the show on and the band members they share. It also had a late appearance from an out of hiatus Joker. Another band, Surging Waves, were billed but I never caught them. 

Marquee 7 (Weibo link only no demos)

Xiao Bao sings for Tinderbox and also plays guitar for Second. Xiao Zhu plays bass in Second and also in Marquee 7. Tinderbox bassist KK was in Bang Bang Tang previously and is now in ... and so on. Given my previous post, I guess it's only right that I went along to support these bands who are hanging in there by any means necessary.

I might as well throw this out there now, it's become especially sharp to me since I've been playing there myself. YYT has great equipment and there are 4 or 5 people who may be doing sound on a given night. And there are two distinct levels of quality within that. That's all I'm going to say. 

The bands gave it their all and it was a fun night with a good turn out. Honours definitely went to Second. Everything clicked for them, they played tight, sounded loud enough and put in a decent performance. They even played a track I recognised from the old 2009 line up. 

Around the web: current blogroll

Thumbnail image for glowscreen
I just wanted to throw out a list of all the sites you can check for China scene news in English at the moment. Ones I use anyway.

I wish I could throw out a comprehensive list of Chinese language expert or insider blogs too, but staggeringly they still don't really exist for music. It's still Douban, BBS stuff and Weibo now or just shallow, intermittent promotional tools. If I'm wrong - mail me the links and I'll throw them up immediately. I mean sites like mine, where someone is independently blogging short articles and news on the scene at a standalone site.

Also, for this, I'm not going to include sites with some good scene stuff but are otherwise 80% bling, like all the mags basically. Missed any - mail me via about page.

Jia Hui Zhen: Beijing electro-pop

jia hui zhen
If electro-pop is your thing the Beijing scene gives you Jia Hui Zhen

The selection of songs there give you the pop, the electro and hints of the ol' Bjork too. All the tracks are really great production, check them all out. Also she's from Ningxia, look that up. One thing people who've never been to China don't know, and can't see through official channels, is how diverse it is. 

Also, here's an interview from the Live Beijing Music site:

It's short but includes a couple of videos too.

Our Saturday show and stuff

Saturday night was the Death To Giants album release show. You can check it out here at bandcamp. The show was great and my band Astrofuck was one of the openers. Can someone on another site or mag review the show, I'm not impartial on this one.

The night before was another release from The Horde.

Show was fun, Ozzie Chris of Hujiahuwei showed me a funny meme of Sponge Bob during the performance of 'Patrick' which cracked me up while I was playing. Mental note, "Chris has ready to hand Sponge Bob pictures on his phone at gigs WTF?"

Pics: us mid-show taken by Qian Jin. Our Logo as designed by Kaine (our singer as seen in first pic)

dtg show astropic

astrofuck blue logo

Video: (almost) full set Thee Oh Sees at 390

Logo'd and branded Youku user 小猪男孩 (Pigboy) has posted this long video showing most of the Thee Oh Sees set from 390. I was there and it was one of the best gigs here ever, top ten for sure, that I've been to. You also have to watch Pigboy's glaring logo the whole time but hey, he did provide us with this video, so thanks.

Death To Giants, Death To Shows!!!

blood pours out flyer
I'm involved in this show now so use discretion when judging this post

Death To Giants are releasing their first full album Blood Pours Out on Saturday night at Yuyintang. The line up also features Spill Your Guts, iAmalam and Astrofuck.

Now seriously. Death To Giants are a great band and tons of fun live. Scroll down their Douban page for tracks and two videos. Death To Giants playing Yuyintang, the heart of the scene and a near perfect room for underground bands, on a Saturday night has all the trappings of an epic show. But epic shows have to be made ... so get the word out and throw away all the excuses - come to this show and bring people too. If we can break 300 people in YYT, especially with DtG and Spill Your Guts playing, that's insanity and crowd surfing time. Do it. If you're more of a hipster type you could lose your shit by letting an unplanned, un-ironic left-eyebrow-raise slip by, while leaning strategically against the side wall, during the more electro-oriented opening bands - prompting the others in your group to break down into cries of, "oh, SHIT!!!" ... It's all good.

Just come to the show, that's what I'm saying. Thanks.

Pics: Astrofuck @ YYT

I can't really review the show (Baltic States album release) because it involved my band and we helped promote it too. I just want to put up a couple of the pics and say a couple of words. The pics, by the way, are courtesy of Melissa Helman and the staff of Shanghai247.

So, yeah, amazing turnout and a really fun night. I remain disappointed that I haven't yet received any e-mails from City Weekend but stoked that people sang along for Love Is Shit and a bit for I Can't Jump into the Pool too. There's a bootleg recording of LiS at our page.



We Are Shanghai 2 Live @ Yuyintang

yyt red
Pic: Yuyintang Livehouse

Has it really been a year since We Are Shanghai vol. 1 - yes, it has. We Are Shanghai is an underground compilation project. The kind where a scene puts out tracks from all the bands. 

Here's Vol 2:

Of course, there are way more bands in the scene than are on the comp, that's just maths. Also, there's more acts with ex-pat members than not. But I want to say something about that. As organizer Ivan points out in this interview the call to be on the CD was open and to everyone. The presence of local scene overlords Top Floor Circus on Vol 1 and metal scene organizers Chaos Mind on Vol 2 clearly proves that the call went out deep into the local scene, that people knew about it and that it was answered. 

This Friday was the release show:

Hello Money

First the bands, and then the "50 000 RMB CW Incident" ... oh yes.

Self promotion minute

Just to let you know up front: this is an event I'm involved with, I'm playing in the band Astrofuck and I'm posting up this flyer because I'm playing there.

The event is actually the 2nd album release show for Baltic States and also features the band Xiao Xin Yi Yi. Anyway, the blog is also legitimately a record of stuff I do ... but, you should not take this posting as an endorsement of an event from an independent point of view. You'll have to research and judge for yourselves. Cheers.

Flyer by Kaine.


Video: SKSA Insomniac's Song live at XP

China post punk band Streets Kill Strange Animals playing live at Beijing's XP club. The sound seems a bit mushed at first but stick with it, when the main refrain comes and the vocals kick off, it's all there.

There is another well-produced SKSA vid about but it's made by an ad agency to promote a computer seller so fuck that. I'm sure readers can track it down if they're not bothered by that sort of thing.

Pic: bands we don't know nonchalantly fill Mao

While here at Kungfuology towers we wax lyrical over arty bands and lo-fi indie, Beijing band Escape Plan, supported by Shanghai's Tinderbox, were playing to a full house at SH Mao Live - with only the same tools that are available to all of us in the China scene. Probably deserves a mention. 

First pic is Escape Plan, second Tinderbox.



Alpine Decline live @ 390 Bar

Friday night and off to 390 Bar to see a night of duos playing like it was raining reverb. The line up:

The singer/songwriter from Hua Jiao recently moved from Xi'an to Shanghai and is building the band up from scratch. He plays as a duo with drummer Du Juan and they use loops, echo and reverb to fill out a distinctly China post-punk sound. Hua Jiao are tipped for future greatness by local musicians who know them.

Twos (2's) is the new electronica project from long time scene guitarist JMF Lee (Li Xing). Together with bandmate Robin, Batman's Jay's guitar takes a backseat to the layered electronic sample mashing. They had a lot of equipment on the small stage space. The overall sound is polished and upbeat but they still manage avoid the conventions of commercial pop and utilize the early synth tones that are popular again today. The track If You Want To on the page is a good representation.

Alpine Decline formed in L.A. and then relocated to Beijing last year. Their music has always been a good fit for the post-punk / DIY scene here. They are a guitar / drums duo who use some synth backing and a lot of reverb soaked lingering chords. But the bands real strength is their sense of songwriting. Great vocal lines, lyrical turns and tight structures move them away from curious art-rock experimentation and into indie-underground greatness. They have just released a full length album called Night of the Long Knives. It is produced by China legend Yang Haisong and should prove to be a vital part of the scene here. Stream the band's previous work on their site here.

Photo: F.A.F. triumphant EP release show

It is important to remember that the shows I go to or blog are not the only shows and the success of some does not diminish the success of others. For me though, it is always satisfying when something you choose to follow through on works out. The F.A.F. show was a highlight and it also gave perspective. The scene is still underground, we are still up against it when it comes to 'da man' and there is still no proper framework or industry to aim for.

Success, for many bands here is when everyone fights and works hard for two or three years to get to the point where we can fill a 200-300 people venue with real fans of a local band and spend a night enjoying a 'real' packed out and emotional rock show. The recently emerged festival silly seasons and the relative success of some international touring acts have not changed that basic reality for young local bands who live here.

click photo for large size

FAF ep wow

F.A.F. EP release @ Yuyintang

The photo is from an earlier show but I'm sure an awesome gallery of tonight's emotional gig is coming soon.

Visitors, ex-pats and some bands often ask where all the younger local fans are ... and the answer has always been the same, at the shows that they like. The thing is, that the more popular Shanghai bands have been in a lull.

But that run came to an end tonight at YYT when high energy emo group Forget and Forgive came back for their EP release.

The show had all the hallmarks of the legendary 2009 Mushrooms show. It was packed out with younger Shanghainese fans who sang every word of all the songs and created energetic yet responsible pogo pits for the favourite songs. Sang-hei-nin pride was a big feature of all three band's banter tonight. Back to the pogo. I lost my phone during 'Parasite' but got all three pieces back shortly after, thanks guys. It still works. 

When the set was about to start I noticed that instead of a single keyboard, 小基 had a more sophisticated set up of midi equipment. The intro electronic music was really well produced and layered ... then the band came out and I realized they'd kinda physically grown up too. As their hard won fans went crazy for them and they went into the first tight emo-metal overture I saw a band that has taken big steps since their last round of gigs. It ended up being an emotional night that finished with one of those sitting down with back to the crowd commemorative photos. 

As with all genre bands, some will be dismissive if they are simply not fans of polished emo, and that's normal. But, this was a landmark gig by a developed local act and the kind of Yuyintang night that has been too sparse of late. So anyway, congratulations guys: you earned that one.

The only thing missing was fellow blog scribe / partner in local emo shows Jake Newby. 

Chui Wan, DFG, Psychic Ills @ YYT

chui wan bass
Wednesday night in Yuyintang and psychedelic stylings all round.

This show had buzz and it was already filling up when I arrived not that long after doors opening time. Also, despite already having the best sound in town for a rock venue, YYT had upgraded their equipment again.

Talking of sound, DFG sounded as clear as they ever have live. The show was amazing. We had all the sounds and layers of the band's eclectic composition together with the immediacy and passion of a live show. The closer, History, sent chills down my spine. Next stop Berlin for a festival appearance.

Chui Wan are a neo-psychedelia band with a different twist. Mixed with the usual tropes of the style are heavy Beijing scene influences. The band put on a good show and surprised the crowd by breaking up the slow instrumentals with vocal-led energetic songs and bright, reverb drenched guitars. Their album is out too, called White Nights. 

New York band Psychic Ills closed out the night. As opposed to the bright layering of the first two acts, they opened with hypnotic drones and riffs, another side of psychedelia. A great show all round. 

Bad Taste Show @ 390 Bar

bad taste 390
On Friday 9th I went to 390 Bar for the 'Bad Taste Show.' The line up:

There was a student band added at the last minute, who also brought along their friends and family. I think the idea was for them to go on early, right up top but due to set-up problems and having an extra band they basically made the show more than an hour late, longer if you count the start as being from when the first of the main bands started. Nice kids though.

Himdong were originally from out of town and their page features full band pics and electronic demos. The guitarist/singer/driver force has now moved to Shanghai. On the night, he played with a drummer as a duo and gave us a set of China post-punk.

Feima got early fame as a video of them playing 696 Livehouse got passed about a lot and they became known as a Carsick Cars cover band. This time they mixed a couple of CSC covers with some original material, I think. They are a promising band and remind me of the whole Gen 6 thing in Beijing. I mean, younger local players who are influenced by other Chinese bands. Both these acts should be around for a while.

Kaobang still have the same four demos and vids on their page but they have come far since then. They play indie pop music with dance beats and guitar lines both. The vocalist, Minirine, led them through a lengthy set that had their fans dancing. They have plenty of newer songs and I can't think of any other bands like them in Shanghai, if alternative dance is your thing.

Hollow Shadow live @ Yuyintang

xiaoyu hollow
I just got a time-flies-by type shock when I looked up my review of the YYT IDH show and saw it was just short of two years ago now. Shit.

So, it was the weekend before Halloween and Yuyintang had two seasonally appropriate shows on. Saturday was the now traditional dress up tribute band show ... and Sunday was the Hollow Shadow show: a side project of IDH's Xiao Yu that is a detailed tribute to Bauhaus, goth and darkwave (with mostly original material).

There was a strange choice of opener. A Japanese solo performer passing through on her one woman tour called Naoryu. Actually, she was extremely talented, using vocals, taps and looping to create layered beats and backing ... then adding flute and guitar lines, and finally she was an excellent technical singer. The Douban blurb reveals that she has even won competitions hosted by Boss for looped live compositions. Unfortunately she committed the unspeakable act of performing Utada Hikaru's First Love in a rock venue and shall be shortly appearing in the International Criminal Court.

Xiao Yu's Hollow Shadow set was really inspirational although the audience was sparse and people who seemed to know and appreciate it even sparser. He started out with a synth and effects set up that was surprisingly equipment heavy and varied. The opening tracks captured the pace and sounds of darkwave perfectly. Some tracks were instrumental, some had vocals. All were long, methodical and unafraid to slowly build ideas. The vocals, Xiao Yu has got the genre's vocal sound down pat like an expert impressionist. True to his usual form, he played a long set and changed up to guitar and loops at the end. Xiao Yu created a detailed genre world for an hour and half that was heaven for those who like the sound ... all five of us. Hopefully some of those at the venue who heartily and genuinely applauded First Love learned a thing or two about real layering of tone and emotion.

Skip Skip Ben Ben live @ 390 Bar

Skip Skip Ben Ben is the latest project of Taipei native and Beijing based Ban Ban, formerly of the ass-kicking shoe gaze band Boyz and Girl.

Quick point. In a recent post I mentioned them having a new album out. It's done and tracks are available but whole thing is not available to buy until the end of next month. 

Recently opened 390 Bar brought the band to Shanghai for a show and I was there to check it out. The band play an interesting mix of garage rock, Chinese post-punk, dreamy shoegaze vocals ... and what I'm going to call lofi psychedelia. 

There wasn't an opening act and the band led off with the track Last Light, which you can hear at the Douban page. Ban Ban's guitar sounded great, as usual. She manages to use dirty fuzz and reverb, filling out the sound, but at the same time picking out clear and clean lines. The only complaint was the vocals being a bit quiet, due to a busted speaker, but they got a great loud sound in the smaller bar. Having seen them before and being familiar with the songs, I think my brain must have been filling the vocals in a bit too. Anyway, see this band if you get the chance they are one of the current highlights of the China scene. 

Skip Skip Ben Ben album and Shanghai show

Beijing based indie band Skip Skip Ben Ben are the current project of long time Taipei / Beijing scene fixture 'Ban Ban.'

They play dirty sounding China scene indie mixed with Ban Ban's signature shoegaze/dreamy vocals. And they rock live. Now they have a new album out and are coming to Shanghai to play a show.

The album is called Sacrifice Mountain Hills. Go to the Douban page here:

... now scroll down past the show flyers and you'll see an MP3 player with two tracks from the new album. They are Sand and Last Light. These will be familiar to anyone who saw the YYT show. The production captures their style and feel perfectly. 

The show will be on Saturday October 20th at 390 Bar. Here is the event page. See you there.

Zhu Lu He Feng play a full 90 minutes again

Shanghainese label and booking agency Zhu Lu He Feng were once a big deal. They hosted Sonnet, a local fan favourite with real appeal and potential, and blazed a trail into the city's university campuses. 

Then a bunch of stuff happened last year that saw them lose their flagship venue ShanHai and leading acts Pinkberry and Sonnet. It went a bit quiet after that.

Now though, things are stirring again and the injured player is coming on as a sub.

A glance at the page shows that their previous exploratory deal with French act Nitwits has expanded to them having a 'France office' and it has yielded a number of new acts. Their expanded roster includes new local acts, international bands and now senior bands such as Plastic Chocolate. A look at the recent shows reveals a new university slot and an upcoming gig at ... hmmn, an address in Qingpu Town. It's Zher Bar.

Check out the roster at the Douban page, most Shanghai based readers will probably have come across Yao Yao, Give and Yin before but not Cherry Cherry who will have to put something at their page I suppose.

Shanghai Calling live @ Yuyintang

Pic: Girls Like Mystery, the hair demonstrates the genre better than any word can.

Shanghai Calling was put together by Mike from Girls Like Mystery on a Friday night at Yuyintang. I'm trying very hard to be plain and formal and leave the in-jokes/stories until the end. This was a great night and Mike in particular deserves credit for it. Line up:

Girls Like Mystery put themselves on first and played a passionate full length set. They play big emotion, big chorus Brit-rock and had a good crowd full of fans. They were really up for it. There was a great atmosphere and for a moment we were in a rock club in London or Manchester. Exhausted band members thanked the organizers and the other bands and the enthusiastic punters and then we all went home ... the next two hours of the night began. I think I'll start calling this the Shanghai Reverse Line Up (although I'm about three years late). 

Next up was the first guest/supporting act Stegosaurus. I missed their recent release show. The band have done an excellent job of capturing their strengths: layered vocals, humour and an ear for genre tropes. They have also made both albums available for free at Bandcamp here. Even better, the step up in quality also translated to an assured and confident live show. This turned out to be the theme of the night, bands giving committed performances that respect the audience. 

Candy Shop closed out the night. The local pop-rock group have been around the block on the scene and have a deliberate and polished act. This band give a balanced mix of energetic live music produced by a genuine band and Chinese pop. It allows them to play venues like YYT and also to close out Chinajoy. 

And now onto the in-jokes/blather. Rock's very own DJ B.O. was manning the tracks between bands and who should be standing right in front of the table there but DJ Spenny and crew. DJ Spenny is the head DJ and music manager at M1NT Shanghai's premier VIP/rich douche culture venue and the antithesis of rock scene values. Obviously this makes it the target of much ribbing and B.O. had put out a parody pic of Spenny's promo on Facebook. The reason I have to write this is guilt that Spenny actually was unassuming, enjoyed the show and even made a point of saying hi to B.O. and shaking his hand. Shit. Also, he is tall and gym'd out and could clack our heads together like Moe.

Saying that though, it doesn't excuse the existence of M1NT in today's world and we'll keep pushing for culture that inspires bottom-up and not worship of top-down. 

Streets Kill Strange Animals live @ Yuyintang

Streets Kill Strange Animals are exactly the kind of band in the China scene I really like. It's hard to get an exact description. Dark-noise-indie / China scene post-punk? PK14 are the obvious front runner. I like 8 Eyespy, Mr Ray, Birdstriking, Streets Kill, Residence A (non-pop half of the set), Carsick Cars, Marrow, Boys Climbing Ropes / Little Punk, Retros ... and there's a lot more. I'm just going off the top of my head. These are the bands that sound 'Chinese' to me ..or at least 'China scene' away from the odd view that bands must include some form of ethnic folk to be 'Chinese.' I guess Oasis aren't really British or Rock - no Celtic folk or morris dancing! Anyway, SKSA feel like an expression of the experience of living in Chinese cities, if that makes sense.

Of course, metal fans don't give a fuck for such non-metal musings.


Not much room for the review now. First thing you notice if you've been away from YYT - oh, it sounds and feels great, in a league of its own in Shanghai. X is Y performed as a two piece. As usual, it was a master class in dynamic control. Good energy tonight. Rainbow Danger Club have been touring the USA and just came back. They added a cellist and played all the hits. Check the Bandcamp for a full album.

Streets Kill Strange Animals were dead on. They showed the full range within that style while always keeping up enough energy to make a good live show. Eleven years in China, along with being really into those bands meant it was heaven for me. That's just me though. Great night at YYT all round.

Friday, will be a good day.

Pic: top: Streets Kill (the best photo from their own album on their page). Bottom: Friend or Foe

Sorry about the post title, it's a barely logical mash up of things to do with Ice Cube. All last week was a blur of wisdom tooth induced suffering / pills and I'm over it but in hangover mode.

This Friday has a bunch of shows but two that I'm especially interested in. Coincidentally, the people behind them sent me some info too. So:

Friday 14th September 2012

@Beedees Bar
Friend or Foe are back.
433 Dagu Lu, 10pm kick off


Friend or Foe have found a new bass player and are kicking off the next round. You can still hear their full album on Bandcamp here. They will have all kinds of goodies at the show and a remix album is on the way. They play modern punk rock with a great energetic show.

Streets Kill Strange Animals are an excellent Beijing based indie band in the mould of PK14. Listen to the first demo track on their page, linked via their name above, to see what I mean. They are a bit more eccentric than their other China-scene-dark indie-post-punk band contemporaries. Support from X is Y and Rainbow Danger Club.

Both shows will be a good time, choose one and go. Don't be that guy/gal sitting in their hometown the next year telling people you sang bullshit pop hits at KTV and drank at home all your time in Shanghai. Support people who do interesting/personal stuff and take part in sub-culture.

Video: Skip Skip Ben Ben @ Beijing's XP

XP is a new venue in Beijing. It is the latest incarnation of the now closed D22 Club. The people behind D22, and label Maybe Mars, are focused on the feeling and community behind their Zoomin Nights at the old club.

Here is a video of Skip Skip Ben Ben playing there. Skip Skip Ben Ben play an interesting mix of  dreamy J-pop ideas and a distinctly China-scene sounding dirt-noise-indie. Singer Ben Ben has 'got the rock' too, which anyone who has seen them live can attest too.

Logo Bar closed / under construction

logo bar
Picture: 'old' Logo

Warning! Extensive ramblings from personal experience. Read the last paragraph. If you have any good Logo stories, show remembrances or updates to this news - mail them in and they'll go straight up. 

Adam over at Luwan Rock is reporting that Logo Bar, a venue on the music scene, is now closed and under construction. He has photos. No official word on if it's done or if it's moving yet.

Keep an eye on the comments there for updates.

When I first got here, this thread of local music history hadn't started yet. Then Zhang Du (Zooma), a 90s generation Shanghai scene guy, opened up a music bar called Tang Hui in the location that would become the first Logo. It was an instant success with the party crowd but not really an active scene venue in the way that Harley's was, for example. Zooma then upgraded to Tang Hui VIP and Logo soon appeared in the old venue. Tai Bei was the owner and Maxime Lenik organised the music side. 

Side note: Tang Hui ran into trouble and Zooma returned to the Xingfu Lu strip with Anar, also now defunct. 

So Logo was a big hit, mainly as a hang out for music scene people away from the venues. Sketchy shows were put on too, a few live on as memorable events. I saw Cassette give a great performance there and they overcame the famously shitty sound set up for the benefit of about 20 people who knew who they were and had any real interest. The problem there was its own supporters. Die hard fans of the place did most of the drinking directly out front with beers bought at the store next door. Also, they got continuous trouble from noise complaints because of said revelers out front. No one made any kind of effort to reign in any of this to any kind of degree. The party ended, the venue moved and none of them made any lasting effort to support the new Sinan Road venue to the same level.

There was a gap between the old and new Logo opening, which was filled with their lounge bar venture Lune. Despite many attempts, it never gained any significance with the majority local scene. It really ended there (new Logo) when Maxime moved on to greener pastures earlier this year.

When I think back to great Logo moments, I think always of old Logo and of a scene and events propped up by the international community here. The Fucked Up show was legendary, and also displayed the worst self destructive tendencies, crowds on the street causing a disturbance and buying their drinks anywhere but from the bar itself. Hedgehog had a good early one, as did Snapline. Abe Deyo and R3/STD probably had a hand in most of these, right?

Can anyone think of a good show there that did not feature the hand of an ex-pat in promoting it? I guess it was a scene to itself. These are just ramblings: if anyone has a good retrospective they want to write, or has a favourite show they want to review - mail them in to me and I'll post them all. 

Video: Full live set from Fuzzy Mood

Beijing based band Fuzzy Mood play a mix of styles falling somewhere in the range of dream pop, post rock and shoegaze ... I dunno. They are good anyway, and liked. A cheer goes up when the first vocals begin. 

They are nice enough to have put up a whole set from this month. Enjoy.

Next Year's Love live @ 390

390 Shanghai is a new bar that has opened on Panyu Lu (yes, number 390) kinda opposite where Wills Gym is, just up from Fa Hua Zhen Lu.

One of the people behind the project is DJ Sacco, also of Uptown fame.

Last night, there was a warm up show. It was the Next Year's Love vinyl release show. Featuring:

The bar has a dedicated back room with sound equipment and a band / dance area. It's cozy and like an upmarket Logo of sorts. The bands sounded pretty good, if not as loud as the other, pure rock, venues. I see lots of fun nights in the future featuring electro-clash, alternative dance and two piece acts. 

Oh, and there's a video screen behind the men's pissoir so guys get to urinate onto famous movie stars. Bonus.

Video: Nova Heart vs. Pairs

The China scene has some amazing diversity. The first video is from Nova Heart and shot in Beijing. Singer Helen Feng is formerly of Free The Birds and Pet Conspiracy and is one of the biggest names in independent pop music.

The second video is Shanghai's Pairs playing Mao last year. The drums wipe some of the song out in the middle, but it's all good stuff. Pairs are IMHO the leading exponent here of a Lofi DIY aesthetic.

Top Floor Circus 0093 Revisited

0093 revisited cover
Shanghai's most beloved band are Top Floor Circus 顶楼的马戏团 (dinglou de maxi tuan), shortened to Dingma. 

They are a punk band who started out influenced by G.G.Allin but were most notable for singing in Shanghainese and frontman Lu Chen's ability to connect with local fans on a cultural level. These days they fill Mao Livehouse when they put on a special show and were also banned for the duration of the Expo after a song making fun of it went viral on Youku.

In 2006 they released the album 0093 Revisited (蒂米重访零陵路93号 Dimi chongfan linglingjiusan hao lit. Timmy returns to 0093).

The album is both punk rock in the traditional sense and imbued with the band's own local identity as Shanghainese-Chinese. This is done without the single pluck of an Erhu or any kind of conforming to orientalist stereotypes. The insert is done in Shanghainese with Mandarin and English translations and lengthy explanations of the jokes and cultural references. 

Fan Gallery of Shanghai themed album covers (for their 2010 release) a hilarious insight into local Shanghainese culture and humour.

The opening track Heaven Here We Come 天堂,我们来了 (tiantang women laile) is a manifesto that stands for the whole album. The Punk riffs start and Lu Chen's voice kicks in with a glorious Shanghainese drawl. They spell it all out, nothing is working, the equipment is going to shit but never mind they're going to push on til the end anyway. The hilarious DIY video for the track has since been removed from Youku. 

The Douban page has a 115 link for free download of their entire discography but that FTP service has just last week been shut down by the man. Watch this space for more. Meanwhile, check out 0093 Revisited here on Xiami.

Video: Residence A live set

Here is a video of the complete Residence A set from Yuyintang last weekend. The sound quality is good too. At the least, check out the first track. Enjoy.


Video: Hedgehog new album and tour

This video is a track from Hedgehog's new album Sun Fun Gun called Heart On Fire (燃烧的心).

Hedgehog are a Beijing power trio who started playing catchy grunge tunes in 2005 and have now matured into their own sound and style. They broke through with a (still) endless run of great live performances and Sun Fun Gun will be their 5th studio album. 

Happy Idle Kid
Noise Hit World
Blue Daydreaming
Honeyed and Killed
Sun Fun Gun

There are tracks from all four of the previous albums here on their page, under the music tab.
And they will stop at Yuyintang on the tour - Friday April 13th

Jue Festival starts proper today

If you have had your head stuck up your own asshole this year, it will come as a complete surprise to you that the Jue Festival kicks off in earnest today with Death Cab For Cutie at the Yunfeng Theatre.

Click on the flyer there for large.

Also, Shanghai 247 have a wonderful dedicated page to the festival.

And from that page you can download the PDF of the schedule. The Jue festival is a cross city event that lasts three weeks and includes many music, art and creative events at many different venues.

There is a mix of international and local talent, something for everyone. There are DJ parties by Love Bang including Bicep, there are rock/indie gigs with Death Cab, Boys Climbing Ropes, Residence A and many more. There are photography nights, comps, a vodka mixing event and even a hacker space workshop on how to build your own synths.

It goes on and on and I can't possibly cover it all in this short post. So follow the links, get the schedule and get out and do something which is not part of the work-bar-DVD cycle.

Skip Skip Ben Ben live @ YYT

Thursday night at Yuyintang was part of the Splitworks' Jue Festival program and also the fifth installment of the ongoing series of shows hosted by Wooozy. The idea is to bring in Chinese acts from other cities who the Wooozy staff think are interesting. Tonight it was the latest project from Taipei musician Ban Ban (斑斑) who is now permanently based in Beijing.

Shanghai's Next Year's Love opened to a decent enough crowd and the high points of the set were the up-tempo tracks like I Know.

Skip Skip Ben Ben used to be a stripped down side project to Ban Ban's old band BOYZ&GIRL, who gave us one of the best shows YYT has seen. Now it's her main concern and they have a full, electric line up. They play dirty Beijing indie and they played loud. Ban Ban, an experienced player whose first band Freckles had a seven year run, is in command of her guitar and playing and she channeled her energy through it the whole set. 

If you go to the Douban page and scroll right down below the events, you can find live recording of Yeah Yeah Yeah, La'lasta and Parking from their most recent material. 

Free show at Uptown Records

Couple of caveats for this one. I must disclose that my significant other plays in one of the bands at this event. And, as you've all noticed, I don't do listings or previews unless it's something unusual or whatever.

So, Uptown is a totally awesome record store with vinyl and record players. They are having a promotional show, for free, on 17th March. Click on the flyer for a larger one with all the details.

The line up features an eclectic line up of interesting acts and it should be a great event.

Alpine Decline (Beijing via L.A.)
Torturing Nurse (Shanghai harsh-noise)
Stalin Gardens (SH experimental rock)

Stalin Gardens have recently changed their name from Rank Moist Vegetation. 

This seems like a kind of perfect underground type event to me. And, it's actually underground. See you all there.

D22 Closing: Full Interview with founder Michael Pettis

Update: The last show will, in fact, be on the 13th and feature Shanghai's Moon Tyrant, among others.

So, yeah, the rumours are true, the iconic Beijing club D22 is closing. 

The Beijing music scene has many groups, venues and communities, each with their own styles. D22 was the club that Maybe Mars, the label, was built around. 

The group will be opening another venue and the label will continue to scout new talent and do what they do better than anyone else in the China scene - get a diverse crop of releases out there on a regular basis.

Before we get to the full text of the interview I want to throw in my own two cents: the whole China scene is still officially underground with no real industry and many obstacles in its way. Everything we do, we do ourselves. Anyone who puts on shows, who helps bands put out music and who creates something deserves basic respect. To those who want to attack or hate based on personal music tastes and petty spite - you're not helping.

1) So it's official now D22, the venue, is closing. When are the last shows, and can you talk about what happened?
I think the last show will be January 10. We had originally planned to close April 1, on our sixth anniversary, but the owners of the space wanted us to spend a large amount of money to fix up certain things, and we decided it wasn't worth it. This year, as you probably know, is not a year in which anyone wants something embarrassing to happen. 

We Are Shanghai CD and show on the way

Update: If you look carefully at the flyer you will note their are two shows. The YYT show on the Friday then another the next day at Logo with a different line up.

Note: I killed the flyer a bit re-sizing it on shitty software, sorry guys.

I just randomly got my hands on a copy of the new compilation album We Are Shanghai. What's that you ask. Well, first up you can follow updates at their Douban site here:

This album is a joint effort by Zangnan Records, Luwan Rock and Twin Horizons. It is designed to bring together some of the bands that have been kicking around the scene these past couple of years.

Wait - there's an awesome release show coming up for this:

Credit where it's due, the guys behind the album reached out beyond their own immediate circle to get some real diversity in there. So as well as tracks from Rainbow Danger Club and Moon Tyrant, for example, you also have tracks from Sonnet and Dragon Pizza. Go to the party to get a CD, do it.

Here's the track listing:

1. Duck Fight Goose - Light is God's Bread
2. Boys Climbing Ropes - The Knitting Song
3. Stegosaurus? - Stinky Tofu
4. The Beat Bandits - Sukiyaki Beat
5. Break for Borneo - Complicated
6. Friend or Foe - Crazy Eye
7. The Dangxin Mofos - Geeky Boy
8. Rainbow Danger Club - Drown The Creatures
9. X is Y - Never Sever
10. Pairs - I Wanna Die in the Ocean
11. Dragon Pizza - Bomb Cola
12. Moon Tyrant - I am the Way
13. The Fever Machine - Heartbrokenbleedin' Again
14. The Instigation - No Way Out
15. The Horde - Beijing Sucks
16. Sonnet - Perfect Son
17. The Song Dynasty - Slow
18. Top Floor Circus - 进来白相相 (Jin Lai Bai Xiang Xiang)

Duck Fight Goose album release party @ Yuyintang

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

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

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

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

Video: Rank Moist Vegetation @ YYT student band showcase

So, this Sunday, Pairs organised an afternoon show for bands whose members are still students in school or college. There was a time when all student age bands here played metal. Now it seems to have changed to discordant noise rock. 

Here are Rank Moist Vegetation playing their song Osteosarcoma (demo on the Douban page), then Tudou should serve you up Pt. 2 after that, an awesome Flipper cover. Show some love for the emerging talent, especially when they take risks like this. Awesome.

Duck Fight Goose release (reminder)

dfg flyer rel
It's here.

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

Look at that line up. 

And it's Friday night too.

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

Tudou: Manbanpai go to the Strawberry Festival

More video, this time from Shanghai indie pop outfit Manbanpai. Manbanpai is the full line up project of Zhu Lu He Feng Folk singer Hama and songwriter Fish

In this slickly put together vid, the band plan a set list on the train to the festival, arrive at the grounds then play a set. It's all nice, light and vaguely uplifting. The band's logo says: Slow life is good ... so enjoy music.

Wooozy presents Xiao Huoche Xin @ Yuyintang

xiao huoche xin
Thursday night and oddly three decent shows on. A rock opera at Mao - I shit you not, an annoying glorified advert at Shanhai and the Wooozy night at Yuyintang.

I love both the Beijing bands appearing at said advert too. Retros and White+. Coincidentally, I saw them at Uptown buying vinyl earlier in the evening. Vinyl is crack for Beijing musos I'm told. Uptown is full of it, and also affordable players too. 

So, this was the third night at Yuyintang. The aim is to have a monthly show that brings in a new and upcoming Chinese band from another city. This time:

Shanghai's Next Year's Love

There was just about enough people in as things got going. Next Year's Love now have a decent set and some good new tunes. They seem to have kept an equal balance between the retro-shouty uptempo tunes and the dis-chordant experimental tracks. Xiao Huo Che Xin were really interesting. I don't think they had the best night for sound or performance but every song had a completely different stylistic approach. They had everything from retro electronica to Gish era Smashing Pumpkins style moody plodding. It was linked together by humorous Chinese samples and recorded clip conversations. By the end of the set you felt you'd been on a journey with the band.

The team behind this night are doing a good job and this is fast becoming my go to night for something different and surprising.

PB festival video, University tours and more

I still have blog issues of many kinds. In the last post I gave out some clues for using Douban to track bands. Here's a few things floating around.

Label Zhu Lu He Feng are starting round four of their university tour. I can't stress the importance of this. This is completely new ground that label head honcho has cracked then built up to the point of being able to put on a 12 date campus tour - in about two years. 

Here's round four

L.A. two piece Alpine Decline have done a handsome Furs and relocated to Beijing: here's their new Douban page.

And here's a video of Pinkberry at one of the many festivals across the summer. It's Shanghai, there's a beach. Must be Zebra.

Bone, DFG, X is Y live @ Yuyintang

bone flyer
Saturday night in YYT and it's time for the Bone China tour. Here was the line up:

I was in for a surprise. I hadn't taken time to check out Bone online and only glanced at the other bands in the line up and a brief bracketed description on X is Y's page that said Bone were an Australian math rock group.

Duck Fight Goose went on first. Which means I only caught the last two songs of the set. Sorry guys.

X is Y had a drummer change and then a summer without the new drummer. They have been playing as a duo and also experimenting with the songs and some new sounds. Tonight they were back with the full line up and usual style. Moody, punchy math rock that is a delight for musicians and genre fans. Nothing has been lost in the change, the new drummer slotted right in. Lots of tracks on their page.

Bone were awesome. They actually describe themselves as a punk band. They played loud and brutal with most of the songs having a grinding off-pace beat. They were really professional too, with great stage presence, really worth the ticket money. Their music is somewhere between punk and darker post-punk, I dunno, again - loads of tracks at their page. Great night all round, finishing off three shows in three nights for me. 

Pairs Summer Sweat album launch

Thumbnail image for pairscandid
Due to the recently discussed technical difficulties on the blog, these posts are coming out in a random order. And hastily.

Last Friday was the Pairs Summer Sweat album release at Yuyintang. Lets get the important link done first:

Here is the entire new album at bandcamp

Start listening as you read. Two bands there on the night:

Great night and great turnout. Pairs put up an excellent by-donation merch table with an array of goodies that included both their albums. It was a big hit and very well done. Take note, everyone else. 

Ho-Tom played his urban folk (that's what I'm calling it now) with a full line up that included a box player. He rules. Then, the action moved to the floor. Pairs played in the middle of the pit and a lot of the audience went up on the stage. It was cool and worked well, although it ultimately cut out a bunch of people who couldn't see and went back out into the park. There were enough people to fill the floor using the normal set up. So in the end it felt like a private party for friends, with good feelings and extended thank yous between the final tracks. 

Next - world domination!

Seriously though, never mind my write up, go to Bandcamp immediately.

Glow Curve live @ Yuyintang

glow curve
Note: due to technical problems this post is way behind and lacking in meaningful details sorry

Glow Curve played Yuyintang on a Thursday night with Shanghai's own Duck Fight Goose. Check the pages to hear the tunes:

So this was a night of progressive sounds and post-rock stylings. And before hopelessly pedantic, borderline OCD, people have meltdowns ... I use the accepted definition of post-rock, that is, music played with a rock line up that doesn't follow the traditional patterns of rock music. 

Duck Fight Goose were up first with their new set of songs that are now becoming familiar to me through the shows. It was a Thursday combined with the recent late starts and Douban limitations. So the room was pretty empty. And then the sound really ballsed up. Synths went missing and carefully constructed layers blurred. I still enjoyed History, which will achieve legendary status once the CD is out. In case you've never seen them, they have moved away from the sound on the Flow EP (and the Douban page) and added elements of post-punk, synth punk and that German 70's experimental that all the kids dig right now. They still, however, remain distinctly individual and Han Han's fingerprints are on everything.

Glow Curve, formerly Maze, are from Beijing.  They played a set of more standard post-rock that builds and builds. They played it well and had two tracks with normal rock vocals too, claiming a bit of personal style in the genre. Their performance was a bit like a rehearsal though, debating with each other between tracks then starting again without looking at us. If you are up in Beijing you should check out the singer's digs ... the awesome venue/workspace Raying Temple. 

The Mushrooms all we need is u @ Mao

This was not just any show. The Mushrooms are a huge deal to Shanghai fans.

They got signed by David Tao's new label and then all but disappeared for a year and half. Then suddenly, they are back asking people via Douban to sell out Mao and that if they get 1000 people then the new album will come out. 

This with no mainstream media backing from their label - the show was only promoted through Mao and Douban as usual. The brought up many questions, including:

After the long lay off do people still care about the band or the songs?
Could they really just ask like that then sell out Mao?
Are there enough active Shanghainese fans on the scene these days to fill Mao at all?

Would this gig flop and make me look like a total fuck-up for insisting in recent interviews that, personal tastes aside, this band were still the biggest deal to many local fans on the scene? 

Lezi opening new Livehouse in Shanghai

Shanghai is getting a new livehouse.

I tentatively joined the Douban group for this when it formed but now the story has been officially broken here ...

... I'll go on to talk about this a bit.

There are actually lots of half-decent livehouses in Shanghai, enough to make a scene like in Beijing. The problem is that in Shanghai the man makes it extremely difficult to run them and most people cannot be bothered. There are also other factors but I don't want to get into mudslinging. This new place, Shan Hai (山海) will be up on Aomen Lu and will actually be the third livehouse in that area along with Dream Factory and Kento's Livehouse. Think about that, three venues there in walking distance all between the 2-400 people mark. With good management, the right equipment and respect for the music and musicians, it could be a world beating live scene all by itself up there.

Then near me we still have Sus2 and Harley's. They both have custom live music spaces that hold 50-100 people and really suit rock gigs. Especially Harley's. The boss of Sus2 was the founder of the original Sus2 (Gua'er) factory space in Yang Pu - the first ever YYT type underground space. 

Everyone knows the functioning ones, Yuyintang, Mao, Live Bar and Logo. Shows can also go on at Lune and there's Corner Bar in Songjiang Town and 696 in Hong Kou. Singer-songwriters get Beedees, Anar and Fanfare too. Oh, and large acts can play The Mixing Room in Pudong also - but I hesitate to think of it as a 'part of the scene.' So what's the count so far ... 16 including the new one.

Sixteen. And I'm sure I've missed someone, it always happens. Take from that what you will, but if everyone had a similar attitude to the YYT people, things could really happen. Just saying.

As for the new place. Lezi runs the Zhu Lu He Feng label which now has a stable of performers and it's own genuine following. That venue is probably going to be a de facto home base for the group as a whole. It makes sense. I have hopes for it although these places don't have to be so big. One hint though. The last bar managed by the same people was Mao Livehouse's first location so let's hope there's an improvement on that to go with the good musical possibilities.

Moon Tyrant, Loudspeaker live @ Yuyintang

Friday night was this show featuring bands that play loud and only charge 25 RMB for the show also. Great.

In order of appearance:

Fearless are still missing a drummer and played their set acoustically. What was interesting is that they really played the exact same songs and notes (usually melodic death metal) but instrumental with no drums and on acoustics. 

Loudspeaker have been playing for over ten years in Shanghai and have modified their style a couple of times. Right now they are metal-core and play hard and fast. They have an EP knocking around you can get called "I will be back". Drummer Wang Lei has a high reputation on the scene and he showed up tonight driving the set with his frenetic and yet effortless looking beats. An interesting aside, Brad Ferguson is currently working at Yuyintang and the first time I saw Loudspeaker was when he put them on at Harley's Bar a few years ago. Deja Vu.

Moon Tyrant were the organisers of the event and got on a little late as Loudspeaker did a full set. They play modern metal sprinkled with some diverse interests that individual members bring to the music. All the familiar songs from Future Superhuman were on display but I was really taken with a newer track "Galactus, My Heart." Not only did it have a memorable bass intro and good dynamics ... it's about Galactus. Did I mention it's about Galactus? You don't know Galactus? Sliver Surfer? Galactus? No? Then, seriously, f**k you. That is all.

Trash Sauces feat. Duck Fight Goose @ Yuyintang

trash sauce dfg
Due to the rigors of being legal in China, Yuyintang's shows are starting later and are advertised less on Douban. This is clearly having an effect on the audiences with younger locals taking the hit. But still we push on ...

This Trash-a-Go-Go show had two talking points - The Beat Bandits are calling it a day after this weekend, and Duck Fight Goose were playing. As it happened:

Phantom Five

What a pity about The Beat Bandits. This was the third time I'd seen them but by far the best performance. The sound was good and all the shuffling and chugging that is so essential to Surf Rock was tight and energetic. Well, go out on top, I guess.

Phantom Five were new to me. They are a pub-rock type band headed by Jeff of BeeDees Bar. And that's what they did. Solid, professional pub rock. A bit out of place I thought but that's just me.

Much has been said of Duck Fight Goose. They came out as a Miniless Records supergroup and wowed music fans with their experimental stylings on the Flow EP. They combined the band's avant-garde leanings with solid tracks that rocked live ... and then ... abandoned all of it for a completely new set. The new material, soon to be released through Maybe Mars, combines the band's previous style with the current fetish for all things cool in the late 70's and early 80's. You could apply any number of subjective applied-in-hindsight terms ... post-punk, synth rock, German experimental and so on. The results were amazing.

Some of the new tracks are obviously more restrained than the older material. Once the CD is out, Glass Walls, the set opener, will become a huge underground hit here. But as the set went on we were treated to a wide range of sounds, beats and concepts that left most of us in a trance-like state of awe. Behind the tables of effects and mixers, the subtly simple and crystal clear rhythm section held it all together perfectly. They have developed a distinct sound and there's no easy comparisons to be made. At the show, I think I witnessed it all come together.

Then I went home, sorry, Battle Cattle.

Rock Nadaam @ Mao Livehouse

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

A-Sound (Mongolia)
The Lemons (Mongolia)

Guests: Beat Bandits

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone want to talk about The Lemons in the comments?

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

Summer Screaming live @ Yuyintang

dragon pizza summer
The latest event from promoters Playful Warrior brought us a mixture of styles, but all in the -core / heavy music category. The line up:

Murder Party (Nanjing)
From The Red (Nanjing)

I liked all the bands but objectively speaking, Dragon Pizza are the ones to watch there.

I saw three of the bands with full attention. From The Red were a 50-50 mix of grinding metal / screaming ... and big Emo choruses with riffing. It worked though. Plenty of people in and up for some moshing. Next were Dragon Pizza. They are still playing mainly the same songs from last year. They play metalcore and have their trademarked frenetic changes of style and pace. Two bars of double time hardcore jumps into a skate punk chorus back into a spacious funk riff with slap bass and back to hardcore. The guys play well and Yuki's bass always grabs the attention. They know how to work the crowd too. 

Broken Promises are a newer metal band from Shanghai who have now racked up a lot of shows with this collective. Their biggest weapon is the vocalist Nv Wang. She is 100% metal, tattooed and has the look to front a metal band. Metal fans here like them and they did well. 

Xiao He & Jeffery Lewis live @ Yuyintang

xiao he yyt
Pictured: Xiao He

Saturday night at Yuyintang and promoter Abe Deyo had brought Jeffery Lewis to China with Beijing's Xiao He in tow. That's 'she-ow her' for non pinyin readers.

This show started late at ten, but even then people trickled in and the place really filled up just in time for Jeffery Lewis to start his set. There are, of course, reasons for the later starts, the same reasons that YYT had to take down all flyers from Douban earlier in the week. It's more trouble to be fully licensed and legal than not apparently. 

Xiao He used to front the band Mei Hao Yaodian (translated usually as Glorious Pharmacy by the band in those days). They were a virtuoso ensemble playing a mix of styles that leaned into jazz, blues and funk. Now Xiao He plays experimental folk. He took the stage with a guitar and his laptop/effects. The songs were long and often based on vocal loops. He wandered from the audience at times, as he is wont to do, but the reception was good. His combination of throaty folk vocals/chants, folk guitar and noise loops, with a dose of Chinese indigenous sounds, seems to create a unique blend.

Jeffery Lewis suits Yuyintang. He brought the merch, including his own comic books. He played with a bassist and drummer mixing his anti-folk and also straight rock and punk. Some tracks used YYT's screen to show visuals that he'd drawn himself. All in all a kind of underground/independent buffet. 

0093 Four Year Anniversary @ Yuyintang

0093 four years
Has it really been four years since 0093 started putting on its showcase gigs? Let me see, when did I review the fourth show at Shanghaiist? ... yup, early 2008.

Another anniversary: it's August 2011 I've been in Shanghai for ten years.

Strangely, this show was pretty much exactly like the early show I reviewed back there - many bands, mainly newer or playing covers, with two experienced bands in to round things out (Joker and Runaway Snails)

胶壳乐队 Joker
暴走蜗牛 Runaway Snails
大囍福乐团 Bigger Xifu
布莱梅乐团 Bremen
Forsaken Autumn

I like Forsaken Autumn. They are newer and clearly still on the journey, but they have their original songs, all in a consistent shoegaze style and there are moments in their set where you get that dreamlike atmosphere. Keep it up.

Joker were solid although it's always odd to hear a traditional blues band in the middle of a bunch of indie rock. Most people were here to see the Runaway Snails. Despite the late start for them, they had die-hard fans who stuck around, even waving a big felt tomato at singer tomato. He (Fanqie) started off as a folk singer-songwriter and ran the older collective Folk 0093.

They have a slightly altered line up that includes Top Floor Circus' Mei Er. For newer readers, this band play a mix of folk-rock, spoken word, cabaret and TV theme tune music with an emphasis on humor and banter. In fact, listening to them at the show I realised they've arrived at a style that makes them like a more populist version of Shanghai's Lei Ren. I should take back some stuff I've said about those guys.

The main difference from four years ago until now? Back then it was 20 paying customers and all the other band's members ... now Music Fever and 0093 fill a venue on a Friday night with real fans.

Tiger Beer Battle/Yuguo live @ Yuyintang

kaine frank art
Friday just gone at Yuyintang was the Tiger Beer Battle of the Bands with guest performance by Yugou. Including the battle bands the main show went like this:

Magic (Moshu Shi)

Also playing out the night were Nanjing's 谜库 (Miku) but I didn't see them, sorry guys. 

Music Fever's Fanchie Chaodan and Sunny were brought in to run this event artistically and they killed it. Check the photo, an interesting offshoot was that Frank Fen and Kaine were doing the live art out back in the park so it ended up being punk. Loved how the real lights at the top were incorporated into the painting. 

The bands did fine but when Yuguo came on it was clear that they were the biggest draw and they played a decent set. The room was full up and the fans knew the words and chanted their names. For those who may be new to the scene, Yuguo came to Shanghai from Jiangxi to be a full time band and are one of those most professional acts around. They play a kind of brit-pop style that has infused parts of their Chinese influences and lyrics and are very popular with local fans.

Most of all, it was a unique opportunity to catch up with a whole slew of people from the scene. All the O3/0093 crew were there, the Music Fever people and even some old faces like Frank Fen, once of punk act Mortal Fools. Most of YYT's extended family was in tow too, and even Brad Ferguson was there, managing the bar.

Now I've done my Perez Hilton thing, I just want to say that's 2 for 2 for music promotion collectives and their summer events. Both Playful Warrior/the metal crowd and Music Fever have killed their summer event bringing YYT up to and over the 400 mark. No pressure, whoever is next.

Frosty Eve & Fearless live @ Yuyintang

faction.jpgPhoto from 41shoots on Douban.

Saturday night was the 17-live Summer Metal Festival show at Yuyintang. It featured these three bands:

Frosty Eve (Beijing)

I almost didn't go. I got off work late, was pretty sick and tired. But then I got texts from three separate friends already there saying that there was already over 400 people through the door and it was all going off. So I promptly got my ass there.

This hasn't happened for ages it seems. All local bands and packed to the rafters with mainly local fans too. I was surprised I could get in at all and haven't seen that many people in there since Reflector last came down. It seems that Beijing's Frosty Eve are a big draw as 90% of the audience were Chinese metal fans in full gear.

I arrived as Shanghai's Fearless were a couple of songs into their set and they were killing. The floor was crammed and heaving with headbangers and fans crowded along the stairs and sides. Fearless give the full metal/axe hero performance and the fans ate it up. At the end of their set there were cries for their The Trooper cover, it came and much moshing was done, again. This was an all time best performance from the guys.

By the time Frosty Eve got on, the park out back was full of sweaty shirtless bodies and also an equal amount of rock ladies too. It's metal all round in Shanghai. I thought people would be too tired and hot to go again but obviously a lot of people were here for the Beijing band. The majority of the crowd were able to sing along for pretty much every song they played. I felt they lacked the energy and presence that Fearless showed but they were good and they were playing to fans. 

The festival continued with an after party at the new metal bar on Yongjia Road, Inferno.

8 Eye Spy/Good Jive live @ Yuyintang

8 eye spy logo
We made it to the third gig in four days of our mini-marathon. Congratulations.

So, I chose Good Jive over Raybans, going for an honest gig with risk-taking music, organised by people I respect, over shallow promotion and hipster appeal. 

And walked into a giant video set/photo shoot for Dell/Intel and their Noisey project. And I paid for the privilege and it was not declared on the flyer or anywhere else. Seriously WTF! To top it off, it seems that Dell X Vice = assholes. Their multiple camera vid set up and stills photographer took the front row, and all the energy, for the entire headliner set. And yes, the stills camera had a powerful flash and shot continuously from start to finish mostly front center and often back into our faces. No respect for the community, the paying fans or the general culture of the scene and venue. It was really like being on an ad set and stuff like, oh I don't know, being able to see the singer past the held-up cam and continuous flash, was apparently of no concern to these dicks. 

So the show basically existed to give Dell some soft ad material. Nice.

The bands were:

X is Y have a member on holiday right now and they gamely stepped in at the last minute as a duo. Credit to them, they took creative advantage of this and did something different with the songs. It worked and was a good opener for the show. They also played tracks with female lead vocals, which is new for them and also worked.

Next Year's Love played their fullest set yet, in their short career. The sound was really good in YYT and we could hear the guitar better than usual. The song Xiao Ge Ge went off particularly well and there was some good energy in the songs. Their retro synth riffs and experimental edge were a good fit for a Good Jive show too.

8 Eye Spy were awesome despite the continuous distractions, which also prevented the crowd from properly letting loose. They really came across like a weekend headliner. Loud, experienced and assured on stage, they crashed through a great set that mixed the no-wave sound and the Chinese scene post-punk sound. I was surprised at how many songs had up tempo regular rock beats in them too. Great band. 

Mr Graceless live @ Yuyintang

Thursday night and Splitworks blog Wooozy kicked off its first monthly showcase of Chinese bands at Yuyintang. The line up:

The show was run earlier from 8 to accommodate a younger local crowd, which it got, but almost didn't start due to the man showing up. But start it did with Forsaken Autumn.

The Shanghai based shoegazers did a solid job helped on by great sound. They describe themselves as slowcore dreampop at their page. There was a good helping of noise and fuzz in their wall of sound at times too. 

Mr Graceless are a Beijing based indie rock group. They are a finished product and have signed to label Maybe Mars. They ripped into an upbeat set of typical Beijing style rock with good dual vocal harmonies and Beatles-esque chorus melodies. The audience loved them and they played with energy. The set was interrupted at one point by the return of the man, who even took the stage at one point - always a popular move. But the show eventually resumed and the band finished their set.  Good night all round, job well done.

July blogathon begins tonight

next years love
Alright then. Before I get into the this, don't forget there's a full article on the Saturday shows and bands here and a full article on the Thursday Wooozy showcase here.

Ok, so I'm blogging again. It's the summer and I've been to the doc's and anti-Shanghai summer meds have been acquired. Andy 2.0 is ready for a three shows in four days blogathon.

That's not quite up to Kungfuology's previous record. And I can't find the post on that one, arse.

Join me if you will:

Tonight (Wed): Swedish band Kite & Next Year's Love @ Logo
Thursday:  Mr Graceless at YYT
Friday: rest or perhaps folk night at Mao if you don't need a rest
Saturday: Mushrooms/Snapline @ mao or Duck Fight Goose/8 Eye Spy @ YYT

It begins. Seriously, Logo is small, if you're in on this, do say hi.

July 9th a big one, decisions

mushrooms at yyt
Saturday July 9th is going to be a tough one. The two main venues both have potentially amazing nights lined up. That's not to say there's nothing else on, by the way.

In the red corner:


In the blue corner:

Mao Livehouse

The Good Jive show is focused on music that takes more risks and a glance at the line up throws up words like Krautrock, Synth Punk, No Wave and Experimental. 8 Eye Spy are from Nanjing and have a great CD on Maybe Noise, they don't come around here so often. The Mao show has The Mushrooms, Shanghai's breakout band that were signed to David Tao's indie label. The show is an odd mix of genres though. Commercial emo-rock, retro synth pop/rock, noise rock and straight emo. Plus it's branded, ugh.

Never Hide, unless it's behind a pair of Ray-bans of course.

But the line up.

FoF, Death To Giants live @ Yuyintang

I spent all Monday night believing it was Friday and feeling anxious about work the next day. Because I was at Yuyintang listening to bands.

Why? New Zealand band Die Die Die have been touring China and seem to have got on with everyone so well that they threw an extra free show on the Monday. Bonus.

Death to Giants

Friend or Foe were strong as usual and you still have one more chance to see them before the original line up splits as bassist Fish leaves these shores. I'm talking about this gig on Saturday. Also playing Logo on Saturday are new Shanghai duo Death to Giants.

This was their second ever gig and the first time I have caught them. They were awesome. And they are pictured above setting up for the show. Death to Giants combine the punk, playful intensity of modern lo-fi duos with a dose of virtuoso technical playing and vocal harmonies. They've got it all. The real highlight of this was when they asked the audience to shout out two random numbers, from which they made a time signature, and a topic. Then they improvised an entire song called 'Monkeys and Popcorn.' 

So, Saturday then.

Knife Party live @ Yuyintang

Friday night at Yuyintang and time for promoter Playful Warrior's latest hard rock/metal night. This time they opted to let newer and lesser known bands fill the bill.

The line up:

Good turn out for semi-unknown bands on a rainy night and The Knife Party stood out for me. They are young guys, they introduced one of their guitarists as being 15, and played solid metal with speed and good technique. They list their style as metalcore officially. Where they don't yet have the mature presence of performers in bands like Chaos Mind or Rakasasa, they have power in the music. Frontman Dennis really got the fans going and I hope to see them at bigger events soon. 

And the back of Dennis's shirt said "Christians to the lions." Nice.

Push Shove Blog China Mix

pupu studio
Image: Pupu of The Mushrooms in the studio this year.

Alright, alright. Jake is out of town and I'm done my writing thing I've been doing. So here's a post.

Nick Peden and his China culture blog The Push Shove have just put out a great mix of Chinese music. 

It includes three tracks from last summer's Qu project I was in, so full disclosure there, but the tracks are in there by Nick's personal choice and the tracks are in the public domain. There was no planning or anything.

I've been at selected gigs too, just not writing. 

I was at this one.

Comments will still stay off as long as I'm not back at it on a regular basis, the spam is just too much to handle if I'm not logging in every day. Use the e-mail in the about page to update or add and I'll add good stuff to the posts.

I'm Still Here

Thumbnail image for by Wee Ling
Update: Brad pointed out that the comments are off on the blog and he couldn't give us the update on DFG. Comments are off because I'm not posting or checking here much now and the spam build up is just too much to handle.

As for DFG, the new material will be added to soon and will be the basis for future shows and the first full length recording. 

... and so is Jake. We're not growing beards and stalking Diddy though. Before I write on, remember that this blog goes on over at Jake's bit:

Also, just because I'm not blogging doesn't mean I'm incommunicado. Feel free to mail or meet for the usual reasons. People still are.

I've been to some shows lately. Hedgehog played Yuyintang to promote their new album, which is ace. Great turnout of local fans who all knew the words. It was packed and action ensued, felt just like the classic nights of 2008/09 at YYT. 

Went to the launch party of Shanghai 24-7, also at YYT. Saw Ho-Tom, X is Y, Duck Fight Goose and BCR. All good. Duck Fight Goose played a set of entirely new songs in a re-tooled style. Blimey. Better get along to their next shows to check it out, I'm not sure if that will be the standard from now on. Brad?

And here's a thought. On the Saturday Moon Tyrant had their CD release party too, solid rock with a big R but sprinkled with distinct vocal stylings and hat tips to a wide variety of influences. You can check it out here:

Like many Shanghai bands they have now arrived at a point where they have a solid show and an album of tunes. I got to thinking. Shanghai bands that put out a decent album and have a decent show developed. Hmmnnn. It seems that bands who just do it true indie style - as in by themselves - are much more productive than bands who have 'deals' with 'real labels' here. 

Off my head, fully active Shanghai based bands with decent recordings that did it themselves, Yuguo, BCR, Pairs, Fever Machine, Moon Tyrant, Stegosaurus, X is Y, Rainbow Danger Club, Duck Fight Goose, Triple Smash (last year) ... i'm sure I'm missing loads. Cold Fairyland probably self financed their stuff. Anyone? More?

What about the output of Shanghai based Labels? You know, the ones whose job is to release music to the public. Pinkberry have their EP and play a lot, although a lot of the shows are brand promotions.

Any thoughts one the situation. Me and Jake always mull over the idea that getting signed here seems to sharply decrease productivity if anything.

Ghost is offline, for a while

andy farm
Oh-oh, announcement time.

After a busy year of music stuff and seeing our blogs reach their highest viewership yet ... I'm taking a large break from it. Well, from all things internet except the odd bit of reading/lurking.

So I'll not be posting or commenting here or anywhere until I get some other things sorted out, and it'll be a matter of months.

So, if you're not interested in the reflective stuff and don't know me personally you can stop reading right here and continue to follow Kungfuology's scene coverage with Jake.

The reason for the blog was simply to fill a gap. To introduce the scene in a concise and non-judgmental way from a community perspective. That is, as a tool to build, not to indulge in abstract criticism or ratings. This year I had accumulated some cash and we oversaw several projects, all successful beyond our expectations. They included:

The PETA benefit show and photo campaign featuring Candy Shop
The Ren Hang/DFG/Boojii avant guard music and photography show
The overseeing of and release of two lo-fi albums: Pairs and Little Punk.

The two shows attracted full houses of mainly local audiences and promoted alternative values and free expression. The two albums came out great and are gaining traction in the local community too. 

Jake will continue although he has a punishing work schedule. Other blogs and writers all come from quite different perspectives like industry news, entertainment/events, music crit and emerging youth culture (exploitation of a fragile scene for larger commercial interests such as advertising). I don't know of any other sites like our own in either English or Chinese. You'd have to have no advertising for a start. What I suspect is that the scene is entering another era. Maybe Sars (2003) to the Expo was a distinct period and we've entered the next? Who will step up and report on community strongholds like the O3 Space (formerly 0093) regardless of what they think of bands and styles coming out of it? Sometimes journalism is just passing on information without too much comment, or introducing issues. 

Anyway, I'll be around and will still answer the blog mail. I leave you with a practical tip.

Duck Fight Goose's EP is out soon and can be heard currently at the Neocha Edge blog. They are the last productive remnants of the Miniless label. Their work is amazing and at one point, Miniless was responsible for a renaissance of great music and shows. Now they are limited by the usual things, busy day jobs, lack of funds, lack of true support except lip service. They have plans and talent ready. Be it money, investment or donations, or just physical help in organizing and promotions - they are a group to support.

It's here: Duck Fight Goose EP

dfg flyer ep rel
Me and Jake write about Duck Fight Goose all the time, so if you're not familiar with them you can read about them here perhaps:

Also, you can check out their page here:

The first two demo tracks are more ambient/electronic driven and the last three are the guitar driven "death-ray rock" tracks.

Anyhow, DFG are one of the most exciting and original bands to come out of the scene lately. They are a kind of Miniless records super group featuring members of both Lava Ox Sea and Boojii. And this is the moment we've all been waiting for - a release date for their debut EP, produced by the band and Brad Ferguson.

The release show is at Yuyintang on December 18th and the 40 RMB ticket gets you an EP and a sticker. Marvelous. See you all there.

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

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

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

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

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

California slamming and Shanghai jamming

I just read two articles about small underground scenes. One is about California punk in the 70's and the other is about Shanghai.

The Pairs EP by Ivan Belcic

I like frank pieces and I like discussing stuff with the gloves off - not stuff based on opinion and taste like who sucks and who rules. I mean, issues and ideas. So, I just want to share some thoughts, not as a counter to Ivan or to treat negativity as life or death, but because Ivan's writing is about something tangible and it has caused me to think. Comments are open, let's continue Ivan's call.

White Eyes live @ Yuyintang

white eyes gao
There were a bunch of shows on this weekend, including this one, but there was only one for me. Yuyintang were hosting Taipei punk/garage band White Eyes for the first time giving us the chance to attend one of those old timee YYT shows where it was packed and with proper crowd action.

It did end up being rammed and raucous. It was a testament to both the two support acts and the crowd that both openers got sizable mosh pits and great reception. Friend or Foe gave us a set of playful punk with the best song being about "household chemicals - cheap and good." Androsace played a great sounding mix of classic rock and quiet/loud grunge that kept up the pace and allowed people to get down for long periods.

I think White Eyes surprised everyone. Despite being known mainly for being punk and for singer Gao Xiaogao's wild stage presence, what we got was actually a very polished and professional modern rock act with a varied/measured set. They were great and the packed room was jumping and dancing right to the back. They reminded me of bands like Bigger Bang but without lame synth songs and no drop in energy. Keeping the punk side prominent within the more mixed modern style. Anyway it rocked.

They think it's all over ... it is now

p368471622Update: fixing broken links

Last Friday I got the metro back from buying some winter stuff and sat down in front of the entrance to Zhongshan Park to have a quick drink. The air was crisp and chilly. My girlfriend turned to me and said, "Hey, where's Haibao?" Yes, the near omnipresent statue of Haibao had gone, and by Sunday night the Expo would be over.  

Here's what I wrote before it all started in full:

So, welcome to the piece where I give my take on the scene and how it has been affected by the Expo. Now, both the Expo and the scene mean different things to different people. So welcome to the defining of the terms.

The scene
The music scene can sometimes be thought of as the sum of all events related to music available in the city at any given point and can include industry built around it. Not here though. I write about the underground indie scene in Shanghai. It is characterized by a lack of functioning industry and a suspicious and authoritarian approach from government. I write about local youths who work to create their own culture outside of the mainstream using genres like punk, rock and indie music. I write about subculture. I write about identity and expression. You will find reviews of Chaos Mind playing Yuyintang. You will not find a DJ playing DKD, a promoter whose primary goal is 'a party' or a Jazz band playing a function. 

Talking of Yuyintang, the scene I speak of most commonly manifests itself in shows at Yuyintang and Mao, which I always use as case studies.

Zhu Lu He Feng off to crack universities again

pinkberry 2010
Local label Zhu Lu He Feng have announced their second tour of Shanghai university campuses spearheaded by their band Pinkberry.

This time they will visit eight universities including the Jiao Tong campus in Minghang.

Here is the full listing (Chinese language).

Chinese universities, like all levels of education here, are one entity together with the ruling political party. The principals are party appointees and the political culture permeates college life. In the world's developed music scenes, college radio, student union events and student support for live music is not only a given but a pillar of the industry. In China these things simply didn't exist. Until now.

The first fledgling steps have been taken towards student societies that can organize themselves, although it must be understood they are still way off the norm. However, Zhu Lu He Feng's Lezi is blazing a trail from the start. Having made contact with the new music societies the first time around, not without teething troubles, he is now taking his bands in for a more comprehensive tour.

There's a first time for everything and this could be a real step towards the future.

Bang Bang Tang @ Yuyintang

bbt yyt
This is a holiday week (nationalism day) and a lot of people are off at one festival or another. For Shanghai, the Changjiang Midi, up the road, is the main culprit. Still, life went on at Yuyintang and Indie Pop favs Bang Bang Tang were back with some younger supporting acts.

I saw The Rank and BBT. No worries, Yin and Bremen are cover version heavy acts anyway.

Ahhhh, how to keep this short? During BBT, a guy with a huge camera set up, including an assistant with a pole mounted flash, took photos from the front every song, continuously for the entire set. It included putting the camera and powerful flash directly into band member's faces. He was everywhere and not an un-intrusive second was to be had.

That shameless c**t had absolutely no regard for ticket buying audience members there to see the band. It was so extreme that I can only think that maybe he was hired by the band or something. 

Now the band. As usual, the musicianship of this band was top drawer and singer Xiao Bai has one of the best voices on the scene. They played through a good set of all their famous tracks ending on A Song for my Angel. There was a decent turnout for them and they have a lot of genuine fans. If there was a normal music industry in this country then surely they'd be a nationally famous pop act. They should be.

One odd side note is that the Douban event info had all the links for the Zhu Lu He Feng label on it in a way that suggests they put this on. The flyer looks like their style too. But none of the bands are on the label and non of their crew were around.

The Slow Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guali live @ Yuyintang

guaili album cover
Saturday night at Yuyintang and a Beijing based Maybe Mars band was in town for a CD release. Usually a big event. They were Guai Li. The full line up:

Good turn out but a kind of weird mixed crowd of punters. Duck Fight Goose opened up. They had moved the stage around a bit to incorporate extra synth equipment. They started with a synth oriented track and it seemed to take the edge off their usually punchy set. They are always good, mind you. Ghost is Online was the usual standout track.

Guali's CD is rather good and singer Wen Jun was on tonight. For a mixed crowd and being far away in Shanghai though, most people were not familiar enough with the material to start getting down. There was a long period of time where there were no tracks on Douban at all. Also, the sound wasn't clear enough to let new listeners hook into the songs. Finally, it was a decent night. 

I have to make a special mention of one negative aspect though, because it's been like this for years and i'm surprised it still goes on. This was essentially a CD release tour, and they didn't bring their own CDs. There was a selection of Maybe Mars CDs on a table, but they had to run out after midnight to find their own CDs and bring them back. I had given up and then ran into the bassist outside as he was bringing them over. Luck.

The CD is great. 

Zhenjiang Midi announce all-metal headliners

Midi have announced the headliners for the Zhenjiang festival.

News courtesy of Max at the Rock In China Wiki blog here:

These are the bands:

Midi are already famous for being hard-rock/metal oriented, in part because it came out of a rock school that produces technical guitarists and musicians' musicians. This happens all over the world. With this announcement though they have kind of painted the festival with the metal brush. In some ways this is good as there's so many wishy-washy festivals this year and this gives them a clear identity. On the other hand, despite all the tall tales, not that many people go and these bands surely put off non metal people. I guess I'm wondering if there are enough hardcore metal fans to support a festival of this kind in China. Midi have already done one festival this year, with a similar flavor and didn't do so well out of it.

Are you a metal person? Do you know that Soulfly is Max Cavalera's band that he formed after leaving legendary Brazilian outfit Sepultura? Does listening to Inner Space take you back to the classic days? No? Then you're not really a metal person. If you are then this is good news for sure.

Manbanpai @ Mao live (and nothing anywhere else)

hama mannequin
Friday night and all was not well in the world of music. I was heading over to the metal show at Yuyintang when it transpired that the man had decided to check out all venues on the rock scene as part of a report they are doing. Others noted it here and here.

By coincidence, Mao Live were doing the latest installment of Genohmang that same night. It's a drinks promotion and doesn't have any cover charge or ticket sales. So despite getting the visit, they were not required to cancel the show. I made it there in time to catch one band in full:

Kind of an average turnout considering it was free and nothing else was on, but enough to make the place seem lively. I caught the last song of space rock band Ann. Manbanpai play straight up pop in the folk style. The songs are driven by wandering finger-picked guitar and they kind of meander along. The lead guitarist fills in with light jazz riffs and solos and the whole act is very nice. It seemed odd to see young, cool looking people on stage with guitars playing easy-listening, but if it's your sort of thing, they play it well. Singer Hama has developed a good vocal range since her previous days in J-rock act Second and seems to have found her style. 

I went out to see Chaos Mind, though. Not really the same thing.
festivals shot
I'm sorry for all non-Chinese speakers. I have to blog this as it's massive on Douban right now and relevant. 

Zinging its way about China's most used site for underground music and arts at the mo is a note on 2010's boom in music festivals here. It comes from Pet Conspiracy's band page and is called, loose translation by me, All the festivals we played were trash.

The gist of it is that there were a massive bunch of festivals suddenly this year as investor fever trumped gov arts policy, as they are all investors themselves. The band played twenty and found that they were all let downs due to a culture of third-rate business man's tricks. 

China Music Radar have been following this carefully.

Here's the full text of the note:

2010年中国大大小小的音乐节有一百多个,就象90年代,一个城市就有一百个迪厅一样,政府好象突然对摇滚乐宽容了起来,主办方都成了乐队的救星,midi 摩登 热波 西湖成功了,然后大家都觉得自己可以,最后才知道自己根本就控制不了局面,为什么?投资方是政府,是企业,是景区,很少有能站在一个角度去思考问题的。今年大大小小我们参加了20个音乐节,刚开始的时候真的觉得是个好事情,但演着演着,这种好心情就没了,两个问题要不是策划人根本对音乐不感兴趣,要不就是策划者控制不了局面,最后这一切就都成了闹剧,乐队乐队埋怨你,主办主办埋怨你,观众观众埋怨你,还赚不了太多钱,理想也没实现,你说这是何苦呢?这些音乐节策划人都应该向midi 摩登 热波 西湖取取经,不是问你们怎么赚着钱,怎么营销的,应该问赌注是什么?今天有个哥们的哥们打电话说要办个音乐节,哥们的哥们问:你们是宠物阴谋乐队吗?虎答:宠物同谋。哥们的哥们问:你们是有两个外国人吗?虎答:是的。哥们的哥们问:那你们挺国际化的,我们想做个国际化的音乐节,再找几个中国知名乐队一起,虎答:好,哥们的哥们问:你觉得唐朝黑豹多少钱,虎答:不知道,应该很贵 哥们的哥们说:某某景区出钱,还会有一些当地企业赞助,怎么才能让乐队和这些赞助很好结合再一起,虎答:让我好好想想吧,想好了通知你再见。哥们的哥们说:好想着点,大家都有钱赚,再见。 三分钟后虎短信给哥们的哥们:让唐朝穿上唐装,让黑豹穿上皮草,宠物阴谋我和晕晕可以带个假发,装外国人。半小时后们的哥们回复:好。。。让我想想。 操我们参加的音乐节就是一个垃圾场,我们热爱音乐,热爱音乐节,但是我们讨厌三流商人的戏法。 希望你们2010年听到你们想听的音乐,享受到你们应该享受的音乐节,因为你们花钱了。

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

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

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

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

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

Post punk bands that move a crowd

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

Lo-fi indie and dance rock, more crowd madness

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

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

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

Beijing DIY goings on with Pangbianr

Up in Beijing you can now tap into the DIY side of things via this blog called Pangbianr.

It's well good. It's actually a collective/indie label/everything, it just happens that the blog, by Josh, is well laid out and full of interesting stuff. They are now looking to start some projects in the DIY mould.

For example, check out this excellent post on Beijing's Raying Temple venue/studio.

So follow this and try to support it any way you can. When you show support for things, they tend to do more.

AV Club crosstalk on festivals

candy monster
Before we get going with this link, let me remind you that the place to get all your China festival news is China Music Radar. So check it out.

So. I don't really like festivals.  They are shit for seeing live music and the other aspect - the experience / hang out - rarely comes together as it should for many reasons. 

But, instead of ranting about it, I'm going to link this amazing AV Club discussion (text) on it that just came out:

Here's the opening:

Every summer I face the same no-win situation: Do I man up and set aside my instinctual aversion to outdoor music festivals, which I've come to associate with overstuffed and B.O.-heavy crowds, wallet-killing concessions, poor sound, and even worse sightlines? Or do I surrender to sanity and stay home, which will inevitably make me feel like I'm missing something, especially after I read all the reviews online about how "mind-blowing" and "awe-inspiring" such-and-such band was. Really? You really thought it was that good after standing in flip-flops in the punishing sun for eight hours in a sea of awful, inconsiderate drunks? Is it possible that I actually hate live music?

City Weekend revamp leaves music blog looking good

Dan Shapiro
Outside of Kungfuology here, there are few mainstays in the music blogging world of Shanghai. This is especially true of Chinese language sites too. Get it together, someone.

One of the other regulars is Dan Shapiro (pictured) who has been writing City Weekend's music column for ages now. He's usually pegged back by CW's bad formatting and general reputation but check it out - a site revamp has left his page looking pretty good.

A scroll down the page shows a lot of quality posts. Check out this mini-interview with Duck Fight Goose's Han Han:

With more interviews and previews and less reviews, it seems to compliment us just fine, so add in the feed. Do it.

youtube Youku: Pinkberry @ Zhangbei

Shanghai pop-punk band Pinkberry have just been up at the Zhangbei festival. Here's a video of them there. It's not the most intelligently shot vid I've seen with no crowd or indication they're at a festival but I'll take it. 

Two tracks, watch through for Pinkberry Song.

Boojii, Ren Hang and DFG @ Yuyintang

boojii at yuyintang
UPDATE: here is a full independent review from Layabozi 

Full disclosure/warning: me and Jake organised this event so this is not an independent review, just how I feel it went.

The event was to promote more avant-garde art forms and included two bands and a Beijing based photographer.

There was a good turn out, especially considering it was a niche event, and a good crowd of people who were really into the acts. Great atmosphere and we were pleased as punch. Duck Fight Goose opened and killed. They sounded great and the set was amazing. They defy description ... errr .. on the page it says death-ray rock so there you go. After the set people approached me to ask who the band was and if they could get a CD.

After a brief announcement by Jake Newby it was time to show the pictures. Ren Hang is one of Beijing's cutting edge young artists and we were all excited to put on the slide show and see how it was received, no one more than Ren Hang himself who was right in there for the show. Everyone packed into the main hall to watch it and the atmosphere was amazing with photos often getting cheers, whoops and applause! There was about 15 minutes of photos to a looped atmospheric track. People loved the explicit shots but what we saw, when Ren Hang's work was displayed on the screen in succession, was the subtle beauty of the shots. Really. I couldn't have been more happy about how it went down. It was like rock art or whatever.

The night was closed off by an excellent Boojii set. They played most of their CD Reserved, which is excellent and the sound was great too. San San wore her collar of legs and everyone enjoyed the music. Mission accomplished.

Big long article on Beijing experimental music and ...

road via doubanIt's slow and hot and some people, not me, are taking the opportunity to write longer articles on more in depth topics. I have been doing a bunch of other stuff, check Indie Everything, but writing thoughtful pieces is not part of that. 

I want to point you at two articles doing the rounds.

The first is from We Live In Beijing and is written by Pete DeMola. It's a massive in depth article with interview snippets about a new emerging experimental scene in Beijing based around a regular night at D22. Blimey, it's good.

The other article is over at China Music Radar who are struggling valiantly to keep track of the massive boom in music festivals going on right now. Warning: it's not just about major music festival organised by labels and music peeps, it includes pop, jazz, tourism stuff and whatnot. The main thrust being that suddenly, mainstream city folk and business peeps see gold in them thar hills.

Sister Whale and others @ Yuyintang

whale logo
This weekend I opted for Yuyintang and their show called when we are together.

Here was the line up:

I have written a lot about Pairs lately so I want to talk about Sister Whale mainly with a quick round up of the others. You can find a full review at Layabozi here. It's like a real review as opposed to my reports.

Sister Whale is a solo act. She performs a kind of retro folk in the vein of 60's style with a hint of Velvet Underground. The first half of her set was done with guitar and the second half with a piano sound. To give you more of an idea, her other act is called Grand Flower Children. She is confident and stylish, but I think the show was undermined a bit by it being a bar crowd and people not being familiar with her songs. If all the songs were available beforehand and the atmosphere was more intimate, it would be perfect. 

Pairs were good as usual, there was a new song about hat-wearing indoors and people who date indoor hat-wearers. Yes, like me. Ann play a kind of space rock with flute lines and long instrumentals, they are pretty tight these days too. Baby #13 are also good musicians and gave a good showing. Check the pages.

Video: Pairs @ YYT

This is a short clip from the end of Pairs' last Yuyintang set. Xiao Zhong (Rhys) invites someone else to play the drums and let's loose a bit. The song is the end of Yangpu Qu.

Video: White Eyes @ Mao Beijing

Not so long back I posted a bit about T**w*n based punk group The White Eyes. They came over to the mainland but only played Beijing. Boo hoo. Recently they have stuck up three videos from the show at their Douban page. By the way, their Douban page has their latest album in its entirety, so go and listen to it now.

So here's two of the vids:


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