Results tagged “mao livehouse” from Andy Best

Shanghai band: The Spondees

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

... wait a minute. Sorry about that.

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

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

Some stuff this weekend

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feima flyer 696
I have a bit of a holiday this week, about ten days or so. But, due to many factors I won't be going out much. So here's some stuff going on this week across four of the venues in town - and I'll have to live vicariously through your reports and stories the week after that.

I don't want to endorse one show over another, and we all have different tastes anyway. But there's a glaring clue to the right of which show I'll go to if I can choose only one.

Friday 26th July

Yuyintang: Girl Rock, feat. Must Be Red (SH)

Live Bar: 聚光下的少年 Youth in the spotlight

696: Feima EP release show

Saturday 27th July

Yuyintang: Fuzzy Mood (BJ) album release

Mao Livehouse: Genohmang 19 free show (Mao's only mainstage evening show all weekend.)

Live Bar: Shake Your Body feat. heavy bands + En Route

696: 小垂直 Xiao Chuizhi 

Sunday 28th July

Yuyintang: Made In Shanghai 6, feat. Prank

696: Guancai

Video: Skip Skip Ben Ben Last Light live

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Here's a video of Skip Skip Ben Ben performing their track Last Light live at Beijing Mao on May 10th, just a few days ago. It's from the recent album Sacrifice Mountain Hills, which is amazing. I got it from Maybe Mars' Taobao after seeing them in Yuyintang last year. Plenty has written about this band already, grab the album to support.



Youtube: FaF live at Mao Livehouse Shanghai

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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. 



Pic: bands we don't know nonchalantly fill Mao

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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.

perdel


tindermao

Video: Nova Heart vs. Pairs

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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.






March madness (in music) - starting tomorrow

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tn in hk
Pictured: Torturing Nurse in Hong Kong.

This blog doesn't do previews and is not a guide, so to speak. However, I can't help but notice that the next three weeks, helped partially by the Jue Festival, are packed full of interesting shows. Some weekend nights have four happening at the same time.

It kicks off tomorrow with the most exciting Wednesday night in recent memory. You have two shows:

Duck Fight Goose @ YYT playing a free farewell show before they head to SXSW

And then it doesn't let up until Sunday 25th. There's Skipskip Benben on Thursday and Old Doll on Friday. Also on Friday, a Chinese Folk Roadshow @ Mao and New Vector @ Live Bar. So there's three choices in one night. 

Saturday has four: Chaos Mind, Steely Heart, Beatrice (student Cosplay band) and more Folk roadshow. And it goes on. This is the time to be paying attention ... to other blogs and mags with listings, and Douban.

Youtube Youku: Low Wormwood MV

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Here is an excellent video and song from Chinese band Low Wormwood. They have an album out on Maybe Mars and are playing Shanghai this Friday night at Mao Livehouse. Fans of modern folk rock rejoice.


The Mushrooms all we need is u @ Mao

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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? 

Youtube Youku: Mushrooms need you

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The Mushrooms are having a special gig at Mao Livehouse on September 12th where they are making a call to get 1000 people to the show, then they will get the long awaited album out. Here is a video showing various people from the scene recording bits to support the event.

It's Chinese language only.

At the beginning of 2010 I'm sure they could have pulled this off. They filled Yuyintang to capacity several times and had old Mao looking close to full and had really built a fanbase. But after signing with David Tao's new label they all but disappeared for over a year. There have also been line up changes in the guitar department. 

Also the gig is on a Monday at two in the afternoon. Is that a public holiday then? I'll be there providing my wonderful employer doesn't make us work on a holiday. 



Rock Nadaam @ Mao Livehouse

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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. 

Youtube Youku: Nova Heart @ BJ Mao

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Former Pet Conspiracy vocalist Helen Feng first left the band to concentrate on her project Free The Birds. Now she's back with a new solo project Nova Heart.

The Douban page features band info, three new demos from the upcoming album and two videos from a Beijing Mao appearance. Here is Beautiful Boys.



Youtube Tudou: Color 4 and Monkey Shines

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Here are two live videos of new Shanghainese bands Color 4 and Monkey Shines, both featuring members of Little Nature strangely. One ex and one current.

Color 4 are seen here at Mao and play pop-punk. Monkey Shines play emo and are seen here at Yuyintang. Interestingly, they are both not far off members' other projects musically. Xiao Ding who sings for Monkey Shines also sings for Forget and Forgive. 

Note: the sound quality for the Monkey Shines video is bad and goes in and out: but it still gives a good impression of their energy and how they rocked YYT that night.




July blogathon begins tonight

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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

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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:

Yuyintang


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.

Big (ger) weekend issues - make your choice

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Which shows will you go to this weekend:

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

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

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

Manbanpai @ Mao live (and nothing anywhere else)

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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.

Boojii, DFG, Pairs, The Fever Machine @ Mao

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it was the Subs!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revitalization of Shanghai Rock pt2 @ Mao

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subs back on tour and coming here

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The Subs are my favorite band in China. I love them. That is all. Anything else I write will just be gushing and useless.

You can hear a couple of tracks at their Douban page: right here

But here's the thing, they are widely known as the best live act in China and singer Kang Mao the best rock/punk performer the modern scene has ever produced. So, the date has arrived: 

Friday 11th of June at Mao Livehouse

Note to Mao: this band is legendary, put on a proper bar, don't flash all the lights like a pop show and have someone on the sound desk who is out of school. The norm at Mao gigs is for the audience to be lit up like a football game and then photographed like a fashion show. This is the Subs, please cut all that out, if only for this one show.


subs newtour

Great Videos: Carsick Cars live @ Mao Shanghai

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This was a good moment. That's all I have to say. This band are worth the hype. I was there up front, as should you have been.



Sifting through the closures/incidents

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logo bar
Good weekend, one which Jake did the writing up of, check it out as always here.

We also have some stories of  cancellations and closures. However they are for very different reasons so we have to be careful.

Firstly, Beijing Mao has been shut down. This was done by the fire department but it's important to keep in mind that the Olympic closures - unambiguously because of the Olympics and for the exact duration of them only - were also mainly done under the pretense of fire regulations. You can read the story here:


Next up, Yuyintang have been ordered to close on Wednesday. This is directly because of an official day of mourning for the earthquake in Qinghai. This happened during the 2008 quake also for three days. 


Finally, Logo Bar here in Shanghai. Logo (confirmed) and also Anar Bar (haven't confirmed with a second source) on Xingfu Lu were visited by the police on Friday and told to cancel live music shows. They were told directly that the reason was because of the Expo.

Logo were forced to take down posters for the planned show on Sunday featuring Cassette, Pinkberry and Stegosaurus? and then all flyers were confiscated too. This was the first Expo related police raid, if you don't count the Top Floor Circus story. The bands kept a low profile then put the show on anyway at a much later time (11.00). I was there.


So, yeah, don't get confused by the unrelated events but we HAVE seen the first police visits to the music scene in relation to the Expo. It begins.

That Mao Shanghai Story

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andy at mao shanghai
That Mao Shanghai story. Well, that could be referring to all kinds of things. But this time around I mean this:

China Music Radar - Mao Live to be knocked down

So, the biggest open secret in the scene has gone on record for the first time over at CMR. For a few weeks now the story has been going about, Mao Shanghai will be bulldozed to make way for a new development. Well, I've got a statement from the Mao folks, but first, the basic idea.

Most people know that plot as Redtown, but Redtown is one of a few developments inside a piece of land called 新十刚, an abbreviation for New Number Ten Steel Works. For a while it was mainly abandoned and the only functioning part was the Hong Qiao Flower Market. However, bit by bit it has been renovated or rebuilt until the small strip with Mao Live on it was the only untouched part, stranded in the middle. Mao moved in to that strip on a sub-letting type deal but recently the rumour has been knocking around that the obvious was going to happen.

Think of it as one of those downtown islands of old houses. You could open a business there on the cheap, but everyone knows it's going to go.

So, I've spoke directly with Lisa Movius (English PR) and Lezi (manager) from Mao. The story got started when the landlord mentioned that ideas for renovation were on the move and recently he has given them "an eight month advance "maybe" warning". 

SOMA/Mao boss Li Pang says that Mao will continue as a Live House either way and that the result of this would be a move, not a closure, with eight months giving them plenty of time to find a new location. Here's the quote:

Mao is a concept and a commitment as much as a physical venue, and physical venues are replaceable. Mao might eventually move, but it's not going anywhere.
So there you have it. There are many other issues and stories around this, of course. You can find them all linked at the CMR post. As usual, pay attention to the actual events as they happen.

The Mushrooms in Beijing

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mushrooms jue poster
One part of the Jue Festival was the launching of their crosstalk idea of showcasing bands from other cities. For me, I found it exciting that Shanghai's own The Mushrooms were going to Beijing.

So what did the pundits think of one of our best live acts? I found three reviews from the English language blogosphere.

First from Alex at the blog of the Beijing Gig Guide. Here's the review.

I really loved the band. Pupu is, of course, a big part of what makes their act amazing, but they work impeccably as a team. They definitely sounded like they'd been working together for the five years they've been around, offering up a tight set with lots of changes in mood. They're loud
Then we have a review at Beijing Noise. Read it here.

Enigmatic frontmen are rare in rock these days, yet Pupu excels, controlling the microphone and the crowd with ease
And here is the review from Beijing City Weekend magazine.

And while emo may evoke strong love/hate sentiments in many listeners, there is little question of Mushrooms utter mastery of the genre. They set the crowd alight with their first song, and left the audience similarly exhilarated with their final song, a rap-cover hybrid of 4 Non Blondes' classic: "What's Going On." In between, their well-structured set moved from heavier rocking numbers to slower, ballad-like territory. Lead singer Pupu is an electric performer: loose lipped and almost mime-like in his facial expressions, he spent the set jerking about violently, looking at times as if he was bawling, at others as if he was clowning around in class.
Good job guys. Reading through the reviews in full you get the impression that the gig was well attended for a band people in Beijing don't know and that despite scene cynicism and unfamiliarity The Mushroom's superior qualities were undeniable. And everyone was impressed with Pupu. That's not a surprise though.

Saturday night four-way

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fearless mao mao
Please keep in mind that whenever we recommend a gig or talk about a show face off or whatever, there are always other shows on too. Yang Pu/Hong Kou (North East) has several bars/venues and a collective or two. Like Live Bar, 021 and ... err ... Live Bar.

So, this week is almost as action packed as the last but with no podcast to sum it up for you.

Yuguo play YYT on Friday but Saturday night, the 27th, has the big clash. Here it is:

Yuyintang: Caffeine (J-rock style) supported notably by Dragon Pizza. 

Mao Livehouse: Jue Festival presents Olafur Arnalds

Dream Factory: Rock Shanghai night including Joker, 5 Pointed Star and French band Inofis.

Harley's: Metal night with Chaos Mind, Six Shot and Fearless (pictured)

It's all a matter of taste of course with quite different styles on display at the different venues. But, well, errr ... Fearless at Harleys. Harley's is a cool basement bar with a proper area for rock bands to play, but there are reasons it's not used often both in front of and behind the scenes. I just like speed metal in the old school style.

Photos: Local King 3 @ Mao

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

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

local king candy shop

local king jordan

local king kk

little punk at mao

Mao history (the venue not the dude) and other blather

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andy at mao shanghai
Jake wrote up the Maybe Mars gig at Mao this weekend and we also shared some thoughts about the scene on the podcast. As far I was concerned the subjects were done for a while.

And then Zack wrote up the show at Layabozi and got everything going again in my mind.


After noticing/being annoyed by the same stuff as us, Zack makes a good point at the end about expectations:

Finally, on to the continuing problems with MAO. I think they are suffering from an expectation problem, for which they are at least partially responsible. However, it must be said that we, as in Shanghai underground music fans, are also to blame. I for one know that I expected a lot from this venue when it was getting off the ground. We wanted it to be like Yuyintang with better sound and more capacity. Well, we got those things. We really did.
Well, it's true that you can't have expectations that are too high in an underground scene and this blog for one was happy in old YYT with a single room and a small fridge. But the fact of the matter is that the show on Saturday charged three times over the going rate for a show on the scene and Mao opened with lofty proclamations of a livehouse revolution.The sound has not been any better than Yuyintang, it is often worse. There's more but let's get on.

So, on the pod we talked about the scene punching over it's weight. Where did the demand for a larger venue come from? What's the history. The history, that includes ventures such as 4Live, came to a point when a combination of independent promoters started to get regular shows going at the Dream Factory. This included Yuyintang and Splitworks, also people like Abe Deyo, Brad Ferguson and Frank Fen. 

They had just started to creep over the break even line despite many problems and challenges when this happened: 


So, they pulled out again three months later having fucked it all up decided they weren't satisfied with the deal. And then, barely eight weeks after that, SOMA announced they were teaming up with Japanese investors to open an even bigger venue in Shanghai - Mao. This was highly questionable. The progress made at the Dream Factory had still not answered the question of whether the scene could sustain a larger venue at this point, and in this political climate. Even that progress had been set back by the actions of SOMA taking it over then pulling out again.

Soma then came out with re-assuring statements. This would be a livehouse revolution for Shanghai. They would move in their studio and focus on scene development and long term planning. They were aware of the issues and history and wanted us to know that it was not simply a vanity project or an elaborate face-saving plot. But then, after the initial oversight from the partners left them to it, everything has been run on a shoestring and skeleton staff. 

Here's the thing: everyone, me included, wants the venue to succeed, that's why we go there and buy tickets. So why are we so worked up about the shortcomings, especially in the opening stages?

Exactly because we DO want it to succeed and all the signs are pointing towards failure. We have just over three short weeks before the six month point, which is usually a make or break point one way or another. Talk to anyone who worked on 4live: the venue is not big enough to survive on one sell-out show a month. Talk to anyone who worked on 4live again: how do neither-big-nor-small venues with one big event a month get by during the middling/average attendance days - the bar. 

Would anyone like to comment on the bar at Mao?

On the opening day, an extremely nice guy from Mao Beijing told me that they floated the place on investment for two years until numbers went up. Let's hope the same support will be on display here.

Photos: Maybe Mars @ Mao

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

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


guai li mao one

guai li mao two

guai li mao three

shou wang mao

shou wang mao two

Maybe Mars Showcase @ Mao

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pk14 usa timfranco
Photo of PK14 in the USA by Tim Franco

So, Friday night and Maybe Mars rolled into town with four of their bands:


Apart from newcomers Rustic, these bands are the finished product. Each one with one, or more, albums of top quality songs and a polished sound and performance. This being at Mao Livehouse Shanghai, with all their fancy lights and top quality equipment, I was so excited to hear a loud show that still kept the individual sounds of the bands. 

But it was not to be. The sound was all over the place with each act getting about two tracks that really hit the mark. Only PK14 had the audience so pumped up by their mere presence that it simply didn't matter. The guitars were especially bad with sounds ranging from bone dry to a wall of mid-range whine. Only Yang Fan of OBM reproduced her trademark sound. The lights were all over the place too with no hint of a master setting that defined the space. Just a bunch of flashing in a cavern. 

But it was still a good night. It's Maybe Mars.

The audience seemed baffled by Rustic at first and the hall was still filling up but they ended with a flourish. With two more tracks to go, Rikki Sixx spat his beer up into the light stream creating a mist fountain, the guitars were pointed into the crowd and a dance broke out for the first time of the night. I was there to rock out to 24 Hours after their amazing Yuyintang show but they were hampered by poor sound and what seemed like poor monitors too. But still, buy that CD, it's so f*cking good.

Ourself Beside Me played a good set. The sound was the most intact of the four acts and they did a solid job after a few months off the gig circuit. The audience seemed into them too despite their experimental sound not usually being for everyone. Good for the audience. PK14 are just legends so none of the above really mattered. Everyone started to go nuts as soon as they saw singer Yang Haisong, me included, and they enjoyed the reception that their status deserves. Half way in to the set I spotted Maybe Mars' Michael Pettis and decided to stalk him. We spent some time backstage chatting, with Nevin Domer too. I was a bit star struck the whole time though, as Yang Fan was right there by me the whole time. Swoon. She's just so badass/cool and a great guitarist. 

The whole crew are back next month with Carsick Cars. Watch the blog for details.

Photos: Bang Bang Tang live @ Mao

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Bang Bang Tang are a Shanghai indie pop band who have strong folk and ballad influences. Their music is defined, in my opinion, by the formidable musical skill of the band and the strength of singer Xiao Bai's voice. 

Here's their Douban page.
And here's Jake talking about their video, and here's the video itself.

Photos by Kyle Fong and Rock Shanghai.


bbt xiao bai

bbt chen gong

Maybe Mars returns + January goodness

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maybemars
Hard to believe it's almost a year since Splitworks brought us the Maybe Mars showcase as part of their Jue Festival. Here's what I wrote about it back then.

This time around it's at Mao Livehouse and features a more rock oriented line up with PK14, The Gar, 24 Hours and Rustic. Click on the flyer for a legible version and you'll note it's on Friday 22nd January. Here's the Douban event page.

Regular readers of the blog will not need reminding of how awesome this is going to be. The last time was a real event with great bands but the questionable acoustics at the Dream Factory deadened the enjoyment for me. Mao on the other hand is a world class, purpose made music venue. With a potential Expo shutdown on the way, this could be the event of the year already. 

Talking of cramming stuff in before the Expo, take a look at some of the shows coming up this January:

Sat 2nd
Zhong Chi, Sonnet, Coverpeople @ Mao
GuaiLi @ Yuyintang

Fri 8th 
Triple Smash, Forget and Forgive @ Yuyintang

Sat 9th
Tookoo, Bigger bang @ Yuyintang

Mon 10th 
Great Lake Swimmers @ Yuyintang

Fri 15th
Duck Fight Goose, Boys Climbing Ropes @ Yuyintang

Fri 22nd
Maybe Mars @ mao

Sat 23rd 
Metal/Hardcore @ Yuyintang including Suzhou's awesome Mo Xie

And don't forget, there are plently more shows than that going on each week in the district's smaller venues such as Harley's, Sus2, Logo and Anar ... not to mention regular venue shows at Live Bar up in Yangpu.

Christmas metal and anti-greetings

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chaos mind bw
I'm not really religious or anything and on top of that I also find the commercial aspect of Xmas annoying, so I'm going post about satanic heavy metal music on Christmas Eve.

And before we get there, after all that talk about the Expo and music, Adam Minter comes on Shanghaiist with possibly the most ignorant remarks on the subject ever written. It's number two on his list. 

So. 

I have often blogged about the Shanghai metal scene, most recently about the Hell United collective whose flagship act are Chaos Mind. Another favourite of mine are Fearless.

Chaos Mind now have seven quality tracks available at their Douban page. The news is that they have made a version of Scream available for free download. They also have this CD available about town (also called Scream). 

So go there now - here's the page - and check the MP3 player at the side of their page. The track you want to check out is Scream. I prefer the 4:33 version, but that's just me.

Top Floor Circus gig banned cancelled

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tfc
OK. So if you've surfed in to this post or are here for the first time, here's how you can catch up on the story of Top Floor Circus, the Expo and The Man.


The final concern of the story was Top Floor Circus's Christmas show at Mao Live Shanghai. Check out the flyer.

The Man had also contacted Mao Livehouse and everyone was waiting to know one of two options. One, that the multi band show went ahead but with the post-Bjork large show regulations. That is, all the songs must be checked by The Man and Shanghai Welcomes You not be played. Two, the show be outright cancelled, i.e. censored/banned by The Man.

And the answer is ... drum roll please ... number two, cancelled.

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