Results tagged “modern sky” from Jake Newby

Lazy blogging: a few links

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kingsizehomermain.jpgSorry to just repost a bunch of links, but a reminder that while this blog has become pretty sparse of late, there's plenty of good regular content coming out over here.

To follow up on the Strawberry rumour two posts down, it looks like it will be happening in Shanghai in April. Not only that, but following lots of rumours, Midi will throw their own festival in the city about a week before. Read more here

Something else to look forward to in April is a new Hedgehog album. They'll release it at Yuyintang on Friday 13th.

If you missed The Instigation playing at the last ever Trash a Go-Go recently (more on their end here), then you can check out this video, though it's on Vimeo so you'll need a VPN.

Finally, here's a new Shanghai band to keep an eye on.

Strawberry updates

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strawberries_moldy.jpgSince I posted about Strawberry being cancelled yesterday morning, a number of other sites have put up some more detailed information about what's happened. In summary, Modern Sky have blamed a thunderstorm effecting their power set up and said that the festival is 'postponed' not cancelled, though until when it's not clear. A far more likely explanation, and the one doing the rounds on Weibo and Douban before it gets deleted, is that the festival has been harmonised due to the mention of a certain outspoken artist who's still missing economic criminal at last weekend's Zhouzhuang folk festival, also organised by Modern Sky. Finally, the organisers of the electronic stage at Strawberry, STD, have relocated their line-up to MAO Livehouse on Saturday and LUNE on Monday and Tuesday. 

Organisers of the Nanjing Blossom Festival and Midi Shanghai must be a tad worried right about now, but they're still going ahead at the moment. Don't expect there to be any 'text your message to the big screen' initiatives going on though or anything that might even remotely encourage freedom of speech.

Here's some links for more information:

China Music Radar on the 'postponement'
SmartShanghai on STD's DJ relocation
Modern Sky's announcement on Douban

Strawberry Suzhou cancelled

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e408399.jpgIf you were planning on heading to the Strawberry Festival Suzhou this weekend, think again. There are rumours all over Douban that the festival has been cancelled and various sources have confirmed that this is the case, with the decision apparently taken late last night. The festival, whose slogan of 'You say hello, I say goodbye' now seems rather unfortunate, has yet to make an official announcement, but it seems that will follow later today once they've managed to inform everyone on the organiser side - as of this morning, news was still filtering through to the various parties involved. No reason has yet been given for the cancellation. More news as and when it comes through.

Modern Sky bringing folk festival to Zhouzhuang

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周庄民谣诗歌节海报.JPGNot content with organising Strawberry in Beijing and Suzhou this May, Modern Sky are putting on a folk and poetry festival in the water town of Zhouzhuang (about 90 minutes from Shanghai) on the weekend of 23-24 of April. There'll be two stages and performers will include Xiao He, Zhou Yunpeng, Hanggai, Zhang Weiwei and Zuoxiao Zuzhou.

Here's the full line-up:

4月23日

草莓舞台

13:30-14:10 安来宁
14:30-15:10 张玮玮和郭龙
15:30-16:10 许飞与JAM乐队
16:30-17:10 马条
17:30-18:30 曹方
19:00-20:00 老狼

民谣舞台 

13:30-14:10 蛤蟆
14:30-15:10 番茄炒蛋
15:30-16:10 小河
16:30-17:10 周云蓬


56934_446282050973_7124595973_5818456_8111871_o.jpgFestivals, festivals, festivals. It's hardly news that China is in the grip of festival fever. The latest addition is the Kama Love Music Festival, taking place in both Beijing and Shanghai in June and being headlined by Eels.

That adds to Split Works' JUE Festival, which wraps up this weekend with (despite all the troubles) two shows at MAO Livehouse, the planned return of the (more traditional festival-like) Yue Festival that they held in Zhongshan Park a few years back, the Nanjing (International) Music Festival (line up here) going head to head with Modern Sky's Strawberry in Suzhou at the end of April and Midi, which is finally coming to Shanghai, taking over Century Park from May 6. 

This latest addition seems to be more in the form of a one-night concert rather than a festival festival, but if they're pulling in an act like Eels, then they clearly mean business. The other thing which makes you think they're using the 'festival' term rather loosely is that they're holding it at MAO Livehouse. Still, Eels - that's not bad eh? The Kama festival's website consists mostly of a bunch of dummy text at the moment, so it's hard to know what the details are, but Eels have announced the date on their official website so it seems pretty legit. There's also (less excitingly) whispers of Keane coming, but we'll see how that one develops....

Big in Beijing on The Beeb

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Picture 1.jpgHat tip to my Mum and my brother on this one, they heard this on Radio 4 the other day and dropped me links. Radio 4 isn't to be confused with the American band who came to China recently by the way, it's a BBC radio station back in the UK. It's not the most cutting edge of stations to be honest and you get that in the tone of this report, which is all about the music scene in Beijing.

It's mostly about how or whether Western bands can be successful in China and as a result they speak to Nathaniel Davis from Splitworks amongst others. They talk about the problems of getting foreign bands to play here and take in mentions of Bjork, last year's Modern Sky Festival and Oasis. It's a bit cliched, as these things tend to be (it starts with park music in Beijing) and clearly isn't as insightful as say, a Kungfuology podcast, but bear in mind this is for an audience back in the UK who quite possibly know nothing about music here at all.

Anyway, it's up on the BBC iPlayer and should be for a few days yet so if you've ever wanted to hear a bloke with a plummy English accent interviewing kids in Yugong Yishan about who they listen to, now you can. You'll find it here.

Strawberry Festival, Beijing

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4577885809_d1f4f6ab89.jpgUPDATE: Just had a look at CMR and saw they've got a more comprehensive write up of both festivals here. Plenty on the branding as well.

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Before I get on to the main business of this year's Strawberry Festival, I just wanted to share a bit of info from the capital's other big festival, Midi. According to Shanghai-based writer Sam Gaskin, heavy rainfall in Beijing this evening caused the power to be cut at Midi, meaning no lights or sound for a while. Carsick Cars tried to play on by playing acoustically through megaphones and with torches for lighting, but it didn't seem to be working too well. Last word from Sam was that power was back on a while later, so hopefully it all got going again without any problems. Keep an eye on the Beijing music sites for more on that tomorrow.

But anyway, I didn't get to Midi - I spent Saturday to Monday at Modern Sky's Strawberry Festival as I felt it had the stronger line-up of the two. Saturday in particular had a really good line-up with Xiao He, Carsick Cars, The Bigger Bang and AV Okubo amongst those playing. Carsick Cars and AV Okubo also played at D-22 that night as part of their anniversary celebrations along with Hedgehog, which made for a great day of live music. The following two days were good too, with Boys Climbing Ropes making their debut at the festival and sets from Reptile & Retard (at YYT on Thursday), ReTROS and Hedgehog particularly sticking in my mind. I don't think I really found anything new, though Hedgehog, ReTROS and QueenSea Big Shark all showcased some new material, so I'm not going to write too much about the bands individually - they've all been covered plenty on this blog before anyway.

Overall, it was an enjoyable festival experience and worth the 17 hour bus journey up from Shanghai. The sun shone and there was a good atmosphere throughout the festival. There were a few drawbacks though: there were massive queues and no signage at the entrance causing confusion and resulting in a lot of people deciding not to bother (it was really hot weather to be queueing for several hours in). The entire site ran out of beer on each day of the festival, with hour or so waits for fresh supplies. Even when they did have drinks they weren't kept cold.

More importantly though, the sound on the main stages was poor at times. Things on the second stage weren't helped by its proximity to the metal stage. They were far too close together meaning someone like Gia playing a slower song on the second stage for example, was almost drowned out by the metal band overlapping on the stage nearby. Although you have to credit their ambition, having six stages seemed unnecessary, especially when the Douban stage was in a small patch of dirt near the toilets and stages frequently clashed with each other, making some acts inaudible. Sound always leaves a little to be desired at festivals, but having stages so close together that their sound overlaps is just poor planning.

New Hedgehog support The Thermals, YYT

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P3180343.jpgSo The Thermals are pretty damn good. That's established, it's a given. Hedgehog are one of the Four Great Inventions to come out of China - them, Subs, gunpowder and something else. Seriously, look it up. Put them together and you've got a recipe for mayhem. Unless, of course, you put them on on a Thursday night and charge 100 kuai on the door. Then you've got a recipe for an occasional bit of jumping and moshing.

Apparently the B-Side Lovers and Thermals show in Beijing was half empty on Wednesday night and it wasn't much better here in Shanghai. It was an alright crowd, but not what either band deserved. What was that about Modern Sky? Wednesday night in Beijing, Thursday in Shanghai? At those prices?

Anyway, The Thermals were... fuckin' a, but this blog isn't about bands like them - there's plenty of better places to read about how good they are. We're here for the Chinese stuff, so how were Hedgehog with their new lineup? The truth is, if you shut your eyes, you wouldn't have known there was anything different. Atom was still incredible on the drums, Zo was on fire on the guitar and the new bassist held his own with them. Admittedly, they played essentially a greatest hits set and thus it was hard to tell where they'll go from here, but they nevertheless excelled with the classics.

The sound was good and the band was tight. Although I always felt the bassist was a bit of an unsung hero in the band, the attention has always naturally fallen on Zo (as the frontman) and Atom (due to her undeniable prowess on the drums), but it seems it will even more so now. Still, I'm looking forward to the new material and this was a strong showing, albeit on pretty safe ground. For those who knew the songs, it was a great set. For those who didn't, hopefully they won some new fans - bring on the new album.
maybe_mars_us_tour_WEB.gifANOTHER UPDATE: While the debate about gig photographers rages on, Tim Franco has posted some great photos of the bands in the Big Apple. He's even done a write up of it all as well. SmartShanghai has the goodness right here.

UPDATE: Rather than just plucking the comments of some random off of Douban, the Radar has gone and done some research and commissioned a proper review and everything. Check it out here.

If you've been paying attention, you'll know that Maybe Mars are touring some of their bands through the US of A right about now. Here's a bit of background and here's some more details.

Well, it sounds like things are going a bit better than the Modern Sky attempted tour of the same land mass a few months ago. That was where they put Casino Demon and Hedgehog on at a Chinese Cultural Show. You can hear us talk a bit more about it on the podcast here and watch a video of the debacle here.

Word is that the show at The Glasslands, who hosted Xiao He, Carsick Cars and PK14 last Friday (together with These Are Powers), was a sell out with a twenty minute wait to get in. That's a venue of around 300 capacity. According to the same comment on CMR, people threw Zhongnanhais at the show as well.

There's a fairly, umm, interesting write up of one of the New York shows here as well. It's basically a stream of consciousness based on the show and shouting so much to Carsick Cars that his throat hurts, but give it a read. Here's a highlight:

"xiao he was incredible, awesome -- apparently pretty drunk before he even started soundcheck. xiao he lyrics: "YOU WANT CHINESE SONG, I GIVE YOU CHINESE SONG". xiao he lyrics: (chinese national anthem). xiao he lyrics: "i know you, you want to know me -- we are all here together -- FUCK YOU". by the end of the night, xiao he was completely wasted, freaking with random women, attempting to grope two members of these are powers as they were trying to perform on stage, grabbing their stage monitor and flipping it around so that it was emitting sound downward into the stage. he is our new hero."
So what does this tell us? Apart from the fact that Xiao He is an amazing performer (we kind of knew that already), it shows how successful Chinese bands can be touring abroad if they're put on in the right venues. Pet Conspiracy ripped through Europe recently, causing Helen Feng to label it "one of the most successful tours a Chinese band has ever done". By the sounds of things (and yes, I'm basing this on hearsay and a couple of comments - the ayi who owns this site won't spring for flights to the States), the Maybe Mars tour could be set to achieve similar success.

Modern Sky, please take note.

A little bit about Boojii

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boojii.jpg"It's a bit of a freak," says Boojii's SanSan of their forthcoming album Reserved. "It's extremely sweet and extremely cold and bitter at the same time." Maybe so, but together with Muscle Snog's release of Mind Shop, the record is another important milestone for Shanghai's experimental indie scene.

Boojii have been around for a number of years, gigging sporadically, but with more consistency in the last 12 months. The band's name, says SanSan, doesn't really have any meaning. "There's no link to the band or the music or sexy films stars or anything like that - I just like it because it sounds cute. If I could choose another name it'd be 少女呕吐物 [Girl Vomit]." 

SanSan was formerly in 33Island and Boojii's other members - Sun Ye, Damen and Jiang Zhendong (also formerly of 33Island) - have all been, or are currently, involved in other prominent bands in Shanghai. SanSan is currently also part of Muscle Snog and Duck Fight Goose (together with Damen) two of the city's other leading experimental indie bands. So how does Boojii compare? "The main difference is that in Boojii, everyone has to listen to me!" she jokes.

Yet given the array of talent involved in the band, there is naturally plenty of collaboration. "I usually write the songs at first," says SanSan, "and then we'll play around with them when we practice and the others will all add their new ideas and thoughts. Once Sun Ye adds his guitar parts, there's more finesse to the songs. The process of putting together Boojii songs has always been very inspirational."

Since I left you

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karakul.jpgI said I wasn't going to do this, but I changed my mind. I'm sure you've all been keeping track of this stuff while I was away, but, seeing as I was sans internet, I've been playing catch up and can't believe I've missed some of the stuff that's gone down. Here's a round-up:

After all the hype, Mao Shanghai opened. Andy's review of the opening night is here and there's his write up of the Mushrooms gig that followed a few days later here. We've been hinting for a while that this could be the last Mushrooms show for quite a bit (making me doubly gutted to have missed it) and I wish I could say more about why this is, but rest assured all will be revealed when I'm allowed to say something. Rounding out the first slew of gigs at Mao was the Rock Shanghai anniversary party. I'm looking forward to catching a show there soon.

The Global Battle of the Bands competition returned to Shanghai. Despite a good turn out of local talent in Beijing (they had 20 bands, of which 2 were laowai acts), the Shanghai leg wasn't quite as successful. I speculated on some of the reasons for this before. Nevertheless, 7 acts took part and you can read all about it here.

Then, the real craziness kicked in. Maybe we should all be used to the ridiculous whims of the Party, but I was still pretty shocked to read about the decimation of the Modern Sky Festival on China Music Radar. That was followed by Andy posting that the ban extended too all gigs by foreign bands which apparently led to the bizarre spectacle of The (International) Noise Conspiracy standing around in Yuyintang unable to play at the gig they were meant to be headlining. What. The. Fuck?

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