Results tagged “music” from Andy Best
You Say France & I Whistle In case the name didn't set off your twee alarm: Each person's bio lists the instruments they play along with stuff like "improvised dance moves," "great yoga exercises," "screams of both joy and frustration," and "hamburgers."
LYBZ: Going back to the songs of the album "Grow Up". It says "grow up, stop fucking around"? Has someone said that to you? Pp: I think Morgan likes to say stuff like "stop fucking around!!!" because it makes the song less serious or less poetic
M: It's like someone says some kind of criticism of your life, I find that if you take the criticism and repeat it eight times in a row to music that constantly builds, you can turn it around as, like, not a criticism anymore, to some kind of weird anthem, like "you will always be a loser."
Pp: Yeah! Totally influenced by that one. They repeat it like ten times.
M: That one of Titus Andronicus. So he takes the criticism and spins it back, and you turn it into an anthem then it's okay to be a looser, or it's okay to not grow up, it's empowering. Then grow up, stop being an idiot get your life together, stop being an idiot and get your life together, you take that and you know, you turn it into your own little thing.
He told me that Joe had played music all of his life, but it was only after a serious car accident that almost killed him that he became serious about it. Before then, it was just a hobby that he dabbled in while working in Beijing real estate. However, after the car wreck, Joe decided that he'd do nothing but play music, and music alone. As Joe himself put it when I asked him about it later, "I was sick. I was diseased, and I didn't even realize it. Every day I would go to work and talk to people who I didn't like and do things I didn't want to do just so that I could make money. It was all I cared about. So many people are like this, especially here in China. But now I've found a solution."
Factory is temporarily suspending its activities while undertaking a strategic review to refocus and further develop its creative core.
There seems to be quite a commitment to the music and the artist side of things - is that more important than being a successful business?
Actually in today's society or music industry, the power of promotion are far beyond music itself, and I think every people with a healthy-normal brain should understand that. But, well, maybe we all had a failed-brain so we think, at least at this period of miniless, we'll focus more on music. And if the music could inspire the others and ourselves, that's a successful business to us.
"The main idea is basically this whole factory is being underwritten by [local advertising agency] Profero. It's all about content, content, content," explains Sean Dinsmore, The Factory's Creative Director. "Looking at it from this angle it makes it a lot more manageable. Looking at it [ just] from a music label point, it's fiscal suicide. "It's totally transparent for musicians," says local singer / guitarist Dave Zhao, whose interest was piqued by The Factory's unique approach. "They can record the songs here and then bring the songs to the advertising company to see if they're interested in them."
I'm sure most of my readers are familiar with Bill Hicks. Maybe not. He was an American comedian who was tragicaly struck down by cancer at just 32 years old. Anyway, Bill was big on music, especially rock and independent music. He paraphrased this many ways during his shows but we can get the basic gist here:
Rock stars doing Pepsi commercials? Are we living in Reagan's wet dream? Let me say this, just once so we can set it in stone. Anyone who advertises a product on TV should be struck off the artistic register for ever. I don't care if you are shitting Mona Lisa's in your sleep, you have made your fucking choice. You are sucking satan's cock. You can't be trusted anymore.
If there is no existing structure, industry or community for music in your city. Build one. People are doing it. Accept that there's no chance to 'make big money' from it at this time and just make your music.
Just stay away from that big scaly member.
2) Boys Climbing Ropes live @ Dream factory: 291 views watch
3) Bang Bang Tang live @ Yuyintang (Oct): 287 views watch
5) Bang Bang Tang live @ Yuyintang (Nov 2008): 265 views watch
6) Self Party live @ Yuyintang: 260 views watch
So much for actually being punk, eh?
Demerit are a hardcore punk act from Qingdao who live in Beijing to be in the scene. They started to develop the music by adding a guitarist and experimenting with more riffs. Demerit won the Friday night headlining slot on a reputation as excellent live performers and it was well justified. So check it out.
Regular readers may have noticed that when I link reviews and articles by other English language writers that it's the same small group of people. That'll be because there's only a small group of writers covering it in English. You may also notice that I am supportive and diplomatic in the main. Sometimes, though, another writer will just say what they think and it happens to sum up what I was thinking too. Then I can quote them and they get all the blame if someone objects. Yes!
Jake Newby was at the Subs show with me and threw out some observations in his SH Magazine blog. He starts by mentioning Sub's singer Kang mao's hilarious opening line, referring to the other Beijing act in town that night (indie pop act Milk @ Coffee):
"We're the beer band," joked Kang Mao as she took the stage at Zhijiang Dream Factory.
But it's his observations of the support acts that really hit the mark:
Before them, The Molds had disappointed with their Lou Reed-like post-rock and out of tune, echo-laden vocals. Having delayed the start of the gig due to an hour and 45 minute soundcheck, they were completely upstaged and made to look amateurish by opening act Pinkberry. "All four of us have got colds today," declared Pinkberry lead singer Xiao You, but it didn't seem to affect their performance. It's not often the crowd demand an encore from an opening act, but Pinkberry are no ordinary band.
Jake also lays down a tip that might see this blog do it's first report from Live Bar. Upcoming act Tianping Dian (Candy Shop) are headlining there on Sat 6th which gives me an alternative to Hua Lun who are post-rock. Laziness may well win out so don't despair, shoegazers.
Finally. Yuyintang have just announced a 'Winter Madness' all day show on the same day that Hedgehog play in the evening. So, on the 13th there'll be a bunch of bands playing from 1.30 in the afternoon (including Candy Shop) and then the Hedgehog show in the evening. Football in the park behind anyone? Jumpers for goalposts?
I also caught Torturing Nurse's gig the week prior, quite an usual set for them. At this, their 20th NOIShanghai concert, sound artist Yan Jun 颜峻 (who was down from Beijing to play with me and Bruce Gremo in a performance of Christian Marclay's Screen Play, part of the Shanghai eArts Festival 2008 in Xujiahui Park) decided he was going to turn the tables by torturing Torturing Nurse (in his pajamas). Xu Cheng 徐程 was tied up in a bag with a microphone, Junky was tied to a table in a raincoat with a contact mic taped to his throat, and Jia Die 蛱蝶 was taped up to a microphone and chair. (And that's all she was wearing; as an unintended encore, we got to hear her improvised offstage vocalizations as the tape was removed from her more sensitive regions.)
Nov 22nd New Pants ... actually after the diss they laid on Regurgitator we don't recommend seeing these douchebags unless it's to throw rotten tomatoes at the f*ckers.
Yuyintang, which has basically become Shanghai's only real (and consistent) livehouse, had just announced its November line-up and rock fans are in for a seriously awesome month.
Tianping Dian video: 28 views (up 22 and no significant difference to a regular video)
Bang Bang Tang
2) Bang Bang Tang play Yuyintang: 158 views watch
3) Boys Climbing Ropes live at Control: 131 views watch
Every great passion ends in the infinite... Likewise, Motek is driven by instinct and the thirst for sultry recollections of forgotten emotional states. Sticking layers of effect-laden guitars, underpinned by a needy bass and entrancing drums create the texture of great music for the best moments of your life. This sonic dream closes the gap between wishes, wants and imagination with melancholy, madness, consolation and hope.
This free festival being organized by the people behind Taikang Lu's 288 Melting Pot bar is part of the Shanghai Tourism Festival. According to Head Organizer Ruby Hsiao, "It is the government's intention to support original music, and to earn more attention from the younger generation in
- Chinese or expatriates." Shanghai
Well, did you read this earlier post on when I was last there? They filled the dance floor area in front of the stage with tables and let people play dice games with their backs to the great band who came all the way from Korea. They delayed the show start an hour and fifteen minutes because someone there had a birthday and wanted their friends to perform some pop hits to a backing track. They are not trying to support local music, they are treating it like a background cover band and even bumping it for a keyboard guy. And I hope that quote was added in by enthusiastic newspaper editors - letting two rock acts play a park for tourist day does not compensate for the past three months. Unless support actually means kill in the above case.
2) Getting an early listen to Pink Berries, if they stick it out and get tight there's going to be some great shows in the future.
Banana Monkey are good. Their style is more indie than us, but I like to listen to indie too. ReTROS are really good live too. They are really professional, on an international level almost, and I like their attitudes towards music and life - they're very low key.
This is the pagan celebration of music, the dancers around the fires of creation celebrating the force of live music, turning on the inspiration, the hearts and the engines. For all of those about to say there's no rock in Shanghai, we recommend extreme care before pronouncing these words, you may be slapped by one of the dark wings of the demons flying over Shanghai. It's as simple as if you don't feel it, it's just not for you. And for those chosen to participate, join the lines and spread the word: Rock is striking out
. Hell Yeah!!!! Shanghai
Here is a description of Brad Ferguson:
Ferguson is one of the demons of Rock, who as many custodial demons, has been called to protect and feed the fires of Rock&Roll and during this present age Shanghai is the proud designated zone under his dark wings.
So, if you're into this style, perhaps Layabozi is the music mag you have been missing, check it out.
I was just checking the Youtube channel and noticed that the Modern Cheese video was getting a few views already. So, why not give it a post. It's good quality and more close in than the usual vids I do. Self Party still leads the view count on the blog's Youtube Channel though, by double the next closest challenger.
You also might note that at 2:52 you can hear Jordan from BCR shout "oh ... big solo!" That's exactly what I was going to say except that I knew there was a mic running right by my head. Excellent.
Anyway, check out the musicianship right now!
Tough choice tonight with one of my favourite Shanghai bands Hard Queen playing in a new venue across town. Finally I was tempted to Yuyintang by the words old school punk. I will see Hard Queen at Dream Factory next weekend. I must admit laziness playing a big part too. Since moving house last week, I am now literally five minute's walk from YYT.
Special mention: Upon arriving I was very impressed with the new sign. Check the photo. A professional looking light-up sign to go with the mural. You see, I hit all the important, insightful details when reporting the scene, like who has the nicest sign.
As support act Modern Cheese were setting up on stage I had a chat with Abe Deyo (promoter) and Jordan Small (of Boys Climbing Ropes) that was quite interesting. I'm hesitant to talk about it for fear of starting something off that may not be that good for the scene here, but I will anyway. We were talking about indie labels in Shanghai and how much they can financially support a band, or not. Jordan mentioned that he'd rather just self finance as it was comparatively cheap for foreigners. The Boys Climbing Ropes CD is good and they have a track playing on radio back in the USA in some capacity. The CD cost less than 8000 RMB to record. Strolling back later it occured to me that a good way to get your band noticed would be to come over and be based in Shanghai. You could play shows at will, headlining any venue you like, when you like and make a CD and marketing for ten times cheaper than back home.
Of course, if you do bring your band over to Shanghai, be sure to live here.
So Modern Cheese kicked off and I immediately noticed the line-up change from last time. They have added a singer. At the last show, the guitarist was also the lead singer. With this addition, the songs now have some good back-ups and harmony vocal parts. It made a difference. Their first two tracks are their usual strong ones but like the previous show, the rest of the set lacks the same energy and focus. I often talk about how support acts play on way too long here and don't seem to get the concept of supporting. However, I mellowed and like the idea that YYT gives new bands a chance to play and that's what's important. I didn't, however, count on Modern Cheese. The set ended with the guitarist bringing on a stool and launching into an intimate monolgue with the audience - followed by what amounted to a second, solo set. Anyway, this band do have chops and ability and they are still worth checking out in the videos.
The Shy Tall Mighty took the stage next. No one seemed to have heard them before and there weren't any CDs knocking around the door or shop. I was mildly surprised to see the two frontmen apear - two middle aged British geezers. They just went straight into a high energy old school punk set, London accents and all. The crowd, who'd been very patient up to this point, instantly took to it. They never dropped the energy level and did a solid enjoyable show. They are not based in Shanghai though, and I'm not sure we'll see them again anytime soon or have cause to follow their development. Fans of good ol' Punk should definitely catch them if you have the chance.
To finish, I want to mention that Kongzhong Huayuan (Sky Garden) are playing Sunday's 0093 Rock Party. I mistakenly reported their name as KongDE Huayuan last time. I really want to catch them again and see if they've improved any. Fans of Coldplay-esque jangly guitar bands should come too.
That's Shanghai September 2008 edition just came out and you can see the articles I mention here.
Not as much good coverage as last month, but that's OK. Last month was especially good ... remember?
Before I get to Lisa Movius' Rockpile column I should briefly mention the Wang Wen review on page 29. I quote
Unlike the band's high energy live performances, their recorded material ...
Hmmn. Has the reviewer been to one of their shows? I have, and quite recently too. They were typical of a meandering post-rock band. Low energy. That's not a criticism, it was a reasonable recreation of the energy levels on the CD.
Now, I was impressed with the Rockpile column for a third month in a row. Let's be honest, I'm always impressed with anyone who appears to agree with me on bands and music. Equally, if you don't agree with my picks - you don't know anything. Ahem. This month is another pick, this time Little Nature. I have seen this band three times and wrote up the first time for Shanghaiist back in March here. They were the standout band that night despite their Happy Birthday closer. I most recently saw them at the Jiao Ban night at Yuyintang where I was happy to see they had stayed together and started to get a following.
Lisa talks about that night and reports that all three bands (Momo, Crazy Musrooms and Little Nature) met with Shanghai based Soma Records and walked away with deals. This is amazing news for me as they are the three bands I have been relentlessly tipping all year. I especially want to have the Mushrooms on CD. It does however beg the question, who the f*#^ are Soma Records? Obviously not the Scotland based dance label. Hmmnn, Lisa any chance of a fill-in in the comments? If not, I may have to do research, oh no.
These are good picks from Lisa. The Mushroom's CD will be especially good and these are all bands who have room to improve, mature and produce great songs given the chance to record. Let me finish by re-linking (sorry older readers) the demo we did for CW with Aric Queen that features two full songs by Momo (then Happy Strings). The demo that was followed shortly by Aric and CW manager Colin leaving the country. We will still make it if another host and backer come in ...anyone ...no ... sniff.
And so continues my adventures in post-rock slash shoegazing indie slash call-it-whatever-the-f**k-you-like I was born at the start of the seventies and know all about self-indulgent intrumental wank-fests, haven't you heard of progressive rock before ...
Finally I found some that I quite liked. Lu Xing Tuan (that's "lv", pedants) mainly hail from China's Guangxi province down south. Their English name is Life Journey and they are signed to Modern Sky records in Beijing. I managed to check out a couple of their songs before I went to the show. And you can too: here
Luckily, I have this habit of going to shows and night-time events on time. Lucky because this one was another case of the reverse curse. As I may have mentioned before, YYT have the habit of packing in extra bands and yet still failing to start any of them until a good hour late or so. Not a big deal for most people. This time, there were no support acts at all and Luxing Tuan kicked off at exactly the advertised time of nine. This meant that around half of the great turn out wandered in half way through the set imagining it was a support act.
Luxing Tuan turned out to be pretty good. I was a bit worried at first but once they settled and the sound got tweaked it turned into a good show. Their drummer gave them just enough energy to keep the crowd into it but not enough to break their dreamy atmosphere. The vocal lines and harmonies were on. The songs were good and the audience really enjoyed it. It was the reverse of what I normally get from this style, the live show was much more effective than the CD. The other example being Wang Wen whose CD was nuanced and interesting but live it was just toothless.
I was there with friends and I've been a bit sick lately, so for the last part of the set I chilled on the couch in the CD shop part and did the hipster thing - watch people coming in and out through the door and judge them. What suprised me though was the amount of trying to get out of paying going on. It was quite funny with all the classic lines and hopeful looks. But just in case not every reader here is like minded: YYT are not rich and do us all a great service. Even if you are offered free entry for legitimate reasons, you should say no and pay anyway, they really need the money. If I got it all wrong and people weren't trying to scam in for free (because people never do that, do they) they why weren't you trying to pay double to show your support!
Finally, here's a photo of the new mural on the outside wall. Complete with some idiot standing in the way of it. Some idiot with a blog. Don't forget to check the Youtube channel for tonight's vid.
I was f***ing around with my wife's Spectrum Emulator today in order to play my favourite game from 1985-86 ... when I was, ahem, 13 ... Jet Set Willy. So I made a video of Willy finding the secret entrance to the rooms under the house - the Forgotten Abbey. They eventually lead to the Entrance To Hades. However, it's rock hard and I couldn't get out the first room.
The video as I made it is clear and quite funny. It is set to a kick ass song by Beijing indie rockers Hedgehog. The song is appropriately about reliving your childhood.
However, after screen recording - editing, encoding ...then further encoding by Youtube - it is tiny and exceptionally bad quality. Watch it for the hedgehog song or if you are fond of Jet Set Willy. Look closely to see Willy's lives at the bottom, dancing to the tune. By the way, it's not as bad as the screencap in the player makes it out to be.
Open commenting is new to the blog and I'm not sure how many readers are checking back in. The last post on festivals brought some excellent reponses from That's Shanghai music writer Lisa Movius and Spilt Works' Archie Hamilton. They definitely warrant a post for your consideration.
You perhaps deliberately skipped RockIt and its offshoot the Summer Music Conference last year. One may - okay, everyone does - have issues with the sponsor/venue, Bonbon/Dino Beach, but they were nonetheless successful events with some great performances.
RockIt 2007 was a split-off of 1234 in 2006: two of the main organizers, Frank Fan and Wu Jun, amicably went separate ways. Both were very diplomatic about the split, and Wu Jun never claimed (to me at least) that RockIt was year two of 1234, but he got nonetheless some abuse from certain third parties. However, having interviewed both Wu and Fan, and covered both events, I think that RockIt can be as fairly considered 1234 v2 as the actually-named 1234 v2, given that it actually happened... Regardless, we'll see what happens to both in non-Limp Icks years, as well as what impact the Shibo ends up having on local culture - nourish vs squish.
The Shanghai Tourism Festival has done well sometimes, suprisingly so, like in 2003 when it opened with a line-up of Cui Jian, The Honeys, and Crystal Butterfly.
And here's Archie:
We're actually just about to send out a press release about the next steps for Split. Like everyone else, we've had the same sort of problems with getting anything licensed, so we've pretty much decided to write off 2008. We have, however, just come back from a road trip to 2nd tier cities with PK14, Queen Sea and local support in each city, which was pretty rad. Managed to fly under the radar until Xi'an, when the police caught up with it all. You can read more at www.dazeddigital.com and search for Converse Love Noise in English or lualua.blogbus.com for Chinese.
I live in hope that the next few months will be a return to the upward curve. We're trying to get some money together for the Rockkid festival at Songjiang which has been pulled through lack of funding, and as I said, there will be some more news on other stuff soon. Just someone give us a decent venue in Shanghai with reasonable management and we could start doing so much more. In the interim, keep up the great work everyone. It's a labour of love, but it will work for us eventually.
And here's Lisa again to end on a positive:
What matters now is that ther is a critical (probably too critical!) mass of musicians, fans, media, etc, who will strive and revive no matter what happens. For all my nostalgia for the intimacy of the late 1990s scene, I am flabbergasted and giddy about the energy today. The obstacles remain, but the momentum is ever greater.
Venues come and go. Bands come and go. That shit happens is kinda par for course by now. But the institutional memory is finally here, the community support, for bands and for venues is permanent, and developing really excitingly. Things are finally, finally congealing, and it is heart-breakingly awesome.
Over the past couple of years, festivals have entered the music scene and then bashed up against the glass ceiling and dissapeared as quickly as they came. I recently read a bit of news and had a couple of conversations out the back of gigs.
The Shanghai scene is quite a different, and shorter, story than Beijing. Talking of Beijing ...
Most of the recent talk started with this post over at China Music Radar. I want to go through this step by step for non-China based readers. It is standard practice here for large events and also licenced (known) smaller events to be shut down during any national meeting of political importance. This is usually a tight window but this year we had the sporting event that shall not be named - which started to wreak its havoc from May onwards. So, the news at China Music Radar was that the cancelled Midi Festival in Beijing was to be revived in the October public holiday. Alas, this is exactly when Beijing indie label Modern Sky are holding their own festival in the same park. Read that link for more info.
What about Shanghai? Well, the history of Shanghai festivals is much easier to relate as there's hardly any of it. In fact there's only really been one indigenous festival of note - the 1234 Beach Rock festival - and that has only managed to appear once. The other festival was the Yue Festival organised by Split Works. Split Works are experienced international promoters and the festival brought in big names from abroad. No word on the site about rescheduling for this year ... Archie? Comments are open with no registering now.
1234 started out down in Fengxian at the man made beach and was mainly organised by Frank Fen of Mortal Fools. It expanded last year and moved to a new site near Shangnan in Pudong. Alas, the date clashed with the National People's Congress in Beijing and the plug was pulled at the last minute. This year has been another write off due to the sporting event that shall not be named. Frank says it could be done late this year but that they simply don't have the money to get through the approval process. He will focus on smaller events in the future.
Now for a confession. I can't stand large scale open air shows. They suck. I don't drink and i'm not interested in the party atmosphere at shows. The best show I ever saw was when White Zombie showed up at Birkenhead Stairways - a little smaller than the Dream Factory here. They were touring for their major label release La Sexorcisto Devil Music Vol 1 and only played two UK shows, London and Birkenhead. Wierd. But, it set the standard for me. A legendary artist at the peak of his powers, right there in front of you and you're experiencing a connection. Also, most shows I saw ever were in the Liverpool Royal Court which is a mid-scale touring venue and about as big as I like to go. Another amazing small scale show I saw was Love/Hate at the Tivoli in Buckley. Donington Monsters Of Rock was the main event for my crowd at the time - but really, buckets of piss flying through the air?!
Well, Saturday saw a huge all day show featuring Sunnet, Six Shot, Lollipop, Dragon Pizza, Screaming Jesus, Sound Illusion, Five Pointed Star, Chaos Mind, Yu Guo and Cold Fairyland. It was called Summer Nuts! and was basically a big celebration of the recent ban being up.
I was all geared up to go and video a song from each and write, like, a four-post write up of it for the blog. Alas, I had to move house on Saturday and come three o'clock I had barely packed 40% of my stuff. Lame me. So ... lucky for me, Sam had someone video his performance at the show and put it on Youtube. Without further ado - Chaos Mind.
Gigs are back despite the sporting event that shall not be named still running on a couple more days. I went to Yuyintang to check out Beijing indie band Gar but came away stoked with Hard Queen. So they get the featured post. Check the Youtube channel for Gar also.
Tonight was a cautious foray back into the gig world. The sporting event that shall not be named has not yet finished and the official back to business show is tomorrow at Dream Factory. The headliners for tonight were Beijing indie outfit The Gar.
Check out their myspace page here: Gar
Abe Deyo had predicted a limited turn out at Shanghaiist. It turned out to be reasonable but the August ban has clearly knocked a hole in the great turnouts at YYT this summer when we saw shows packed to the rafters with the local student brigade. I got there in time for the support act Hard Queen and spotted a whole bunch of scenesters, even John P of Sinosplice fame.
Hard Queen played a great set and had a nice sound too. They have enough good material to play a full hour of mostly originals. When I first saw them they clearly had standout songs but now the rest of the material is up there too. At one point, Sheena (singer) pointed out a Hard Queen T-shirt being worn in the audience. It's what they deserve. The material is good, they have their own sound and they have come together live - a fanbase is sure to follow. Hopefully they can cement this with the speedy release of their upcoming CD. Song of the night: We Don't Care.
The Gar came on straight after. The timely start and tight scheduling was down to the sports event that shall not be named, no chances could be taken. I was a bit shocked at the sound. Hard Queen had a pretty good sound which then seemed to take a huge dive for the main act. Then, after three tracks of jangly indie type stuff they left the stage. Odd. During this sudden break there was no activity on the stage and no sound checking or repairing. The Gar are a three piece with all the hallmarks of the latest indie trends including long instrumental sections. I came away from the gig feeling like I'd seen a Hard Queen show.
The main idea of this blog was just to combine articles with links to the band's own pages. After having a think, I decided it was do-able to feature performance videos and post them via youtube. This is only possible with a true underground scene like we have here where such activities are seen as helpful. In the corporate world, bootlegging gigs could be slightly problematic. Ah, nostalgia. I remember when Metallica refused to do promos and even recorded a tribute EP to their favourite bootleg (Garage Days Re-Revisited). Look at the sorry mess now.
So, now my youtube channel is six weeks old - birthday July 6th - and we have 19 videos on there.
Why not have a look now?
Not all the videos there get their own featured post on the blog so you may have missed some. The views aren't massive but they definitely indicate popularity. Having a featured post hasn't always meant much more views than others. Suprisingly for me, Self Party are leading in that respect. It's the blog's most popular video at the moment. With over fifty visitors in a day now, there's no way some vids should only have around five views. So, come on, check out some of the bands you may have missed.
Start with a high quality winner first: my favourite vid on the channel.
Indie-folk artist Wang Juan and her band play Dream Factory in Shanghai. The show is part of a tour to promote the release of her second CD In Distance. Enjoy the opening number from this low key Sunday afternoon show. The scene goes back to work next weekend.
Some classier venues, such as Dream Factory in the Tong Le Fang development, have managed to get around a total ban this month. And so, we have a show in my neck of the woods before the official restart next weekend. Dream Factory is a really good venue that is cursed with being in an expensive up-market corporate venture. They only get people at shows when events there are promoted by other people in the scene, such as Abe Deyo or Yuyintang, who have more idea how to do it. Brad Ferguson has his rescheduled PK-14 show coming up there and Yuyintang also have a big back-to-business multi band party there next week.
Wang Juan is a gifted indie-folk artist with two CDs out now. I add 'indie' to the genre there because the term folk here is a bit of a casualty. I'm not going to divert into some history thing but needless to say that Wang Juan is a guitar act that writes their own stuff and has no patriotic opera songs or old instruments - but they are still making music that represents a more traditional side of their own cultural experience.
And with that, why not just have a listen - here.
The turn out was not so good but enough to put a few seated rows in front of the stage. It was a diverse crowd that included Zhang Haisheng and Gemnil Lin from Yuyintang (the organisers) and artist Popil. I previously blogged about Popil's Eno show with Hard Queen here.
Wang Juan and her band are excellent musicians and they did a super tight set of beautiful compositions. I've been playing music myself since I was 13 and at one point was hypnotised by a duet that featured Wang Juan's Chinese classical singing chops and some virtuoso guitar magic. But aside from the appreciation factor, as i've said before, I'm a rock fan. It was guitar-ish enough to keep me going till the end but when it comes down to it - I get more from a song about breaking up then realising your favourite sweater is trapped at your ex's house than I do from a song about a small bird flying over the Xinjiang landscape or what have you.
The same time I was reading City Weekend music scene columnist Aric Queen's official last column in the new print edition - takes breath - there was also an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond playing in the same room. It was an episode where Ray, a writer, gets caught writing an obituary for his still living father for practice. So, I'm going to blog Aric's official departure from the scene as if he was dead/gone for good.
Aric Queen was recently known as a scene pundit of sorts through his column The Beat. Despite it being on the English speaking periphery of an already small scene, the column still managed to provoke debate and a few storms in teacups along the way. A notable example of this was the column following up on strong shows at Tembo that asked if Brad Ferguson was the saviour of the Shanghai music scene. A lack of experience with English expressions and journo-hyperbole led folks at Yuyintang to take it as a slight on their own efforts.
After taking over the column from the DJ-centric Michael Ozone of Antidote, Aric brought his local live music agenda with him. Recently, though, burnout settled in and the column increasingly fell back to generic posts on the ex-pat bar scene. With only one print column a month, most of this year was spent wondering why girls kiss each other at parties and other related topics. A column wondering if it was "gay" to cry at a Black Eyed Peas show caused a predictable (and justified) ruckus. Around this time, Aric also broke onto Current TV with his Shanghai Diaries v-log. This was not music related. This month's final column announces his departure into greener pastures.
Now for what a lot of newer arrivals to the scene don't know about Aric. Aric Queen was an extremely talented, and professional, voice artist/presenter whose Gig Shanghai project is the sole largest missed opportunity the scene ever had. I still miss it. It's easy to start a website or blog and write about the scene, just ask me. It's not easy to maintain a good one. You need the time and resources to create a strong lead feature and publish it often. Gig Shanghai had it all.
Aric was working for Ken Carroll at Chinese Pod as an English presenter for some of their podcasts. Gig Shanghai was then started within this professional environment. They had their own studio and employees at the company to do research and bookings. The site was simple and effective with good branding and a simple clear style. They had a single strong feature, the podcast, and produced it every week. And it was good. After a few weeks it hit it's stride and expanded to include a Chinese language program too. The future looked bright and it all hinged around Aric's considerable skills in the host's seat.
It all collapsed as quickly as it had taken off. The process of expanding into a fully fledged video show in effect killed the podcast. The new show Giglive didn't pan out and had been funded through a venue as a promotion, a move away from the Carroll stable. Everyone walked away and the greatest web project on the scene died a quick death.
When Aric resurfaced with the CW column and a freelance producer mantle, he was already jaded. But, the skills on show during Gig Shanghai stuck in my mind and we (me and Cameron Hirst) approached him to present a demo project of our own - FNU. We made it to use as a demo and involved Aric in all parts of the process. We had a good time and got to see the Aric skills in action, reminding me again of what could have been. It was a joy to work with a pro and I finished the project wondering what had happened to this guy who was now mainly know as "The Columnist You Love to Hate - Mostly Hate". Attempts at a low rent revival of the pod/vid cast in the CW blog of the column just seemed to underline the transformation.
Of course, Aric is not dead and I for one hope his trip brings him back to us refreshed and recharged. It takes all types to make a vibrant scene even people you love to hate.
As if anyone could forget, we are in the middle of the world's greatest
sports event propaganda showpiece for the nation-states system we live under. As I previously reported, this has had a big effect on the music scene here and hence this blog.
The next show in the scene, and thus the next one I'll be attending, is on the 17th of this month. It will be put on by Yuyintang at the alternative venue 'The Dream Factory'. Playing is Wang Juan and her band. You can get a preview of her music here. Then, normal service resumes on the 22nd with a show by Gar.
In the meantime you will see some posts in the other category popping up, maybe some stuff on education or pop culture ... that is if Jim can stop actually doing his job for just one minute and post on movies. I might have to bore the pants off readers with a comparison of industry standard script formats for film vs. comic books.
Finally, with Aric Queen on his holiday and not posting much on his Beat column, City Weekend have recruited a mystery writer to post on the music scene in their nightlife section. The new writer goes under the anonymous handle Punknotjunk and has a fake photo too. They've put up five articles since August 1st and it's a paid gig over at CW. But what is with the secret identity? Is someone I know really this superhero by night? Is it someone known as a scene commentator moonlighting and not wanting trouble from other employers? Or perhaps they just enjoy being all Mysterio. Either way, it's another newswire type service to check, I suppose.
Mirjam and photographer David work mainly with Swedish newspaper SvD. They were touring China and putting together some features, including a piece on the Shanghai music scene. We went to the Yuguo show and took a bunch of pictures, you can see one of the montages from the spread just here. Yes, I'm in there.
So, the article just came out. There is an online version of the article but it's in Swedish. But non-Swedish speakers should check it out anyway as it features a slideshow of the photos from the print article.
Here it is: Shanghairock
Image from Wang Jian Shuo
So, we lose a venue and all the others are banned from putting on shows until the Ol*mp*cs are done. My reviews and vids have come to a sudden halt for the next three weeks. Does this mean I have to go out and do interviews or does it mean I will simply rip other people's stuff?
Lucky for me, it's that time of the month when the ex-pat mags come out. First of all, it's important to remember that China doesn't have any good magazines in English or Chinese dedicated soley to indie/rock music. Some that try are basically there to intro 'western' scenes and have an occaisional feature on a Chinese band. Think you know one I've missed? Make a comment and I'll ridicule it for not being a 'real' rock/indie cultural product. My wife quit writing for China's Rock Magazine when it ran a cover story on Britney.
What we have are columns in decidely non rock'n'roll publications aimed at ex-pats in general. Shanghai Daily has a music feature in its Scope section. The latest feature it ran on live music was about Music Matters. Music Matters are a bunch of English teachers who decided that music is, like, really important and should not be absent from the community. They organise a monthly night at Mural Bar where they play covers and rap and all sorts of things. Is it possible that they have completely missed the fact that there is a music scene here with venues, shows, rehearsal studios, muso hang outs and ample opportunity to hear original music or form a band and make your own? The article certainly reads like that. Shanghai Daily, finger
up its ass on the pulse.
So, onto That's Shanghai magazine. I just got the new one and must note that their music section - that covers the local scene - now covers a couple of pages and a few columns. Lisa Movius has the Rockpile column. Ben Hogue has Shanghai Live. Also, the two of them plus some staff writers put in a couple of pages worth of Musicology features.
The Musicology features - not yet posted at their website as far as I could see just now - are about the closure of Ark Live House. This is older news that I blogged about here, but you can't blame the monthy magazines. It happened right when last months mags went out which means it had to wait until this months to come out, obviously. Lisa Movius rehashes the debate of the past month but follows up with a good mini-feature about other venues that went the same way called Hello, Goodbye. She lists U-like, Ark Live House, Tribesman, Gua'er, Tang Hui and 4Live. The reasons and stories are varied but there's a pattern which is found in many industries. A project is started by people who love what they do and they get it into the black, not huge profits, but it's running fine. Then, when it starts to pick up, an ego-maniac manager or owner steps in with a
ridiculous ignorant ingenious idea to make it more profitable and sinks the whole operation.
Next up in the Rockpile column, Lisa goes with a pick for the second month running. Last time it was Crazy Mushroom Brigade and this time she has gone for Loudspeaker.
Loudspeaker have a new CD out and good quality recording on their myspace page: check it out.
The column focuses on the fact that they are one of the scene mainstays at nine years and counting. I have seen them a few times and you can find a brief clip on the blog youtube channel. I have an image stuck in my head from one gig as an overheated, sweating Zhang Jian (the singer/guitarist), straight off stage and on a high, went directly to a quiet corner and spent the next ten minutes carefully and lovingly wiping down his guitar. I immediately wished there was some way I could apologise to my own guitars down the years.
I wonder if Jimi Hendrix is plagued in death by the spirits of his ex-guitars that he not only smashed, but often burnt in on-stage rituals?
Breaking news over at Shanghaiist that I'm going to rehash here as some of my blog peeps don't go there.
Here's the original article.
So, here's how the story of Friday night went - that's last night. Brad Ferguson, the manager of Windows Underground turned up to work to have his boss tell him that he was now forbidden from booking Chinese bands.
Some background, the Windows family has three popular bars in Shanghai. One of them, Tembo, was not doing much so the boss, a local Shanghai woman, hired Brad to manage in the general sense and to turn it into a live music place. After a great start they moved the whole bar to a bigger location and fitted it out with a good sound system, finally re-naming it Windows Underground.
Here's Brad telling the story from the Sha-ist interview:
My boss forbade me from hiring Chinese bands, saying that Chinese people only want to see foreigners, and that rock is a western thing so westerners do it better. She said she herself would rather see a bad foreigner band than a good Chinese one. We argued about it for a while last night, but didn't make any progress. So, I let Hard Queen, our regular Friday night (Chinese) band, do their final show. The accountant warned me that they wouldn't pay for Chinese bands, but I agreed to pay out of my own pocket. The band are friends of mine, so I also told them why they were being replaced. At the end of their set they said some stuff about the bar and my boss -- all true -- then kicked the drum kit over. The crowd cheered and people seemed to be having a good time. I finished out the night, but when I got home my boss called me from downstairs. She yelled at me for a while, then she called the police. I politely explained the events of the night, and the cops agreed that as there were no damages, no one was injured, and no one broke the law, there was nothing they could do. So, I only got fired.
So, Windows Underground is out of the scene. I'm sorry, but cover bands and cabaret don't count. As Brad says in the article.
Also, this is not that suprising in some aspects. Windows bars are notorious for barring locals from ticketed events for allegedly not drinking enough. And coincidentally, a few years back when Windows Too was still in Jing An Plaza, I popped in on a New Year's eve and saw the very same owner turning away locals herself at the ticket table in the hall. Bar owners. Again, not surprising.
City Weekend Magazine run a monthly column called The Beat. It covers the music scene but often strays into non music pubs and other digressions too. Columnist Aric Queen also keeps a blog of the column on City Weekend's website.
The latest print column, also available online here, picks five songs for the summer by Shanghai bands. And, ahem, one of the picks is mine. Aric also produced the column as a podcast - you can find that here.
I picked "Love You So" by the Crazy Mushroom Brigade. Alas, they don't have either a CD out or a publically available quality MP3 of the song. Aric has tried to rip a live video but my pick is basically inaudible on the podcast.
The full list of picks:
Aric Queen: "Boogie to the top" by Pharaoh
Andy Best: "Love you so" by Crazy Mushroom Brigade
Ciga: "Happy dreamer on a small bed" by Muscle Snog
Archie Hamilton: "The Flood" by Cold Fairyland
Abe Deyo: "Synth Love" by I-Go
Obviously, this is a survey taken from the English language world. And ... I must make some clear disclaimers before launching into my comment: In the CW column Archie clearly states that Cold Fairyland are "not really rock and roll", so the following comment is not any kind of riposte to his pick. Secondly, Cold Fairyland are skilled and talented musicians who deserve their reputation, the following comment is not about that at all.
So, Cold Fairyland ... first up, you can listen to them here.
Now, Cold Fairyland are a popular, talented band with CDs out and a following. They often play in venues that I frequent. But, I won't be going to the shows or getting the CDs because ... I'm a rock/indie fan. I would no more buy their CD than I would buy Sounds of the Forest or K-Tel Presents The Mystical Pipes of Patagonia. I'm simply not into World Music.
World Music, as most people know, is an easy listening genre that combines regional folk music with studio production. It does not mean and has never meant, bands from other countries than the one you're currently in. Excluding people who have never left mainland China, there is not one of you reading this blog who hasn't seen a World Music section in a large record store or doesn't know what I'm talking about.
So, when I hear (or read) other ex-pats talking about CF in the same breath as, say, Top Floor Circus I have to assume one of two things:
A) They are suffering from some kind of ex-pat culture shock thing.
B) They are genuine World Music fans and the CF CD is sitting on their shelf right next to An Ancient Muse.
I suppose it's a reflection on the realities of the scene. I'm not getting into any kind of judgement or analysis, but most of you will know what I mean when I say that ALL independently produced music is basically in the same boat so there is a lot more crossover between styles here than other places. Back home in Liverpool, a rock club is a rock club and it's unthinkable that a DJ playing anything other than rock would play at an event/show there.
There is some hope. I don't see the hip-hop crowd chillin at Punk gigs and I don't see skateboarders hooking up for street sessions with rollerbladers. If I did go to a hip-hop show (I am a fan), I'd hope it was it was rich, focused and produced by people with something to say who live for Hip-hop. I'd hope I'd be stepping into a world, not the world.
This post is more of an anecdote than a gig review but I did get new vid material so it's worth doing. Earlier in the day I had been to see Hard Queen at Eno. I wasn't going to check out the Miniless showcase at Yuyintang but I got a call from Rylan McPhee, buddy of mine, who was already there. So I dragged myself and my tired, heavy head to the show.
I got there in time to see Self Party play. To be fair, they were not that bad despite an average to washy sound and the habit of repeating the same four bars more than thrity or so times in each song. Shoe-gazing fans will like them, I'm sure. The problem was my tired head and the end of the anecdote. Into their final song they got feedback and sound problems and when they looked to the desk they saw it was empty. The sound guy was off at the bar drinking. So, like any good experimental band, they openly laughed to each other on stage and proceeded to abandon the song in favour of continuing feedback and noise.
Unfortunately it was so loud that my prospective headache immediately jumped into nausea-pang-laced throbbing and sent me off home. So, I had to abandon the rest of the show and leave the Clansman of Cranbrook to continue his good work alone. That's clansman with a C, readers nursing a hangover. Yuyintang was packed again and it's good to see the venue get good crowds for all the different styles. A final point, just lurking at the edge of the photo is Morgan Short. Morgan is the bass player for Boys Climbing Ropes who have a CD out called Pleasure To Be Here. Check out the linked page.
Had a terrible night's sleep and knew I had no chance of lasting out tonight's gig at Yuyintang (Miniless Calling). It's one thing to go to a show tired and grab a coffee, it's another if the show is a showcase of 'shoe-gazing', experimental and long instrumentals. Lucky for me, there was an early option.
Eno is a clothing shop/cafe that promotes local artists and designers. They have a big space and put on local bands at events. Today was a demo for artist Popil and playing the event was Hard Queen. It was a cozy set up and one side of the shop, that you can't see in the photos, has a wide bank of large steps going up to the juice bar. That kind of forms mini stadium seating up one side of the floor space.
I'm used to dingy rock venues and darkness so I was disorientated at first. There was a good turn out and I spotted a bunch of people I knew and ... err, I dunno ... scene people. I don't want to say 'biz' because no one makes money. The great thing about Shanghai is that it's a small scene and all the active members are cool, open people who are happy to talk and are doing really interesting stuff. Hard Queen played the first half of their set and then I went down to say hellos.
The artist, Popil, has a Hard Queen T-shirt out and is also doing the artwork for their soon to be finished CD. One of the CD's producers, Scott, was there as was Brad Ferguson of Window's Underground. I bumped into Nial Ferguson, a super talented Australian artist who I first bumped into via the skatboarding scene ages ago. I also saw Sean Leow again. He is one of the brains behind Neocha.com which you'll see if you followed the Popil and Hard Queen links. Another Neocha guy, Adam Schokora, was there. It's worth checking out his vids over at Danwei.org as he often includes China scene bands.
I should just tag this post celebrity gossip and throw myself under a bus already.
Hard Queen played a couple of new songs and had a great sound. The second half of the set was tight and everyone liked the show. I even left with a signed Popil print although the famed PK-14 shirt was sold out in men's style. Next time.
Update: I was turning out my pockets before washing my clothes and I found the ticket for this show on which I had the band names scrawled on the back of. It's not Kong De Huayuan but Kong Zhong Huayuan. So, a better translation of their name would be Sky Garden, not Empty Garden.
Friday night at Yuyintang with no one band headlining the show and a bunch of not so well known acts all falling loosely in the 'britpop' style. Didn't sound too promising but when I got there there was a good amount of people and a good atmosphere. Skulking around the CD shop I picked up the Kerrang Karaoke DVD - yes! - and chatted to a couple of Donghua students.
The first band on was 8mg. They were a new band doing mainly covers and hadn't rehearsed much. Once on the stage it hit them that they were in a proper club with lots of 'real' people with tickets looking at them. It was a shock. After a well received cover of Radiohead's Creep, they got themselves together and finished the set.
Next up was Kongde Huayuan (Empty Garden). They got straight into a solid set of plodding jangly-guitar laden indie songs. The crowd responded well, especially to the frontman. The frontman was looking like a bit of a hero with his flowing locks, crucifix ear-ring and unbuttoned white shirt. It's a fine line though, one step the wrong way and you're a member of F4. The set came to a premature end when one guitarist broke a string. For some reason he had neither a spare set of strings or a replacement guitar. When one of the other bands lent him a guitar to use it also had technical issues and they decided to call it a night as they only had one song to go. You have to think though, was it really technical issues with the new guitar, or was it that it was one of those China issue Squire Strats with the bright pink finish and the Hello Kitty head scratch plate.
Next up, Modern Cheese. The singer/guitarist of this band is a Beijing Midi Music School graduate. They burst into a high energy distortion driven opener and the crowd really got into it. I was impressed. Whenever I know a band was from a guitar tech or music college I'm expecting flashy playing and unusual key changes at the expense of a coherent style. Hey, music critic talk. Modern Cheese did add in some funk and jazz elements at times but they kept admirable control and everyone liked the show.
The last band on were The Way. I got a surprise. They were really tight and good performers too. A couple of songs in I couldn't help wondering why this show wasn't billed as their gig rather than a britpop night. In fact by the end I realised I had, in fact, been at a The Way gig which had been horribly marketed. Then again, The Way are from Shaoxing and are not well known here - but I'm sure as many people would come to their show as would to a britpop night. Fans of jangly indie pop should definitely try to catch The Way and Empty Garden.
pissing down raining quite heavily tonight as Shanghai prepared to catch the back of a proper storm, one with its own name and everything. Rock 0093 is a showcase of new and newish bands that all practise at the studio of the same name. So with bad weather and no well known acts on the bill, I assumed Yuyintang's sold out streak was finally coming to an end. I'd forgot about a certain phenomenon at 0093 shows, though.
The bill had been expanded to a marathon nine bands and gotten underway at 6.30. So, if you put each band and their group of friends into the audience it's actually quite packed. As each band is done, most of the members and half their entourage go home ... so the first bands on have a good crowd and the headliner has a half empty room. Of course, when else would the band i'd come to check out, Bang Bang Tang (lollipop), go on except dead last.
So as I got in a band were just about to go on. It was Six Shot, a traditonal thrash band with absolutely no rapping and no samples. At this point the hall was packed and everyone went nuts for it. I haven't been at a pure thrash gig for ages, especially one with proper moshing and headbanging. The singer was feeding off it, calling out the audience in the mosh pit and getting good responses.
I took a little rest for the next band. Wujiao Xing (Five Pointed Star) are a genre nu-metal band whose best song live is a Linkin Park cover. Next up after that was Tianping Dian (no English name but it means one of those Hong Kong style dessert houses). They had a female vocalist and a rapper and they launched into two tight and catchy pop-rock tracks that really surprised everyone. I was really blown away. But, right after that they fell away with a series of songs that weren't half as well rehearsed. Also, the dwindling crowd was really dwindling. If Tian Ping Dian stay together and work hard, they could be one for the future.
Next up - another hazard of 0093 showcases - the momentum was stopped by the introduction of a one-off-for-the-show cover band, Brunch. I decided to take a real break and have a sit down. Right about this time there was a
nasty fight that started with broken bottles dispute between a couple of staff members right in front of where I was sitting. Evidently it had been a long night before and an early start today and tempers were running thin. Luckily it was broken up fast and no one was seriously hurt (i'm not sure how). So - finally - Bang Bang Tang (lollipop) took the stage.
Like all the bands, they are new and far from a finished product. But they played well and the whole reason I like the scene is for the DIY/punk aspect. I can see why some people write them off as more pop than rock though. I managed to get three videos including the promised Lollipop video so see for yourselves. Check the Youtube page in the blog sidebar.
Update: Jake has interviewed Torturing Nurse's Cao Jianjun here.
So many of my posts start with
excuses disclaimers. I'm not going to get in the habit of doing listings and this blog is not about that. However, there's relevance to recent posts in some upcoming events so here goes.
So, in the interview with Lin Lin of Yuyintang, she mentioned two bands. Crazy Mushroom Brigade as a newer band that had 'arrived' and Bang Bang Tang (Lollipop) as the promising new comer. A couple of conversations later I discovered this to be quite divisive, especially the idea of them being 'rock'. Intriguing. Lucky for me - Bang Bang Tang are playing Yuyintang's Rock 0093 Party 6 on Saturday night. So not only will I be able to see what it's all about, I'll be able to video them for the blog.
0093 is a rehearsal studio and the 0093 parties are for new bands who practise there to get a chance to play live and get some experience. This is a very good idea that should be supported, but it obviously makes for mixed shows. Here's the line up, I don't have any links for these at the moment (they're new).
Six Shot, Red Brick, Black Romance, Brunch, Lollipop, 5-pointed Star, Dessert Store.
So, Lollipop are the one's to watch.
I also decided to throw in a post about the noise/experimental scene lately and I then ended up at a post-rock gig not long after that. The noise post even saw blogger Micah Sittig sign up and comment. So, by
single response popular demand, here's more on the noise scene. There are in fact two major shows coming up. Over at Live Bar this Saturday is the latest from NOIshanghai. This event is billed as Torturing Nurse vs Vario Air.
Then, the following week at Yuyintang is the Miniless Records Shanghai Calling show. This is another noise/experimental show. The line up has Muscle Snog, Grace Latecomer, Monkey Power and The Los. So, all those of you who like to go out at night to an exciting venue and do some really deep listening all night - there you go.