Results tagged “pinkberry” from Andy Best

Pinkberry officially announce return

pinkberry at mao livehouse
Ambitious Shanghai pop-punk group Pinkberry were filling local venues at Zhu Lu He Feng events, playing festivals and university tours ... and then, they were suddenly gone. Their hiatus started exactly when label Zhu Lu He Feng had their own troubles.

Check the band's debut EP Go! Boom! at their page here

And now, the band have released their first public statement in exactly one year. It announces, among other things, that they have finished recording an as-yet-unnamed new album, have found a new drummer - and will play a comeback show on the 20th at Zher Bar.

Here is the full post (Chinese language)
Here is the event page for the comeback show

PB festival video, University tours and more

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

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

Here's round four

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

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

Zhu Lu He Feng off to crack universities again

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

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

Here is the full listing (Chinese language).

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

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

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

Pinkberry: from 0093 nights to the Zhangbei festival stage

pb zb
While the going's slow I want to take a moment to reflect on Shanghai pop-punk band Pinkberry. 

Go here to listen to their first EP. Listen to the tracks marked Go! Boom!

After looking at some photos of their show this month at the Inmusic Festival at Zhangbei, I realized how far they'd come. The band is the brainchild of guitarist Toni Yu and singer Xiao You. Toni was the guitarist for old school punk band Mortal Fools. Xiao You is an ambitious and intelligent local girl who studies at Shanghai Film School and has an amazing voice on her.

I first blogged about them in September 2008 when they supported Old Doll at Yuyintang. And then went on to cover them as much as possible. Here's a brief selection:

This band started out by showing promise beyond the other new bands out at the same time. They then developed a set through a number of live appearances, breaking into support slots at higher profile shows. Then they rode out line up changes and a little controversy to sign with Zhu Lu He Feng and get their first CD out. Off the back of that, they've been playing the festival circuit this year. 

This makes me happy. It bears out what should have been obvious to everyone: Toni can write songs and Xiao You has the voice and appeal to make it. They are now a Shanghai mainstay. Good job, everyone.

youtube Youku: Pinkberry @ Zhangbei

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

Two tracks, watch through for Pinkberry Song.

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

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. 

City Weekend/Lisa Movius ... sigh

Thumbnail image for by Wee Ling
This statement is on behalf of both blogs, mine and Jake's.

Here we go again (see comments there).

A short while ago Jake posted this story on Cassette's gig at Logo which also talked about a police visit there which affected the show.

In the latest issue of City Weekend, 2010 May 20- June 2 The Volunteer Issue, music writer Lisa Movius has decided to weigh in on the matter. 

It should be made clear that Movius and all staff at CW involved with writing or editing articles on music/nightlife know our blogs and are perfectly aware that we reported the Logo story there.

Here's what Lisa wrote in the article in the Shanghaiology section (interesting cool name for the section) - which deals with the music scene raids in general.

The saga started the weekend of April 16th with word that police had raided music dive Logo and shut down a performance there, ostensibly stating the reason as "the Expo". However, according to the Logo owner Tai Bei, no such drama unfolded. I've had a lot of people asking about it," Tai Laughed. "It's strange, it wasn't us, just Yuyintang."
Tai laughed, nice touch, Lisa. 

Here's what happened leading up to the posting of the story by Jake. The gig was scheduled to start at 10 at Logo with three bands, Pinkberry, Stegosaurus and Cassette. I had talked to Stegosaurus about covering the show and Jake (independently of me) was in touch with Cassette as he had encouraged them to come down from Beijing to play here.

I received a call from Josh (Stegosaurus) and, separately, Jake received a call from Cassette singer Tearpixy. They told us the same story. Police had been to Logo saying they had to check "for the Expo". The posters and flyers for the Sunday show had been confiscated and the gig was not supposed to go on.

After talking further with the staff at Logo, they decided to put the show on anyway, but postpone the time in case the police popped their heads in. The show finally started around 11. Pinkberry manager and drummer Lezi also confirmed he had this same story and the band pulled out of the show because of the later start time.

Finally, me and Jake both went to the show and confirmed all this in person. 

The only way it was somehow untrue is if the staff at Logo conspired to play some bizarre prank on the bands. If anyone wants to re-check our sources they can contact the bands through their douban pages.

But really, I wish City Weekend would stop and think before publishing thinly veiled smug judgments on other writers. And, come on, you know where that story appeared in the public domain, right here. Movius's article basically implies we are liars. Unfortunately for them, it is the CW article that has not done the proper checking. And also, the whole laughed thing? Implying that the writer and the interviewee are sitting there shaking their heads at these silly bloggers. Go fuck yourself, CW.

Pinkberry EP release nothing live @ Yuyintang

yoi yoi
OK. So by now you should have read the news that Yuyintang was visited by the man on Friday. 

Read Jake's full posts here and here

Summary: it's Expo time. They took the desk and tills. We'll know what's happening on Monday (gov office hours begin).

Me and Jake have pushed this story about the Expo and the history of scene closures, and the Top Floor Circus thing, in the hope it would be properly picked up and get enough attention to maybe make a difference. But how many people, writers and outlets from local to international really went for it and gave it a go or pushed it on their contacts even ... err .... yup, no one. We'll just have to hope for good news this week.

So, I went over to YYT anyway, having heard they'd be open as bar and that Pinkberry would be around to meet people who showed up unaware that all shows were off for the weekend. That atmosphere was subdued but relaxed, even when the police - surprisingly the kind of city federal/special cops with proper gear and in shape etc - did another swing-by to check. The place was sufficiently dead at that point to satisfy them.

Pinkberry later took the stage for a quick cheeky four songs using the old desk and gave out their new EP. This was greatly appreciated by the few people who had made it over. The EP, by the way, is well made and at time of writing is available for listen in its entirety on their page here.

In other news, Alpine Decline's Live Bar show the same night went really well. 

I was going to do a whole ranty post about the Expo thing but I've had my last word and what's the point. If something like the Top Floor Circus thing happened in our home countries, it would be an outrage and yet most people we sent it to didn't even reply to mails.

Where I'm off to this weekend (Alpine Decline at 696)

pinkberry at mao livehouse
One more weekend then hols, hooray! I work weekends you see. 

So, Jake is starting to do more previews at his blog so you should be checking that out. But here is my thing.

On Friday electro superstar Peaches is in town playing Mao. But - I like rock and guitars so I'm going to see the other international act in town that night - L.A.'s Alpine Decline.

The show is at 696 in Hong Kou district and only costs 30 rmb. And they rule. Go to the event page here, even if your Chinese is not up to scratch, and you can see the location via the embedded Google map. Friday night, 9.30. It's just 5 mins walk from the Line 3 station Hongkou Football Stadium, along the same road. Go.

Then on Saturday it's the Pinkberry EP release at Yuyintang. This is essentially a Zhu Lu He Feng event featuring three of the newly formed label's bands. The others are Joker and Sonnet. Indie pop act Man Ban Pai support. This will be a lively busy night with strong local representation.

See you all out there and remember ... agonizing over Friday night? ... disco still sucks!

Sifting through the closures/incidents

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.

More Pinkberry: Diego Maradona

Update: while the song is among their newly recorded material, Lezi from the label tells me it won't be on the EP.

h/t to Terence Lau

Just one post ago I mentioned Pinkberry's upcoming EP release at Yuyintang. Now they have posted the first new original track from the CD at Douban.

Find it here: Maradona

I would love to talk about the big production and catchy hook and all that, it's very professional ... but alas, Pinkberry have found my weak spot: football.

The song opens up with the line "Maradona was a stoner" and goes on to mention stuff like the hand of god and the fact he wore number ten. In fact the chorus is I am number one, but I wear number ten. It even references his time at Napoli. So, basically, I am going to like this song no matter what. They should push it internationally because a song that celebrates Maradona has already won over, like, 70% of the world's population.

Although, you know what this means ...

Now I'm going to have to write a song in reply called Pele. I don't think the lyrics will be as catchy though ...errr ...Pele wasn't a stoner, didn't ever handball or dive, he just played very well and then was kicked to bits by angry defenders. Hmmmnn. Not quite the same.

Pinkberry EP release show and free track

xiao you
Well, fair play to Lezi of Sonnet and now label Zhu Lu He Feng.

He formed a label, singed four bands and has got their first release coming out within three months or so of starting. Sign bands - release music. It proves we should all 学韩涵 (learn from Miniless).

So first out of the gate is Pinkberry. They have a CD coming out called Go! Boom! and the release party at Yuyintang has been announced. They have a new track available at their page which is a Chinese language version of their song Live In Live, now titled 我听到天使的声音 (I heard the sound of an angel). The track has big flashy production and a retooled sound. 

Listen to it here at their Douban page. Although all the old demos are gone now and the other track is singer Xiao You guesting on a Tim Wu hip-hop song.

The event is at Yuyintang on Saturday 24th of this month. Check the flyer and details here via Douban. Other bands playing are Sonnet, Joker and Manbanpai so expect a busy night with mostly local fans. And me and Jake.

End note: Blimey we have been following this band since this show. And now they have a CD coming out on a scene label. Good job guys.

Local King 3 "Genohmang" @ Mao Livehouse

local king
A lot to get through tonight. Local King 3 went down at Mao - for free - and featured five bands:

Bomb Shelter

Bomb Shelter are an AC-DC cover band and went on last so I wasn't around for them, sorry guys.

So, free. Yes, the place was full and jumping. Great. Although everyone's patience was tested when the doors didn't open until 20 minutes after the first band was supposed to be playing.

First on was Pinkberry. I wrote about them at the recent Yuyintang show and said they were coming back to their best. They were better again tonight and the song 'Live in Live' is becoming their signature song. They sounded good from down front and Xiao You is performing well, although she was sick tonight.

Candy Shop came on with their usual energy and were well received. Unfortunately, their set was broken up. They had to run an on stage promotion for the drink you see in the flyer there. Basically, couples had to get on stage and play charades to win free drinks. Alas, it all came apart when they brought up a couple and a non-Chinese girl had to guess the word 'Ge Noh Mang' from her friend's mime. That's Shanghainese slang for the people who crowd round accidents and fights. So that's like asking me and Jake to take Lebron James and Kevin Garnett in 2 on 2 b-ball. It dragged on and poor Candy Shop's set suffered. They made a good come back with their track 'Wo Men'.

Sonnet were next. They had complex video intros to their songs and all kinds of bridges and gimmicks. They presented themselves like super stars and even did their latest single We all have a sorry yesterday acapella with all the members up front. They had the bassist back in the line up, which was good and to be fair, the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves. Personally, I like Sonnet when they play tight snappy tunes with dance rock beats. They closed out with their old show closer, a cover of YMCA.

At that point I'd been keeping my eye on the crowd. At free gigs that feature bands who attract young locals you see a lot of new people. I felt they were having a good time, but were apprehensive as they maybe didn't know what the standard was or what it was supposed to be like.

And then BCR came on and told them with authority.

This is no disrespect to the other bands, I like them all, but ... from the first strike of the guitar, Boys Climbing Ropes owned that stage and filled up the venue with their sounds and presence. They got everyone's attention and were a true headlining act. They rocked the place. They were loud, fast and tight, everyone knows the songs and those who didn't were all impressed. Little Punk's vocals were properly mic-ed up and crystal clear, it made so much difference. It reminded me of the Pet Conspiracy gig in that here was a band who properly owned that larger space. 

Can we now have a BCR headlining show at Mao please? Properly promoted, full up and on before midnight, preferably.

Big Qiang Diao @ Yuyintang

Friday night at Yuyintang and an evening organised by newly formed label Zhu Lu He Feng. Here's the line up:


A mix of styles with the label being represented by Pinkberry and Sonnet. The label has been officially running for two months or thereabouts so it still has another twelve to get a CD out and beat it's nearest rivals. Unless you count the Miniless collective as a true label, that is. 

Yin opened the night. They are a student cover-band who play stuff like Greenday. After that was Manbanpai. They are the full line-up version of Hama. Hama is the singer from Second and this is her side project. They played well composed pop numbers with a folk/bluesy vein at a polite volume. They youngish local crowd especially liked the lead guitarist's soloing.

Next up were the more experienced acts from the label. Pinkberry turned it up a bit and ripped into their pop-punk set. It's pretty much the same set as their first run of shows but with backing from Yang Fu and Lezi from Sonnet. They had good energy and singer Xiao You regained some of her old form in the second half of the set. That left Sonnet to close the night. Sonnet play "post-pop" and pride themselves on being playful and clever. However, they have just lost their bass player and replaced him with samples tonight. With Yang Fu tied up with multiple duties they lost some of the movement and verve of the usual live show. 

Yuyintang seem to be struggling with their new sound desk at the moment and a feature of seven bands I saw in the past two days was muddy and overbearing bass. Let's hope they get it sorted in time for a huge run of amazing shows lined up for the next six weeks that includes Hedgehog and Reflector.

Sonnet and friends live @ Yuyintang

sorry pinkberry
Tonight gig was called 谁没有一个SORRY的昨天 which translates on the flyer to We all have a SORRY yesterday

The flyer features Edison Chen and some references to his scandal. Have a look.

So, yeah, better get this out of the way. You see "Sorry" the English word used in a Chinese sentence is a new slang word, apparently hot in Beijing now meaning some wild thing you did. It is also the name of Sonnet's new song which they debuted on the night - getting all this?

So, line up:


Apart from newcomers Venus this gig features all the bands signed to Lezi's new label. So let Jake tell you about that here

First on 21 Grams. Smooth and passive instrumental tracks that start quiet and layered, build to a crescendo and then come slowly down again. Textbook post-rock and if you like that sort of thing, you'd have loved their performance tonight. After that came Venus. Venus are an all girl band with attitude, joining Second and Black Luna. They came on all in matching styles, all black, tight and with a tinge of dominatrix. They are brand new but the crowd warmed up to them by the end. Despite the look and the guitar riff based songs, they were very pop. However, with the thought and effort they are putting in to being a band I'm sure they are going to do well down the line.

Next up was Pinkberry, the first band with a kind of air of expectation around them. I love the band and have followed them closely on the blog. But since changing their bassist and drummer they have not got the mojo back. Toni's Gibson Les Paul and ripping power chords should be bouncing you around the hall, but he was barely audible tonight. With a better sound live and with band members that live up to Xiao You's performance, they will be back strong. 

Joker are traditional blues and they stayed true to the tradition of asking the audience to stand through ten minute long jams that don't appear to go anywhere. And then Sonnet. Sonnet are a big band on the scene, the flagship band of Lezi's label and of this show. And this was a show after a smallish break to debut a new song. But it all felt very indifferent. Sonnet at their best are a punchy modern indie-pop band with tight dance beats and wit to match their slicing guitar chops. But the whole show tonight was on the quiet side (as in the actual volume of the PA).

Nothing to be SORRY about tomorrow.

PZ64 @ Yuyintang

pz64 yyt
This Thursday was New Faces night at Yuyintang as the Wednesday slot was used up by Folk singer extraordinaire  Zhang Qianqian.

The night was to be anchored by newish but together band PZ64. It features blog favourite A Luan on guitar. He used to drum for Pinkberry too. As it happened, all the other potential new bands made their excuses and PZ64 were the only band on the bill.

With Zhang Haisheng manning the desk personally and only the one band to check, the sound was surprisingly good and PZ64 played a tight set. It was a bit on the short side at five songs but the casual crowd of 50 or so seemed to genuinely like them. On their page they describe themselves as post-grunge pop emo. So, yeah, you'd better just listen to the demos.

Pepsi fiasco: Shanghai scene story of 2009

It is fitting that I write this on the eve of Yuyintang's 5th anniversary. YYT is the community model of live music development that was always about the bands. It is the model that worked. Not a business model. Yuyintang simply asked, how can we get bands to play gigs and write music. Why? Because of those pesky humans and their desire to make culture and express themselves. Something that has been going on before the idea of mass marketing, fame or money from art.

As YYT and 0093 successfully triggered a larger scene and a stable downtown presence, the next questions started to be brought up by many people with a different mindset. How can we make money off this or do it full time? There were many aspects to this and many differing approaches and results. But it was all up in the air and there was a sense of mixed feelings and shakey steps. Without a mainstream industry to speak of and with a deeply conservative government that routinely practices censorship, some flirted with the idea of corporate and ad driven sponsorships. 

The bands had vague notions of conflict that had never been tested in reality and the champions of this new approach were, unsurprisingly, people from within the branding and ad industries. And then one day in stepped global giant Pepsico and lit the fuse that would blow up into the scene story of the year.

First came the announcement. The story broke over at China Music Radar and then at Shanghaiist

With a RMB1m prize purse (including cash, equipment, a national concert tour and recording time in LA), and "up to 5,000 concert auditions", Pepsi have made a commitment to the "real" Chinese underground music scene by announcing a new reality TV program to air over 7 months on the Zhejiang satellite network.
This was April 3rd 2009. I commented at Shanghaiist on the post and chose not to blog it directly.Why, I thought, would local rock and underground bands be interested in a talent show put on by a company that markets junk food to kids. CMR's post date of April 1st seemed more relevant to me.

Behind the scenes though, the regular bands of the scene, the better bands and the likes of Yuyintang had decided to give it a go and see. Soon they would all go to the judged 'audition' rounds. 

And then I largely forgot about it. But, this is not about me. is the site the scene uses to communicate. Sean Leow of Neocha called it BBS 2.0 but it's much more than that. It allows you to create separate feeds for friends, groups and band pages so you can easily follow the band uploads and news as it comes out in one stream. At the end of the first week of May, the regular Douban channels were hot with talk of the Pepsi comp. People were angry. Some kind of massive fallout had occurred at the filming and the major scene figures and bands were calling for a complete boycott of the show.

Here's how I broke the story:Pepsi / SMG TV bands show a predictable fiasco 

The lead statements on Douban came from Zhang Haisheng of Yuyintang and Pupu of The Mushrooms: Pupu's statement (Chinese language)

Helen Feng (Pet Conspiracy) added her experience at the Beijing event via China Music Radar: More big brand BS, and I quoted it in my follow up here: More Pepsi BoB BS

The bands and scene people had come face to face with naked, soulless corporate/branding culture. Having been seduced by the usual rhetoric about caring, culture and mutually beneficial arrangements, they were faced with uncaring and ignorant shills who were there to sell junk and expected the bands to simply tell their peers to buy. The musicians were treated with infuriating levels of disrespect and the whole set up was painfully amateur. 

From Helen:

Apart from the in your face branding that made us dizzy, we were also shocked by their serious lack of taste. In the back were a few skinny models in hot pants and a halter-tops also adorned with said logo stretched tight against none existent boobs selling the soda at the bar. Even the people working there had to have said logo painted on their face.

Having never done a battle of the bands before, said soda company had forgotten that unlike other talent contests, bands don't usually come with a back-up tape in hand so had allocated no time for stage changes. In between the bands, the MC (namely me) was suppose to interview the lead singer. This was a bit ridiculous as the lead singer was usually down on the floor plugging in equipment. When I expressed this to the sponsor, the responded by saying "well just tell them to hurry up."

Still with one minute allocated for stage changes, even the speediest of musicians could not get their equipment plugged in on-time. The head of said Soda company came charging backstage screaming at the staff saying things like "tell these kids if they don't get their equipment plugged in less then three minutes they will have points deducted from their total score."

markpepsi douchbagBut was this short lived anger or would it live on and turn into a new level of awareness around brands and branding. Well, it certainly was angry and one kickback was the minor scandal that followed involving the band Pinkberry.

A boycott was agreed by the quality Shanghai bands via Douban and one of the voices on the threads was Pinkberry guitarist Toni Yu. It came as a massive shock just a few weeks later when it turned out that the band had secretly stayed in the comp - and with all serious competition having pulled out, went on to win the whole round. A very mean-spirited Douban thread then went up in which the band were pilloried. 

Here is how Jake Newby reported the incident at Shanghaiist: Pinkberry and the Pepsi pullava 

In a way, the reaction to the Pepsi Fiasco set the tone for the breakout bands of the year in Shanghai. Bands such as the Mushrooms and Candy Shop, both regulars in various band competitions up until that point, went back to traditional indie scene organising. They put on their own shows, worked on the Douban communities and fans, improved their music and expanded their sets. It was this - and not comps or brand friendly management - that has led these bands to be local fan favourites and on the verge of bigger things. 

You might almost say they've done it in spite of 'help' from 'labels', who don't release records, gigs in malls and big sponsors like Pepsi. As we come up to 5 years of Yuyintang it is telling to see that the bands who are doing things are those who did their own groundwork. The story of 2009 is that the various attempts at brand cooperation and sponsorship simply didn't work. But the community based models did. Brands don't want to help bands, they want to help themselves. 

One amusing post script to the affair was the belated reaction of Pepsi themselves. Well maybe not Pepsi so to speak. 

During the Shanghai run of the show, Pepsi employed an intern called Jay Mark Caplan to run an English blog of the show. He only knew about the incident at all via scene regular and Pepsi comp stage manager Abe Deyo and his post comes on July 28th - nearly three months after the thing was done. In his post he dismisses the bands and calls out bloggers (linking my post) as jumping on the bandwagon.

Youtube Tudou: Holiday recycler Pinkberry

It's the holidays. You have time, you're relaxing with your own computer, with sound. You're on this blog, so you like Chinese indie bands. So watch this.

This is Pinkberry headlining a big show at the Dream Factory that was so disastrously organised that they didn't get on until almost one a.m. and most people had gone home. However, this vid shows Pinkberry ripping away with one of their more simple, rawer tunes. A glimpse into the amazing potential than has been on and off lately due to all kinds of controversies and line up changes.

When this Pinkberry show up, it's worth it.

Rock Shanghai Anniversary @ Mao Shanghai

rock shanghai one year
Rock Shanghai website has reached one year old and to celebrate they have revamped their front page and put on a promotional gig. The revamp is just a nice front page, the site is still solely comprised of a BBS. It will be interesting to see how they plan to topple Douban.

So, here was the lineup for the 0093 organised show:

小巫师 (Little Witch)
胶壳乐队 (Joker)
甜品店 (Candy Shop)
重结晶 (Second)
伍角星 (Five Pointed Star)

First up, good turn out. Over three hundred tickets sold as we got there early. By the end of the second band it was as full as The Mushrooms show the night before. Perhaps the best attended 0093 show to date.

Little Witch did not play and an unannounced band were to start. Just like the good old 0093 shows. The replacement band, whose name I didn't get, assuming they were Little Witch, played a mix of riff-tastic old school metal and ... err ..pop ballads. Props to the bassist who looked killer in her thrash wrist guards and low slung bass. Looking the part makes a big difference. Joker followed up with their blues-rock show. Good band but maybe a Mao Livehouse full of people mainly here to see Momo and Candy Shop is not the best place to do a rambling eight minute blues impro. 

Momo were next. As usual they were tight and professional. All the bands played short sets but Momo still managed to throw in an oldie from the Happy Strings days. Tonight's crowd seemed more up for their bubblegum indie pop material. 

Candy Shop hit the stage and ripped it up. They have a ton of new material and play a full set well now. New singer Sammi, in for Melody Li, is a great performer and held her own with the manic and always funny MC YKE. They were the first band to get people moving and jumping.    Highlight of the night. The older songs mixed thrashy riff with the catchy choruses, they now seem to be leaning more towards skate-punk style in the heavier sections. Again two great performers up front who really know how to work up the crowd. 

Now we were at the two and half hour mark. And two more bands to go. Following the Mushrooms gig I was already wasted and couldn't last the marathon. As we were getting our stuff together, Second came on and we caught the first two songs. Second grab attention immediately for their, err, natural advantages in the looks department, but that's not a concern for them. They were the first band of the night to play honest straight rock. Everyone else mixed a variety of genres with heavy dollops of pop in the mix. Second just rocked. Great.

On the way out we heard that Pinkberry were hiding backstage and were going to play a surprise headline appearance to round off the night. I'm not sure how wise an idea that was considering the regular show must have run well over three hours by the end. Anyone care to review in the comments?

andy at mao shanghai

Pinkberry video shoot photos


Pinkberry have been recording music and making videos up at Soma recently. And when I was checking out some of the photos on Douban I spotted Shanghaiist music writer Jake Newby. That's him in the blue T-shirt.

Actually that sounds a bit different to the reality. I knew Jake was going to be there, in fact we were going to go together but I had la duzi. I didn't know the idea was to be actually in the video though. So ... anyway ... Pinkberry are not really on Soma's label so what's up with all this free studio time and development? Sonnet drummer and Soma employee Lezi tells me that he will start his own label to promote Sonnet, Pinkberry and 21G. It's all early days now but the resources are there for him to use.


Video: Pinkberry play at the Dream Factory

Here's the other video I took at the Dream Factory show on Friday. I'd like to say it's some kind of a look at the new lights and sound there since Soma took over the venue. But I don't really think my little Sony DSC stills camera is a good judge of that. Saying that ... here it is.

Soma Live: Indietop bands @ Dream factory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Douban: Pinkberry and Loudspeaker

pinkberry new promo shot
Things have been afoot in the land of Pinkberry since their triumphant best show with Reflector at Yuyintang.

The douban page has now got two new demo tracks and a gallery of their latest photo shoot. The tracks are Live In Live and 片. Also, more importantly, Pinkberry have replaced their bass player, hoping to add experience and build on their recent progress.

Also around the world of Douban. I have been checking out long term Shanghai punk band Loudspeaker. Loudspeaker have gradually shifted from skatepunk with a twist of hardcore punk to hardcore punk with a hint of "metalcore". We've noticed it at the shows and now they have three good quality tracks available on their page that showcase the sound.

Have a listen here

In other news. If you have been following the Soma thing, Li Pang made a lengthy stream of BS reply at Shanghaiist here. I'm not posting on it anymore so have a look. 

Hedgehog live @ Yuyintang (Blue Daydreaming tour)

Tonight was a bit of a blur. No pics or vids, strictly selfish enjoyment only.

Hedgehog are one of China's best live acts on the underground scene and were touring to promote their third CD, Blue Daydreaming. The other two are Happy Idle Kid and Noise Hit World. Everyone knows about their shows and this was to be one of the don't miss nights of the year.

So, I was working late today and arrived to an already over filled YYT having missed the first two bands, Pinkberry and Wildcat. Sorry guys.

Then came the bomb (in a good way). I already wrote how my fav Shanghai group The Mushrooms got back to form lately and now they were playing before Hedgehog to a packed hall of fans. Now they are back to their best. The room went off and yours truly was lost in the mosh. Can we have the Mushroom's CD soon please, Soma? It seems like quite a while since they signed. Come on.

After some air it was back into the fray for Hedgehog. Part of their live mojo is that they are in complete control of the tempo and dynamics. It's never really fast or running away, but always just up-beat enough to get everyone moving. I was a bit miffed that they didn't play my favourite live track Wink last time around but this time they played it right up front. Great. The only casualty of the night was my favourite T which got soaked and stretched out of all proportion. Not only that, Brad's new Dig Dug T-shirt shits all over mine anyway. The night was made even better by recent improvements to YYT's sound system which made a big difference.

Reflector blow the roof off Yuyintang

reflector flyer
This show is going to take some beating this year. Beijing punksters Reflector were in town tonight in what would turn out to be an utter riot. Here was the line up:

Dragon Pizza

So, first of all, go to Reflector's page which has six high quality tracks on it. Listen here at Myspace.

Reflector have been around a while and have a good following. As first act Pinkberry started to come on stage, the main room was already rammed with fans eager to rip things up. The sound was on the money all night, right from the start.

I have to say, I'm so glad this day came as Pinkberry were a 'pick' of mine from the start of the blog. They took the stage, ripped into the first track and it was mosh from the get go. Finally band played to a packed, nuts room. Well deserved. Next up, Dragon Pizza kept things going with a heavier set of metal. The style was out of place next to the other two pop-punk acts but the people just wanted to keep at it. Finally, Reflector took the stage and it went insane. We are only on the 8th day of March Madness but I think I saw the best show already.

And if you think this is all empty gushing, watch the video that I'm posting after this.

Sucker live @ Yuyintang

Xi'an band Sucker have an interesting acronym. Sunshine in USA California: keep my eager heart to Rancid!!! Yes, with all three exclamation marks on the poster. So, basically they are a Rancid tribute band with original material. Which is fine by me. However, tonight was the night where the Shanghai bands on the bill represented.

First check out Sucker's Myspace page

And here was the line up:

Sucker (Xi'an)
The Dropkicks

Great atmosphere in Yuyintang. The lights were down and punk played on the PA as the room gradually filled leading up to the first band. A fourth band were added last minute and they played four quick covers by the likes of Blink 182. They did a good job and the night was off.

Pinkberry took the stage and played a great set. They started off with new tracks Wish and Pinkberry Song and the sound was better than usual. The hooks all came through and the band played a tight set, the result being a good reception from the crowd. According to the YYT schedule, Pinkberry play again supporting Reflector on Saturday night. Next up were The Dropkicks who also ripped into the best sounding set I've heard them play. They play classic rock of the Gibson into Marshall variety and were tight, even using a written set list to get through their show without long pauses or drops in energy. Other bands take note, one act I saw a couple of weeks back stopped the intro to their first track for the drummer to check then reply to a text message. Anyway, Shanghai bands really came through tonight. 

Sucker launched into their energetic Rancid clone show, which pleased fans of Rancid. That includes me. You all may remember another band with the same M.O. from Nanjing called Old Doll. Read about their Shanghai show here. I think Old Doll edge it in the battle of the bay area tributes. See you at the weekend.

Pinkberry, BCR and me on the radio


Update: It works now

Louis Yu is a PhD student in Canada who has a college radio show about indie music. He recently spent some time in Shanghai interviewing as many scene people as possible and collecting a bunch of CDs to play.

Here is a half-hour section from his University of Victoria show yesterday in which he discusses my blog article and then plays Pinkberry and Boys Climbing Ropes. There's 8 minutes or so of discussion, then some songs then a bit more on BCR. All in English. 

Douban: quick listens

I mainly use Neocha and Myspace Music when linking to band's online music so it's time to give Douban a little exposure.

Douban is a web 2.0 social site for people who like arts, books and music. It has a section where you add groups (for example the groups of bands you like) then you get all their news in one aggregated feed. All the Chinese underground and indie bands use it. And here's a buzzword for you, the last time I talked about Douban with Neocha's Sean Leow he described it as "BBS 2.0". This will mean more to you if you are familiar with the Chinese language net world.

So, they have artist pages for the bands there too and I was just having a look around lately. So ... I give you excellent recent demo tracks from four of Shanghai's upcoming bands:

Sonnet "Stupid Baby"  post-pop, brit-pop - listen
Pinkberry "The Pinkberry Song"  pop-punk - listen
Five Pointed Star "Dui Bai"  nu-metal - listen
Muscle Snog "Female Worker Bee"  experimental, post rock - listen

You'll have to open the links in a new tab and press play on the M3 player there (see picture guide).

Magazine special: head to head

xiao youUpdate: the MP3 player for Pinkberry is now 'after the jump' so click into the post to hear the song.

Following the demise of SH Magazine, the up and down form of newly revamped That's Shanghai and well the usual from CW and Talk, the Shanghai mags have been a bit sparse on new information or interesting stories about the music scene. But lucky for us, February has thrown up the first true head-to-head since I've been doing this.

Here's the low down: Two professional writers have covered the same band around the same time with completely opposite takes. And now it's time for you to decide. The band in question is Pinkberry, so before we get going you should check out their music yourselves on the player below and have a gander at singer Xiao You (right).

Personally, I like them. I'm a fan of three cord power pop or punk and their DIY attitude. They are a new band, barely together six months and singer Xiao You is one of the few Shanghainese new artists with true ambition and the potential to realise it. But that's just me. I made a DIY video with them too.

So, ahead of their appearance at the New Year show recently, Dan Shapiro of Rogue Transmission and City Weekend magazine wrote about them at his CW blog:

This show is a great way start to the Chinese New Year Holiday, although, unfortunately, you'll be forced to endure yet another Pink Berry set (seriously, this band has already played like 42 gigs in 2009), but atleast it gives you 30 minutes to run to Kedi for some cheap beer.

Also, in the title of the blog he calls Pinkberry Shanghai's worst band. Ouch. You can read the full post here: Tonight @ Yuyintang: Shanghai's best (and worst).

Over at That's Shanghai meanwhile: Jake Newby filed a feature on Pinkberry titled "The best unsigned band in Shanghai". In the article he documents their success in high profile competitions, their endorsement from The Queers after their show together and Xiao You's voice and quality. Not only did Joe Queer dedicate "She's a firecracker" to Xiao You but also invited them to record at his studio in the states. 

The band themselves are modest about their brief career so far. Time to make your own minds up. Hint: like them or not, they're obviously not the worst band in Shanghai.

Chinese New Year: the show and the holiday

new year gig flyer
The Year of the Ox is almost upon us. For non China residents I should explain that this means a week long public holiday and also half the people you know going back to their home cities for that time. Also, the holiday is only really three days and rather than just give you the rest of the time, you have to make it up by working weekends and overtime right after. It's either dead or nuts or up and down between the two.

So. Tonight is the night before the big one and Yuyintang are putting on a show. heres' the line up:

Banana Monkey
Cold Fairyland

It starts at 9.00 p.m. Yuyintang is directly next to the Line 3 station Yan'an Xi Lu. This will be the event to be at if you love alternative/DIY culture made by a community for each other. This is where you should be if holiday music makes you want to stick forks in your ears. 

I should also mention that I will be taking a holiday too. I know how bad this sounds, but i'm going to use the time to concentrate on finishing a novel (s). No - really. I have a professional set up for this and have been slack in handing stuff in. There won't be any new blog posts for twelve days, when YYT hold the 8th Rock 0093 showcase. So Happy New Year to all and I'll leave you with my own specially penned line for the Year of the Ox:

牛year,牛B !

Jue Festival one: Pinkberry and Demerit

andy at jue
If I don't preface this, readers surfing in might get the impression that the two Dream Factory shows are the entirety of the Jue Festival. 

The Jue Festival is a multi venue event in two cities over two weeks. I'm covering the two indie gigs that feature guitar bands. It's still going on - here's the schedule. It's being put on by Splitworks.

Let me go to a new paragraph to explain things here. Splitworks put on larger pro shows and usually finance this by booking name acts from abroad. This time they are putting on two nights of Chinese bands at a time where the rest of the scene is slow. You might want to thank them by actually turning up to the shows.

I was hanging with Louis Yu, a college radio DJ based in Canada, tonight. Louis is a little different to most scenesters/musos in that he has a sideline in being a PhD researcher in computers and last worked at NASA. Don't hold it against him. As you might have guessed from the end of the last bit, the turn out was not as good as hoped and it's a larger venue. But never mind that, there was enough people to have a great time and a great time was had by all. As promised by Splitworks' Archie Hamilton the sound was of a higher standard to previous shows at the Dream Factory and there were some impressive amp stacks at the back of the stage.

Pinkberry came on first and, as usual, singer Xiao You was a standout with her great voice and attention to image. I got close in, well lit footage this time so be sure to check the channel. Pinkberry are solid and have good songs, what they need to get up to the next level is to be full-time. Jake Newby has an article on them coming up in That's Shanghai which is the other thing they need: more support. There are not that many new Shanghai bands with ambition like Pinkberry and we have to get behind all of them. Kudos to Splitworks for giving them a spot at the show. And while I'm on about Shanghai bands with great potential who deserve our support, keep your eyes open for Hard Queen in the near future.

Demerit, on the other hand, have reached the next level and fully deserved their reputation. They were worthy headliners with a great set of hardcore punk/metal songs. They were so good, in fact, that despite the hall not being that full they got everyone up front and moving. I was internally debating whether they were still really punk or if they'd crossed over into traditional metal in the vein of early Metallica and Iron Maiden. This was settled in my mind when they played two ballads with classical guitar arrangements and solos. Their riffing was sublime and they know how to rock a show. 

Next up at Jue is the Maybe Mars Showcase tomorrow/today (Saturday). See you there.

Youtube Channel: Best of 2008

It's about this time in the month where I write up the top six viewed videos on the blog's channel. If you're not familiar then you can check this out, as it's a bit different today.

This time around is the best videos of 2008. Cue fanfare ...

There will be three videos and I will choose them myself, for my own reasons. Usually, it's all decided on views. In keeping with the usual spirit of things, you might want to revisit the most popular video of 2008. Also, since that's a special case, you should also check out the most viewed underground gig video of 2008 here. Right, so let's get going.

In reverse order:

Number Three: Casino Demon (BJ) play Yuyintang. This song is amazing, it's called Wa Ha Ha. Typical blinking lights from short staffed Yuyintang but the song's energy and clarity in my sh*tty video is a reflection of how good they are. Casino Demon - as good as any pro-band back West in this style but with none of the pretension.

Number Two: Pinkberry blast off. The fastest riser on the Shanghai local scene play in the middle of a multi act show to a half empty room, but they don't care. They have no idea how not to play with energy and commitment. Sorry about the lights again, but all the energy and hook writing is in there.

Number One: The Subs finish the year at Dream Factory. Coincidentally also a non-blinking video. The Subs are the best live act in China and what's more their songs are diverse and engaging. What More is one of the best, check it out.

Bonus moment: It was also a good year for newcomers Candy Shop. And for anyone who doubts their abilities with their regular songs check this out first. They rocked the multi act showcases with their short but energetic sets and improved at record speed. What surprised the most, though, was their ability to connect with the local audiences. I was at two shows where after just four songs at a low key show, the fans wouldn't let them go. Both times the band pulled out a previously unheard practice room bonus track to jam on and had the crowd going like old hands rolling out the hits for the faithful. So watch on, Candy Shop joking around an yet ruling over other new band's best efforts:

Upcoming shows I'm off to in January

 warm songs flyer
Believe me, I still have no plans to start any kind of listings or be a regular website type thing. So, be clear, this is not everything that's going on in Shanghai, it's just what I'm thinking of doing. This is often determined by the distance between my house and Yuyintang, i.e. a short walk. 

I don't think this month is slowing down, but ... the schedules are not filled out as far in advance as they were lately. It's a Yuyintang weekend for me first:

Friday 9th: "Warm songs for a winter's day" showcase featuring seven bands in the folk style. That's the flyer pictured. Mogu Hong (Red Mushroom) is the only familiar name for me. Check her out.

Saturday 10th: A Brit-pop style night featuring Shanghai's own Hanging Gardens and The Way from Ningbo. The Way are really cool, check out an older review. While you're at it, read a magazine feature on Hanging Gardens here.

Sunday 11th: Abe Deyo brings legendary Hardcore Punk act D.O.A. to Shanghai who will be supported by one of the hottest bands in China right now, Demerit. Look ahead in the post to find another show by Demerit and check them out here

For all you stalkers out there, do stalk me, no problem. You know, as long as you are the talking type and not the stabbing type. Don't know anyone in the scene? No one else going to the show with you? Drop me a comment or a mail (via the about page) and we'll go together or meet there. It's all good. After just one show you'll be able to dump me for all your new found friends! Or your money back!

Continuing ... 

Friday 16th and Saturday 17th at Dream Factory: Up to the larger venue for the Jue Festival. On Friday is the main Demerit show that also features Pinkberry. Then on Saturday we have the Maybe Mars showcase with Ourself Beside Me, Carsick Cars and Snapline. These shows are being put on by Splitworks who are adamant about splashing out on pro sound set-ups and trained sound engineers. I'm especially looking forward to Ourself Beside Me.

Looking into my crystal ball I see one more show planned in advance. It's at YYT on Saturday 24th and features Sonnet, Banana Monkey and Cold Fairyland. Sonnet have been getting tight again and Banana Monkey are a big deal on the scene ... remember this story? This will be the first time I check them out since they re-formed. 

Ok, that's all for now. Now to figure out my Douban problem. I have a bunch of friends there, mostly local and all of whom I see have been to the same shows. The problem is that 80% of Douban users use nicknames and avatars that are not their own pictures ... and have no indication of who they are in their profiles either. It's like the thing with getting an "it's me" text and not wanting to say "yeah, but who are you?" in case you offend someone you know. Arse.

Other people's Youtube More Pinkberry

Here is some better footage of Pinkberry from the show last night. This features their newest track that they were debuting at the show. It was produced by RockSH ... yes, my arch-nemesis Monopod Guy! While he has made an arrangement with YYT to stay at the back, the footage clearly shows he has a sidekick. Curses. 


Pinkberry and ... The Queers!!! live @ Yuyintang

joe queer
Yeah, that's right. I usually don't write up non-China based bands who come over because it's not related to the blog. But all that goes out of the window when it's ...The Queers! Have I mentioned that I'm a punk fan? Have I mentioned that The Queers and Screeching Weasel are like, the best bands ever?

So, Abe Deyo brought them over for a five date China tour. Opening for them was Pinkberry. Loudspeaker were on the bill too but inexplicably never showed at soundcheck. Not much to write here. Pinkberry played a good set but the room was only just starting to fill by the time they were finishing. Xiao You was looking tip top and seemed a bit disappointed in the audience who were chilling but appreciative while she gave her usual good performance. I mention this (tip top) as it pertains to later events. Anyhow, I uploaded a video of Xiaobudian. 

Then The Queers took the stage. Everyone got in the room and from the get go the first three rows or so exploded. At first I was watching star struck from the sidelines, not quite believing that Joe Queer was really on stage at little Yuyintang in Shanghai. But, as the set went on and the classics came out I had to get up there. They played Punk Rock Girls and I braved the moshers in my thoroughly knackered state. They did an encore and closed with an absolute stormer ... Joe Queer announced "This one is for Pinkberry" and then launched into She's A Firecracker. Ha. 

Apologies, I'm just a drooling fanboy tonight. Note to other organizations bringing in overseas bands to enrich the scene: Screeching Weasel.

Also, when Matt got nailed and ended up sprawled on the stage, he somehow managed to nick two plectrums. And he gave one to me. Matt Yeh = hero.

Marathon New Year weekend and Jue Festival


flyer jue soundtoyThe shows are still not slowing down. A lot to see in January with ample back up from traveling bands. Well, to be fair, when people write/say that the scene has quiet moments they are talking about bigger shows by name bands but there's always something on.

Before we go on, let me ask: what's with the talent show rejects forming bands and invading the scene? I already noted my surprise when Wang Xiaokun, of Wo Xing Wo Shou fame, turned up at Indietop with a guitar band and a bunch of rock/indie songs. Next I thought we saw Wang while shooting the Pinkberry MV at Yuyintang but actually it was Yu Siyuan, another graduate from the same show. Now I see he's playing a 100 RMB per ticket show at YYT in January. Who's next ... f*cking Shi Yang (师洋) ? 

Ok, so here's what's going down near me this week (all at Yuyintang):

12/31 New Years Eve Party, 6 bands including Chaos Mind
1/1 Kongzhong Huayuan Cd single release party (jangly Coldplay-esque indie)
1/2 Soundtoy (highly rated post-rock band from Chengdu)
1/3 The Queers come to Shanghai with Pinkberry in support

It's a four day holiday marathon and I'll go to all of them. 

And also this month, Splitworks are putting on an urban festival of music and art that is split across several venues. I should start with the official link to the full schedule so check it out: Jue Festival. The reason I'm mentioning it here is that part of that festival is a Chinese bands punk show at Dream Factory featuring Demerit and Pinkberry on the 16th of January. Now, I know for a fact that Splitworks are bringing in international quality sound people and extra equipment for this. I'm not sure if the festival will attract punk people per se, but with those two bands, a good rig and a good crowd, it should be a wild show. As always, supporting shows like that equals more shows like that in the future. You know it makes sense. 

Youtube: Pinkberry "Run Away" MV

Shanghai pop-punk band Pinkberry have rounded off an amazing fast rise on the scene by winning a place at the national finals of the Yamaha Best Band competition. They just got back from Beijing where, among other things, Toni Yu Zhuoran won best guitarist. You can catch them supporting legendary punk rockers The Queers at YYT on Jan 3rd.

Their first demo track Runaway showcases both their knack for a catchy, energetic tune and also Xiao You's strong vocals. As I blogged here, we recently shot a video to go with the demo MP3. I originally wrote a little bit about the sharpness and look of the video but after Youtube have encoded it, it looks like someone added a blur effect anyway so what's the point. If anyone can give me tips/Youtube hacks on how to avoid that they're very welcome.

So here it is, Pinkberry as moody too cool for school students in the iconic (if you live here) blue tracksuits with a scene in Shanghai's own Yuyintang too:

Pinkberry shoot wrapped

pinkberry shoot
I have lately been working with Gemnil from Yuyintang and the band Pinkberry to produce a music video. It's a zero budget type thing shot over two two-hour shoots but we wrapped today and I must say the results are quite good.

We had a lot fun with it, shooting a classroom scene and then a 'live' scene at YYT (where we also bumped into singer Wang Xiaokun and promoter Abe Deyo). Gemnil released some of her photos today so I thought I'd throw a couple on the blog. Special note to Micah, we shot the class scene in Zhangjiang Gaoke then ate lunch in the mini mall next to the station. Oh yes, that mall is one happening place at 11.30 on a Sunday morning.

pink two

pink eight

pink one

Magazines: Rock Dolls in Shanghai

rock dolls
I previously blogged about a feature I was helping Jake Newby with for SH magazine. Read the original posts here and here. The article is not online just yet so links are going to be added in later.

So the magazine is out, along with the news that the magazine only has one more issue after this before folding. That's shame as Jake was really fighting the good fight there and putting in a bunch of music writing and other good stuff that appealed to people who don't live in gated communities in Jin Qiao.

So the article asks six female artists in the music scene about their experiences. They are:

Melody Li from Tianping Dian (Candy Shop)
Xiao You from Pinkberry
Ding Jia from Momo
Xiao Bai from Bang Bang Tang
Vivian Chiang from Moongazer
Jia Die from Torturing Nurse

There's a bunch of insightful and intelligent stuff in the feature but I'll quote Vivian who seems to have a similar life experience to me:

"A lot of my friends don't even know where Yuyintang is," says Chiang, "but I practically live there!"

At the back of the magazine is a First Person interview with Jiang Shaoqing, the co-founder of 0093 rehearsal studios. After wailing on bands for leaving his studio a mess and for being mediocre he leaves us with this nugget:

To me, Rock'n'roll means being independent. And being independent means setting one's spirit free.

RockSH videos: Pinkberry and The Subs

These videos are hosted by a smaller streaming site here in China called "". I'm wary to embed them because the smaller vid upload sites tend to get shut down fairly often for a variety of reasons. So, watch them while you can.

So, anyway. RockSH have posted up two longer videos. Each one is an interview (all in Mandarin). Don't despair if you can't speak Chinese though, there is an insert panel playing clips from the live shows all the way through. Hmmn, another thought: are RockSH's video team and monopod guy one and the same? Judging from the Subs footage (From Dream Factory this weekend) it's him.That could be painful in the future.


The Subs:

xiao youRegular 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?

The Subs live @ Dream Factory

dream factory nov
The Subs have now played three shows here this year and, based on the previous turnouts, promoter Abe Deyo moved them up to the Zhijiang Dream Factory this time. The full line up was as follows:

I arrived pretty much on time only to find that the Molds were still sound checking. And so they did for another half an hour or so. It turned out that both Beijing bands needed ninety minutes each to sound check as they were not happy with the venue sound guy. Usually it's not a huge concern at smaller underground shows but Dream Factory is a more professional theatre and the ticket price is double that of the music bars too. Note to the Indietop show next Friday: bring your own sound people.

Once down in the hall it was an hour or so past door opening time and while there was eventually enough people to make the Subs fun and the usual mosh-fest, it was obvious it wasn't going to be the big turnout I hoped for. I met a bunch of people at the show. Aside from the usual suspects were Shanghai blogging duo Swiss James and Dingle. So, on to the bands.

Pinkberry took the stage and went into their set with confidence. The guitar was quiet and the drums sounded like they had a blanket over them but they didn't seem to care. I'm always impressed with how professional they are for a newer/younger band. Vocalist Xiao You really looked the part and, and as always, gave a good performance. My favourite song by Pinkberry is Mei You Shenme Da Bu Liao but lately they have taken to playing it double-time at gigs. But what do I know, Brad Ferguson commented that he quite liked the double-time style. Here's the original but it's only half the track, sorry. 

By the time The Molds appeared there was enough people there to fill a Yuyintang. The Molds are a very interesting band. They claim the Cramps as their main influence but play it very straight. Their sound is like Eddie Cochrane or The Shadows with purposefully morose vocals. I was looking forward to it after hearing the demos on Myspace. Unfortunately the vocal sound was so drowned in echo and up in the mix that basically the whole of the band was masked by a kind of wet ghostly moan. The audience couldn't really latch onto the music and as the set went on, for quite some time, it sent the 'young uns' scampering down the street for convenience store beers. The Molds are a cool band, though, and quite distinct from the Nanjing psychobilly acts. 

Right after I was explaining to someone how The Subs never play Drew The Line at shows anymore but play it's outro as the show lead in music - The Subs took the stage and went directly into Drew The Line. The sound seemed to get sorted a couple of songs in and a mosh ensued. Monopod guy was back and I spent a few songs unable to see singer Kang Mao past his huge rig. I think once the ticket price and venues get above a certain level someone is going to have to step in and say no unofficial huge vid cameras in the centre or flash photography at the shows. I was mellow all show as I'm just coming off four weeks or cough and cold. I went up the back to make the video of the encore track What More and you can see some crowd surfing action therein. 

Babydoll SH Mag interviews continued

xiao you and jia die
Today was the second part of  the discussion/interview with female artists in the music scene set up by Jake Newby.  Here is the first part.

Again, the feature is for SH Magazine and I was participating but can't undercut the feature by reproducing the interview. Sorry. 

Today we had the following participants:

Xiao You from Pinkberry
Jia Die from Torturing Nurse
Vivian from Moongazer
Li Yefeng from Candy Shop

It was a fun time and there was a lot of talk to be had about both the woman's situation within the music scene and other stuff like who sucks and who rocks. There wasn't much to do on the interviewer side as all four girls are intelligent and articulate. The break time small talk was just as challenging and wandered into stuff like imagery in the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe. I came away feeling justified in having pushed these bands on the blog lately. Take Pinkberry for example. Their music is fairly straightforward pop-punk but when you listen to Xiao You's level of awareness and conscious choice behind the music, you know that they are going to stand out. 

I will pinch one 'soundbite' as it happened after the end of the interview. Jia Die said:

When you perform noise it seems to be violent but when you are listening to it you can be taken to a calm place. I feel very calm and I used to listen to noise before going to sleep.

jake vivian xiao you li yefeng

Arrows Made of Desire live @ Yuyintang

arrows made of desire
This was the third night of a three night show marathon of which I cried off the middle date. So, yeah, no write up for V-day and Hard Queen, sorry. I did hear that Yuyintang got well over 200 people in for that show despite going head-to-head with New Pants. Nice.

Also the title of this post is a bit misleading as this was a Moses Hazy show. Moses are touring from Finland and I only blog local bands. Needless to say that Moses were good and thanks for coming to Shanghai and all that. They are based in Finland and not China so fall outside of the blog. 

And so, the main contender: Arrows Made Of Desire (Beijing)

Three shows in a weekend and the last one on a Sunday following two big shows. History tells us that the turn out was not going to be spectacular. But. Times they are a changing. It seems that Yuyintang is now known enough to pull in a hundred or so people on any given event without marketing. By the end of the night it was a half decent turn out and a full room. Not bad. Also,  a few musician types were lurking around as they normally are when bands come down from the Beijing scene. Dan Shapiro was down again as he's often in Beijing scoping out the best bands and rightly championed the whole weekend. Yuyintang's Sun Lu was also hanging with his pal from Crystal Butterfly at the bar all night and plying all comers with rocket fuel bai jiu among other things. 

Just as Arrows Made of Desire took to the stage there was a single bizarre moment. Two or three high tables with bar stools had been left in the main room, over by the sound desk, from the previous night and a bunch of people had sat at them. The staff were too nice to evict them and remove the offending objects. Tables stuck in the middle of a live house floor just seem to attract table people. After Arrows frontman Joewi (originally Dutch) welcomed the crowd in Mandarin, one middle aged sweater wearing type blurted out that he needn't speak Chinese just use English - accompanied by a smug guffaw. He seemed totally unaware that the rest of the crowd were fine with the intro and there was a deserved beat down an embarrassed silence for a moment there. So let's not leave the a*shole magnets floor tables out next time. 

The band played a tight set. The songs were punchy indie rock, not unlike the Friday night acts, but with more complex arrangements. It was a treat for muso fans as Joewi covered the whole range of guitar technique during the set without compromising the appeal of the songs. I picked up their CD and also put a video on the youtube channel. I have to say that I'm impressed over all with the Beijing post-Strokes group of bands, represented this weekend by three acts. But I'm still focused on the prize - the Indie Top showcase at Dream Factory where we get to see what Shanghai can really pull together. Not to forget Pinkberry playing with the Subs at what will be the mosh-fest of the year.

Pink Berries demo track at Neocha

pinkberry promo shot
I got to like the newish band Pink Berries lately after seeing them a bunch of times at Yuyintang. After talking to the band a little and joining their Douban group I have got some updates.

Firstly, the official way to write and spell the name is actually Pinkberry, although singer Xiao You joked it was a reflection of her English pronunciation. 

So, also they have just finished a new demo track and a set of high quality promo pictures to go with it. They have taken the pics and the track Pinkberry 小不点 and opened up a Neocha account.

So check it out: Pinkberry at Neocha

You can learn all kinds of stuff when you actually bother to check the band's page, I have found. Did you know that 0093 Studios have a footy team? Joking aside, there's the language issue for me. I'm stuck between having learned it to a certain spoken level (no so hard) and then pressing on to get all the reading and vocab down (too lazy). Anyway, I'm here to blog the shows I go to really, not be one of those interpret the meaning of China people. Here's a story that has a point about that. Some people may be aware that I speak reasonable Cantonese, learned from friends back in the UK for fun. Well, it went on until one day I found myself able to hold conversations and understand people when they talked in a normal fashion.

So, around that time I was in a Chinese restaurant in Winchester, Charles' House, and suddenly I realised that I could now understand everything the staff were saying to each other. I got a chill down my spine in anticipation of the secret world I was about to enter. Here's what I heard:

Hey, got those noodles for table six?
Siu Mak, refill the tea, would you?
Do we have another menu at reception?

... ah, yes.


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