Results tagged “splitworks” from Andy Best
Friend or Foe is a band of triplet brothers with a dark past. Made up of the Shakalaka bothers; Rabshaka, Mahanadan, and Bill, this band has recently been torn apart by a heinous, horrific act committed by their youngest brother Bill. In consequence for his unforgivable behavior the two older Shakalakas have decided to put Bill out of his misery. This will be Bill's last gig with Friend or Foe, because Rabshaka and Mahanadan will execute him during the performance.
I really loved the band. Pupu is, of course, a big part of what makes their act amazing, but they work impeccably as a team. They definitely sounded like they'd been working together for the five years they've been around, offering up a tight set with lots of changes in mood. They're loudThen we have a review at Beijing Noise. Read it here.
Enigmatic frontmen are rare in rock these days, yet Pupu excels, controlling the microphone and the crowd with easeAnd here is the review from Beijing City Weekend magazine.
And while emo may evoke strong love/hate sentiments in many listeners, there is little question of Mushrooms utter mastery of the genre. They set the crowd alight with their first song, and left the audience similarly exhilarated with their final song, a rap-cover hybrid of 4 Non Blondes' classic: "What's Going On." In between, their well-structured set moved from heavier rocking numbers to slower, ballad-like territory. Lead singer Pupu is an electric performer: loose lipped and almost mime-like in his facial expressions, he spent the set jerking about violently, looking at times as if he was bawling, at others as if he was clowning around in class.Good job guys. Reading through the reviews in full you get the impression that the gig was well attended for a band people in Beijing don't know and that despite scene cynicism and unfamiliarity The Mushroom's superior qualities were undeniable. And everyone was impressed with Pupu. That's not a surprise though.
Finally, on to the continuing problems with MAO. I think they are suffering from an expectation problem, for which they are at least partially responsible. However, it must be said that we, as in Shanghai underground music fans, are also to blame. I for one know that I expected a lot from this venue when it was getting off the ground. We wanted it to be like Yuyintang with better sound and more capacity. Well, we got those things. We really did.Well, it's true that you can't have expectations that are too high in an underground scene and this blog for one was happy in old YYT with a single room and a small fridge. But the fact of the matter is that the show on Saturday charged three times over the going rate for a show on the scene and Mao opened with lofty proclamations of a livehouse revolution.The sound has not been any better than Yuyintang, it is often worse. There's more but let's get on.
The warm up act was in fact a crooning KTV guy singing pop hits to a backing track. Why? Whhyyyyy!!?? Because it was someone's birthday party. Yes, they let someone have their birthday do at the bar on a gig night and put they show back to 11.45 to accomodate a round of KTV crooning and some announcements etc. This is totally normal in the local stylee bar environment and dice shakers continued unabated.
So, here's a quote from when Louis went to see Cold Fairyland on New Year's Eve:
I went into the melting pot and asked the waiter" is cold fairyland playing?" "uh?" "band, is there a band?" "yeah, yeah band..." "what band is playing" "I don't know, new, new band" "do I have to pay for a ticket?" "no, no free". I sat down and it took me a while to clue in that cold fairyland was just some bar band that night ...
...Then he tried to continuously participate in the band's game, until Lin Di (the Pipa player and the leader of the band) said "no you had enough", and he proceeded to tell his friends to go on stage and participate in the game.For one of the games he was asked to give his fav number, in which he said "oh my fav number, beside cold fairyland's promotional number (WTF) is the number 69″, and then he looked around the room and laughed proudly. At that point I wanted to throw my glass at him. Another game he was asked what his fav animal was by which he said "pussy...", and another one, he finally won the game, and the band member gave him a gift, in which he pulled out a condom from his pocket and gave it back to the band member...
The 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.
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?!
Carsick Cars are one of China's biggest acts and have played shows with Sonic Youth in the states. Unfortunately, industry people and journos were confounded by a bizarre turn around of the usual scheduling. There was one support act only, and they played on time and suitably briefly. Then Carsick Cars went on right afterwards, also on time, and played a short set. This really scuppered a bunch of folks who
used their common sense turned up fashionably late.
Check out Carsick Cars' myspace page here.
I had no idea who was supporting until I got there but I was in for a treat. Yuyintang has been really picking up lately and are getting a lot of new young local fans in the doors. As I made my way into the hall I overheard a trendy young couple telling the staff how it was their first time here and they were really excited. How pleased they must have been when the support act kicked in - two members of Muscle Snog doing a 20 minute experimental/noise improvisation. I don't mind noise and its related genres too much but it's probably a good idea to bill it in the flyers as some kind of warning to indie fans. I videod it as part of my new dilligent approach to this blog.
Great crowd of genuine fans for the Cars. They got stuck into tracks off their new CD and everyone nodded along, holding it in for the big single, Zhong Nan Hai. Between two tracks Shouwang managed to change guitars and tune the replacement without breaking the feedback and effects that linked the tracks. A great feat worthy of Hansel's underwear removal trick in Zoolander. The real fun was yet to come though. The Cars broke into Zhong Nan Hai sending the crowd into jumping mode and suddenly the air was full of cigarettes. You see, Zhong Nan Hai is a Chinese brand of ciggie. This could never happen at a club gig in my hometown of Liverpool as a riot would breakout as various scallies and students rush the stage trying to pick all the cigarettes up.
Met loads of people at the gig. Archie Hamilton promotes larger shows with Splitworks. They put on the Yue Festival last year but have an olympic related
kick in the groin break this summer. In the meantime they have been busy with their website China Music Radar. Check it out.