Results tagged “yyt” from Jake Newby

Earn money by going to Yuyintang this weekend

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2acc00a62d529bf.jpgThere are two shows on at Yuyintang this weekend where you'll get paid 1RMB each if you attend them. Yes, instead of forking out 40 kuai to watch a show, the promoters will pay you. If you haven't heard already, this is the brainchild of DJ BO and Dabei's Xiao Wei. The idea is to get more foreigners to see Chinese bands and more Chinese people to see foreign bands in Shanghai. 

The line-ups are as follows: 
Saturday Dabei, Prank, Senlinmu, Baiyu, Loudspeaker
Sunday Pairs, The Horde, Icenine, Moon Tyrant, Pacific

So if you've ever fancied going to see some of these bands and not got around to it, this weekend seems like a pretty good opportunity to do so. Check out more details here.

Die Die Die play YYT again tonight for free

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die-die-die.jpgSo I'm back in Shangers and I was going to write about Friend or Foe killing Bill and helping open the new LOgO this weekend, when I realised this guy had stepped up. If you missed his posts, catch up now.

Still, another show to look forward to is Die Die Die playing Yuyintang tonight. I mentioned how I was going to be gutted to miss them but they're putting on a free show tonight, which is great news. In support are Friend or Foe and new duo Death to Giants, so lots of reasons to make it out on a Monday. If you missed them too last weekend, don't make the same mistake again tonight. 

Something for the weekend

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Here's a cursory glance at what's on gigwise this weekend. 

Tonight is strange foodstuffs night apparently: Silver Apples at MAO Livehouse (bish), Plastic Chocolate (that's them in the video) EP release with Pinkberry at YYT (bash) and Androsace and friends at Live Bar (bosh). And if you're wondering why Androsace counts as a strange foodstuff, just think about it....

Saturday everyone's doing double headers. Well, not everyone but YYT has Exit A on before The Fever Machine invade and Live Bar has Flamer followed by a separate show involving Battle Cattle. MAO Livehouse has those Second Hand Rose guys and 696 have a folk thing. LUNE meanwhile, have a free show with X is Y, Next Year's Love, Moon Tyrant and Girls Like Mystery, as discussed before.

Slovakian hardcore on a Sunday? Yep, that's what they've got at YYT. MAO Livehouse has some weird anime thing and Live Bar has Miss Panda (who gig like this) according to the flyer, but a slightly different line up according to the Douban listing. Take a gamble.

Something for the weekend

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Tonight, Yuyintang hosts an evening of Comedy and Horror (and music) courtesy of Zangnan Recordings. Rainbow Danger Club, Stegosaurus?, Ann, Ho-Tom the Conqueror and The Song Dynasty (that's them in the video on the right here, more here and here) provide the straight up musical side of things, but there's stand-up comedy as well and a bit of both from The Dudettes. Details.

MAO Livehouse meanwhile welcomes back always entertaining Mongolian folk-rockers Hanggai. They had a bit of bad luck with their last show here as you may recall, so here's hoping Friday the 13th goes smoothly for them. Details.

Up at Live Bar, you've got Puppets of Distortion, Tang Trio, Sep and the delightfully-named Pinky Cock. Details.

696 Live hosts a folk show tonight with Xiao Wei headlining. Details.

Saturday and Sunday after the jump

SUBS and Duck Fight Goose, Yuyintang

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0 034.jpgI got to Yuyintang fairly early last night because I expected it to be rammed. A free gig with SUBS headlining ought to have been, even on a Thursday night. Eventually the crowd did pick up, but I think it was largely swelled by a bus-load of people on a 'Converse tour of Shanghai', which meant that they weren't necessarily dedicated gig goers. The atmosphere suffered a little as a result, despite a dedicated crowd of fans at the front - something Kang Mao herself remarked upon during SUBS's set. It wasn't quite a denouncement in the style of Windows Tembo a few years back when she swore at everyone not in the mosh pit, but still. 

More promotion might have helped, although it was always a bit dubious as to whether this was a private event or not. Despite the corporate backing, to be fair there was little in the way of branding on either the bands or the venue and it felt very much like a normal gig in most respects. Not that any of that mattered massively to be honest. You get the feeling SUBS would give an energetic performance to a crowd of three, whether those people were into it or not. 

Video: The Fever Machine's 'Dance with Deviance'

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This video has just gone up of The Fever Machine playing YYT last year. Check it.

Video: Friend or Foe's 'Snortin' Clorox'

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This video just went up from the Friend or Foe boys, check it out. Beijing, take note.

Break for Borneo CD release, Yuyintang

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7 128.jpgIt's taken me a couple of days to get around to writing this, but then it took Break for Borneo a little while to get around to having a physical release of their CD so I guess we're even. Sort of. If you missed the CD release and haven't downloaded the album yet, you can do it for free right here. The CD release had become part of a 24 hour festival thing at YYT that had kicked off at 3pm and the venue felt pretty festival-ly when I got there in the evening, with people all face-painted up and wearing odd headgear etc. It was the perfect vibe for Break for Borneo's summery feel-good tropical rock and the crowd really got into their performance, which also featured a cameo from Adam Gaensler

Duck Fight Goose had opened the night incidentally, but I got there late and missed their set. I was disappointed to have missed them, but even with them out of the equation, the remaining three bands made for a strong line-up. Rainbow Danger Club followed Break for Borneo and managed to get into the tropical rock theme. An expectant roar went up from the crowd during the opening notes of 'Neighbours on the Rooftop', but it wasn't quite the song they expected - instead, the band performed a reworked version of the track in a reggae-like style.

Shanghai 24/7 launch, Yuyintang

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shanghai 24 7 002.jpgI was actually thinking of going to see Shanren on Friday night and check out the new MAO Livehouse, but then I bumped into Ho-Tom The Conqueror at lunch time and he reminded me that he was on the bill for the Shanghai 24/7 thing so I ended up going to watch the same bands that I always watch at the same venue I always go to. Or at least, that's how it looked on paper. The night actually ended up having a surprisingly fresh feel to it.

Of course there's the new Yuyintang, but after a few gigs there now I can't claim not to be used to the refurbishments any more. It was more to do with the bands. Ho-Tom himself kicked off and was joined not only by regular conquering companions Franco and George, but also by the full Song Dynasty line-up. It's the first time I've seen him with a full band backing like that and he made the most of it, playing the longest set I've seen him do at Yuyintang. The full band brought something different to his songs and the crowd got into it too. Word is they're all recording some songs together so, though it'll be a few months yet, I'm looking forward to that one.

X is Y were up next and seem to be playing all their songs in double time these days. They certainly have a lot more energy and punchiness (for want of a better word) about them. Their set got off to a flyer and didn't really look back, with people jumping around again (which as Mr Fossy noted the other day was something that didn't really happen much before at X is Y gigs). Of course, despite the new energy to their set, the songs are still notably X is Y tracks, which is a good thing - I just feel like they've found a new balance to their sound that is working really well for them at the moment.

Hedgehog and Naohai, Yuyintang

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hedgehog 027.jpgSometimes there's nothing wrong with a bit of familiarity. This was a classic night in the newly-refurbished Yuyintang with a packed house being sent into a sweaty frenzy by Hedgehog ripping through their old favourites.

Of course, there were plenty of new songs too - the Beijing three piece were in town to release their new album after all - but when they closed their set out with what was effectively a greatest hits run-through it invoked the kind of jump around, big grin atmosphere that Hedgehog are so adept at creating. They're just one of those bands that you'd have to try really hard not to like and their live shows are infectious. People had to jump around and by the end it was a hot, sweaty mess of a crowd that screamed for an encore - like numerous Hedgehog gigs at Yuyintang before.

The new songs sounded great too of course. There's not been a massive shift in direction by the sounds of things (I haven't played the album yet), but that's not a problem. It's always hard playing a bunch of new songs to an audience who hasn't heard them before, but there were enough hooks and jump along moments to keep people happy until the more familiar tunes came around.

The other new element to the night came courtesy of support act Nao Hai, a band that I mentioned being interested to see live the other week. I've not seen them on any bills before anywhere, but they have some good demos on their Douban that had caught my interest. Still, given their lack of live shows to date, I'm not sure how they got on the bill to support one of the country's best bands, but their short set didn't seem out of place. They're still pretty fresh and a bit rough around the edges, but overall it was a solid showing of Gar-like rock that went down well with the crowd. Hopefully this is the start of them gigging regularly, they've got a lot of potential.

Decisions, decisions (part two)

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Still agonising over where to go on Friday? Wait til you see what's on on Saturday.

e404378.jpge414952.jpge407864.jpgThumbnail image for Tsunami Benefit - March 19th.jpg
Click on the pictures to see the flyers a bit bigger.

Decisions, decisions (part one)

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It may only be Wednesday, but this weekend is such a big one for live music that it's a good idea to start making your plans now. First up, these are your choices for Friday:

p858918874.jpgbeedeesposter(web).jpgCD-release-flyer.jpg

Click on the images above to see them nice and big and easy to read like.

The Fever Machine and friends, Yuyintang

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0 001.jpgFrom the time when Friend or Foe entered Yuyintang in boxing shorts, sparring in the middle of the crowd before they took to the stage, this was a night of straight up, quality rock. I was surprised that they were on first, but - after their great entrance - they kicked things off with a lively set. They showed off a couple of new songs as well, including 'Smith & Wesson' and they seem well on their way to having a record out before the summer slump hits, or if not, immediately after it. If you missed them, they're playing again next weekend as part of the Rainbow Danger Club album release (more on that later in the week) and again the weekend after that for Moon Tyrant's record release. As if that's not enough, they'll also be hitting Beijing in April so any northerners reading this should keep an eye out for them.

The next band were one half of the Nanjing contingent for the night. Micoo took to the stage with their frontman in his trademark blue shirt and cap and tore through a set of grungey rock. They have an album out, though I didn't see it at the show. They should have it with them when they play at Live Bar in a few weeks (April 1) so if you liked what you saw, or like what you hear here, check that show out.

The Fever Machine were up next and played a really powerful set. You really ought to know what The Fever Machine are about by now, but if you don't then make sure you catch them soon. Their 'and friends' shows are pretty much monthly - the next one's April 23rd - and you can hear four of their demos on their Douban (and download one for free).

That left Nanjing punks Old Doll to round things out. Unfortunately, it was pretty late by this point and I'd had quite a lot of beer to drink, but they're a quality act and I seem to remember enjoying their set. No one ever said this blog was about professionalism.

The Mushrooms for Meters Bonwe

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It's been a while since we heard anything from The Mushrooms - they went and got signed and haven't really done much since, which unfortunately seems to be something of a pattern for the band: they get a break, then go quiet for ages. But now they've popped up flogging Meters Bonwe's range of jeans. There's lots of gratuitous shots of their trousers obviously, but stick with it for the band talking about their city and their influences as well as footage of 0093 and Yuyintang. The band are on a few festival line-ups in the next couple of months and let's hope the tune sound-tracking this video is evidence that a record is finally on the way....

Trash a Go-Go at Yuyintang

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p709577937.jpgBefore we get anywhere, I just want to quickly say congratulations to Lu Chen, the Top Floor Circus frontman, who sent me a message last night to say that his missus had dropped their sprog at last. 陆雍 was born at 6.30pm last night.  
恭喜你们!

Anyway, on with the gig. Unexpectedly, I found myself at Yuyintang last night. Unexpected, because usually around this time of the month I don't have any free time, but I managed to get out of the office and so headed to the first of two Trash a Go-Go shows this weekend (they do it all over again tonight, also at YYT, with Dead Elvis).

The Instigation kicked things off and were their usually tight, lively selves. If you haven't seen The Instigation yet, you really ought to. They play hardcore/punk in the style of Reagan Youth (whose 'Degenerated' they always close their sets with) and singer Simon sings from in front of the stage, pacing backwards and forwards at the front of the audience. They were very nearly upstaged last night by a crazy Japanese dude who kept jumping on Simon and onto the stage, and by a white guy next to him who was dancing like your uncle at a wedding, but the band were good enough to just about remain the centre of attention. Seriously, you need to check these guys out.

Similarly, if you've somehow managed to get this far without seeing The Fever Machine, you need to sort that out pretty soon. They went on second and were on fine form. In fact, I think the version of 'Dance with Deviance' that they did might just have been the strongest I've seen from them yet. Again, quality musicians with a really tight set up and a strong set of songs who know how to put on a show.

Finally, there was The Beat Bandits (well, actually finally there was Japanese act Goggle-A, but it was getting late and I had to work today so I didn't stick around for them unfortunately). They had Papa from The Instigation on drums last night and I'm not sure if he was just standing in or if that's a permanent move, but as always their surf rock was on the money. They were in foursome form last night, which meant they had the girl on keyboards as well, which always adds a little something.

So yeah, a good night all in all - just as well, as that's probably my last gig for a little while...
p700980920.jpgYuyintang was packed last night. I mean properly rammed. I got there just after 9pm and there was no hope of getting anywhere near the front. By the time Ho-Tom took to the stage to open (he wasn't dressed like this incidentally, think that photo's from Halloween), I had to stand near the back by the bar and crane my neck to watch him. Even that became a crush and I ended up by watching him from the side of the stage.

What I saw nearly had me welling up. See, Tom is a good friend of mine and he was playing to a packed crowd at Yuyintang. That's pretty special. Not only that, but they loved him. He introduced all his songs in Chinese and, from the first song which he explained was about Hu Jintao's daughter, the crowd was cheering loudly. When he did 'I Don't Know Why Your Mum and Dad Don't Like My Mum and Dad', a song he penned himself in Mandarin and with lyrics about not having a Shanghai hukou and not having a house, the audience was enraptured.

He was playing with Franco ('the Fierce') on mandolin and George ('the Goliath'... I think?) on harmonica, which added a nice layer to his sound and worked really well, especially on the YYT stage and with such a big crowd.

Clearly Omnipotent Youth Hotel (or Society, as their album has it) have a big following here, but Tom certainly won them over and was a worthy support act for the Hebei band who so many had turned out to see. Of them, I don't have much to say really - I saw the very start of their set, but was really there for Tom and had to barrel across town to make sure I caught the return of The Gar...

Thursday night giggin'

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Thurs Gig.jpgJust a quick heads up that there's a couple of gigs on tonight if you feel like starting your weekend early. Dalian post-rock band Wang Wen are at MAO Livehouse, releasing their new album. They're pretty much the cream of China's post-rock crop, so if you dig the whole instrumental thing you should get to that one.

Alternatively, you can check out the show at Yuyintang, which as you can see from the flyer here features Androsace, Friend or Foe and Stegosaurus? So there you go, a couple of ways to celebrate this 'Singles Day' thing (or just go see some good live music).

The last days of LOgO

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photo.jpgYou know this already, but last night was the last night of LOgO. I had to bow out around midnight (y'know work and stuff), but it was pretty rammed and I'm sure it had a good send off. In fact, it's probably still going on now. The police stopped by for a bit, which was nice of them, just to remind everyone why it's shutting down.

Anyway, after YYT on Saturday night, I'd headed over to LOgO to find Friend or Foe on stage. It was another strong showing from the boys, despite Adam's guitar disintegrating toward the end of the set. By the end of it, which found him lying on the dancefloor on his back in the middle of the crowd, he might as well have been playing an erhu there were that many broken strings. Whatever, it was a great performance and one of those classic, slightly chaotic gigs that we'd all come to associate with LOgO. 

Last night was the Jam Session thing. Hmm. But there was also a brief appearance again from The Misfits, joined on stage by Marc Bolan at one point. I'm not sure who those guys were requesting 'Whale Song' though - pretty sure that's not a Misfits song.

So that's that. For now, the people behind LOgO look like they'll be focusing their energies on swankier new spot LUNE. I'm not sure how it'll work as a venue, but it'll get its first proper road test as a gig venue when The Gar come to town for their first show in over a year (now with ex-Hedgehog bassist Box) in a couple of weeks. Keep an eye out for that one...

KISS, The Misfits, Wham! and Joy Division at YYT

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e316421.jpgThis was a great night at Yuyintang - packed out and with great performances. Ordinarily, I'm not really into cover bands, but these were all done so well and with such humour that it was impossible not to enjoy it - unless of course you were that irate Wham! fan who complained that Pairs' "tribute" was sacrilegious before storming out. For me, that just made it funnier.

The night started with X is Y (plus two) as Joy Division. They did the songs really well - although I'm not sure about the metal/ska moments that crept in during 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. Any problems they may have had with people not recognising Joy Division's back catalogue (people stood around me kept asking who they were supposed to be) they overcame with an energetic performance that meant people got into regardless.

If their's was a pretty close study of Joy Division, Pairs' version of Wham! was something else entirely. With F and Xiao Zhong dressed in Choose Life t-shirts, the pair ripped through a couple of classic Wham! tracks but in the Pairs style, before Xiao Zhong kicked 'the other one' out of the band and went solo for 'Careless Whisper', which featured one of the best endings to a set ever as he kept everyone singing while he packed up his shit and walked off the stage.

Boys Climbing Ropes then came on and did The Misfits, with Little Punk bouncing around the stage as Danzig. They really got the crowd going and had the biggest mosh of the night, though some dickhead threw a glass at some point. Someone had crowd dived during Wham! with a bottle in hand as well. Seriously, how fucking stupid are you? Anyway, I don't want to dwell on it - it shouldn't take away from a great performance from BCR, something they reprised at LOgO last night as part of the farewell to the Xingfu Lu bar.

Finally came KISS who looked and sounded incredible. The make up, the costumes and the music were all spot on. They really had it down, with Dan staying in character throughout and all of the band members with studied mannerisms - Fabi's bright red tongue was waggling all the way through the set. They even did the synchronised bit with the guitars. It was brilliant.

So yeah, a brilliant night - well done to everyone involved. If anyone has photos or videos from the night, please send them my way, I still don't have a camera. Ta.

The Fever Machine and friends at Yuyintang

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e312859.jpgNo promotional problems here. Despite going up against a whole bunch of other high profile events such as the JZ Festival in Century Park and the opening night of Shanghai Pride, the Shapiro publicity machine did its job and pulled in a big crowd for four of the city's best bands last night.

Rainbow Danger Club kicked things off with a great set. Jesse from the band was kind enough to send me a couple of mp3s the other day of demos from the CD they're currently working on and I've had them on repeat ever since. They're a quality band with a great sound and I can't wait to hear the CD when it comes out.

The Instigation were on next and caused the biggest ruckus of the night with their shouty punk. Singer Simon sang from in front of the speakers rather than on stage, marching up and down at the front of the crowd and occasionally getting drawn into the group of people throwing themselves around like crazy. It was a good show.

The Fever Machine took to the stage after them and produced the solid rawk display that you'd expect. Again it was a performance from a band of quality musicians on a night full of them. The band had a couple of new tracks added in to their repertoire and they're another act who are hopefully thinking of laying down a CD soon. In the meantime, you can listen to, and download, some of their tracks here.

Duck Fight Goose were last on and, despite it being 1am by the time they took to the stage, a big crowd stuck around to watch them. They weren't disappointed. The band have received a lot of hype in the local media in recent months and with good reason: they are fucking brilliant. The only worry is that they're going to run out of room on the YYT stage to put all their pedals and effects gadgets - every time they've added something new (last night it was this white, iPad-like box with a glowing red screen, not sure what that was). Their CD should be out next month and to say that I'm excited about it doesn't even come close.

All in all, a great night with four top notch bands.

Streets Kill Strange Animals and friends at Yuyintang

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e292213.jpgBefore this gig was advertised, I didn't really know much about Streets Kill Strange Animals. I'd heard good things about them from up north, but hadn't really followed them too closely. That'll change now, they were brilliant last night. I thought that maybe the gig was done in the way they sometimes are in Beijing whereby the headliner actually goes on in the penultimate slot because it's the peak time before everyone heads home. The crowd certainly thinned after Bigger Bang!, but anyone who missed Streets Kill Strange Animals missed an excellent set and they were worthy of top billing.

If people had run out of energy after Bigger Bang!'s set it was understandable. They haven't been in Shanghai for a few months, but you can tell how much they like playing here. Last night was no different - they were tight, played a great set and Pupi was on top form. They also played two great covers: Joan Jett's 'I Hate Myself for Loving You' and, more surprisingly, Beck's 'Loser' with Pupi pulling off the raps.

Before that Pairs had torn through a typically exhilarating set that had people around me worrying about Xiao Zhong's vocal chords. I'm pretty sure he'll be fine.

The Fallacy and Boys Climbing Ropes at Yuyintang

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e291715.jpgYeah I still don't have a camera so here's the flyer in place of a photo. Photo donations are welcome by the way.

Anyway, last night saw two bands at Yuyintang - The Fallacy, a post punk outfit from Henan, and Boys Climbing Ropes who you know plenty about.

The Fallacy kicked things off and played a solid set. They sounded a bit like ReTROS to me, similar kind of basslines and what have you. But I like ReTROS a lot so that was a good thing. Perhaps due to a lack of familiarity among the audience with their material, they failed to really kick things off and to spark much of atmosphere in the crowd. People weren't going crazy, but everyone seemed to enjoy them overall.

Boys Climbing Ropes were on after them and rattled through a set that got everyone worked up into a deliriously sweaty state. Some things don't change. There were old favourites, but they also debuted a new song, full of their trademark energy. No idea what it's called, but it sounded good. The Boys are back in town and it's been a while since Yuyintang had that many people jumping around like loons, hopefully tonight we'll have it again - 'tis the season. 

Friend or Foe and friends at YYT

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p623206965.jpgThere was a solid turn out last night at Yuyintang for a midweek gig that featured The Instigation, Friend or Foe, X is Y and The Beat Bandits.

The Beat Bandits and X is Y have been written about before on this blog, the other two less so. Unfortunately, I only caught the tail end of The Instigation, though I did catch them tearing through a Reagan Youth cover which was excellent.

I don't have an awful lot to add to what I've written about X is Y and The Beat Bandits previously, so let me just rattle through them quickly before writing a bit more about Friend or Foe, the newest act on the bill. X is Y went on third and had a new bassist, which should see them have a more settled line up now. It's math rock and it's played well, though I felt their set went on a little long last night. That's not necessarily their fault - just that someone needed to remember that it was a Wednesday and that there were four bands on. 

The Beat Bandits closed the night out and were excellent as always. They were in four person mode, with the girl on the keyboards. They're a tight outfit, play some great songs and have an energy and enthusiasm that's hard not to like. The crowd always feeds off them and it only took a couple of songs before everyone was attempting '60s-style dancing out on the floor at YYT.

However, the thing I really took away from the night was the performance of Friend or Foe. This was my first time seeing them - I think they've only had a couple of shows previously - and I was really impressed. Not that their competence was particularly surprising, their line up features Zack on the drums, Adam on guitar and Fish on bass - all strong musicians. I don't think they have a Douban or anything yet (please correct me if I'm wrong on this) so I'm going to describe their sound to you as broadly funked up rock and occasionally just straight up rawk. They reminded me at times of Cake and at other times of Soulwax songs like 'Too Many DJs' or 'Much Against Everyone's Advice'. But maybe that was just me. Regardless, they're really good and you should make sure you catch them next time they're playing live. Photo courtesy of 幽小巫
Sept 8th show.jpgI was out of town this weekend, meaning my barren gig stretch was extended. Shame, because it sounds like Chaos Mind tore shit up.

Nevermind though because tomorrow night at YYT sees a chance for redemption. If, like me, you've been in a bit of a non-gig-going rut recently, it's time to get over the summertime blues and head to this show. 

On the bill are The Beat Bandits, The Instigation, Friend or Foe and X is Y. The Beat Bandits are really good and The Instigation is another of Toshi's bands so (though I haven't seen them yet) I'm sure they're quality. X is Y I've written about before on this blog and I'm pretty sure I've emphasised before that they're well worth seeing. Friend or Foe are a new band, but one I'm keen to see as they've got that nice Zack Smith boy in their line up. 

So basically, it's a night worth getting into work late on Thursday for.  

A bit of bother at YYT

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yyt.jpgSo while posting has been a bit light here the last few days (it's been my time of the month), someone else has been blogging like a mad man. Check it out.

Meanwhile, the ever-reliable SmartShanghai has posted on the recent troubles of Yuyintang, Shanghai's most important live venue. I know it's kind of annoying when blogs just link to other people's articles without adding anything to it, but it's important and Morgan's pretty much nailed it, so here's the link.

Though I'm gutted there's no show there tonight (now that I finally have time to get to a gig), the real worry is next month - let's hope it won't interfere with all the goodness coming our way in September.

Pairs and Duck Fight Goose support Handsome Furs

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e272503.jpgI don't know if you went to see Handsome Furs last year when they played in town, but if you did you probably went this year as well - they make you want to see them again in that kind of way. Well anyway, if you went last year you'll remember it was ridiculously hot and sweaty in Yuyintang that night. Last night was no different. No shocks there really, YYT gets sweaty in mid-February with the right number of people in there, August wasn't going to be any other way.

Anyway, the place was packed by the time Pairs kicked things off. Not sure if you've heard of Pairs or not, you might have seen the odd oblique reference to them here and there, but they're alright. Last night they played as Trios, with Xiao Zhong's sister's boyfriend smashing the shit out of some stuff on stage while they played. They're nothing if not inclusive. Good for them, I'm all about widening participation. They were great.

Duck Fight Goose were on after that, another band you've probably not read about on this blog before, but never mind. They were ridiculously good as ever, though in a completely different style to Pairs obviously. Han Han had some effect thing going on his vocals, which is a new development and something I'm no so sure about, but they're still far and away one of the best bands around and seeing them is always a great experience.

So two great bands paved the way for Handsome Furs. Dan acknowledged as much when, in addition to saying YYT was one of his favourite places to play in the world, said that we 'should be proud of having two such great bands in Shanghai.' He's not wrong. So if that was your first time seeing those bands (unlikely if you're reading this blog admittedly), get out and see them more often. You can start tonight with Pairs at Not Me.
p518927125.jpgUPDATE This guy has gone and done a proper write up of the event.

As I was partly involved in organising this event, I'm not going to do a proper review type thing. I should point out though that I wasn't all that involved really - this was mostly Andy's doing and he deserves the credit for making this all happen, even if he gave me the finger when I said as much on stage last night.

So yeah, a big thank you to all of you who came out for the show and decided on some brilliant photographs and bands over Panic at the Disco! for 350 kuai. Thanks to Yuyintang and especially Supes for letting us host the whole thing at their place, thanks to Boojii and Duck Fight Goose and Brad for being amazing as always and thanks to Ren Hang for coming here and sharing his work with everyone and for being a good house guest (you too, Fish, I love this photo). Also a big thank you to Sacco for carting all his gear over and DJing for us - I have a horrible feeling I forgot to mention him when I was on stage last night, it's not personal, I'm just not a good public speaker (that and the beers didn't help).

This is Ren Hang's first time in Shanghai, but something tells me he'll be back before long - let's hope so.

That's it really. The turn out was fantastic, the photos and bands more than worthy of so many people and I had a great time. Hopefully you did too. Thanks.

0093's 3 year anniversary at YYT

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e262057.jpgYou know 0093, now no longer at 0093, but still supporting the scene and doing what they were doing before - it's been written about plenty on here and on Andy's blog. Last night and Thursday night was their third anniversary and they celebrated with two back to back shows at Yuyintang with a shitload of bands playing across the two nights. I didn't make it to the Thursday show, but I did go last night. The turn out was good and so was the atmosphere.

The problem with having so many bands play is that you have to rattle through them pretty quickly. Some of the earlier bands did four or five songs, but some of the later ones, wary of the time, could only do three. That was a shame, because to my mind the later bands were the better ones.

To be honest, I spent the first half of the night by the bar or out in the garden talking to people and catching up and just generally getting some semblance of a life back after a crazy few weeks at work. It was good. The bands I half heard from that position were Five Pence (Guns 'n' Roses covers and stuff) and Five Pointed Star (energetic shouty stuff).

I forget the order, but the next three bands were New Vector, Momo and Little Nature. I think. New Vector were good, but only played three songs. As mentioned before, I'm a philistine and therefore three songs is not a bad cut off for most post rock bands in my book. I enjoyed their set. Momo were scuppered a bit by missing Ding Jia, their singer. Little Nature opened with a song that had us wondering if it was actually Little Nature - they sounded energetic and good. But then we realised it actually was Little Nature and I couldn't really be arsed to go inside.

Eventually I did go in and watch a band properly though: Runaway Snail. Fanqie has changed his look once again so I barely recognised him when I bumped into him earlier in the night, but once up on stage he was his normal self and the band gave a strong performance. I just wish they'd play more songs and play more often, they're really good. Then Joker finished things off and were brilliant as well. They're another band that I'm a big fan of and never disappoint live. Can't wait to here their new album, hopefully out next month.

Right, see you at YYT tonight then.

Oh, still no photos by the way - still can't afford a camera, so you'll have to make do with flyers and stuff until I can.

You've not forgotten about this have you?

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e262052.jpgSeriously, that'd be worse than forgetting about Dre. A reminder:

Saturday 31st July, Yuyintang, 9pm. Mark that down. Carve it into the wall above your bed. Tattoo it on to your hand if you have to. This is an event you don't want to miss. Why? Because this is the line-up:

Ren Hang + Boojii + Duck Fight Goose

Ren Hang is going to display some of his incredible photography at Yuyintang and two of Shanghai's best bands, both proponents of 'strange rock' are going to provide the music. It's a real taste of China's avant garde and the whole night will only set you back 40RMB. As if that wasn't enough, DJ Sacco will be there spinning some quality rock tunes as well.

This blog has been accused of hyping certain events in the past, and of course this is something we're organising so we're biased, but seriously, this is definitely something you don't want to miss. There's no hype necessary either - from merely posting the event on Douban, we already have well over 1,000 people interested. Of course, not all of those will turn up, but compare that to your average gig listing on Douban and you'll see the numbers are pretty impressive. It should translate into a healthy crowd, so get there early.

A little background: Ren Hang is an amazing photographer. There's no point in me trying to describe what he does when I can just point you in the direction of his work. Go here and take your time going through all those albums, there's some great stuff in there. Also, remember that Pet Conspiracy naturist shoot? That was for Moon Magazine. Ren Hang is Editor in Chief there.

Boojii are one of Shanghai's leading lights when it comes to 'strange rock'. Their album Reserved is an outstanding record and they are a fantastic live act. Read more about Boojii here.

Duck Fight Goose need little introduction to regular readers of the blog. They are quite simply an immense talent. Read more about Duck Fight Goose here.

Kungfuology.com presents: Eat Naked Lunch

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e262052.jpgSaturday 31st July, Yuyintang, 9pm. Mark that down. Carve it into the wall above your bed. Tattoo it on to your hand if you have to. This is an event you don't want to miss. Why? Because this is the line-up:

Ren Hang + Boojii + Duck Fight Goose

Ren Hang is going to display some of his incredible photography at Yuyintang and two of Shanghai's best bands, both proponents of 'strange rock' are going to provide the music. It's a real taste of China's avant garde and the whole night will only set you back 40RMB. As if that wasn't enough, DJ Sacco will be there spinning some quality rock tunes as well.

This blog has been accused of hyping certain events in the past, and of course this is something we're organising so we're biased, but seriously, this is definitely something you don't want to miss. There's no hype necessary either - from merely posting the event on Douban, we already have well over 1,000 people interested. Of course, not all of those will turn up, but compare that to your average gig listing on Douban and you'll see the numbers are pretty impressive. It should translate into a healthy crowd, so get there early.

A little background: Ren Hang is an amazing photographer. There's no point in me trying to describe what he does when I can just point you in the direction of his work. Go here and take your time going through all those albums, there's some great stuff in there. Also, remember that Pet Conspiracy naturist shoot? That was for Moon Magazine. Ren Hang is Editor in Chief there.

Boojii are one of Shanghai's leading lights when it comes to 'strange rock'. Their album Reserved is an outstanding record and they are a fantastic live act. Read more about Boojii here.

Duck Fight Goose need little introduction to regular readers of the blog. They are quite simply an immense talent. Read more about Duck Fight Goose here.

Last minute event: Dragon Boat rock

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e253415.jpgThey're a bit late putting this out there, but Yuyintang are throwing a Dragon Boat party tonight with five bands playing. Here's how the line-up looks:

9:30-10:00 X is Y 
10:10-10:50 Thruoutin 
11:00-11:15 Anita Shwanz and the Dudettes 
11:20- 12:00 Break for Borneo 
12:00-late Rainbow Danger Club

X is Y I wrote about back here. Thruoutin is from Beijing apparently, though his MySpace says Ningbo. Whatever, listen in here. There's some more on Anita here. You can listen to Break for Borneo's EP right here.Rainbow Danger Club meanwhile are here

It's 30 kuai to get in and all the event details are here. So now you know - those of you with holiday can pop along.

Even more video: The Beat Bandits

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This is my third and final video from Saturday's Good Jive 3 night at Yuyintang. It's like you don't even have to go to these gigs really, you can just watch the videos here. Anyway, this is The Beat Bandits doing a cover of The Small Faces' 'Whatcha Gonna Do About It' and if you like what you hear you can catch them this weekend at LOgO with The Dead Vikings. I love The Small Faces and The Beat Bandits do this well, check it out.

More video: more Ho-Tom

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Today is Ho-Tom the Conqueror day at Kungfuology.com. All Ho-Tom, all day long. Seriously though, I just managed to upload this video and it's a bit better quality than the last one. Watch it, then go see him live down at Anar tonight. It's a holiday tomorrow anyway (well, not for me actually, but probably for you), so why not?

Video: Ho-Tom the Conqueror

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Here's a video of Ho-Tom the Conqueror doing The Love Song of Daniel Mao. I think that's what it's called (I got it wrong last time). Daniel Mao is in the title somewhere anyway. My camera's a bit fucked so it's all blurry, but the sound isn't totally shit so you get the idea. Give it a click, listen to Ho-Tom doing his thing and then decide that you want to go see him play at Anar tonight. He's there every Monday and should be on around 10.30pm.

Good Jive 3, Yuyintang

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P6120524.jpgThis was kind of an odd one. The turn out wasn't great - again it was a school night for a lot of people, plus I guess the World Cup didn't help, but let's not talk about that or Robert Green, the muppet. It was a solid line up of bands regardless.

The Beat Bandits got us started and were great. I really like this band. They had their (newish) keyboardist playing last night who I always think makes a difference. I like their three-piece show as well and it seems to suit LOgO really well, but when they have the girl on the keys it just makes their surf/mod-rock that bit more summery and adds to the sound. This was their second gig at YYT in as many nights (they supported The King Khan and BBQ Show the day before) and, though as I say they suit LOgO for some reason, I hope this is the start of them playing at YYT more where you can actually hear them properly. I like 'em. They played a Small Faces cover - what's not to like?

Next up was Ho-Tom the Conqueror. As ever, I feel I should point out that Tom is a good friend of mine. Not like the other bands, I hate all of those people on a personal level. Just kidding. Friend or no, Tom was brilliant last night. His line-up was switched up a little and he had backing from Tom and Jerry, two Mongolian dudes who are in Lan Cao. One was on the mandolin, one was on the banjo, George was on harmonica and Ho-Tom was on fire. People lapped it up and rightly so, he was excellent. I've got a couple of videos of him to prove it. I'll get around to uploading them tomorrow probably.

X is Y were next. There was only two of them, LON wasn't around. Not really sure why, but they were good all the same. They play a kind of math rock and you can download an entire album of it right here. They're also at Yuyintang next Friday supporting The Dead Vikings with Pairs (The Beat Bandits support the Japanese crazies the following night at, oh, at LOgO). Go see them.

Sun Ye cancelled by the way. Nuts. No matter, because Stegosaurus? went on next and closed the night out with a good set. Those who were there enjoyed it naturally, it just felt a little empty. Maybe the two big gigs the night before had cleaned people out - as I say, a lot of people had to work today. Shame, because it was a good night until y'know Rob Green went and did that.

Time for a totally random link. Go and read this interview with MIA, just because she's brilliant. I love her music and her scattergun approach to everything.

Video: Triple Smash at Yuyintang

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I didn't make it to the Pose Rock gig at Yuyintang on Saturday unfortunately. I caught Pairs at LOgO on the Friday and they were excellent, I saw a few seconds of Rustic at the Gibson shop on Hengshan Lu and then last night I saw The Medullary Paralysis at YYT. Anyway, in the middle of all that I missed Triple Smash, The Fever Machine, 21 Grams and Little Wizard, which is a shame. If you missed them as well, check out this video of Triple Smash playing an as yet un-named new song.

Mini E at Yuyintang

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mini-e.jpgLast night saw another of the Mini E showcases at Yuyintang. Mini E is the electronic spin off of the Miniless label. They were behind Sun Ye's excellent Trash Can album and feature a number of local electronic artists on their books. These days, they're mostly headed up by Zister of Confirm-X who has started organising regular showcases for the acts. There was one about a month ago on a Thursday night and there'll be one at Not Me in early July as well fronted by Sun Ye.

I went to the one a month ago or so and really enjoyed it. Here's what I wrote back then. Last night's event was a similar story really - the music was great, but the turn out was disappointing. Numbers were similar to the last one, but that was on a Thursday and on a Friday night you'd expect more. It did pick up a bit toward the end with the dancefloor filling up a little, but it still wasn't as busy as it should have been. Maybe the venue is part of the problem, it's debatable how suitable YYT is for these kind of shows. Not Me seems like a more suitable venue so maybe it'll go down better there.

Hopefully that one will be more of a success. The Mini E collective are doing some great things and producing some really good music - they just need more people to take notice. They also need the local crowd to appreciate local artists instead of just going to these megaclubs with DJ Whoever who is number whatever on such and such DJ list. That stuff is pish. Mini E aren't.

Here's a few links to some of the artists on Mini-E so you can listen yourself:

Sun Ye
Confirm-X
CDGE

Yu Shu benefit gig, Yuyintang

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P5090102.jpgSunday night saw a gig of remembrance for those lost in the Yushu earthquake in Qinghai earlier this year. The show was headlined by Gua, a band from the province who were personally involved in helping victims in the area. 

Unfortunately, I was pretty exhausted by the time I got to this gig and thus I only stuck around for a couple of songs from Gua's set. That's no reflection on the band though. They were tight and had a good sound, I just needed to get some sleep. I know, I'm getting old.

So yeah I only saw the support acts. Luckily for me, the support acts included FAF and The Mushrooms. Actually on reflection, having them as support acts maybe contributed to me having no energy by the time Gua came on.

Nuka Cola, a fairly new band, opened the night. They play the sort of rap metal that The Mushrooms used to play before they developed their own sound more and they're clearly inspired by the Mogu Tuan boys. It's early days for them, but they had plenty of energy and got the crowd going a bit.

Most people were waiting for the double whammy of FAF and The Mushrooms though. Fair enough, so was I. FAF came on and the crowd started to move for the first time. They played a fairly long set given that they were the second support band, but no one minded. They've added a new song to their repertoire as well, one that sees Xiao Ding get out a semi-acoustic and play something a bit different to their usual sound. It works though. Yes, I know they spend a lot of time sweeping their emo hair out of their eyes; yes, I know the keyboardist looks like Elmo on crack when he does his screamy bits; and yes, I know there are a few cheesy choreographed stage moves at times; but fuck it, I really like this band.

Speaking of bands I like, The Mushrooms were up next. I'm not sure I even really need to go in to how fucking good The Mushrooms were do I? Really? Alright, just a little bit. They were brilliant. It'd been a couple of months since their last show here, during which time they'd played up in Beijing and impressed by all accounts. Not surprising really. Pu Pu was on fire as usual and looked like he might explode at times. The band were tight and professional and everyone lapped it up. There were screams every time Pu Pu announced the name of a song (not from me I mean, from the Mogu Groupies at the front) and plenty of people knew all the words. 

Good news then, that The Mushrooms are going to release an EP soon...

Yuyintang open again

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yyt.jpgUPDATE: I was just writing a follow-up post about all the great gigs Yuyintang has coming up in the next few weeks, then realised Morgan had already done a much better job of it here. Seriously, check out that line-up of gigs. It's pretty strong. As Morgan says himself, "now more than ever you should head down to one or all of these to show your support".

--

False alarm? Maybe. News has just come through from Yuyintang that gigs this week will go ahead as planned, starting with tomorrow's Northern Europe showcase (it's a full week too, calendar and details here). The authorities have sent word that the venue has not been issued with an official ban and is therefore free to operate as a gig venue again. They can go and reclaim the equipment this afternoon and will be given more information about it all then, but essentially it seems as if gigs are going on as normal this week.

Clearly this is great news, but the whole situation seems very odd. First the gig on Friday night got shut down after the doors had opened, rather than in advance of the show. It was shut down by authorities from the city administrative department as well, not the cultural bureau as is usually the case with these things (it was the cultural bureau who tried to shut down the LOgO gig the weekend before). Then the Pinkberry EP release got "postponed" - although as Andy writes here, they were able to sneak out a few cheeky songs using the old sound equipment - and the police who came to inspect that were, as Andy put it, "the kind of city federal/special cops with proper gear and in shape etc", not the normal police who do this kind of thing. Finally, Yuyintang are now saying it's business as usual this week for gigs.

So what are we supposed to make of all this? Was it much ado about nothing or a pre-Expo warning shot? I guess we just have to wait and see, but the important thing is that Yuyintang is open again, which is clearly very good news.

Now what?

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b6.jpgSo it's come to this. First LOgO last weekend and now Yuyintang. MAO Livehouse need to watch their backs. If this is a sign of things to come for the Expo, then it's going to be a long six months.

What am I talking about? Yuyintang has been shut down.

When the police tried to shut the LOgO show down last weekend, stating "the Expo" as the reason, I tried to stay positive and believe that it was due to the complaints of local residents, rather than actually for the Expo. But with the YYT raid last night, half an hour after the start time of the gig, things have been stepped up a notch. It now looks increasingly like the police are doing an area each weekend and shutting things down. Why would you want an interesting and vibrant music scene going on during the Expo, eh? 

It's interesting the kind of gigs that the authorities are focusing on. One was a Sunday night show, though the attempted raid came a few days before. The other was a low-key folk show. Peaches at MAO singing 'Shake Yer Dix' and 'Fuck the Pain Away' is clearly harmonious enough to be allowed. A Beijing band playing indie-rock or a local folk artist? Let's shut it down! Clearly, dealing with a handful of annoyed locals is a lot easier than trying to placate 600 drunk and angry white people. It's also less likely to get attention in the press.

'Police ban Peaches in Shanghai' headlines are more likely to make waves in the run up to Expo than a story about a Chinese guy who plays folk songs having his gig shut down. But Yuyintang is massively important to the local music scene here and anyone who cares even a little about music in this city needs to make a fuss about it now.

There were warning shots. Top Floor Circus' ban at the end of last year should have been a wake up call. Instead, little attention was given to it. A few local sites ran posts on the 'Shanghai Doesn't Welcome You' performance at MAO, but few covered the subsequent performance ban of the band or the censorship and deletion of the song and the confiscation of the associated merchandise. Aside from a journalist from Radio France International, who ran a story on TFC's song and their subsequent ban, media coverage of the incident and its implications for the Expo period was non-existent.

Yuyintang shut down

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tandemLast night at around half past nine, police showed up at Yuyintang and told them the planned gig for that night (local folk artist Wu Ji) would not be going ahead. No real reason was given, they simply asked to speak to the manager and asked to see the venue's licenses. Audience members (there were around 20-30 people there at the time, not a huge crowd) were told that the gig was cancelled and that they needed to leave the venue. The authorities then confiscated equipment from Yuyintang - the cash tills and everything from the sound desk, including the computer. Tonight's Pinkberry EP release has been "postponed" according to a notice from the band, though they will still be at the venue at 9pm tonight to give out postcards and to meet any disappointed fans who show up expecting a gig.

Yuyintang are currently trying to ascertain exactly where they stand now - and how they get their equipment back. They have some big, big shows lined up for May with gigs taking place almost daily, starting with big name experimental indie act Xiu Xiu on Sunday 2. There is no word on these shows yet and clearly the hope is that they will not be affected, but they have to be in some doubt at the moment.

When attempts were made to shut down last weekend's gig at LOgO, I wrote that I thought it likely to be caused by resident complaints rather than the Expo, even though the big event was the reason given. I was trying not to think the worst - if the Expo really was the reason, then there would only be more to come. Well, now there's more, a lot more. Between us, Andy and I have written numerous times about the importance of Yuyintang to Shanghai's music scene. Put simply, it is the heart of the local underground music community here. Its closure, for however long, is a huge blow. Hopefully YYT will be open again very soon and this won't disrupt them too much, but I wouldn't expect to catch a gig there this weekend.

Qinghai mourning cancels YYT show

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e219538.jpgI mentioned last week that my good friend and excellent singer/guitarist/spoken-word maestro Ho-Tom the Conqueror was going to be performing at Yuyintang this Wednesday and that you should all go see him. 

Well, no sooner had he sent a reminder text this morning about the gig, then I got another message saying the show had been cancelled. No alleged Expo funny business this time around - the government have decided that Wednesday should be an official day of mourning for those lost in the Qinghai earthquake, which registered 6.9 on the Richter scale and devastated communities in the largely Tibetan region when it struck last week.

For details of how to donate to relief efforts in Qinghai, click here.

In the meantime, the acts who were due to perform are hopefully going to reschedule. I'll keep you posted.

Stegosaurus? CD release at Yuyintang

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steg.JPG"Stegosaurus in da house / Stegosaurus burn it down / Check the mic and pass it round / Y'all dinosaur's is goin' down"

Exactly. I love that song. Sorry Dan. It opens Stegosaurus?'s new CD and they opened their set with it last night. It rocks. The CD's really good too. I'm not sure how you can get it now if you weren't at the gig last night, but I assume it'll be available at their other gigs or something. Anyway, you should get your hands on it. Last night it got a good release party too, with a good turn out and a load of top performances, including from the Stegosaurus? boys themselves of course. Congratulations to them.

There were roughly 642 bands on the bill last night, so when I wandered in around 9ish a whole load of people had already been on. I got there as Baby #13 were finishing off and didn't quite make it into the main room to see them. Rainbow Danger Club were up next. Experimental rock is I guess how you classify them, though they probably rail against things like classifications of music. They pull out all the artsy rock things, last night they played guitars with sticks and did some vocals through a megaphone (and that was just the first song), but, having seen them a few times now, I quite like them. Oddly, there was a slower conventional rock song somewhere in the middle of their set, but overall it was pretty interesting stuff and I think they've got a good sound.

Dragon Pizza came on after that and gave a typical Dragon Pizza performance, i.e. they were great. It wasn't exactly their usual crowd, but they're one of those bands who don't really know how to give a lacklustre performance - they just go all out every time. Yuki's got a job as Stage Manager or Performance Manager or something at the Japanese pavilion at Expo, so this was their last show for a while - at least until after Expo - which is a shame, because I always enjoy watching them play.

Boys Climbing Ropes were on next. Meh. Then Stegosaurus closed the night out with stage fights, costumes and big balloons filled with glitter. Good stuff.

Mini-E at Yuyintang

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P4150837.jpgI didn't get to see as much of the Mini-E showcase at YYT last night as I would have liked. I had good reasons though. First off, I got there late because I went to see Ho-Tom The Conqueror playing at Fanfare earlier on in the evening. Tom's a good friend of mine, but luckily he doesn't suck - in fact, he's really good - so I can recommend his shows with a clear conscience. Seriously, he has some great songs and last night he punctuated them with some spoken word stuff. It was really good. He was followed by 周勇 who also seemed like a really strong performer. Unfortunately, I only caught one of his songs as I wanted to head to YYT. Fortunately, you can catch them both in action at next week's New Faces Underground show at Yuyintang on Wednesday. Here's the details.

I also have to admit to bailing a little earlier than I would have normally, because I wanted to go catch a bit of Grandmaster Flash at MAO. Yeah, I know that seems a bit hypocritical given that most of what follows is an appeal for more Mini-E events, but there you have it. 

So Mini-E then. It was a modest turn out, a few regulars including the Stegosaurus? boys (did we mention they've got a CD out this weekend?) and their collaborator Xiao Bai (listen here) with a few friends of the acts, but this was a Thursday night after all. The music was great though. I got in part way through Sun Ye's set and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. You've probably realised this by now, but I'm a big fan of Sun Ye's stuff. Check out more on him here


Something for the weekend

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new Sun Ye.jpgHello again. So yeah, things have been even slower than normal here the last week or so. As you might have read, me Mum was here (she's fine, thanks for asking) and she takes precedent over this blog I'm afraid. Still, she's safe and sound back in the UK now so I'll be back to it. Not that she's not into her music incidentally (she digs Glamourous Pharmacy and Liu Kun's new solo album), just that we went travelling last weekend instead of gigging.

Anyway. It's a good weekend to get back into the fray because there's a whole load of stuff going on. Here's a run down if, like me, you fancy heading once more unto the breach:

Thursday

Yep, things get going early this weekend with the Mini-E showcase over at Yuyintang. That's Sun Ye, Confirm-X, SIG, MHP and DJ Mia all on the one night. Can't wait.

Before that, down at Fanfare (528 Fahuazhen Lu, near Dingxi Lu) at 7.30pm there's another showcase of local-based musicians with the highlight being Ho-Tom the Conqueror. Go check it out. If you do happen to miss him playing there, then make sure you catch Ho-Tom at New Faces Underground next Wednesday. Details of that here.

Friday

I might be a bit busy with this (ahem), but Friday sees lo-fi electronica dude I am Robot and Proud at YYT and the big Britpop Comes to China thingy at MAO Livehouse (while it still stands). Old Live Bar meanwhile has Pairs (more on them here) playing.

Saturday

Music Fever (a new local-based collective) have their first night up at Yangpu Live Bar with New Vector and Black Luna on the bill amongst others, Pairs play the other Live Bar (696), while Stegosaurus? release their CD at YYT. I'm playing that CD right now and it's great. Plus the whole line-up is brilliant with Dragon Pizza in the mix and some talk of free actual pizza. Some band called Boys Climbing Ropes are playing with them as well. Which is a shame, because I quite wanted to catch Beijing band Cassette who are at MAO Livehouse with Candy Shop and X is Y that night. Luckily for me though...

Sunday

...Cassette play LOgO on Sunday. Pinkberry are on the bill too, together with Stegosaurus? again. Great stuff. Cassette's singer contacted me a while back about playing down this way and took tips from Pu Pu when booking the gigs here so they should do well. Of course, that CD release is probably where I'll be on Saturday, but I definitely recommend making the trip out on Sunday to catch them at LOgO. Click their name above to have a listen to their stuff.

Reflector at Yuyintang

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4487275618_15326a9a48.jpgWhew. It's been a while since we had one of those at Yuyintang. Totally packed out right from the start with diehard local fans all singing the words. Not that that was a surprise - the exact same thing happened last time Reflector were in town.

It's not hard to see why they're so popular. They play catchy punk, are a super tight band and are really nice guys to boot. They've been around for 14 years now (with only one change in line-up a few years back) and it shows. Their set tonight was really strong and their professionalism showed throughout. They were thoroughly entertaining and the crowd lapped it up.

Earlier, Dragon Pizza had kicked things off (at 9pm on the dot pretty much, due to the place being rammed) with a short but punchy set. It's been a while since I've seen them play, but I always enjoy seeing them - they're also great performers and always give a good show. Still, tonight was all about Reflector and the fans who turned up in droves were rewarded with a top show.

Video: Manbanpai live at YYT

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So I was quizzing Andy a bit about Manbanpai on the pod last week. I quite like Hama's breezy solo acoustic pop and was intrigued as to how it worked with a band. Well, now you can check it out for yourself as she's put up a couple of videos from their performance at YYT. There's this one embedded her for Secret and then there's this one as well. Get on it.

Serial killer targeting Shanghai's livehouses

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kurt.jpgAn electronic tip of the hat in the direction of friend of the blog Stevo, who pointed us in the direction of Nathaniel Davis' playlist on weliveinbeijing.com. Nathaniel is one of the guys behind Splitworks who, as you probably know, are putting on JUE Festival right about now.

Aaaanyway, one of the tracks he chose was by Kurt The Ripper, an electro artist who has a series of songs related to the various live music venues in Shanghai. You can listen to the YYT, MAO and Live Bar tracks by clicking right here.

The tracks form an album, Livehouse Serial Killer (anyone know how you can get your hands on it?), which is accompanied by the following blurb:

"It is said to be inspired by an unconfirmed news that a serial killer has been haunting about the livehouses in Shanghai, stalking and killing young girls after the gigs, especially those who prefer staying overnight in the McDonalds till dawn. At least 13 girls are missing now according to Seaborn Zhang, the archenemy of ShRock. Who will be the next victim?"

This is the original text from the Douban page for the album (here) and I'm guessing that "Seaborn Zhang" is what Google Translate does to Zhang Haisheng (founder of YYT).

Kind of weird, but I kind of like it. Go give it a listen. And yeah, if anyone knows how to get hold of the mp3s or whatever, please let us know in the comments. Ta.

The Mushrooms and others, Yuyintang

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4352588695_49e112aa03.jpgIf this was The Mushrooms' last show in Shanghai before heading up to Beijing as part of Splitworks' JUE Festival, then they certainly left on a high note. But then, they don't really know any other way. If you're reading this up in the capital, then go and see this band when they come to your neck of the woods. They might not be as hyped or as artsy as the bands you've got up there, but they sure know how to put on a live show. Even though the regular Mushrooms mosh-set had been decimated by Chinese New Year and even though they were playing with a new guitarist, The Mushrooms didn't miss a beat and tore Yuyintang up just as they always do.

Yuyintang had capped the entrance at 400 (or at least said they would), clearly fearing a repeat of the crush at their five year anniversary, but the New Year meant that the fears were misplaced. It was nicely busy, but not so packed you couldn't move. Momo kicked things off and, given that The Mushrooms and Little Nature were both on the bill as well, it felt a little like an old Jiao Ban night for a while. Live, and without the Soma guys in sight, Momo's sound was stripped of all the computerised voices and over-production and was much more guitar-driven. Thank fuck. They weren't exactly the Momo of old (or rather, Happy Strings), but they were much better than the Soma-fied version you get on their Douban.

Next up came Double Control Where, which seemed like a mistake to be honest. They certainly should have been above Little Nature on the bill, but never mind. They had their female keyboardist with them, who added some nice backing vocals and an extra layer to their sound (I'm sure the last couple of times I've seen them she hasn't been there, but I might just be remembering that wrong). They played a solid set, but things didn't really kick off like they could have done. Everyone seemed to be waiting for The Mushrooms.

We still had to make it through Little Nature before we could get to them though. Another band hit by the Soma curse, they seemed a little lacklustre - although in fairness the new sound guy at YYT wasn't helping matters by having the guitar turned right down. By the time they got the sound right, they only had a couple of songs left, but they still didn't really do it for me even then. Luckily, The Mushrooms came on to finish things up and, as always, they didn't disappoint.

Happy New Year! 虎年吉祥!

Good Jive at Yuyintang

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bcr.jpgLast night saw the launch of Good Jive down at YYT, a night organised by Han Han to promote more experimental and interesting music. It's fair to say it lived up to that billing.

It was a decent if not massive crowd, largely populated by foreigners, who saw Rainbow Danger Club kick things off. The band are pretty new but have been formed by the guy who used to front The Living Thin way back when. They had a good sound, bringing a trumpeter on stage for part of their performance too, and played a solid set.

Boys Climbing Ropes were up next, which I was a bit surprised by - I'd assumed they'd be higher up the bill given that I'd never heard of Attractive Rootine, but anyway. Boys Climbing Ropes gave a nice taster in preparation for their album release in a couple of weeks - they were excellent. I've been listening to the last EP a lot recently in anticipation of the new one and seriously can't wait. Don't miss the release party on the 30th, it's going to be huge.

Next, the night took a turn for the bizarre with a performance from Attractive Rootine. The act consisted of a girl on a constantly feedbacking mic (it wasn't really clear if it was intentional or not) and a guy in a suit and a gimp mask flicking switches and twiddling dials on a pretty complicated looking set up. It was dancey, but no one danced. In fact, the crowd dwindled considerably - no one really knew quite what to make of it and so many just plumped for leaving.

It was a shame because they will have missed Duck Fight Goose close the night out with yet another fine performance. Actually, the crowd did seem to swell a bit again once they took the stage, but it wasn't as busy as it could have been. Regardless, DFG were on fine form.

Video: Triple Smash with 小丁丁

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Andy reviewed the Triple Smash gig from last weekend (here in case you missed it), but here's a video that I took from the end of the gig. It was kind of a thank you and farewell show for the band - they just got back from a tour and are going to take a break for a couple of months before gigging again - so there were lots of interludes and thanks yous etc. At one point, the band started playing the opening strains of FAF's Escape, but instead rounded out their set with this cover featuring the support band's lead singer. Check it out.

Back to school at Yuyintang

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yytclassroom.jpgThis is why Yuyintang is a great boost to the Shanghai music community. They're running free music production classes for anyone who's interested, the only requirements are that you love music, that you have your own equipment (i.e. a computer and the right software and/or a MIDI keyboard) and that you have the time to do it. Not bad. 

The idea is to help young bands and artists get an understanding of the basics of music production and enable them to independently produce music. Given the importance of the internet and the ease with which bands can potentially get their music out to big audiences these days, such self-production expertise is an important step in the development of a band. 

Often on this blog, I link to band's and artists' Douban pages and the quality of some of the tracks on there are amazing. Bands like Double Control Where (here) and FAF (here) are just two recent examples of how having a quality demo on your site can be a real boost in addition to your live shows. Having some basic production knowledge is clearly a massive help.

So yeah, well done Yuyintang for offering it up for free. Check out the full course details here (in Chinese) or contact YYT direct through their website

Bang Bang Tang and Joker support Guai Li, Yuyintang

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wenjun.jpgThere was no sign of the police last night thankfully, which meant we could get on with the music. There was no risk of a crush either, with a decent, but far from full crowd at Yuyintang. Until about half way through their set. the headliners had been underwhelming and seemed a little put out by not playing to a packed venue. Then, for the last five or six songs, lead singer Wen Jun came alive and started performing with the energy for which she is renowned. It was a rousing last twenty minutes or so, it was just a shame the rest of the set had lacked such force.

Until that point, Bang Bang Tang had been the band of the night and had actually shown Guai Li up. This was the first time the band had played Yuyintang in nearly a year following their break from gigging for a large chunk of 2009, but they made a fine return. Although their sound was still fairly indie pop as usual, there was more of an edge to their performance than when I've seen them before. Xiao Bai looked and sounded stunning and the band were really tight. In short, they rocked.

Although Bang Bang Tang ended up being quite suitable as a support act with their edgier sound, it had seemed like an odd line up on paper. So it proved when Joker came on after Bang Bang Tang. I like Joker a lot, they're a good band, but they seemed out of place as a support act for Guai Li, especially on the back of a high energy Bang Bang Tang set. They were in their four piece mode last night and played a solid set, but the crowd wasn't really feeling it.

What other people are writing about

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hollerado.jpgUPDATE: According to Brad in the comments, about 300 people were at the ReTROS show. Not a bad turn out, but not good either - last time they were in town there was around twice that many. Given that there was a quality support act in the shape of Boojii as well, you've got to think that a turn out of 300 is disappointing. Of course, promoting events here has never been all that easy, but for this show it seemed particularly poor. 

I didn't make it to ReTROS and Boojii at Mao last night - I wasn't feeling too great. If anyone did, I'd be interested to know how it went so drop us a line in the comments. ReTROS always draw a big crowd, but the promotion for this show had been pretty dire. My feeling is that you can probably just about get away with it for ReTROS because they're one of those bands that people seek out the gigs for, but the fact that Shanghaiist didn't even include it in their music preview last week shows how little marketing had been done. If someone went, I'd be interested to know what the turn out was.

So yeah, I'm feeling a bit crappy, but I'm hoping to make it to tonight's Hollerado show at YYT. I don't usually spend much time on foreign bands on this blog, that's not the point, but I recommend checking this show out. I saw them at Midi back in May and, though I'd never heard of them at that point, I enjoyed their set. Their music is pretty easy to get into, but the thing that struck me about their performance was how genuinely excited they seemed to be playing China. The crowd could see it too and it made for a great atmosphere. They were one of the few Western bands to play that festival who didn't patronise the audience. The fact that they're back within the year shows how much they enjoyed themselves in China and you can read more about them and their love for the country over at Mr Shapiro's blog here.

While you're there, you might want to check out his piece on the year in Soma records and all of their era-defining achievements. That's here.

Dan writes that the label's lack of any releases has been due to a 'restructuring of priorities' and their concentration on opening Mao. And Shanghai's hot shot venue is the subject of an insightful piece over on the Radar. Go read it here. As well as an appraisal of the space, the article talks about how Mao and Soma have changed the game in Shanghai and how promoters who were bringing bands in before Mao opened, are now being cut out when the same bands come back to town. It's a very interesting read.

Meanwhile over at Layabozi, Zack has not only joined the ranks of The Mushrooms admirers, but has eloquently expounded his views on the recent photographers debate. Click here to read his thoughts.

Elsewhere on the interwebs, CNNGo and Shanghaiist have managed to arrive fashionably late to the Top Floor Circus anti-Expo party. I wrote last week about how the band had put a twist on their song Shanghai Welcomes You when they played the 0093 CD release and now, following a translation of the updated lyrics over on ChinaGeeks, both sites have posted the video and regurgitated the translation. Shanghaiist at least realises that it's a new take on what is now a fairly old Ding Ma song and drops a link to this here blog. Anyway, the kids are digging it apparently, sticking it up on their Kaixin wang pages and bbs fora etcetera. The video has been receiving a lot of hits, hopefully helping the song to become a real anthem by next May.

Video: PZ64, Yuyintang

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Meanwhile, over at Yuyintang, here's what was going down. This is All Summer by PZ64 who were supporting Chengdu's Ashara. 

Rock for Roots & Shoots, Yuyintang

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boojii.jpgThere were six bands last night, so things got underway early. For once, I was on time though (actually, I was embarrassingly early, but never mind). The line-up was a really good one, although oddly it didn't seem to have attracted much of a gig-going crowd. The night was up against Au Revoir Simone over at Mao, which may have had an impact, and of course we talked about it on the pod, which is always the kiss of death for a night. Regardless, a lot of the people who were there seemed to be there for Roots & Shoots rather than there for the music. That's fine, it's a good cause obviously, but it doesn't necessarily make for the best gig atmosphere.

Resist Resist kicked things off. They get better every time I see them and the addition of Tim Anderson on the drums has made a real difference. If there'd been more people there, everyone would have been dancing like crazy. Or like Little Punk.

RESO 8, Yuyintang

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metituidema.jpgIt's probably fair to say that RESO nights aren't for everyone. There's an important distinction between these and the NOIShanghai nights - at RESO, it's certainly more about experimental music than straight out noise or performance art. No meat was thrown last night.

Still, they're not the most accessible of nights and I understand the small turnouts and that sometimes the people who do go are turned off by it. Personally, I always find something worth watching. This time around, I was most impressed by (没腿的马) Legless Horse/MTDM's collaboration with (徐凤霞) Xu Fengxia, who played the Sanxian and produced some incredible vocals. Before that Mai Mai had produced a lengthy collaboration with a trumpeter, but I prefer it when he's picking the guitar by himself and playing it with his teeth.

They might not be the most crowd pleasing nights around town, but if you've ever been intrigued by a RESO night, I encourage you to check out the next one on November 22nd at Yuyintang. Yan Jun is on the bill. Yan Jun is the founder of Sub Jam, is one of the best known sound artists in China and is the guy who tortured Torturing Nurse. If you don't have any of his stuff and are looking for a starting point, they sell some of his CDs in The Thing on Wujiang Lu. I recommend Vive La Vaches (a collaboration with Wu Quan) or the semi-transparent white one (with Wu Quan and FM3) that doesn't seem to have a name. Ben Houge recommends the Music for Shopping Malls record that he's on as well (I don't have that one).  

Get your clicks

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24hoursfield.jpgBored? Here's a few places for you to double click your mouse.

First up, The Guardian's New Music on a Wednesday blog, which, as you may have already guessed, writes about new music on a Wednesday, has picked 24 Hours' Mr Stevenson as one of the tracks to listen to this week. They've even included a link to this humble blog. Read the NMOW post featuring 24 Hours here and then add the blog to your RSS or Google Reader thing as it's always a good read. Theirs I mean, not mine.

Speaking of Maybe Mars bands, you've probably been reading over at China Music Radar about a bunch of them heading over to the US of A. Well Dan Shapiro was apparently stowed away in one of their suitcases or something and has now surfaced with a piece all about them in Time Out New York. Not too shabby. Have a read here.

Managing to be in two places at once, Dan has also just published a piece in Shanghai's CityWeekend about the Neocha boys and their newish venture NeochaEDGE. You can read that one here. Proving there's no end to my seemless linking, Neocha (now apparently a person) also pop up on CNNGo's list of 20 people to watch in Shanghai.

I'm not on said list, sniff, but friends of the blog Archie Hamilton (Splitworks maestro) and Zhang Haisheng (Yuyintang founder) most certainly are. You can see the whole list right here.

Right, reading that lot should ensure that you don't have to do any work this afternoon. You're welcome.

Super VC gig cancelled

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If you were planning to catch Super VC at Yuyintang tonight then you're going to be disappointed - the show has been cancelled. Beijing has been hit by heavy snowfall and flights at the Capital Airport have been severely disrupted. The band have been at the airport since 6am hoping to be able to get on a plane to Shanghai, but have just been told that all flights for the day have been cancelled.

Here's a video of the boys from Beijing playing their Brit-rock for anyone who was hoping to see them tonight.

24 Hours, Yuyintang

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24hours.jpgThere were no tricks last night for anyone who chose this over crappy Hallowe'en parties. 24 Hours were a real treat. Touring in support of their excellent new album No Party People, they produced a great set of short, sharp rock. The last time I'd seen them was up at Zhangbei where they were lost a bit on such a big stage. With all three members contributing vocals at times, it's hard for them to move around on stage and that can mean that, on a large stage particularly, they don't work all that well as a spectacle. On a smaller stage and in a more intimate venue like Yuyintang however, this isn't the case and they were on fire last night producing an excellent show.

Some time with a quality producer has really helped them hone their sound and they now have a live show to match. The two female members, on guitar and bass, are both excellent musicians, but one of the real highlights of the band for me is the drummer. He is just incredible to watch and really drives their performance with his beats.

Before 24 Hours had hit the stage, the support acts had been disappointing. The Snots overstayed their welcome. As someone (who I won't name) commented to me during their performance, "what's with support bands playing really long sets?"

Rustic too were a bit of a letdown. I hadn't heard too much of their stuff before last night but, having beaten out a large field to win the Beijing round of the GBOB, I was intrigued to see them. They did a cover of the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK at one point and that gives you a fairly accurate idea of their sound. But I felt a bit like I was watching a comedy band, like Spinal Tap or something. Without the humour. Actually, I can understand why they won the GBOB - a competition where voting is based on the performance of two tracks. With their outlandish clothing and energetic performance, they certainly make a mark, but I feel like they have a bit of a limited appeal. After a few songs I felt I'd seen enough, I'm in no rush to see them again and I wouldn't really want to buy a CD.

In fact, during the sets of both support acts, I really got the feeling I was just waiting for 24 Hours to start and the longer the other bands went on the more irritating it became. Luckily, 24 Hours were well worth the wait.

Coming soon: Haibao - the book

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yyt flyers.jpgNo, not the Expo condom, the Chinese word for flyer or poster (海报 not 海宝). I've been meaning to stick up a photo gallery of the posters for gigs at Yuyintang for ages, but I'm lazy. I've got a bunch of flyers that I've kept and most of them are online too, but do you know how long that stuff takes? Upshot is, I haven't gotten around to it.

Lucky for me then that the lovely ladies from YYT - Kaine and Sophia - are putting together a book of their best flyers. It's still early doors right now - they're choosing which ones to go for - but the plan is for it to be out before the end of the year or early 2010. The posters for the gigs at Yuyintang are consistently cool and a lot are on Kaine's blog here. Check out that link for some fantastic gig/band photos too - they make me rightfully ashamed of the crappy shots taken on my little point and shoot. You might want to check out some older artwork from Kaine here as well.

If you, like me, are quite taken by the poster art for the gigs in Shanghai, take a look at this blog by Greenwall, who designs the posters for shows at Chengdu's Little Bar. Those are well worth a butchers as well.

Incidentally, speaking of things I'm looking forward to seeing (and of the other Haibao), word is that Top Floor Circus' MV for Shanghai Welcomes You could be ready in the next week or so. Let's hope so. A bit of background to that here.

Resist Resist support YACHT, Yuyintang

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lucy.jpgWhile Andy was over at 696 catching a somewhat haphazard sounding show featuring Second and Lei Ren, I was down at Yuyintang. On the bill were a Violent Femmes cover act, the Violent Phlegms (see what they did there?), The Youth and The Destroyer, Resist Resist and YACHT. I'd seen and met YACHT back in 2007 when it was still just Jona (he's now been joined by Claire L Evans) at Splitworks' excellent Yue Festival in Zhongshan Park. He was so good that I went to see him again the next night at LOgO and he genuinely seemed to remember it, pointing to me in the crowd toward the end of the gig when looking for people who had been at Yue as well. Anyway, that's my fan moment out the way.

This being an STD show, I'd assumed that things would get going a bit later than usual (in fact, by the time YACHT was done it was so late that Kid Koala had already finished up his set over at Shelter, meaning I missed him). When I did get there though, I'd missed the Violent Phlegms. So The Youth and The Destroyer were the first band I saw properly. This is the band of STD promoter Reggie, who plays bass. This is the second time I've seen them (last time they were on the bill for the sell-out Ratatat show at Dream Factory, also an STD night) and they only play sporadically. To be honest, this showed a bit. Putting your own band on the bill when you've got a big international act in town is all well and good, but they didn't really blow me away and I feel like they need more work.

Resist Resist have been gigging more regularly lately. They played the Antidote Festival down in Zhujiajiao a few months back and I thought they were pretty good. They weren't totally satisfied though, so went away for a while and honed their sound. They've now come back with a strong set of songs and are playing more shows. They were all dolled up for Hallowe'en and cracked out a solid set of synthpop that got the crowd going. Lucy has grown in confidence a lot since that first show and this means her vocals really come through now, which is great because she has a good voice. Definitely a band to look out for and they paved the way nicely for YACHT, who were excellent.

Podcast Two: 24 Hours "Your Song"

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Welcome to podcast number two. This week, we talk about coverage of Chinese bands and their politics in the Western media, review the Misandao, Culture Clash and Runaway Snail shows from the weekend and preview what's coming up in the next couple of days including 24 Hours' album release party. Then we realise we've got a bit of time left at the end and go back to talk about Low Wormwood's gig last Sunday, before playing Your Song, a track from 24 Hours' new album.

Here's some links for you while you listen:

Political Articles

Alice Liu's article on Chinese bands being "too pampered for politics"
China Music Radar's post on the Alice Liu piece.
Andy's response and the ensuing comments

Show Reviews
Write-up from the Misandao show
Mortal Fools' MySpace
Misandao's MySpace
Culture Clash write-up
Write-up from the Runaway Snail gig
Video of Runaway Snail

Previews
24 Hours' new video
24 Hours on MySpace
Rustic on MySpace
Video of Second live at MAO
Second's Douban page

Low Wormwood show write-up


Low Wormwood, Yuyintang

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lowwormwood.jpgSo the story goes that when the guys over at Maybe Mars saw Lanzhou folk-rockers Low Wormwood perform live, they immediately started the Maybe Wood spin off label to sign them up and record their latest album, We Can't Help Kissing Each Other. Fair enough. If I had a record label I'd probably start a folk section just to sign them up as well. They were back in town on Sunday at Yuyintang promoting their new record and were fantastic. The title track is available for free download here so hit that link and check it out - it's a great song, especially once the drums kick in properly about half way through.

They don't have the avant-garde oddness of someone like Glamorous Pharmacy (although Xiao He did produce their debut EP), but there's plenty to like about them all the same. There was a honesty and down to earth nature of the band that was hard not to like. The band members seemed a bit awkward at being the centre of attention, as if they didn't quite understand why everyone kept cheering and clapping for them. When the lead singer first spoke to the crowd it was merely to say "this is our second or third time in Shanghai... err... I don't really have anything to say."

But there was no real need for banter with the audience - populated mostly with dedicated fans by the looks of things, with a few fellow Lanzhou people amongst them as well. The music and the songs were enough to get people captivated and the shyness of the band only made their performance more absorbing.

It was a low key night, but it worked perfectly in a venue like Yuyintang - especially for a Sunday night. Definitely check out that track linked to above and listen to some more of their stuff here. If that makes you regret having missed this gig, then make sure you don't miss Mongolian folksters Hanggai on November 7th at the Dream Factory. It's a slightly different style of music, but if you dig the folkness then you'll love them. They're supposed to be pretty damn entertaining live and even come recommended by Pitchfork and The Guardian.

Culture Clash, Yuyintang

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Picture 1.pngIn the absence of a review on their own website, I thought I'd give you a quick word-of-mouth-rundown on Layabozi's event at Yuyintang last Friday. Before you get into that, you can check out a few photos from the night here, courtesy of Graeme Nicol - including this one of Little Punk on the right. You can also read about how I thought it was going to be an interesting face off against the ultimately poorly attended punk night at MAO by going here and, finally, you can hear the whole thing discussed in Andy and I's dulcet tones by listening to the podcast here.

So anyway, I saw one of the organisers on Sunday and they said that the night pulled in about 250 people. They mentioned that it was a mainly foreign crowd and that quite a few of the punters said that they'd never been to Yuyintang before. Hopefully they'll come back for more then.

By all accounts they were given a good taste of what the Shanghai live music scene has to offer besides dodgy cover bands in dodgier bars. From what we've heard over here at Kungfuology towers, all the bands - Duck Fight Goose, The Dovetail Joints, Weyghur (still not sure how I should be spelling that one, sorry) and Boys Climbing Ropes - put in strong performances. Crucially, there's been praise for how the event was organised and run, even though BCR didn't get on until 2:20am. Get on the comments if you went along by the way.

Congratulations to the folks over at Layabozi for pulling off a successful night. They've said their focus is still the site obviously, but the plan is for more events bearing their name in the future so keep an eye out for those. Now they just need to update the site a bit more regularly.

Video: New Vector at Yuyintang

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So as promised, here's the video of New Vector performing Run Just Run from last night's 0093 Showcase. Can you see the headphones?

0093 Showcase 12, Yuyintang

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fanqiechaodan.jpgUpdate: Sloppiness, plain sloppiness. I muddled the line-up there a bit for the 0093 showcase - an observant commenter has set me straight. I spent the weekend over in Century Park for JZ Festival and all that jazz (ba-doom-tish). It was good fun, but it's a bit different to the kind of thing that I cover on this blog, so I won't be doing a write up on it - instead, keep an eye out for a report on China Music Radar soon or, if you read Chinese, you can check out Vivien from Muscle Snog's blog on the first day here complete with photo of "白杰同学". On Sunday night, Cui Jian (the Godfather of Chinese rock 'n' roll) stated that he felt that jazz and rock were "one family and can't be divided". Maybe so, but after his set (which disappointingly failed to include 一无所有 or 新长征路上的摇滚) I was faced with a choice between Us3 and 0093. I went with the latter.

The line up was as follows: 膨胀螺丝 (who I keep translating to Anchor, but may also be known as PZ64)、New Vector布莱梅乐团 (Bremen)、被告乐队、暴走蜗牛舞指乐队 (Fingers Dancing).

Having darted over on the metro to Yuyintang, I turned up just before half 9 to find I'd missed 被告 and Fingers Dancing. Someone else caught the latter's songs on video so you can watch them here if you're interested.

The first band I did catch was New Vector who I'd been listening to a bit in the week. They started with an instrumental track before being joined by their lead singer in a hood with little animal ears on it. This meant she looked a but like the short one out of Gorillaz (thanks Steve for that observation). According to the other bald English guy I was with, they also sounded a lot like the bands who used to play in the cafe on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm afraid I've never really watched it so didn't get the reference, but if you did then you'll know what he meant. Regardless, I liked them.

One slightly odd thing to note was that both the drummer and the bassist played with headphones in. Not that I haven't seen drummers headphoned up at gigs before, but this guy had his hooked into his PSP which he would then fiddle with in between songs. Not sure what the bassist had on his, but it struck me as a little weird. Anyway, they only have a few songs at the moment, but gave a good performance for a new band and are one to keep an eye on I reckon. Have a listen for yourself here or wait a couple of minutes until I post the video I took of their song Run Just Run. They would have been the highlight of the night for me if it hadn't been for the band who came on after.

Sonnet support Bigger Bang!, Yuyintang

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Sonnet Zhen Gong FuSonnet have had a few great shows of late and I've been really impressed with them. Unfortunately, Saturday night wasn't one of their best gigs. I'm not really sure why to be honest. They weren't bad, but it was hard for them to reach the heights of their recent shows - especially as they were the support act. They played a decent set, the highlight of which was probably Zhu Baixi switching the gender roles for Rejection, meaning that the guy got to reject the girl for once, whilst singing largely to (or maybe as) the picture of Bruce Lee on a Zhen Gong Fu cup. 

Lezi was telling me that their next show, at Mao (more on them tomorrow) on Saturday, will be their last for a while. They're going to spend some time writing some new songs and working on their material and will be back once that's done. I'm sure they'll come back with a new spark and energy and I look forward to hearing the new stuff.

If Sonnet weren't quite on top form, Bigger Bang! certainly were. I used to think they were kind of a poor man's Queen Sea Big Shark, but when I saw them up at Zhangbei I realised this was unfair - they're a really good band in their own right. At Zhangbei I thought Pupi (the lead singer from Guangzhou) was a bit lost on stage - she gave a great performance but the stage seemed to big for her and the band at times. Of course, that wasn't a problem at Yuyintang and the packed crowd was able to get up nice and close. They produced a blistering set and proved themselves a class live act. They also added more weight to Dan Shapiro's fat bassist = good band theory. Ask him about it some time.

To round it all off, the drummer handed his drumstick to me at the end of the show (just before I swiped a setlist to add to my collection). I'd been talking to them just before they went on about Zhangbei and he told me afterwards that's why he gave it to me. Pupi and the rest of the band (including Tookoo's Abe) are all really nice people too and I had a good chat with them after the show. Sorry if that sounds a bit name-dropper/ligger-like but, as I think I've mentioned before here, I just like the fact that you can hang out with these bands too. Plus, it's much better to like bands who aren't c**ts (although thanks to my playful use of ** you may never know quite what I mean).

For some of my photos of Bigger Bang! on Sunday go here, for some much better photos by Tim Franco, go here. One last thing, keeping on the Sonnet and Bigger Bang theme, you can read an interview (in Chinese) with the latter by Lezi, drummer of the former, by clicking here.

Resist! Resist!, Yuyintang

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harryhui.jpgUPDATE: My mistake, the show on the 30th is at Yuyintang, not LOgO (see the comments)

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It was less New Faces at last night's new band showcase at YYT, more familiar faces in a new line-up. Resist! Resist! are a new synth-powered band but when you see them you'll probably recognise some faces. Boys Climbing Ropes' Morgan Short is there twiddling nobs and what not (headbanging while doing so), while Natalee Blagden "messes around" on the keyboard (her words) and Lucy Brydon adds vocals with an Edinburgh lilt (not the soft drink). That was the line-up when I saw their first show at the Antidote Festival in Zhujiajiao a couple of months ago, but last night I discovered that they now also feature Mortal Fools' Tim Anderson on the drums.

While I recognised the people up on stage, Yuyintang's New Faces night was less recognisable due to a decent crowd of people being in there. Last time I went to one of these showcases, designed to give new bands a testing ground, there were about half a dozen people there.

I don't have any MP3s or a site or anything to link to I'm afraid (unless I'm missing something?) except for Natalee's blog (right here) where there's a bit more information on the band. This was only their second show after all. They've been away redoing their songs since the Zhujiajiao festival debut and they've come back with a more polished live show with added oomph (for want of a better word) now they've got Tim on the drums too. Unfortunately, I got there a bit late and didn't catch all of their set. I didn't manage to get any photos either so I've stolen this one from Natalee's blog. Still, I saw enough to know that they've already improved a lot and that they're going to be well worth following.

If/when Resist! Resist! get a site or put up some songs I'll link to it, but for now I can only recommend that you go check them out live. They'll be at Not Me next week (minus Tim) and then supporting Jeans Team on the 30th when the German electronic group returns to LOgO to no doubt tear the place up like last time.

Sweet: Bang Bang Tang shooting MV

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bbtmv.jpg"好久不见!" ("Long time, no see!"). This was how Bang Bang Tang started a recent mail out to their fans and friends and they ain't kidding. It seems like it's been an age since I heard anything out of these guys, I can't remember the last time I saw them live. I've bumped into lead singer Xiao Bai at YYT now and again but she's always been non-committal about what the band are up to, usually just saying they're "on a break". To be honest, I feared the worst.

But that mail out was an invite to a shoot for a music video, part of which took place at Yuyintang on Saturday and I took that as a positive sign. I went along to see what was going on.

Before I go any further, a few links to Bang Bang Tang on the web: here they are on Neocha and Douban. Both of those pages have tracks for streaming so go have a listen. 

So the video is for the song 我最爱缺陷男 (I Love Flawed Men Best) and they shot some of it on Friday morning up at 1933 Factory, and a couple of bits at Yuyintang and Moganshan Lu on Saturday. "It's been tiring", Xiao Bai told me, but she seemed to be enjoying it too.

One up for Pinkberry

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Pinkberryshoot16.jpgI'm a few days out with this, but earlier this week it was a year since Pinkberry played their first gig. After Andy picked them out after only a couple of shows, they burst onto the scene with some fantastic live performances. Then came a period of sustained gigging, a support slot with The Queers and some fizzy controversy. It's been an interesting first twelve months for the band, so I thought I'd provide a little overview of the band to date.

Andy first started writing about Pinkberry around this time last year when he saw them play what by my reckoning was their third ever gig. There were a few sound problems that night, but here's what he said at the time: "if they stick at it they are going to be a great act on the Shanghai circuit soon." So Mr Best picked another turkey. Just kidding - he was bang on of course.

After reading the glowing reviews on his blog, checking out a few MP3s on Neocha and catching a couple of their shows I saw the attraction: they played no-nonsense pop punk and had a firecracker of a frontwoman in Xiao You. For me, the first time I met them was in November when I did a feature for SH magazine on some of the more prominent female figures on the Shanghai underground scene and invited Xiao You along to be interviewed. This was my first time talking to her properly in person and I was completely charmed by her - she was smart, funny and great to interview. You can read the resulting feature here.

In the meantime, Andy continued to follow the band's progress and even produced a music video with them for the song Run Away. You can check it out here, as long as you're not behind the Great Firewall or have a VPN or something for getting over it.

Remembering Joyside

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joyside.jpgSo it's finally over. Joyside, the Beijing band renowned for their chaotic tours and, well, chaotic lives have called it a day. Despite them saying that the split was "a sudden decision", rumours had been circulating about the future of the band for a while. Joyside will now play a special farewell gig at Mao in Beijing this weekend and for those not able to make it, Yuyintang will dedicate next week's film night to the band, showing a video of their 2008 China tour as part of a "Remember Joyside" night next Tuesday (September 15th).

Formed in early 2001, the Beijing punk rock outfit became well-known for their memorable live performances, which regularly consisted of the band getting absolutely hammered before going on stage, just about managing to get through some songs and then getting into fights after the gig. For some, they were a shambles, for others they were punk gods. Even as recently as May this year, Beijing's Time Out magazine chose Joyside lead singer Bian Yuan as the capital's coolest rock star over Hedgehog's Atom and Queen Sea Big Shark's Fu Han. Here's what they said about him:

"On stage, he's been known to be a drunken mess, singing songs such as 'I Wanna Piss Around You!'; off the stage he's professed that he just wants to get girls. Yet, whether ranting about the meaningless of life (as in gonzo rock flick Wasted Orient) or finding God under a Xinjiang sun, he somehow comes across as a poet rather than a hooligan."

Despite such accolades, it seems that "China's answer to Jim Morrison" was never the easiest of people to get along with and the band had been through a number of line-up changes over the years. Nevertheless, while their early shows were legendary for their drunken antics, the band had mellowed more recently and Bian Yuan had even explored more acoustic sounds with side project . The release of an EP on Maybe Mars and of the documentary film The Joyside of Europe (not the first time they'd been the subject of a film, see also Beijing Bubbles and Wasted Orient) back in April seemed to suggest the band weren't finished yet, but ultimately they have decided to call it quits. The band have stated that "the break up of Joyside was something that no one wanted to see and it's the same for us. But the fact is that it's happened now and so we all have to accept this reality."

For an excellent overview on the history of Joyside, visit the Rock in China page on them here. Film night at Yuyintang is every Tuesday, starting at 8pm and entry is the cost of one drink (they start at 10 kuai, though for Joyside it seems appropriate to buy a beer). If you're in Beijing, the farewell gig will be on the 12th at Mao. Entry is 60 kuai (they wanted to make it free apparently, but couldn't because of the venue cost so are giving everyone a free CD on entry instead) and it kicks off at 9:30pm.

Video: Glamorous Pharmacy live at Yuyintang

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Glamorous, Glorious whatever you want to call them, 美好药店 are a class act. Check out this video of one of my favourites, 翻唱, from Sunday night. It's partly spoiled by the person in front of me taking photos, but I can't complain - I had my camera in the air too. It's still worth watching though I reckon.

Glamorous Pharmacy, Yuyintang

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glamorousacrobat.jpgLast night was one of those nights that just makes you really appreciate the Chinese music scene and the intimacy of a venue like Yuyintang - a really quality band performing a great set while being totally approachable and friendly in the process.

The night before had been so packed that any movement more energetic than blinking resulted in you sweating buckets. Last night, it was nicely busy, but with plenty of room to move around freely. Of course, Glamorous/ Glorious Pharmacy are a completely different kind of act to Handsome Furs so it was hardly a surprise that the crowd was completely different too. One similarity that I hadn't expected however, was the 80 kuai door charge. And there was no support act.

It's a measure of the quality and status of the band though that, even at these prices and even on a Sunday night, a decent-sized crowd turned out to see them. Not only that, but they were all dedicated fans too, which made for a really good atmosphere. Headed up by Xiao He, Glamorous Pharmacy are real heroes on China's underground folk scene and deservedly so. Their music is more accessible than Xiao He's solo stuff and their recent Rumbling Footsteps long-player is a good starting point if you're new to their music. It was this album that they played from last night.

The band were at their mischievous best with Xiao He (from Hebei) trying out his Shanghainese and peppering the set with jokes and references to the Expo. This is no doubt under the influence of fellow Expo-lovers Top Floor Circus, most of whom were in the audience and to whom Xiao He dedicated the track Acrobat. There was even an impromptu cover of Beat It, playfully spliced with a classic Chinese pop hit that I recognised but can't name and the patriotic anthem Love My China. The crowd lapped it up.

Boys Climbing Ropes support Handsome Furs, Yuyintang

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BCR.jpgBefore I get into last night's concert, I want to draw your attention to this article right here. It's an interview with Split Works' head honcho Archie Hamilton and it's a great read. I bring that up for a couple of reasons - one, last night was a Split Works-organised event; two, it's written by Morgan Short - bassist in Boys Climbing Ropes, who were the opening band last night. So it seems to have double relevance. If you've seen SmartShanghai you'll know that Morgan is a great writer and if you've seen Boys Climbing Ropes you'll know he's a great bassist, but what you might not know is that he also has some great DJ tips (as a DJ himself under the name Desert Fuck Eagle). His advice to me at Not Me on Thursday was as follows: "the trick is to turn it way the fuck up". I suggest you try that with Boys Climbing Ropes' EP too - you can get it here and download some tracks from their Douban artist page, linked above.

Anyway, last night's gig. Yuyintang was predictably rammed, though with a different crowd to those who usually pack it out (and I assume to who will come out for Glorious Pharmacy tonight). Despite there being a few people in the audience who clearly knew members of Boys Climbing Ropes, the crowd was largely pretty still for their set. They weren't unappreciative of the band - each song was met with a roar and there were long calls for an encore (until Morgan pointed out that there was such a thing as etiquette and that, as support act, they wouldn't be doing an encore). But more jumping from more people would have been good. Maybe that's just me though.

Boys Climbing Ropes were excellent regardless. They played some new material as well as some classic old tracks from the aforementioned EP. Little Punk looked a touch nervous at the start - not an emotion I'd usually associate with her - but she seemed to settle more as the gig went on and the whole band were on top form to produce a cracking set. Let's have that new album soon please.

Then the headliners took the stage. I've got to admit I was always more into Wolf Parade than Handsome Furs, but I've still been listening to their stuff for a while and was excited to see them coming to China. They didn't disappoint, producing an outstanding and memorable performance that sent the crowd crazy - on-stage snogging, crowd-surfing and all. They were brilliant.

Triple Smash and Five Pointed Star releasing EPs

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triple smash.jpgI suppose you've probably guessed already from that picture there, but Triple Smash have announced that their debut EP will be released on... October 7th.

Triple Smash are the instrumental rock band formed by guitarist Jerry Li after he left The Mushrooms about a year ago. Most of their gigs have been as Zhong Chi's backing band, but the Indiechina showcase back in July gave them a chance to do their own thing and they impressed.

They'll be performing at a few shows in the run up to the EP release, first supporting Guangzhou bands Golden Cage and Dahua@Mei tonight at YYT, then with half-Brit, half-Chinese outfit Strobolight (as well as Duck Fight Goose) on Friday and finally with China's answer to Mogwai, Wang Wen on September 11th. So there's no excuse not to catch them really.

Also releasing an EP soon are nu-metal band Five Pointed Star. They've been playing gigs on the fringes for a while now - often involved in the 0093 showcases and playing out at Yangpu's Live Bar - without headlining too many of their own shows downtown. They did take part in the Shanghai Night Fever event last month and gave a good account of themselves, but they were a fair way down the bill. That's set to change though with their Awake EP and a dedicated release party at Yuyintang on September 29th at Yuyintang. 

While we're on the subject of forthcoming releases, Lezi has posted a topic on Douban stating that Soma's Indie Top 2 compilation is nearly done. They're just putting the final touches to a record that will feature 14 tracks from local artists. For some background on the ultimately disappointing first Indie Top CD, check out coverage from Mr Best here. Anti-climax doesn't really come close to describing what happened last time around with Indie Top, but Soma claim to have listened to the feedback and taken it on board when producing the follow up. We'll see.

Finally, one of the bands who featured on the first Indie Top compilation and will most likely feature on the second are Little Nature. These guys are apparently in the final stages of producing their album too. The band have been a bit flat the last few times I've seen them and seem to have lost their old energy. Will the CD bring it back? Again, I guess we'll have to wait and see.
To prevent these videos pushing everything else off the page, I've put them all in the same post. There's Joker's 化肥, Tian Pin Dian's dirty Jingle Bells song Ding Ding Dong and Sonnet doing a cover of Billie Jean with Sun Ye all from last night's Michael Jackson tribute show.

First up is Joker doing 化肥. Eventually. They have a bit of a false start. This song is a pretty bluegrass-folk number and doesn't really represent their overall sound (which is more blues-rock) but it's a good song regardless and it's the one I happened to catch on video so take a look. To listen to more Joker tracks, hit their Neocha profile here and if you want to catch them live, you can do so on Sunday at YYT's Blues Night. 

Michael Jackson tribute night, Yuyintang

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Wait wait wait - the bands played their own stuff too, it wasn't all Michael Jackson nonsense. In fact, the bands played a couple of Jackson covers each at most and, given that Sonnet, Tian Pin Dian and Joker were on the bill, it was actually a really strong line-up at Yuyintang last night, regardless of the theme.

Time was, you could get to Yuyintang at least half an hour after the advertised start time and you'd still have to hang around for the bands to get going. Not so much these days. When they say things are kicking off at 9:30pm, they usually mean it now. So when I rocked up nearer 10pm, things were already underway. Then again, my tardiness was partly informed by the fact that I knew Fusion were opening so I was hardly heart-broken when I arrived over half way through their set.

The downside of arriving a bit late was that the place was packed when I got there. I'm not sure if it was the decent line-up of bands or the MJ theme, I think it may have been both, but Yuyintang was the busiest it's been in a while. And the hottest. I was hoping that when Fusion finished the screaming girls would all slink out of there, but they held their ground while some dude in a glittery jacket, trilby and white glove took to the stage and threw out some Jackson-inspired dance moves. Hmm.

Luckily the night got better and better from that point. First Joker played another great gig, then Tian Pin Dian produced a solid set before Sonnet saw the night out with a storming performance and easily the best cover of the night (but a far more interesting choice than a Michael Jackson one).

Video: RESO 7 jam session

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This is the final jam session from last night's RESO 7. It features (from left) Mai Mai, Hans, Ben Houge and Xu Cheng in all their experimental, beer-gurgling glory.

RESO 7, Yuyintang

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Han Han on the trumpet.jpgSunday night down at YYT seems to switch between alternative/experimental night and blues-rock from cover band The Sultans of Swing. The last couple of weeks have been the former. First, Brainwave Communication had their latest evening in Shanghai, then last night saw the seventh edition of RESO, the experimental night started by Muscle Snog's Mai Mai, also the man behind the Asthma Writers Union. RESO stands for Reconstruct the Experimental Soundscapes of Ourselves and that's a pretty accurate description of what takes place.

Reflecting the smaller crowd that comes to these kind of shows, Yuyintang had the candlelit tables out on the main viewing area last night but there was a decent turn out with all the seats taken. Mai Mai kicked things off, exploring the limits and possibilities of his guitar. The highlight came when, in a trademark move, he pulled the instrument up close to his face and silmultaneously plucked at the strings and shouted into it creating an incredible sound.

Next up was Ben Houge. Ben is the guy whose art show I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, but he's also released a rock 'n' roll EP with 99 Men, has some fantastic electro-pop tracks here, has worked as a composer for a number of high profile videogames and has been a regular on the Shanghai noise/experimental scene for the last few years. He's pretty multi-talented. Last night he was in lofi soundscape mode, producing an absorbing downtempo piece composed of samples and field recordings that gradually swelled and filled the room. He'll be playing a different kind of set at Not Me this Thursday, but is seriously well worth seeing whichever kind of music he's playing.

The Mushrooms and Angry Jerks, Yuyintang

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The Mushrooms22:08:09.jpgHere's a paradox for you: I don't really like shouty rap-metal, but I really like The Mushrooms. It's odd and it means that I often seem like a hypocrite when talking about other bands, but if you see The Mushrooms perform live, then you get a pretty clear explanation. Take last night for example, they went on last in the double-header with Angry Jerks (which will be repeated in the Jerks' hometown of Nanjing in a few weeks) and brought the house down. If the Soma-produced Mushrooms album ever sees the light of day, it'll be interesting to see whether it can really capture the energy and atmosphere of their live shows (how do you really record the kind of performances that can bring band and audience members to tears?!). In the meantime, they remain one of the best live acts in the city.

They rounded off a night that had opened with Double Control Where. And this is where my hypocrisy comes in and I feel a bit guilty. They're good Double Control Where, they're just not really my thing. Yet they play a shouty-chorused metal that isn't a million miles away from the aforementioned headliners. Indeed, with the singer's bleached hair, they look a bit like a shanzhai version of The Mushrooms. That's no criticism - the band weren't purposefully ripping anyone off at all, they just looked a bit like them (mostly the hair). Anyway, they were a lively opening act and the crowd really got into it.

Second were on, err, second and this was the, ahem, second time I'd seen them. Sorry. UPDATE: I tell a lie, this was actually the third time I've seen them (caught them at the Shanghai Night Fever event last month too) rendering my lame puns even more pointless. I found myself a bit more engaged by them than last time and they gave a pretty strong performance. They're aren't many all-girl bands in Shanghai (though I'd say the gender balance on the scene is better than most, if far from equal) but Second eschew the cutesy pop-rock trappings that the other girl groups seem to go for and their show is all the stronger for it. They're not exactly Happy Strings (the punk outfit that became Momo) but it's refreshing to see an all-girl band that doesn't feel the need to go all shiny happy girly girl. If you know what I mean.

Video: Xiao He live at Yuyintang

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See for yourself what I was talking about with all the sampling and looping etc in this video of Xiao He performing live last night at Yuyintang. Sorry if it gets a bit shaky in places, I was trying to hold the camera up over people's heads to get a clear view but my arms got tired. Aww.

Xiao He and Zhi Wang, Yuyintang

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Xiao He live.jpgIt was a decent-sized, if far from packed crowd at Yuyintang last night. It'll be interesting to see how many The Mushrooms and Angry Jerks pull in tonight. There's some good shows coming up next month (Bigger Bang, Glamourous Pharmacy, Wang Wen) but it might be a bit early to say that this weekend marks the beginning of the end of the summer malaise. We'll see.

Anyway, Xiao He's old friend Lu Chen opened the night with his Zhi Wang side project - minus Ba Fang again who I guess is still on her travels. The set consisted of a mixture of sounds, though most tracks had a clearly discernible rhythm and plenty of instrumentation helped by having a bassist and drum loops from the Macbook. With Lu Chen performing with his back to the audience, the band wove their way through a number of songs that I'd describe as offbeat more than experimental - including probably one of the most original covers of Billie Jean you're ever likely to hear. The best moment came when they ditched the Macbook drums for the real thing and everyone went all out on their instruments.

It'll be interesting to see how they develop, particularly when they have a full complement of members, and Lu Chen has talked about how he wants to take this group in a "more experimental" direction. For the moment, it seems as if they're still finding their way a bit.

xiaohe.jpgI've been out of town the last couple of weekends so there's been no gig reviews. To be honest, it's been a bit quiet in Shanghai anyway. Not literally of course - last weekend's metal extravaganza and BrainWave Communication's night of noise put pay to that - but there's only been a handful of shows that I would have gone to anyway, truth be told. Not this weekend though, this weekend's a good 'un.

First up on Friday night is avant-garde folk artist Xiao He. You might know of him from Glorious (sometimes Glamourous) Pharmacy, or 美好药店, themselves in town in early September. Even when it's just him and his guitar, he's a great performer. Last time he came to YYT solo, he was supported by Lu Chen and both produced pretty pared down sets. This time round, Lu Chen is supporting again but by way of his experimental project Zhi Wang. Meanwhile, the cover of Xiao He's new album sees him sporting a look that falls somewhere between Beijing opera and The Village People. Whether these factors will make for a more dramatic show than last time remains to be seen - these two are rarely easy to predict.

Next, The Mushrooms are joined on Saturday by Angry Jerks - the "psychobilly" band from Nanjing. It promises to be a lively double-header. Rap-metal isn't really my thing (one of the shows I wouldn't have gone to were I in town was last weekend's Linkin Park gig), but The Mushrooms' live show is infectious and I, like many people, have been won over by their performances, especially since they've recovered their mojo in recent months. Double Control Where and Second are also on the bill for that one.

That leaves RESO 7 to complete the hat-trick. I wrote a bit about that one last week and, as I'm still knackered from my travels, and am generally fairly lazy, here's just a quick recap of who's playing: Mai Mai, Ben Houge, OK=NO and Torturing Nurse. They'll also be collaborating with each other in the second half of the night.

So, three nights, three great gigs and three completely different genres. I can't wait.

The details: All of these are at Yuyintang. I'm not purposefully featuring them so heavily, it's just they're putting on the best shows right now. All of these will start around 9:30pm. Xiao He is 60 kuai, Mushrooms and Angry Jerks are 40 and RESO 7 is 30.

Battle of the bands returns

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GBOB_challenge09_on_white.jpgNo, not that one. Not that one either. This one. Starting next month, the Global Battle of the Bands competition is holding heats in Shenzhen, Beijing, Hong Kong and in Shanghai on September 27th. There'll then be a China final in Hong Kong before the winners from China are flown to London for the big finale where they have the chance of winning $100,000 and "global promotion". This will be the competition's second year here.

If it passed you by last year, don't worry, you weren't the only one. The competition suffered from being held in The Melting Pot down on Taikang Lu and from being on a Sunday night. The bands who competed were Lan Cao, The Mushrooms, Momo, Dovetail Joints, Little Nature and Guitou Hunter. This being The Melting Pot, the crowd was largely indifferent and the eventual winners were Dovetail Joints, who just edged out The Mushrooms.

This year, though it's still on a Sunday, it'll be at Yuyintang, hopefully ensuring a crowd more interested in music than dice rattling. That, after all, is what the event is all about according to Chris B, National Director of GBOB China. Although she doesn't mention anyone by name, she is perhaps also mindful of some other recent band competitions when she says
"We're looking for real bands who play real music, not because they are good looking, can dance or can be a good TV star! Playing real music, whatever age, whatever genre. Also at the event, the audience votes count for 25%, so if a band is popular their fans can make a difference. All those working on GBOB China are musicians themselves, we know how hard it is to get our bands and our music recognition, this is a way of doing it."

Noise news

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maimai.jpgThere's a couple of big experimental/noise nights coming up in the next fortnight so below are a few odds and ends that are connected to them in some way or other. Or something like that.

First up, this Sunday is the latest BrainWave Communication night at Yuyintang. The experimental label will be showcasing a whole host of artists including Torturing Nurse, Ben Houge and Zhi Wang (Lu Chen's experimental project). It starts at 9pm, will set you back just 40 kuai and is well worth checking out. 

CityWeekend recently interviewed Junky, one half of Torturing Nurse, and, though I haven't been able to find their article on it yet, Junky posted the full interview up ten minutes after it took place. You can read the whole thing on Douban, but here's just a quick snippet:

Live recordings from Yuyintang

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Yuyintang have created an artist page on Douban, which basically allows them to upload songs to an embedded music player. They're using it to put up live recordings of tracks from their gigs and right now they've got a selection of songs from the Animal Patterns Party. They're also mooting the idea of releasing a monthly CD or free download of the live recordings from the gigs (that's what the vote is about at the bottom there). You can check out the page here and start listening.

If you prefer to see the performances rather than just hear them, you can check out the livehouse's Youku site here. That's where they're sticking all the recordings from that camera perched on top of the aircon unit at the back and they're pretty good quality. So far you can see bands performing at the Animal Patterns Party again plus Self Party supporting The Radio Dept (as well as a video of the Swedish outfit themselves). Here's one of Pu Pu and The Mushrooms shaking their thing for you.

Joker support Jeff Lang, Yuyintang

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Joker.jpgSo once again this weekend, Yuyintang was packed out both Friday and Saturday nights. The crowds couldn't have been more different though. For Convenience Store on the Friday, it was mostly young girls who had come to swoon at the Beijing indie-popsters and the support act Fusion. Most of the talk in the crowd was about how handsome the various members were. I'd known that Convenience Store were a bit poppy, but I hadn't realised quite how pop they were or quite what a poser their lead singer was. The crowd lapped it up, but it wasn't really my cup of tea and I left part way through their set.

Bluesy folk-rock guitarist Jeff Lang was always going to bring in a different crowd on the Saturday and so it proved with YYT packed to the rafters with an older, more male crowd and a significant increase in the number of expats. Alas, this included the really annoying people who insist on holding loud conversations at the bar throughout the gig. If it's a loud rock band, this doesn't matter so much. If it's one guy and a guitar it's just rude and irritating for everyone else watching. The same thing happened with Jens Lekman at Glamour Bar a few months back.

Anyway, Jeff Lang captivated the rest of the audience for nearly two hours. I have to confess that I'd never really heard of him before I started seeing the advertising for this event, but he was a very impressive performer and it was yet another top quality gig from Splitworks. Their next big show is Handsome Furs on September 5th - another one to really look forward to.

Tonight: Super Sophia, Morgan and Monroe Stahr

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monroe cd rel party New hipster hang out Not Me have a series on Thursday nights where they invite local band members and scene people to come and DJ. It's all organised by DJ Sacco and is an interesting addition to Shanghai's club/bar scene - they've already had Han Han from Miniless and Boys Climbing Ropes' Little Punk take to the decks.

Tonight the lovely Super Sophia from Yuyintang will be throwing down her favourite indie rock tunes and has promised to include plenty of Chinese stuff. Also bringing along his stacks of wax (or an MP3 player and some CDs) will be Morgan Short from Boys Climbing Ropes.

These guys know their shit and this is a night worth checking out I reckon. It's called Heart Attack, starts about 9pm and you can find Not Me at 21 Dongping Lu, near Hengshan Lu (东平路21号,近衡山路).

For some real live rock music meanwhile, you can catch Monroe Stahr over at Anar. I like the back room at Anar, usually the home of Zooma-fronted stoner-dub-rock band Magnetic - it reminds me of the place in A Clockwork Orange where Alex and his droogs go to drink milk plus velocet. Not that it's 很黄很暴力, just that it's kind of retro and '60s-ish. I digress. Anyway, Monroe Stahr are a good band (I've been especially listening to Summer Starts Here a lot recently) and are also worth checking out. It's free, kicks off at 10:30pm and Anar (石榴) is just down the road from LOgO at 129 Xingfu Lu, near Niuqiao Lu (幸福路137号,近牛桥路).

While I'm writing about upcoming shows, tomorrow is Convenience Store (便利商店) at Yuyintang - the Modern Sky-backed indie rockers who are not to be confused with Candy Shop (甜品店), Glorious Pharmacy (美好药店) or Supermarket (超级市场). That one kicks off at 9:30pm and will set you back ¥40.

Animal Patterns Party, Yuyintang

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A brief bit of history: Over a year ago, The Mushrooms (then Crazy Mushroom Brigade) were one of the up and coming Shanghai bands and were tipped for big things by a certain music blogger. After a series of great live performances enhanced their reputation further, the band were signed to Soma and appeared on the Indie Top showcase CD. At the same time, they went through a line-up change with guitarist Li Xing leaving the band. Soma turned their sound pop, an album with the label was delayed (and has still failed to materialise) and the band floundered. But The Mushrooms had been tied into a less than beneficial arrangement before (when they had a lengthy stint at "live music" bar Melting Pot) and they used their experience to break free and organise their own shows. The shows were huge successes and The Mushrooms not only got their sound back, but also re-established themselves as one of the best live acts in the city.

Phew.

So last night was the third of The Mushroom-organised parties at YYT and this time round the theme was animal patterns, meaning the place was filled with girls wearing leopard skin print dresses. There were five bands in total as well as an extra special guest appearance from another of Shanghai's top live acts.

Tonight: Yuguo are back (again)

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yuguo.jpgWhen I woke up this morning, it was absolutely chucking it down with rain. I might have known. You see, indie-rock band Yuguo, who you may remember came back a few months ago after a year away, are back in Shanghai tonight after their nationwide tour. What's that got to do with the weather? Well, I'm starting to wonder if the band aren't cursed.

When I saw them in one of their first comeback gigs earlier this year at the Midi Festival, they had one of the longest festival soundchecks I've ever witnessed. Once again the weather was a problem - they were opening the second day of the festival, an absolute mudbath despite the other two days being gloriously sunny. People weren't in the mood for sound problems. The band got through a full minute of their opening track at one point before cutting it off, shouting at the sound guys and starting all over again. Even the most ardent fans were getting impatient. Once Yuguo got going, they played a great set and won over the vast majority of those who watched them, but plenty of people had drifted away during the soundcheck by that point.

Hey, what's going on?

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pupu.jpgI caught several great shows at the weekend. But something struck me about two of the three: the size of the audience. Coverpeople's audience was small and that was to be expected, but it was a bit thin on the ground for Guai Li at YYT on Friday and for Carsick Cars and PK14 at the Dream Factory on Saturday.

It struck me as strange because YYT has been packed on a regular basis the last few weeks, regardless of who's been playing. Guai Li (quite apart from my mild crush) are one of the up and coming Beijing buzz bands and support from Duck Fight Goose (an admittedly new band) and Boojii meant a good overall line-up. Yet come half nine - the advertised and planned start time - Yuyintang was pretty empty. This meant Duck Fight Goose didn't come on until a fair bit later and, though people did start to drip in, by the time Guai Li were on it was hardly rammed.

Likewise, Dream Factory pulled in a decent sized crowd on Saturday night, but given that Carsick Cars and PK14, two of China's biggest indie bands, were on the bill it should have been packed.

There were competing shows on both nights. Second Hand Rose were at the Dream Factory on Friday, but they appeal to a different crowd and a friend (who incidentally left part way through SHR's set complaining they were 很土, ha!) told me that that was only half full. On Saturday, there was a good bunch of local bands playing at eno, while YYT had a pop punk act from Xinjiang. I don't know what the turn out was like for those two, but given the size of the crowds at some recent gigs, there should have been enough rock fans to go round.

So where was everyone? This Saturday, The Mushrooms have their their latest theme party while Ziyo are at the Dream Factory the same night. Will it be the same story? Is this the start of a summer malaise? Is it because the universities have broken up? Or something else? As The Mushrooms will no doubt scream this weekend (packed crowd or not), what's going on?

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