Before going any further, check out his article here: 'Turning Japanese heads to China: The Shanghai scene'. You might also want to have look at my review of the same night here.
When I saw the title, my first thought was how refreshing it was to have someone in a Western newspaper write about the Shanghai scene instead of the Bejing one. When international newspapers cover the Chinese music scene, they invariably talk exclusively about the capital and often just about Carsick Cars - other cities don't get a look in.
Alas, before you even get to the text in Hoban's piece on the Shanghai scene, there's a big photo of... Carsick Cars. By the second paragraph it becomes clear that they, together with PK14, are the focus of the piece. That's Carsick Cars from Beijing and PK14, once of Nanjing but now essentially part of the capital's scene too. Oh.
He then goes on to make an even more favourable comparison between Shanghai and Beijing, albeit through the words of Mick Jagger, and argues that "Shanghai acts as a litmus test for emerging trends in China":
"Jagger tells me a band have to be deemed worthy in Shanghai before they're allowed to try and impress tastemakers in Beijing. Shanghai bands like Circus from the Top Floor and Cold Fairyland have already carved their names into the tablets of China's brief rock history, with new acts like Boys Climb Ropes hoping to follow suit."I think Jagger might find a fair few people in Beijing who would disagree with that statement. In fact, there's a fair few in Shanghai who, if they're honest, would disagree. Perhaps Jagger was Shanghainese and his comments were influenced by local pride, but I don't think many people would tell you honestly that bands can only be successful in Beijing once they've been accepted here. Far from it.
I like Carsick Cars and if coverage of them in the Western press brings more people to Chinese bands in general then great. Likewise, Hoban's pieces generally offer an interesting look into music culture in Japan. But, apart from token mentions to "Circus from the Top Floor" (which is a fair translation of the Chinese name, but not the English name preferred by the band), Cold Fairyland and Boys Climb(ing) Ropes, this isn't really about the Shanghai scene unfortunately. Maybe next time Hoban comes over, he can come and watch some Shanghai bands and then see whether he thinks that "local talent outshines western bands to such an extent it suggests the Chinese indie-rock revolution is imminent".