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).
Tian Pin Dian followed Joker, giving me another chance to check out the new line-up with Black Luna's Sammy having replaced Melody as the female vocalist. Minutes before they were due to go on, I saw Sammy sat next to YKE on the sofa looking over a sheet of song lyrics. It didn't bode well. Luckily, the lyrics she was reading (and would read again during the performance) were for Jackson's You Are Not Alone, which she can be forgiven for not knowing all the words too (after all, some of the other bands produced, err, liberal interpretations of the original lyrics when doing MJ covers).
When it came to Tian Pin Dian's own stuff, she had no such problems. She has a different style to Melody, but is a strong performer and has slotted in well with the band. They already seem comfortable together and produced a solid set. The highlight came when the crowd demanded an encore and, after a little debate and some goading from the audience, went with their classic closer Ding Ding Dong - the one where they all switch up instruments, still play them incredibly well and produce a hilariously crude song to the tune of Jingle Bells. I'll stick up a video of that soon, for now you can see an older version here. Tian Pin Dian are playing again tonight out at big Live Bar.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, someone came on and did an acoustic version of Human Nature, but I was outside cooling down and missed who it was. Sorry.
Anyway, that left Sonnet to close the night out and they did so in style. They were joined by their old guitarist Sun Ye for a couple of MJ tracks but the crowd were really into their own stuff and, particularly during Rejection, Zhu Baixi milked it for all it was worth sending the crowd into rapture. It can't be too long before one of the Shanghai bands breaks out and reaches an audience beyond the city. Sonnet have got to be one of the favourites to do this. They have a really accessible sound and are great performers. If you haven't downloaded their S-File EP for free yet, do it now by clicking here.
So what was their cover that I mentioned at the start? Well, after the end of their main set, the crowd emptied (it was ridiculously hot as I mentioned). There were some shouts for an encore, but it didn't seem like the band were coming back and most people just headed for some air. Eventually, Sonnet did come back to the stage and, with only half the room filled now, played a cover of The Village People's YMCA. Yep, YMCA. Complete with hand actions. I kid you not. It was very funny and brilliantly done.
Oh, one last thing about Sonnet that I've been meaning to ask for a while: On the track Stupid Baby, am I the only one who thinks there's a line that goes "Stupid baby/don't have a penis"? Maybe I'm hearing it wrong. Anyone got a different interpretation of the lyric? Maybe Lezi can clarify for me?
Anyway, some of the Michael Jackson stuff was a bit weird, but generally it didn't interfere too much with some great performances from the bands and it was a good night.