Michael Jackson tribute night, Yuyintang

| | Comments (8) | TrackBacks (0)

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).
Joker are fast becoming one of my favourite bands at the moment. I probably say that about a lot of the bands on this blog, but then I don't really see the point in writing about bands who I think are crap. And Joker are really good. Apart from cover kings the Sultans of Swing, there aren't many blues rock bands in Shanghai. Joker are the cream of the small crop. Their main material is blues-tinged rock with some excellent guitar solos (check out On the Road/在路上 for a good example) but they also throw in some bluegrass folk as well and all with witty lyrics about being poor country folk and the Party. If there's ever a Chinese version of O Brother Where Art Thou?, then these guys are doing the soundtrack. They produced a great set again and if you missed them last night they'll be back at YYT for Blues Night tomorrow.

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.

ymca.jpgSo 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.

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Michael Jackson tribute night, Yuyintang.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.kungfuology.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/408


Ooh, I was hoping you'd go to this and report. Great stuff!
Here are the lyrics to Stupid Baby, don't remember where I got them... no penises mentioned haha.

I know the history
I know the 80's of China
my favorite songs coming
you are so young
you were too young to know the best style
and said
your style too old
your genre too old

your fashion to old (or out)
your mind too ou ou ou out
stupid baby
don't know the music
just a dancer
move her body like a machine

stupid baby
don't know the 80's
bullshit is your favorite
whatever? your modern music

*more repeating*
and i don't want to know(about that)
what a stupid baby
don't know the 80's music
what a stupid baby
bullshit is your favorite
so crazy
don't show your mind

*more repeating*

Did you get Sonnet's Rejection or YMCA on video?

Thanks Suzy! I think the line I'm hearing as "don't have a penis" is actually "don't know the '80s". Oops.

I got a video of Sonnet doing Billie Jean with Sun Ye but I'm afraid I didn't get Rejection or YMCA, I was too busy jumping around by that point! I'll try and get them next time. YYT's cameras should have been rolling so I'll keep an eye on their video page and hope they put it up, but they've not uploaded anything for a couple of weeks. I'm sure someone will have caught it somewhere so I'll have a hunt for it.

I did get some photos of them doing the YMCA - I'm uploading them to my Flickr now and will embed them into this post once they're done.

Some people still can't comment. I still don't know why. Here's a comment from Lisa Movius by proxy

Suzy beat me to it - I have the lyrics in the Indie Top liner notes.

Sonnet has been doing the YMCA cover for a while, at least a month or two. I first saw them do it at the Eno concert, where it got the crowds quite going. (At Channel 1 the audience just stared at them quizically - some cultural imports take longer to catch on, hey.)

It's interesting how many ShRock bands have the one cover song that they make completely their own, as with Mushrooms and "What's going on", and many before them. There is a danger that the uninformed will hear that one and assume that all of their original material is, also, covered from elsewhere (this has happened A LOT, actually, by bloggers and journalists who didn't do their research). But it is a nice tribute, and fans like it. Only a few local bands have enough original songs to fill out two sets, so I don't see any harm in padding with appropriations - especially in cases where the band adjusts the song to their own style.

When I've talked about what Shanghai band will "break-out", I mean into the mainstream, not beyond Shanghai. Cold Fairyland and Topfloor Circus are actually quite popular in Beijing (rather ironic in the latter case), and several more have done well-received tours albeit playing still in alternative venues. Honeys and Blue Garden did have some crossover successes, and the former had a top ten single and were stalked by a screaming fan club for a while. (That was really, really funny.) But it was short-lived. It really is a matter of luck, management, and marketing savvy rather than sheer talent and performance chops - unfortunately as the latter two are in much greater supply in Shanghai.

Yeah, you're right about Cold Fairyland and Top Floor Circus being popular in Beijing and elsewhere. What I meant was a band with the sort of appeal of someone like Carsick Cars - filling mid-sized venues around the country - and I meant from the newer crop of bands rather than the older generation. I should have clarified.

I don't really see bands like Honeys or Blue Garden as part of the same scene. Even Top Floor Circus and Cold Fairyland are different for me really. Maybe my definitions/boundaries are a bit arbitrary but I wasn't really thinking of these acts when I wrote about "one of the Shanghai bands", I was thinking of the younger generation. Again, I should have made that clear. I really ought to proof-read what I write...

You can download the recording of Sonnet's performance at the Michael Jackson tribute show here

Wah! I'm listening to Sonnet's performance right now! THANKS A LOT!

Pleasure. You can download the MJ covers as separate tracks here as well

Hi again :)

Question for you - Do you know if 了了上海伐老乱哪能立的牢脚 an original Sonnet song?

Leave a comment