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.
Having played for about an hour and a half, the crowd demanded more at the end of the band's set. At this point Xiao He suggested that Glamorous Pharmacy's accordion player, Zhang Weiwei, play some of his stuff, which the audience was more than happy with. Zhang Weiwei, together with Xiao He, is one of the leading figures on the Chinese folk scene and is well known for supporting Wan Xiao Li (also at YYT later this month) and for having been in Wild Children with fellow Glamorous Pharmacist Guo Long, who plays the xylophone and various other percussion with the band. The two proceeded to perform some of their own material and some covers before declaring that it was "time to go to the bar" and sending everyone home very happy.
To download a live recording of Zhang Weiwei and Guo Long for free go here.