Having been open for nearly two months now, this was Mao's official opening apparently. According to the press release, "since its soft opening late September, Mao Livehouse Shanghai has lifted the bar several notches for the city's live music scene with dozens of well attended, highly acclaimed shows by musicians from around China and around the world." I've got to be honest, I'm not sure I can name one dozen shows at Mao that fit that description so far, let alone dozens plural, but the venue certainly looked good last night - it was absolutely packed.
Anyway, once I was allowed in, I found The Mushrooms in full flow. I've really got to start getting to gigs on time (speaking of which, the Rock for Roots and Shoots marathon opens at 6pm tonight, no kidding). Or maybe The Mushrooms should have been higher up the bill - they are, after all, representative of the new generation of bands that are crucial to the live music scene here and have built a reputation for being one of the city's premier live acts. They certainly felt like a headliner. The crowd loved them - even people who wouldn't normally go to gigs (and there seemed to be a lot there last night) appeared to be getting into it and were asking "who is this band?" It was a great performance as ever from The Mushrooms and, once they'd demanded an encore, the crowd seemed pretty satisfied with that. In fact, from then on the venue started emptying. Jason Faulkner ended his set to around half the crowd that The Mushrooms had played to.
And then came Crystal Butterfly. They made a big thing of their comeback - there was a countdown on the screens behind the stage to the start of their first song. Pang Pang came on wearing sunglasses and an unbuttoned shirt and proceeded to touch the hands of people in the front row while the band belted out their "cheesy rock" as Max from Rock in China would have it. "They sound like U2," a friend said to me. I shan't tell you the swearwords I used to describe my feelings towards U2, but he was right. There were plenty of people who were there to see the band, but I could only manage about three songs before I left.