February 2010 Archives

Candy Shop and FAF for PeTA

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4388936951_e10aa6a47c.jpgSo we mentioned it a couple of times on the blog previously, but last night the show finally came around - Candy Shop and FAF playing a free gig to help promote 81fur.com.

That's 81fur.com

I say finally, it actually all came together remarkably quickly. I guess that's what happens when you have a good cause and are part of a strong music community. Oh, and when it's something that Andy has put his mind to. He probably won't like me giving him so much attention, but he deserves a pat on the back next time you see him. Seriously, it's been a few short weeks since he had the idea and last night it came to fruition. He called in favours from people on the scene and put on a fantastic show that really helped promote an important issue. Sure he's a mate and this is his site, but whatever - he deserves a lot of praise.

Because the night really was a big success. It was free admittedly, but it was also a wet Thursday night and yet YYT pulled in a really good crowd. People were reading the flyers and signing up for the mailing lists etc and it's hopefully put these issues into the minds of young people here who hadn't considered such things before.

Musically, it was a cracking night too. Candy Shop were great, they're always good fun, and gave a typically energetic performance. Brad was on the sound so it was all coming across nice and clearly and people were really into it from the off. And FAF... fucking a. Those boys are so good. They just need more songs now but, considering they're still a relatively fresh band, they're really impressive. Definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Thanks and congratulations to Andy and Xiao K, the bands, Tim Franco who took the photos, Splitworks who stumped up for the studio, Brad for the quality sound, all the volunteers who helped out on the door and basically anyone who was involved and came out to support it.

Quick! Hama downloads available

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p295262242.jpgApologies for the lack of posts recently. Frankly, there's naff all going on music-wise at the moment. Why? Chinese New Year, that's why. Everything shuts down and everybody stays at home and eats lots. Check out Andy's blog if you're here and you're bored, he's got something there to keep you occupied for a while. Things are gradually coming back to life now, but there's not really any gigs until Thursday, when this goes down.

Anyway, something to tell you about in the meantime is that Hama, the driving force behind Second and an excellent solo artist in her own right, has made a bunch of demos available for download on her Douban page. There's nothing new there, they've been available for streaming for a while, but the downloadability of them is new and is something to click that link for. Hurry up though, they're only available until midday tomorrow. Go, go, go!

The Mushrooms and others, Yuyintang

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4352588695_49e112aa03.jpgIf this was The Mushrooms' last show in Shanghai before heading up to Beijing as part of Splitworks' JUE Festival, then they certainly left on a high note. But then, they don't really know any other way. If you're reading this up in the capital, then go and see this band when they come to your neck of the woods. They might not be as hyped or as artsy as the bands you've got up there, but they sure know how to put on a live show. Even though the regular Mushrooms mosh-set had been decimated by Chinese New Year and even though they were playing with a new guitarist, The Mushrooms didn't miss a beat and tore Yuyintang up just as they always do.

Yuyintang had capped the entrance at 400 (or at least said they would), clearly fearing a repeat of the crush at their five year anniversary, but the New Year meant that the fears were misplaced. It was nicely busy, but not so packed you couldn't move. Momo kicked things off and, given that The Mushrooms and Little Nature were both on the bill as well, it felt a little like an old Jiao Ban night for a while. Live, and without the Soma guys in sight, Momo's sound was stripped of all the computerised voices and over-production and was much more guitar-driven. Thank fuck. They weren't exactly the Momo of old (or rather, Happy Strings), but they were much better than the Soma-fied version you get on their Douban.

Next up came Double Control Where, which seemed like a mistake to be honest. They certainly should have been above Little Nature on the bill, but never mind. They had their female keyboardist with them, who added some nice backing vocals and an extra layer to their sound (I'm sure the last couple of times I've seen them she hasn't been there, but I might just be remembering that wrong). They played a solid set, but things didn't really kick off like they could have done. Everyone seemed to be waiting for The Mushrooms.

We still had to make it through Little Nature before we could get to them though. Another band hit by the Soma curse, they seemed a little lacklustre - although in fairness the new sound guy at YYT wasn't helping matters by having the guitar turned right down. By the time they got the sound right, they only had a couple of songs left, but they still didn't really do it for me even then. Luckily, The Mushrooms came on to finish things up and, as always, they didn't disappoint.

Happy New Year! 虎年吉祥!

New Candy Shop

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p394676405.jpgCandy Shop have put up a new demo. It's for their track Love Song, which you'll recognise if you've seen them live. Listen to it here. If this is your first time listening to Candy Shop, it's possibly not the best introduction to the band, particularly their more guitar-driven live shows, but then this is a band that mix so many genres, they're kind of hard to keep track of at times. Here's how Shanghai's best website described them recently:

"saccharine pop, hip hop, nu metal, pop ska punk, a little thrash -- it's all in there"

Which brings us to the second point about Candy Shop. You might have seen that picture on the right there already by now. It's in this month's Time Out as part of the main Music feature written by someone or other about the band and a locally-organised, community-based event to promote 81fur.com. Shanghaiist also used the photo recently, although they failed to actually mention the event and instead set about attacking PETA and, by association, the gig, but never mind. A bunch of other places have used it too (see below for the links) and have supported an event that has its roots in the local music community here.

It's been set up by Andy (he's the one on the left of that photo in case you're wondering) in conjunction with Xiao K at Yuyintang and the band themselves (all locals). The photos were taken by Shanghai-based photographer Tim Franco, who has been documenting the scene here for a long time and was recently taken to the States by Maybe Mars to cover their tour there. Splitworks, the music promoters who have been involved in the scene for years and have always ensured their international acts are supported by local bands, provided the studio. So basically a lot of people who care a lot about local music are involved and, though we said weren't really going to write about it much on the blogs, the coverage it's been getting warrants a post I reckon. Here's a few of the highlights (other than that Time Out piece obviously, ahem):

SmartShanghai made it the feature event for their MP3 Monday, here.
Layabozi, who recently launched a podcast by the way, have given it their support, here.
It's even gone international, making it on to the Discovery Channel's Planet Green website, here.
Not bad, not bad at all. February 25th is the date, it's at Yuyintang, is completely free, is supporting a great cause and will feature both Candy Shop and one of my favourite new bands, FAF, as well as DJ Sacco. Yes, the DJ Sacco. What more could you want?

RESO 11, Yuyintang

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reso11.JPGThere's nothing quite like a bit of experimental music on a Sunday evening. Well, for some people. RESO, the experimental night set up by Muscle Snog's Mai Mai, is rarely what you would call well attended, but it always makes for an interesting evening. 

And so it was on Sunday for the eleventh installment in the irregular series - they're usually once a month, but Chinese New Year has seen Yuyintang scrabbling for gigs a little bit and this was a last minute addition just a few weeks after the last one. The crowd consisted of the performers, a bored looking sound guy, a few people who looked like they'd wandered in by accident and a handful of people who were actually there to watch. Stood at the back of the room, I saw eople with their fingers in their ears on more than one occasion. It's not for everyone.

Unfortunately, those who were there to watch weren't exactly treated with much of a visual spectacle either. Although RESO nights are often as interesting to look at as they are to listen to, this was a "laptop special". Sonically interesting maybe, but visually stimulating it wasn't. 

Da Xiao, Mai Mai, Xu Cheng (him out of Torturing Nurse) and Olaf Hochherz did some interesting things with their mouse (mice?) and keyboards, both as soloists and when they paired up later on in the night (Mai Mai performing with Hochherz and Xu with Da Xiao), but it was crying out for a VJ or some sort of animation while they were playing. Oh well, maybe next time...
p394676405.jpgWell alright, there's not actually any new Subs that you can listen to yet, but they are recording new material at the moment, which is pretty exciting seeing as how they're one of the best bands in China. They've put up some photos of them recording the vocals for their new album - check out the gallery here. A cursory look around their Douban page reveals no details of when the album will be out, but hopefully if they're doing the vocals it won't be too much longer. A new Subs record is something to get excited about.

New material that you can actually listen to, comes in the form of a new demo from Shanghai's Bang Bang Tang. It's called 异客梦, which I'm going to translate (probably badly) as Traveller's Dream. As always, Xiao Bai's vocals are fantastic and the musicianship is tight - check it out here.

Another new demo has gone up recently from Da Fresh, a Shanghai Brit-pop band. They were quite active a while back, but have been quiet recently. Basically, they've done hardly anything since they started working closely with Soma, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence. Ahem. Anyway, the song is called 完整夏天 (All Summer) and you can hear it here.

If those two tracks are a little pop for your tastes, then check out the new instrumental demo from Shanghai metal act Screaming Saviour. That's right here

This is episode three of series two and it goes a little something like this...

There's reviews of last weekend's gigs including the Playful Warrior show at YYT and a CD release from someone or other. We have a good old chin wag about Douban (which is like crack to us) and the impressive numbers being racked up by some local indie folk acts there. Then, we take a look ahead to this weekend by previewing some of the gigs that you can catch around town. Go listen.

You know what to do with these:

Playful Warrior write up
Chaos Mind
Six Shot
BCR + DFG write up
Boys Climbing Ropes
Duck Fight Goose

Folk Douban
Andy's post
Mogu Hong
List of the top artists on Douban

The last New Vector Show
Video: New Vector's Run Just Run
Jehosaphat Blow and the Blah Blah Blahs

Good Friday

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4159715368_db2a5600f1.jpgLast Friday, Andrew Bird played at the Zhijiang Dream Factory to a full house. A full house and then some really. When I turned up, people were being turned away at the door. Although Splitworks did finally allow a few more in having assessed the situation, there were clearly many who were disappointed and didn't make it into the venue.

Meanwhile, over at Yuyintang, the Playful Warrior night of metal bands was packing them in as well. On show were some of the city's finest metal bands who have built up a solid following, particularly since the founding of the Hell United collective nearly a year ago. These people love their metal and from Andy's write-up, it sounds like a great atmosphere.

At the same time, MAO Livehouse hosted Break for Borneo, Lions of Puxi and The Violent Phlegms. Different genres again and, one suspects, different demographics in the audience, but the same result by all accounts: a decent turn out.

Now, in a city with a population about two and a half the times of London, getting big crowds at two mid-sized and one smallish venue doesn't sound like a big deal, but anyone who has been following the Shanghai music scene for anything more than a couple of years, knows that this is something worth celebrating. So yeah, this is me celebrating it. Now let's just hope the Expo doesn't fuck it all up.

That photo is from an old Mushrooms gig incidentally, just thought it illustrated the point nicely

New Little Nature and other stuff

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little nature.jpgLittle Nature (remember them?) have put up a new track on their Douban. It's an English-language version of their track Different World, which always had an English chorus anyway. Click here to listen to it (it's the bottom track) and see what you think, then get on the comments and share your thoughts on the song - it's an interesting look into the mindset of Soma that they've recorded an "international version" of the song. I think I've probably said enough in the past about Soma, so I'd be interested to see what people think. The band, shooting a music video that hardly anyone's seen in the photo here) are also going to be at the Yuyintang New Year's party on February 12, a night that also features Momo, Double Control Where and The Mushrooms.

If you click here, you'll find a few videos from the Playful Warrior show that Andy wrote about here. Apparently, Mr Best has one of Six Shot himself, but it hasn't gone up yet Mr Best's video isn't happening. Keep your eyes out for that one.

Mai Mai has a couple of live recordings up here from a show he did this weekend and that I only found out about after it'd taken place. Damn.