Maybe Mars showcase at MAO Livehouse
This was the second Maybe Mars showcase in as many months and, according to Dan Shapiro's article here, they could become a regular thing in Shanghai, with the label looking to bring bands from their stable down here as often as once a month. Whether that will happen next month, given that a load of their bands are heading off to SXSW remains to be seen, but this showcase was a strong outing for them. At least in terms of the quality of the line up, it was.
Birdstriking, not officially a Maybe Mars band but one working with the label, kicked things off. Their set started well, but tapered off a bit and they could do with thinking about the order of their set a bit more. They are essentially a mini version of Carsick Cars, playing very similar music and with a lead singer who even looks a bit like Shouwang.
Guai Li were on second and played a solid set. Wen Jun was on typical female Iggy Pop-like form, swaggering around the stage and drinking constantly. It was a bit of a change of pace from the openers and their greater experience showed. Their use of a VJ to provide graphics in time with the music helped the whole thing as well.
Third were Carsick Cars, despite being the headliners on the flyers etc. They were on pretty good form, especially with the classics He Sheng, Mogu and Zhongnanhai and were joined on stage by mini-Shouwang for the chorus of You Can Listen, You Can Talk.
Finally, AV Okubo closed out the night with an upbeat set. I'm not sure they were quite at their best, but I like this band a lot and I'm pretty sure they will have won some new fans with their performance. Hopefully the album does well.
So that was the bands. But now a few moans.
First up, MAO need to sort some things out. The bar is shoddily organised and really slow. When you do get a drink, you're lucky if it's the one you ordered and if it's at the right temperature.
Second, the whole thing kicked off way too late. There were four bands on the bill and we didn't get going until 10pm. If you're going to start late, at least make sure the bands keep their sets down. I know that Guai Li onwards are all pretty big deals, but that's the nature of a four band bill: if you're not in the top two slots, you keep your set pretty short. The first two bands still played relatively long sets and AV Okubo didn't start until ridiculous o'clock. By that point, a load of people had already left.
Thirdly, make sure the equipment works at your biggest gig of the month. Sure, freak accidents happen, but a broken bass drum during the opening act didn't help keep the timing down.
Fourth, if you have one of the best soundsystems in the world or whatever it is, use it. A couple of the bands' sets didn't sound as good as they should have done.
Finally, and maybe this is just me, but I find it kind of weird when you play the bands' CDs before they come on stage. I'm there to see them live, I don't need to hear the CD as warm up music. I suppose it beats the crappy elevator-jazz that was being played at the start of the night, but I'm just not big on it.
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