April 2010 Archives

There's an Expo goin' on

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Just in case you didn't know. Only three days to go now until all our dreams come true and to celebrate, I thought I'd post these pictures up. They were put up on Douban a few days ago by a local artist and harmonised within a few hours. Luckily, I downloaded them first so I thought I'd share them with you here. Enjoy the Expo opening, I'm off to Beijing. I'm sure Andy will keep you up to date on everything happening here while I'm gone.

Hypebeast: go watch Ho-Tom tonight

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mang.JPGAlright, so I can't hype a gig quite like this guy, but I want to tell you all to go watch Ho-Tom the Conqueror tonight. He's playing at Yuyintang at 8.30pm SHARP. None of this "oh it starts at 8.30pm so I'll probably show up around 10pm" nonsense - his co-singer has somewhere else to be or something so he's got to go on at 8.30pm SHARP. I'm not using that caps lock arbitrarily here. 

We talked a bit about him on the pod (here) and I'll admit that he's a mate, but I genuinely like his stuff and whole-heartedly recommend his shows. Tonight is the rescheduling of last week's show, which was cancelled due to the day of mourning for people lost in the Qinghai earthquake. Unfortunately, the rescheduled gig was announced after I'd already sorted out an Expo escape to Beijing for festival season, so I won't be able to make it tonight. Gutted. This is Ho-Tom's first time on the Yuyintang stage, entry is totally free and he's great, so go in my place and whoop loudly when he comes on before requesting that he plays 'The Ballad of Daniel Mao'.

You'll find The Spondees and The Gooda Boys on the bill at as well, though the highlight is clearly this handsome young buck pictured here. So yeah, Yuyintang tonight. Did I mention it starts at 8.30pm and it's free?
3759691341_a630bda6df.jpg"上海人可以不摇滚! 但摇滚人不能没有育音堂!"

"Shanghai people can not rock, but rock people can't not have Yuyintang"

Video: AV Okubo's 'Break Wave'

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When AV Okubo were in town the other month, they stuck on the video for 'Break Wave' before they took to the stage. It's one of their best songs and the video is pretty awesome. I think we mentioned it in a podcast at the time. I don't really remember. Anyway, take your mind off all the Expo nonsense happening here for a bit, by watching the video here. It features Liu Bo, one of the photographers for their album artwork who currently has an exhibition on in town or something apparently. Don't watch it for that though, watch it because it's... well, awesome. There's also an interview with the band here and a thing about Maybe Mars' latest tour of the States here, all courtesy of the people at Mogo.

Expo rises: The Shelter edition

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untitled.JPGLOgO had a gig messed with. Yuyintang got shut down for a couple of days. Now add The Shelter to the list of places fucked with by the Expo. 

If you haven't read it yet, check out this post on SmartShanghai. 

Morgan just linked it in the comments on the podcast, but I wanted to flag it up here. The Shelter isn't a place that gets written about on this site too much as they kind of operate in a different area of underground music, but, as anyone in Shanghai will know, they are basically the Yuyintang of the club scene - they have a commendable community ethic and bring in some quality acts in a down to earth setting. Now they've been told to close. Indefinitely.


Again, go here and read about it if you haven't already.

Podcast live Expo special

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It's back. Back again. Welcome to a special collector's edition of the Kungfulogy.com podcast.
Get listening and keep it harmonious.


The official website of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo

Yuyintang open again

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yyt.jpgUPDATE: I was just writing a follow-up post about all the great gigs Yuyintang has coming up in the next few weeks, then realised Morgan had already done a much better job of it here. Seriously, check out that line-up of gigs. It's pretty strong. As Morgan says himself, "now more than ever you should head down to one or all of these to show your support".


False alarm? Maybe. News has just come through from Yuyintang that gigs this week will go ahead as planned, starting with tomorrow's Northern Europe showcase (it's a full week too, calendar and details here). The authorities have sent word that the venue has not been issued with an official ban and is therefore free to operate as a gig venue again. They can go and reclaim the equipment this afternoon and will be given more information about it all then, but essentially it seems as if gigs are going on as normal this week.

Clearly this is great news, but the whole situation seems very odd. First the gig on Friday night got shut down after the doors had opened, rather than in advance of the show. It was shut down by authorities from the city administrative department as well, not the cultural bureau as is usually the case with these things (it was the cultural bureau who tried to shut down the LOgO gig the weekend before). Then the Pinkberry EP release got "postponed" - although as Andy writes here, they were able to sneak out a few cheeky songs using the old sound equipment - and the police who came to inspect that were, as Andy put it, "the kind of city federal/special cops with proper gear and in shape etc", not the normal police who do this kind of thing. Finally, Yuyintang are now saying it's business as usual this week for gigs.

So what are we supposed to make of all this? Was it much ado about nothing or a pre-Expo warning shot? I guess we just have to wait and see, but the important thing is that Yuyintang is open again, which is clearly very good news.

Now what?

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b6.jpgSo it's come to this. First LOgO last weekend and now Yuyintang. MAO Livehouse need to watch their backs. If this is a sign of things to come for the Expo, then it's going to be a long six months.

What am I talking about? Yuyintang has been shut down.

When the police tried to shut the LOgO show down last weekend, stating "the Expo" as the reason, I tried to stay positive and believe that it was due to the complaints of local residents, rather than actually for the Expo. But with the YYT raid last night, half an hour after the start time of the gig, things have been stepped up a notch. It now looks increasingly like the police are doing an area each weekend and shutting things down. Why would you want an interesting and vibrant music scene going on during the Expo, eh? 

It's interesting the kind of gigs that the authorities are focusing on. One was a Sunday night show, though the attempted raid came a few days before. The other was a low-key folk show. Peaches at MAO singing 'Shake Yer Dix' and 'Fuck the Pain Away' is clearly harmonious enough to be allowed. A Beijing band playing indie-rock or a local folk artist? Let's shut it down! Clearly, dealing with a handful of annoyed locals is a lot easier than trying to placate 600 drunk and angry white people. It's also less likely to get attention in the press.

'Police ban Peaches in Shanghai' headlines are more likely to make waves in the run up to Expo than a story about a Chinese guy who plays folk songs having his gig shut down. But Yuyintang is massively important to the local music scene here and anyone who cares even a little about music in this city needs to make a fuss about it now.

There were warning shots. Top Floor Circus' ban at the end of last year should have been a wake up call. Instead, little attention was given to it. A few local sites ran posts on the 'Shanghai Doesn't Welcome You' performance at MAO, but few covered the subsequent performance ban of the band or the censorship and deletion of the song and the confiscation of the associated merchandise. Aside from a journalist from Radio France International, who ran a story on TFC's song and their subsequent ban, media coverage of the incident and its implications for the Expo period was non-existent.

Yuyintang shut down

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tandemLast night at around half past nine, police showed up at Yuyintang and told them the planned gig for that night (local folk artist Wu Ji) would not be going ahead. No real reason was given, they simply asked to speak to the manager and asked to see the venue's licenses. Audience members (there were around 20-30 people there at the time, not a huge crowd) were told that the gig was cancelled and that they needed to leave the venue. The authorities then confiscated equipment from Yuyintang - the cash tills and everything from the sound desk, including the computer. Tonight's Pinkberry EP release has been "postponed" according to a notice from the band, though they will still be at the venue at 9pm tonight to give out postcards and to meet any disappointed fans who show up expecting a gig.

Yuyintang are currently trying to ascertain exactly where they stand now - and how they get their equipment back. They have some big, big shows lined up for May with gigs taking place almost daily, starting with big name experimental indie act Xiu Xiu on Sunday 2. There is no word on these shows yet and clearly the hope is that they will not be affected, but they have to be in some doubt at the moment.

When attempts were made to shut down last weekend's gig at LOgO, I wrote that I thought it likely to be caused by resident complaints rather than the Expo, even though the big event was the reason given. I was trying not to think the worst - if the Expo really was the reason, then there would only be more to come. Well, now there's more, a lot more. Between us, Andy and I have written numerous times about the importance of Yuyintang to Shanghai's music scene. Put simply, it is the heart of the local underground music community here. Its closure, for however long, is a huge blow. Hopefully YYT will be open again very soon and this won't disrupt them too much, but I wouldn't expect to catch a gig there this weekend.
e219538.jpgI mentioned last week that my good friend and excellent singer/guitarist/spoken-word maestro Ho-Tom the Conqueror was going to be performing at Yuyintang this Wednesday and that you should all go see him. 

Well, no sooner had he sent a reminder text this morning about the gig, then I got another message saying the show had been cancelled. No alleged Expo funny business this time around - the government have decided that Wednesday should be an official day of mourning for those lost in the Qinghai earthquake, which registered 6.9 on the Richter scale and devastated communities in the largely Tibetan region when it struck last week.

For details of how to donate to relief efforts in Qinghai, click here.

In the meantime, the acts who were due to perform are hopefully going to reschedule. I'll keep you posted.

Cassette at LOgO

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cassette.jpgBefore we get into the intrigue surrounding this gig - which includes the police and alleged Expo interference - I want to say that Cassette were excellent and that the poor turnouts for their shows are no reflection on the band themselves. Even though numbers were disappointing, the band still gave a fantastic performance last night. I've been listening to them for a while and was really looking forward to seeing them live. They didn't disappoint. They are all quality musicians and have a really tight set up. You can listen to their songs here, but I strongly recommend you see them live. They're playing the Strawberry Festival in May so go and see them there. They played a great set of songs last night and lead singer Tearpixy was captivating with an incredible voice and a great stage presence - sexily strutting around and performing as if the band were in a much larger and packed out venue. They should have been as well - this band deserve better than they got on their first visit to Shanghai. Hopefully they'll come back soon and have a better time of it here, because this time round didn't really go to plan.

So what happened then? Tearpixy told me last night that the turnout for their gig at MAO Livehouse had been disappointing. I would rather have seen them at Yuyintang, but partly because YYT was full this weekend and partly because, being from Beijing, they naturally trusted the MAO brand they went with the bigger venue. That shouldn't have been a problem for a band of this quality, but for some reason the gig didn't draw in the crowd it deserved. Weird given that Candy Shop were in support as well (together with X is Y) and that those guys have been drawing in decent sized crowds lately. I guess MAO's attention this weekend was all on the Britpop night and they didn't promote Cassette as much as they could have done.

I have to admit that I didn't make it to the MAO gig either. As much as I wanted to see Cassette play, the night clashed with Stegosaurus?'s CD release and I couldn't miss that. Plus, I knew they were going to be playing LOgO on the Sunday, so I knew I could do both. Still, the crowd at Stegosaurus?'s CD release wasn't the usual YYT crowd so I don't think they drew too many people away from the other show.

Nevermind though, because there was still the LOgO gig. Except that that too got hit by problems not of the band's making. On Friday night news filtered through that LOgO had been visited by the police. According to Tearpixy they had ripped down posters for the gig and taken away all the flyers. They told LOgO that the gig couldn't go ahead and when asked for a reason, were supposedly told "the Expo".
steg.JPG"Stegosaurus in da house / Stegosaurus burn it down / Check the mic and pass it round / Y'all dinosaur's is goin' down"

Exactly. I love that song. Sorry Dan. It opens Stegosaurus?'s new CD and they opened their set with it last night. It rocks. The CD's really good too. I'm not sure how you can get it now if you weren't at the gig last night, but I assume it'll be available at their other gigs or something. Anyway, you should get your hands on it. Last night it got a good release party too, with a good turn out and a load of top performances, including from the Stegosaurus? boys themselves of course. Congratulations to them.

There were roughly 642 bands on the bill last night, so when I wandered in around 9ish a whole load of people had already been on. I got there as Baby #13 were finishing off and didn't quite make it into the main room to see them. Rainbow Danger Club were up next. Experimental rock is I guess how you classify them, though they probably rail against things like classifications of music. They pull out all the artsy rock things, last night they played guitars with sticks and did some vocals through a megaphone (and that was just the first song), but, having seen them a few times now, I quite like them. Oddly, there was a slower conventional rock song somewhere in the middle of their set, but overall it was pretty interesting stuff and I think they've got a good sound.

Dragon Pizza came on after that and gave a typical Dragon Pizza performance, i.e. they were great. It wasn't exactly their usual crowd, but they're one of those bands who don't really know how to give a lacklustre performance - they just go all out every time. Yuki's got a job as Stage Manager or Performance Manager or something at the Japanese pavilion at Expo, so this was their last show for a while - at least until after Expo - which is a shame, because I always enjoy watching them play.

Boys Climbing Ropes were on next. Meh. Then Stegosaurus closed the night out with stage fights, costumes and big balloons filled with glitter. Good stuff.

Boys in Beijing

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xiaopengke.jpgYou guys up in the capital have been getting a whole load of Shanghai goodness coming your way lately. About time. First The Mushrooms tore shit up at MAO, then it was announced that Duck Fight Goose and Boojii were heading your way (three times no less) and now you're getting Boys Climbing Ropes up there too. Sure, BCR have played up north before, but this time, in addition to a 2 Kolegas show with the amazingness that is Reptile Retard, they're going to be on stage at the Strawberry Festival. Not too shabby.

We've spoken and blogged a bit before about how Shanghai has this reputation for cheesy rock and how the scene here always suffers in comparison to that in Beijing. Fine. But these three bands prove that there's more to it than that. These are three of my favourite bands. There's no need to add qualifiers like "in Shanghai" or "in China", they are three top quality bands on any scale. 

Boys Climbing Ropes played last night at the Stegosaurus? CD release thing (more on that in a minute) and, though they only played a few songs, they were brilliant. I'm not sure how many times I've seen them now, but they're just so good every time. I've written plenty before about how good Duck Fight Goose and Boojii are too. So yeah, get out and see all of three.

Maybe we don't have as developed a scene as Beijing here in Shanghai, but if Duck Fight Goose, Boojii and Boys Climbing Ropes are the bands we're exporting at the moment then people need to stop writing Shanghai off. With those three flying the flag for the city, we're doing alright.

Mini-E at Yuyintang

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P4150837.jpgI didn't get to see as much of the Mini-E showcase at YYT last night as I would have liked. I had good reasons though. First off, I got there late because I went to see Ho-Tom The Conqueror playing at Fanfare earlier on in the evening. Tom's a good friend of mine, but luckily he doesn't suck - in fact, he's really good - so I can recommend his shows with a clear conscience. Seriously, he has some great songs and last night he punctuated them with some spoken word stuff. It was really good. He was followed by 周勇 who also seemed like a really strong performer. Unfortunately, I only caught one of his songs as I wanted to head to YYT. Fortunately, you can catch them both in action at next week's New Faces Underground show at Yuyintang on Wednesday. Here's the details.

I also have to admit to bailing a little earlier than I would have normally, because I wanted to go catch a bit of Grandmaster Flash at MAO. Yeah, I know that seems a bit hypocritical given that most of what follows is an appeal for more Mini-E events, but there you have it. 

So Mini-E then. It was a modest turn out, a few regulars including the Stegosaurus? boys (did we mention they've got a CD out this weekend?) and their collaborator Xiao Bai (listen here) with a few friends of the acts, but this was a Thursday night after all. The music was great though. I got in part way through Sun Ye's set and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. You've probably realised this by now, but I'm a big fan of Sun Ye's stuff. Check out more on him here

Something for the weekend

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new Sun Ye.jpgHello again. So yeah, things have been even slower than normal here the last week or so. As you might have read, me Mum was here (she's fine, thanks for asking) and she takes precedent over this blog I'm afraid. Still, she's safe and sound back in the UK now so I'll be back to it. Not that she's not into her music incidentally (she digs Glamourous Pharmacy and Liu Kun's new solo album), just that we went travelling last weekend instead of gigging.

Anyway. It's a good weekend to get back into the fray because there's a whole load of stuff going on. Here's a run down if, like me, you fancy heading once more unto the breach:


Yep, things get going early this weekend with the Mini-E showcase over at Yuyintang. That's Sun Ye, Confirm-X, SIG, MHP and DJ Mia all on the one night. Can't wait.

Before that, down at Fanfare (528 Fahuazhen Lu, near Dingxi Lu) at 7.30pm there's another showcase of local-based musicians with the highlight being Ho-Tom the Conqueror. Go check it out. If you do happen to miss him playing there, then make sure you catch Ho-Tom at New Faces Underground next Wednesday. Details of that here.


I might be a bit busy with this (ahem), but Friday sees lo-fi electronica dude I am Robot and Proud at YYT and the big Britpop Comes to China thingy at MAO Livehouse (while it still stands). Old Live Bar meanwhile has Pairs (more on them here) playing.


Music Fever (a new local-based collective) have their first night up at Yangpu Live Bar with New Vector and Black Luna on the bill amongst others, Pairs play the other Live Bar (696), while Stegosaurus? release their CD at YYT. I'm playing that CD right now and it's great. Plus the whole line-up is brilliant with Dragon Pizza in the mix and some talk of free actual pizza. Some band called Boys Climbing Ropes are playing with them as well. Which is a shame, because I quite wanted to catch Beijing band Cassette who are at MAO Livehouse with Candy Shop and X is Y that night. Luckily for me though...


...Cassette play LOgO on Sunday. Pinkberry are on the bill too, together with Stegosaurus? again. Great stuff. Cassette's singer contacted me a while back about playing down this way and took tips from Pu Pu when booking the gigs here so they should do well. Of course, that CD release is probably where I'll be on Saturday, but I definitely recommend making the trip out on Sunday to catch them at LOgO. Click their name above to have a listen to their stuff.

Reflector at Yuyintang

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4487275618_15326a9a48.jpgWhew. It's been a while since we had one of those at Yuyintang. Totally packed out right from the start with diehard local fans all singing the words. Not that that was a surprise - the exact same thing happened last time Reflector were in town.

It's not hard to see why they're so popular. They play catchy punk, are a super tight band and are really nice guys to boot. They've been around for 14 years now (with only one change in line-up a few years back) and it shows. Their set tonight was really strong and their professionalism showed throughout. They were thoroughly entertaining and the crowd lapped it up.

Earlier, Dragon Pizza had kicked things off (at 9pm on the dot pretty much, due to the place being rammed) with a short but punchy set. It's been a while since I've seen them play, but I always enjoy seeing them - they're also great performers and always give a good show. Still, tonight was all about Reflector and the fans who turned up in droves were rewarded with a top show.

Neocha release Expo CD

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eXpo-@-NeochaEDGE.jpgYou might have got the impression from a few obtuse mentions here and there that this blog isn't massively excited about the event that starts in May in Shanghai. There's been a few clues that Andy isn't particularly enamoured by it either. Let's hope we're wrong. It'd be great if the Expo is a celebration of local and international culture and music and that the underground venues and local bands that we love are allowed to perform unhindered, or at least to the extent that they are normally. But we'll see.

That said, not everyone holds this doomsday view of the whole thing. Take Neocha for example, they've just announced plans to release a CD 'in celebration of the World Expo'. Entitled eXpo, the album will be a 'ten track compilation showcasing the leading independent electronic artists in China' and true enough features Sun Ye, ZLOX, B6 and a Shanghai Restoration Project remix of a Mogu Hong track. The album follows Neocha's other excellent compilations, Tomorrow's Afternoon Tea (female acts/bands with female vocalists) and Post Rock (err, post rock). You can find more info on the CD, to be released on May 4th, right here

If independent electronic ish is your bag, then you need to get yourself to 696 Livehouse this Saturday for the Mini-E showcase featuring amongst others Sun Ye, SIG and MHP all of whom feature on the eXpo CD. If you get diverted by Reflector at YYT or Trash a Go-Go at LOgO instead however, you can always head to YYT on Thursday 15th for pretty much the same line-up. More details on the Mini-E thingy here.
pepsibattleofthebandsUPDATE: Unbelievable indeed. This was, of course, an April Fool. As was this. Chortle chortle. 

I've just got back in from dinner and a few drinks with a friend who used to be pretty involved with the noise scene here and have to share this. It's an enormous WTF, but comes on very good authority. Details are still being firmed up, but it's basically agreed in principle.

First up, the unbridled success that was the Pepsi battle of the bands contest last year, has clearly emboldened the fizzy drinks company because, guess what? They're doing it all again. Hooray! Entitled 'Pepsi Battle of the Bands 2: The Voice of a New Generation Ultimate Showdown' (my translation), it seems as if the contest will follow much the same format as last year's show, the one that caused all that fuss. So far, so corporate. But wait, the next bit of news is the really unbelievable thing.

First, catch up on last year's fiasco here.

Now, having read that, set your faces to stunned. Apparently taking on board the criticism of last year's commercial fizzfest, the organisers are trying to reach out to more underground acts that chime better with Pepsi's [quote] 'cutting edge brand' by putting some of the leaders of the alternative scene on in prime-time TV slots as part of the show. Roughly entitled 'Mentor's performance' (it sounds better in Chinese to be fair), the plan is to invite more alternative acts to perform a song each week as part of the overall contest and to then pass judgement on the participating bands. Again, this is similar to what they did last year, except that according to a very well placed source, instead of people like Mayday, they're looking at inviting Torturing Nurse as one of the guests. 

Yes, that's Torturing Nurse of S&M, torture and harsh as fuck noise fame. On prime-time TV. In China. What the fuck? According to a former member of the group, who is considering a one-off reunion for the show scheduled to air in late May, they are in talks with organisers of the Pepsi contest to do an 'anime-inspired' show as part of the 'Mentor's performance' slot. Pepsi are apparently offering the act 'significant amounts of money' for the slot and see the anime twist as a way of getting the group's less harmonious aspects around the censors. 

There's more info on this year's contest here (Chinese only so far) and you can see the 'Mentor's performance' page here (although it simply says 'more details soon' in Chinese at the moment). A date for the performance hasn't been released yet, but it'll be on Hunan TV and should be 'late May' according to my source. They're in advanced negotiations apparently (naturally there are a few questions over exactly what they can perform) and a date should be confirmed 'within the next two weeks'. As soon as I know more, I'll post it up here. 

This poses all sorts of questions, not least can they pull it off? Right now though, I need to go and have a sit down and take all this in. Unbelievable.