May 2010 Archives

P5290213.jpgI'd planned to go to Yuyintang last night for The Fever Machine presents... show with X is Y, Pairs and Rainbow Danger Club playing along with Dan Shapiro's new band, but I had a bit of a headache around gig-going time last night and decided that maybe a bunch of folk artists might be more suitable. So I headed over to MAO instead for the Here Comes the Spring CD release from the Music Fever people.

It was the sort of turn out that would have been a good one at Yuyintang, but in MAO just looks tiny. If MAO are really looking at a bigger space when they relocate, they need to think that one through hard. How many times has the space really been filled since they moved in? Five or six? Maybe not even that many.

Anyway, for a lo-fi folk show, it was a good turn out. Never mind that it's nearly the summer, the Music Fever guys (basically Sunny and Fanqie Chaodan) have done a really good job on the Here Comes the Spring CD - there's some great tracks on it and it's professionally produced. It's also really nicely packaged and designed and if you can get your hands on a copy, I recommend it. The night itself was well organised as well, with graphics from the CD providing a back drop to the artists, good sound quality and a special piece of music playing in between performers (these sound like small things, but regular gig goers here will know that they're not always achieved). Overall, it had the feel of a really professional night.

Unfortunately, I only caught a few of the acts as, having perked up a bit, I wanted to head over to Not Me and catch Ben Houge's pop set there as well. Fortunately, one of the people I did catch was Mogu Hong, who I really like and she was certainly the stand out act from those that I saw. You can hear her stuff here.

I left part way through V-Day's set, who turned out to be the Britpop band from Nanjing who played at the last Kunming Lu Live Bar gig the other week. That night I thought they were ok, but on the MAO stage they struggled a little. Anyway, the reason I was leaving was to go see Ben Houge play. He's been away travelling for a while, wisely avoiding the Shanghai winter, but he's back now and it was great to see him perform his pop set, which I love.

He played a great set, even throwing in a Jay Chou cover as an encore after the crowd refused to let him leave without playing one. The only drawback was the set up at Not Me which saw him playing at the back of a small stage in one corner of the dancefloor with decks acting as a division between him and the audience. It meant he was a bit too far back, but despite the far from ideal set up, he still produced a cracking set. He's on the Douban as well, so listen in here (especially Jessica's Scissors and 口口口口口口口口) and is playing D-22 on June 5th for those of you in Beijing.

Mini E at Yuyintang

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mini-e.jpgLast night saw another of the Mini E showcases at Yuyintang. Mini E is the electronic spin off of the Miniless label. They were behind Sun Ye's excellent Trash Can album and feature a number of local electronic artists on their books. These days, they're mostly headed up by Zister of Confirm-X who has started organising regular showcases for the acts. There was one about a month ago on a Thursday night and there'll be one at Not Me in early July as well fronted by Sun Ye.

I went to the one a month ago or so and really enjoyed it. Here's what I wrote back then. Last night's event was a similar story really - the music was great, but the turn out was disappointing. Numbers were similar to the last one, but that was on a Thursday and on a Friday night you'd expect more. It did pick up a bit toward the end with the dancefloor filling up a little, but it still wasn't as busy as it should have been. Maybe the venue is part of the problem, it's debatable how suitable YYT is for these kind of shows. Not Me seems like a more suitable venue so maybe it'll go down better there.

Hopefully that one will be more of a success. The Mini E collective are doing some great things and producing some really good music - they just need more people to take notice. They also need the local crowd to appreciate local artists instead of just going to these megaclubs with DJ Whoever who is number whatever on such and such DJ list. That stuff is pish. Mini E aren't.

Here's a few links to some of the artists on Mini-E so you can listen yourself:

Sun Ye

Music Fever are doing stuff

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fever.JPGI've written a fair bit about Zhu Lu He Feng and all the stuff that they're up to (new track from MR. here by the way), but I haven't really written much about Music Fever, another locally-based music collective. Well, this post is an attempt to redress that balance a bit.

Founded at the beginning of this year, Music Fever is headed up by Fanqie Chaodan, Sunny (from New Vector and Runaway Snail), Tong and Wang Er Xiao. They've organised a number of events in the last few months, mainly featuring local bands and folk artists and this Saturday they've got another one coming up at MAO Livehouse. That pits them against a different type of fever, namely The Fever Machine (with Pairs, Rainbow Danger Club and X is Y at YYT, details here), but there's enough difference in the genres to mean there shouldn't be too much clash. 

The Music Fever event is called Here Comes the Spring and features a six act line-up including Mogu Hong, April (from Beijing), V-Day (from Nanjing), Runaway Snail and New Vector. They're also releasing a CD at the same time (listen to some of it here) featuring tracks from the aforementioned artists along with others. There's a full tracklisting and more details here.

Anyway, here's the full details for the event and if you dig the folk stuff and can bear to miss The Fever Machine at YYT and Ben Houge's pop set at Not Me, then this is one to check out.

The Yes Men Fix the World

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yesmensuperman_with_crap_web.jpgIt's not often I'll post on something non-music related here. In fact, I just had to create an 'Other' category for this post. But I found out the other day that The Yes Men Fix the World is going to be shown in Shanghai soon and it's a film I'm excited about seeing. Just thought I'd share it with you. 

The Yes Men are Mike Bonnano and Andy Michelbaum and are nothing to do with that Danny Wallace book or that Jim Carrey film, although everyone always thinks that when I wear my Yes Men t-shirt. The Yes Men (not Yes Man) specialise in identity correction. What does that mean?  

"Impersonating big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them. Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else"

Previous examples of this include producing a fake New York Times a while back declaring that the Iraq war was over; appearing on the BBC as representatives of Dow to declare that the company would suddenly accept all responsibility for the Bhopal tragedy; and appearing as WTO officials to declare an end to the organisation. This is a good one as well, check out this photo

I saw their first film and met them when I was at university back in the UK, but I still haven't managed to see their latest one. It's going to be screened twice in Shanghai next month though as part of the MIDA documentary festival in the city:on June 12th and 15th. There's more details on the screenings here, I recommend you go see it.

Thank you

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han han.jpgThanks to everyone who came out last night to help celebrate two years of Kungfuology. It was great to see you all there.

I'm not going to review the shows or anything, but I do want to say a special thank you to Ho-Tom the Conqueror and to Han Han for playing. They both did it for nothing and were both outstanding.

Hopefully Ho-Tom will get a Douban page sorted out soon so I can start linking to his stuff. I know he's been recording some of his songs lately, so if you've not seen him yet, hopefully you can get to hear his stuff soon. Of course, if you haven't seen him yet, you really ought to. He's at Anar every Monday night from around 11pm, so you've no excuse for not checking him out really.

Han Han's improvised solo show was incredible. Andy and I were both really pleased and touched that he played, especially as he sang songs about us. I don't think anyone has ever sung a song about me on stage before. It was hilarious as well. He'll be back with Duck Fight Goose and Boojii at MAO Livehouse in early July, as he sang last night.

So yeah, thanks again to those two, to Sophia and everyone at Yuyintang for hosting us and finally to everyone who came along and supported us. It was genuinely appreciated.


Triple trouble

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3way.JPGSo it's my time of the month. The time where blog posts slow down and no one sees or hears from me unless they happen to be in the office with me. But let's say I were expecting to be anywhere other than sat in front of a computer tonight - come on, just pretend - then I would face one of those big decisions that define a man. Or something like that. Basically, there's three pretty decent gigs on tonight for those of you with lives to choose from. Here's the run down, in no particular order:

MAO Livehouse - Revitalisation of Shanghai Rock part 2
The Revitalisation series makes the step up to the big stage for part two. Ambitious. Manbanpai open up, followed by Candy Shop, Momo, Little Nature and FAF, though probably not in that order.
9pm, 40RMB

Yuyintang - Strange Rock Trip
Duck Fight Goose and Boojii are back from their travels for a bit. Hurrah! Rank and New Vector are in support. But wait, there's more - as exclusively revealed on this here blog earlier in the week, Vivien Fan is planning on playing a new song with Sunny from New Vector. 
9pm, 40RMB

LOgO - eXpo CD Release
Neocha's compilation CD gets a big old release party down on Xingfu Lu. Beijing's iLoop and our own Sun Ye are among those playing (meaning you can probably make it after Yuyintang, given that Sun Ye is in one of the bands), but the headliners are The Band of RPG, a brilliant synth rock act from Xi'an. 
10pm, 30RMB

Two Expo-related reads

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4082441910_447be9b72a.jpgDid I mention there's an Expo going on here in Shanghai? Maybe I forgot. Seems like quite a lot of people have, or at least they just don't give a shit. 70 million visitors? Unlikely.

Anyway, two local-based music writers have recently turned their attentions to the Expo with a couple of interesting articles. 

First up, Lisa Movius has bemoaned the lack of Shanghainese culture at the Expo:

"Considering the way the city's culture has been marginalized during the event, it's no wonder Shanghainese have grown resentful of the Expo, known in Chinese as shibo. Some are even using the initials SB as shorthand for the event--a pun on a common obscenity."

SB会 - genius. Anyway, read the whole thing here.

Meanwhile, over on his CityWeekend blog (and I assume in the magazine as well) Dan Shapiro has put forward an intriguing proposition - that the Expo saved Yuyintang from closure:

"So why was the venue allowed to re-open so soon? Could it be that the Changning District police were afraid of losing face just as the eyes of the world were descending upon Shanghai for the World Expo?"

You can read that one in full here.

Big in Beijing on The Beeb

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Picture 1.jpgHat tip to my Mum and my brother on this one, they heard this on Radio 4 the other day and dropped me links. Radio 4 isn't to be confused with the American band who came to China recently by the way, it's a BBC radio station back in the UK. It's not the most cutting edge of stations to be honest and you get that in the tone of this report, which is all about the music scene in Beijing.

It's mostly about how or whether Western bands can be successful in China and as a result they speak to Nathaniel Davis from Splitworks amongst others. They talk about the problems of getting foreign bands to play here and take in mentions of Bjork, last year's Modern Sky Festival and Oasis. It's a bit cliched, as these things tend to be (it starts with park music in Beijing) and clearly isn't as insightful as say, a Kungfuology podcast, but bear in mind this is for an audience back in the UK who quite possibly know nothing about music here at all.

Anyway, it's up on the BBC iPlayer and should be for a few days yet so if you've ever wanted to hear a bloke with a plummy English accent interviewing kids in Yugong Yishan about who they listen to, now you can. You'll find it here.

Video: Little Northern Europe

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So I've been on at the Curry Soap to play live for ages. She says she's not happy enough with the songs yet, I tell her they're great and she should perform, she says she's not happy enough with the songs again. The conversation goes round in circles a bit. Anyway, the other night at Live Bar, I finally fulfilled my aim of seeing Little Northern Europe performed live. Except it wasn't her.

In fairness, Sunny, the guitarist in this video, was the guitarist for the Curry Soap last time they rehearsed as well, but this time round Leeko throws down the vocals. This is my favourite Curry Soap song (check out the original here, it's a gem) so it was good to see it live, but I'm still waiting for a real Curry Soap performance. Anyway, give this video a click to see what I'm babbling about.
P5160191.jpgThat's that then. You've seen your last gig at the Kunming Lu Live Bar. Or, if you've never been, you've missed your last chance - last night was the last ever gig there. Talk is that they'll move to a new premises, but it's not clear when or where it will be. The turn out last night wasn't huge, but it should be heartening enough for the owners to feel it's worthwhile maintaining a livehouse up in the old university district of town, unless 696 Livehouse is now seen as fulfilling that role.

I got there about half nine and a band was still sound-checking, which they did by playing nearly a full song - causing some confusion amongst people who had just walked in like me. Things finally got underway nearer to ten with a band who's name I missed. Shame, because they were pretty good. They played the post rock stuff that the kids here dig. I usually get a bit bored by post rock bands pretty quickly. Yeah, I'm a neanderthal, but after about three songs I just long for a singer. Luckily this band only played three songs. Perfect. If all their gigs consist of such short sets, mark me down as a fan.

Next up were another post rock act. Sort of. They were instrumental rock really, in the Triple Smash vein. The members were familiar too - bassist Leeko and guitarist Sunny also play in Runaway Snail. Again, I missed their name (I know, I know, but the line-up was quite different to the advertised one and I was outside getting some fresh air when they started). UPDATE: Mr Best has pointed out that it was probably New Vector, who are now singerless. He's almost certainly right. Again though, they were really good. This time round, they played four songs, but luckily for me, the fourth one featured vocals from Leeko. It was a cover as well, one which completely took me by surprise. Once I realised what they were playing, I started filming it, so I'll put the video up in a minute and you can check it out yourself.

IMG_7372.jpgNot content with having put out an EP within the label's first six months, Zhu Lu He Feng leader Lezi has been busy with a whole load of other projects under the ZLHF banner that makes other certain labels in the city look more than a little sluggish. 

First up, he's been touring the city's universities with a bunch of bands including Sonnet, Pinkberry and Joker from the label together with Candy Shop and Nuka Cola. They played two shows this week, one at Songjiang University town and one up in Jiading at the Shanghai University campus there, and they seem to have gone down pretty well - Lezi reckons around 300 people showed up to each. They've got another show coming up on the 31st back down in Songjiang.

Meanwhile, Lezi has signed Hama's new band Manbanpai and folkstress MR. to the label as well. They're currently working on new EPs for Sonnet and MR. and once those are sorted he plans to go straight into recording a new record for Joker and a debut one for Manbanpai. Not bad going really.

Video: Shanghai Childhood

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Remember how I wrote about the Xiao He show last weekend? That was fun wasn't it? Well anyway, if you bothered to read the post you'll know that it turned into a kind of impromptu Top Floor Circus show, complete with a new song. That new song was Shanghai Childhood and you can watch it right here. All eleven and a half minutes of it. Watch it now, you never know if/when it might get harmonised...

Blog party!

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party blog
Well, well, well. Two years of this shit, eh? Can you believe it? Well alright, it's actually just under a year for me, but Andy started blogging about Shanghai's music scene way back at the end of May 2008 and to celebrate, we're throwing a little shindig. Nothing major, just a few friends, drinks and - naturally - some great music. If you're reading this, you're invited and frankly, we'll be pretty put out if you don't come. So here's all the need to know ish:

What: Kungfuology 2nd Birthday Party with Jake and Andy.

Date: Tuesday 25th May
Time: 9.00 - 11.00 (evening) (bar remains open till late)
Where: Yuyintang 
(上海 长宁区 凯旋路851号 (近延安西路口) - Kaixuan Road 851, opposite the Yan'an Road West Line 3 Station)
Door: Free entry, no ticket required
Featuring: musical guests Ho-Tom the Conqueror and Miniless' Han Han. 

This will be a chance for all blog readers, scene writers/workers and band members/fans to meet up for a couple of hours and shoot the shit at our favorite venue. It will also feature guest musical performances from:

Miniless Record's Han Han
The legendary Shanghai based producer, label manager and musician extraordinaire; the mind behind Kungfuology's album of 2009 Lava/Ox/Sea's Next Episode; guitarist in Boojii and Duck Fight Goose and all round source of inspiration ----- will perform an exclusive solo set for your listening pleasure. Start time around 10.15

Ho-Tom the Conqueror
Representing the international contingent we have singer-songwriter Tom Mangione. Ho-Tom combines razor sharp lyrics, engaging spoken word/poetry and memorable turns of music into a complete performance. His beat generation style and commanding voice remind us that the simple singer-songwriter can still be creative and relevant - if you have the skills. Be conquered. Opening at 9.30

Andy and Jake will be knocking around the whole time and all attendees are welcome to stalk us talk to us about anything you like. Ask them about the blog or tell them how full of shit they are; tap their scene knowledge or mock their scene ignorance ... or just say hi. It's not a gig, so to speak, it's a chance for us all to hang out and take in some top notch musical guests while we're at it. It officially ends at 11.00 but the bar will go on. 

The Mushrooms to release EP

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mushrooms mao one.jpgAbout time. Pu Pu announced on stage last night that The Mushrooms are set to start recording their debut EP next month. Their debut EP, after however many years. We've been made to wait a long time for this record, but it's great news that they've finally got one on the go. Pu Pu has told me that he reckons they'll record for two or three weeks and that they're aiming for a release at the end of July. 

This is a band that has been covered here at Kungfuology a fair bit, but with good reason. They are one of the best performers you can see here. Seeing as how we're coming up to a birthday, I decided to have a little hunt for the band's first mention on the site. I think it's here, back when they were still called Crazy Mushroom Brigade and where Andy describes them thus:

"They are one of a handful of Chinese underground rock/punk bands that are in total command of their instruments, sound and performance. Watching them is a religous experience, but, as they are native to the Shanghai scene, they haven't made the step up to play to a good sized crowd like they deserve."

They've certainly got that crowd now. Can't wait for the EP.

Yu Shu benefit gig, Yuyintang

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P5090102.jpgSunday night saw a gig of remembrance for those lost in the Yushu earthquake in Qinghai earlier this year. The show was headlined by Gua, a band from the province who were personally involved in helping victims in the area. 

Unfortunately, I was pretty exhausted by the time I got to this gig and thus I only stuck around for a couple of songs from Gua's set. That's no reflection on the band though. They were tight and had a good sound, I just needed to get some sleep. I know, I'm getting old.

So yeah I only saw the support acts. Luckily for me, the support acts included FAF and The Mushrooms. Actually on reflection, having them as support acts maybe contributed to me having no energy by the time Gua came on.

Nuka Cola, a fairly new band, opened the night. They play the sort of rap metal that The Mushrooms used to play before they developed their own sound more and they're clearly inspired by the Mogu Tuan boys. It's early days for them, but they had plenty of energy and got the crowd going a bit.

Most people were waiting for the double whammy of FAF and The Mushrooms though. Fair enough, so was I. FAF came on and the crowd started to move for the first time. They played a fairly long set given that they were the second support band, but no one minded. They've added a new song to their repertoire as well, one that sees Xiao Ding get out a semi-acoustic and play something a bit different to their usual sound. It works though. Yes, I know they spend a lot of time sweeping their emo hair out of their eyes; yes, I know the keyboardist looks like Elmo on crack when he does his screamy bits; and yes, I know there are a few cheesy choreographed stage moves at times; but fuck it, I really like this band.

Speaking of bands I like, The Mushrooms were up next. I'm not sure I even really need to go in to how fucking good The Mushrooms were do I? Really? Alright, just a little bit. They were brilliant. It'd been a couple of months since their last show here, during which time they'd played up in Beijing and impressed by all accounts. Not surprising really. Pu Pu was on fire as usual and looked like he might explode at times. The band were tight and professional and everyone lapped it up. There were screams every time Pu Pu announced the name of a song (not from me I mean, from the Mogu Groupies at the front) and plenty of people knew all the words. 

Good news then, that The Mushrooms are going to release an EP soon...
4590470741_147b555f64.jpgIt's always a bit special when Xiao He comes to town and last night's gig up at 696 Livehouse was a bit more special than most. The man himself was on good form, but what made it truly memorable was the impromptu performance of some Top Floor Circus songs. I wrote earlier in the week that this wasn't going to be the show where Ding Ma would make a surprise return to playing live in the city. That was supposed to be another gig, but Lu Chen confirmed last night that it wouldn't be happening after all. 'Shanghai still doesn't welcome us,' he said before the gig, 'we're the Shanghai band who can't play in Shanghai.' Mei Er added that they were willing to play, but that venues were worried about getting in trouble with the authorities, before joking that they were going to start booking gigs around town just so that venues would pay them not to play. Despite such talk, a few hours later they ended up on stage playing a new Ding Ma song.

Zhi Wang, Lu Chen's other band, had opened the night. Their material is more experimental and involves the use of a Macbook and various computer-generated beats and effects. They've also added a new member following the departure of Ba Fang to Beijing. She's still on their forthcoming album however. They played a short set last night, with only four or five songs in total, although each song was admittedly around five minutes long.

Xiao He came on almost immediately afterwards. His shows are always unpredictable, but always entertaining. He started by playing a couple of his more well known songs, rather than out and out improvisation, which resulted in the crowd singing along to the choruses. the singalongs continued as he diverged into a medley of classic children's TV show theme tunes and other old favourites, before playing some less conventional material. He engaged the audience throughout, inviting their participation and trying out his few words of Shanghainese. At one point he made a few jokes about the Expo and welcomed everyone to the "696 pavilion". He soon invited Lu Chen to take the stage and "sing a Shanghai song."

As Xiao He took to the drums, Lu Chen asked for requests. Despite a few calls for it, he didn't play 'Shanghai Welcomes You', but did play a Top Floor Circus song. He then called on other members of the band to come up and join them. It wasn't a complete line-up, but four fifths of the band was enough for them to play a few Ding Ma tracks, including a brand new song. It was an unexpected but very welcome treat.
4041764384_954d9dc326.jpgAfter more than a few ups and downs lately for Shanghai venues, it seems like another one is on its way out. Live Bar have published details of an event that they're calling 'The last live show on Kunming Lu'. No official reason is given for the closure of the old chemical factory on the event page, but word is that the building will be knocked down. Given the accelerating gentrification of the area in recent years, it's been clear for some time that the site's days were numbered. The plan is to move to a new venue, though no details of a new space have yet been released.

The last gig is scheduled for next Saturday 15 and will feature Runaway Snail, Ann, Five Pence and La La Ying, though more acts are expected to be added to the bill. It'll be 30 kuai and start at 9pm. If you've never been to the Kunming Lu Live Bar, this will be your last chance. 

Despite, or perhaps because of, its location out in Yangpu district, Live Bar has played an important role in the music scene here in the last few years. It has been one of the few venues that has allowed Torturing Nurse and the NOIShanghai collective to perform there on a regular basis, providing a space for their avant garde performances even when other venues turned them away. They have also been a good breaking ground for new bands, particularly student bands given its proximity to the old university district of the city.

I'll admit that my visits to Live Bar have been infrequent at best in the last couple of years, especially since Brad stopped working there and the better gigs dried up a bit, but I still hope that this is a move and not a closure. Live Bar might not be the most important space in Shanghai, but it still has a purpose and it'd be a shame to see them close down completely.

More video: Mini Midi at MAO

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While I was up in Beijing this weekend, Mini Midi was taking place down this way. This is the experimental/noise festival set up by the legendary Yan Jun and this year he brought it to Zhujiajiao and Shanghai. Junky from Torturing Nurse has just put up a bunch of videos from their show at MAO Livehouse. Check them all out here and hit play on this one as well why don't ya? The one embedded is my favourite: Junky collaborating with experimental Beijing leaders Mafeisan. Make sure you watch it all the way through too, it gets pretty entertaining. These guys really know how to bring the noise.
In my write-up of Strawberry Festival, I said something about there not really being any surprises. Not entirely true. One surprise was this. Gia, former frontwoman for Hang on the Box, played the old HotB song 'Shanghai'. It was a slightly odd version, melding the original with her new, bossanova-influenced style, but I enjoyed seeing the song performed live. And Gia played a good set in general - if people had been in the mood for dancing a bit more it could have been a perfect early afternoon festival set played under the sun. Alas, the nearby metal stage drowned out most of her songs and no one seemed to moved by it. After a few songs from her debut solo album and a brave cover of 'D.A.N.C.E.', she announced she was going to play an old HotB song before launching into 'Shanghai'. Check out the video here and for more on Hang on the Box, click here.
tfc big-thumb-350x396.jpgUPDATE: Hmm, seems like this won't be happening after all. Venues are understandably still a bit worried about attracting unwanted attention.


This is one of those posts where I'm going to have to keep specific details at a minimum I'm afraid. No one seems too sure how confirmed/public this is at the moment and so I don't want to get anyone into trouble if it's not really supposed to be happening, but - whether they're allowed or not - it seems that Top Floor Circus will be playing a show in Shanghai in the next few days. If you're not sure why this is a big deal, then you can follow the story of their anti-Expo anthem and their subsequent performance ban by clicking on the links in this post.

The gig that I've heard they will play at still doesn't list them as amongst the acts in its online listing, hence my reluctance to say which show it is, but if I can get permission from those involved I'll post the details here. In the meantime, choose your gigs wisely this weekend.

It's not the most obvious choice either. That would be Saturday's Xiao He show up at 696 Livehouse, but Zhi Wang (Lu Chen's other band) will be in support for that, not Ding Ma. Zhi Wang are also due to release a full length album in the next month or so, so keep an eye out for that and for them gigging more regularly in the next few weeks. Xiao He, if you haven't seen him before, is an amazing live act incidentally and well worth checking out. He was superb at Strawberry at the weekend and you can read about the last time he came to town, supported by Zhi Wang as well, here.

I'm not going to do a proper weekend preview post this week, but other than Xiao He and Zhi Wang, there are a couple of shows I wanted to highlight: Reptile & Retard at Yuyintang tonight, just because they're brilliant, and the Qinghai benefit show at YYT on Sunday. That one has a band from Qinghai playing with some top special guests from Shanghai including FAF and The Mushrooms.

Strawberry Festival, Beijing

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4577885809_d1f4f6ab89.jpgUPDATE: Just had a look at CMR and saw they've got a more comprehensive write up of both festivals here. Plenty on the branding as well.


Before I get on to the main business of this year's Strawberry Festival, I just wanted to share a bit of info from the capital's other big festival, Midi. According to Shanghai-based writer Sam Gaskin, heavy rainfall in Beijing this evening caused the power to be cut at Midi, meaning no lights or sound for a while. Carsick Cars tried to play on by playing acoustically through megaphones and with torches for lighting, but it didn't seem to be working too well. Last word from Sam was that power was back on a while later, so hopefully it all got going again without any problems. Keep an eye on the Beijing music sites for more on that tomorrow.

But anyway, I didn't get to Midi - I spent Saturday to Monday at Modern Sky's Strawberry Festival as I felt it had the stronger line-up of the two. Saturday in particular had a really good line-up with Xiao He, Carsick Cars, The Bigger Bang and AV Okubo amongst those playing. Carsick Cars and AV Okubo also played at D-22 that night as part of their anniversary celebrations along with Hedgehog, which made for a great day of live music. The following two days were good too, with Boys Climbing Ropes making their debut at the festival and sets from Reptile & Retard (at YYT on Thursday), ReTROS and Hedgehog particularly sticking in my mind. I don't think I really found anything new, though Hedgehog, ReTROS and QueenSea Big Shark all showcased some new material, so I'm not going to write too much about the bands individually - they've all been covered plenty on this blog before anyway.

Overall, it was an enjoyable festival experience and worth the 17 hour bus journey up from Shanghai. The sun shone and there was a good atmosphere throughout the festival. There were a few drawbacks though: there were massive queues and no signage at the entrance causing confusion and resulting in a lot of people deciding not to bother (it was really hot weather to be queueing for several hours in). The entire site ran out of beer on each day of the festival, with hour or so waits for fresh supplies. Even when they did have drinks they weren't kept cold.

More importantly though, the sound on the main stages was poor at times. Things on the second stage weren't helped by its proximity to the metal stage. They were far too close together meaning someone like Gia playing a slower song on the second stage for example, was almost drowned out by the metal band overlapping on the stage nearby. Although you have to credit their ambition, having six stages seemed unnecessary, especially when the Douban stage was in a small patch of dirt near the toilets and stages frequently clashed with each other, making some acts inaudible. Sound always leaves a little to be desired at festivals, but having stages so close together that their sound overlaps is just poor planning.