June 2010 Archives

Fanfare is moving

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logo_ai.gifBefore I get into this post properly, check this out - it's a good read.

Right, on with the actual post. Fanfare the music bar studio type place on Fahuazhen Lu has had to up sticks. Neighbours are given as the reason for the move, as in complaints from, not the Australian soap opera. Turns out the people at Fanfare have been making too much noise for the liking of those who live nearby and the space has had to shutter. Fanfare is looking for new premises and they hope to reopen elsewhere soon.

Fanfare isn't exactly a music venue in the mold of Yuyintang, but it's been hosting regular music nights for a while now and has hosted artists such as Pairs and Ho-Tom the Conqueror for shows. It's more a sort of open mic type of place really, but has provided a good space for these acts.

Of course, anyone who's followed the Shanghai live music scene for more than five minutes will know that problems with the neighbours are all too familiar. Hopefully Fanfare will be able to reopen again soon.

Andy Best, media whore

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andybest.JPGI usually don't do posts on music coverage in Shanghai's print media for obvious reasons - I don't want to be open to conflict of interest or bias allegations. Andy occasionally writes pieces on the city magazines and coverage of local bands, but he's on holiday at the moment and I just had to post this up.

If you see a copy of July's That's Shanghai around town (not sure what's on the cover yet, sorry) then pick it up and turn to page 85 where you'll find Mr Best explaining the lyrics behind Expendable's 'Paris '68'. Check the band out on Douban here and the song 'Paris '68' here.

More ZLHF goings on

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Thumbnail image for zlhf.jpgI've written a fair bit about Zhu Lu He Feng before. If the name doesn't ring any bells, you can get up to speed by clicking these links:

Lezi launches a label
ZLHF now online
ZLHF are doing stuff

If you're too lazy to read any of those, I'll summarise: Zhu Lu He Feng is a local-based label set up by Lezi from Sonnet/Pinkberry featuring bunch of local bands.

In addition to organising a series of local university shows and to signing a slew of varied bands, Zhu Lu He Feng have now broken new ground by signing a French band to their label. The label has been signing young bands from various genres (Pinkberry - punk pop; Joker - blues-rock; Manbanpai - indie-folk) without a particularly obvious theme other than their being based in Shanghai, but they've now signed The Nitwits, a band based in France who (as far as I know) have never played in Shanghai before.

So what's going on? Basically, Lezi has agreed to work with the band to help promote their name and music over here in China. The first step has been to set them up with a Douban page, which you can check out here. They've stuck up a bunch of songs from their second album (shouty punk rock if you're wondering, check it out) and ZLHF will sell their albums over here as well. If this helps build enough of a following over here, then the next step is clearly a tour or slots at some of China's (increasingly numerous) festivals.

Obviously, it's an experiment for both sides. So, smart idea or a distraction from working with the local bands?

New stuff from Triple Smash

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Instrumental rock act Triple Smash have put out some new material recently. They've put three new songs up on their Douban (the top three when you click through that link) - two demos at seven and ten minutes each and a cover of a 65 Days of Static song.

Meanwhile, the band leader JMF Lee has put up a bunch of tracks on his solo Douban page, some of which are available for download. They take a slightly different tack to the Triple Smash stuff and one is actually an acoustic version of a Triple Smash song. Check out 蝇惠财姘爱 for something particularly different. They're all worth a listen though, so click those links and enjoy some instrumental rock.

This video on the right here is of Triple Smash playing at MAO Livehouse the other week.

Video: Bang Bang Tang

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Meanwhile on Saturday night at MAO, this was going down. I didn't make it to this show, but it was a free local one and this is Bang Bang Tang playing a new track, 'Heavens' with Xiao Bai at her sultry best. 

BBT return to MAO Livehouse are at YYT this Saturday for the Revitalisation of Shanghai Rock show and it's also Xiao Bai's birthday, so if you like what you see, go and support them.

STD turn 3 at MAO Livehouse

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p499839342.jpgThis was a huge line up at MAO Livehouse. There were about 213 DJs and noise people, Danger, Lymbyc Systym, Pet Conspiracy, Boys Climbing Ropes and The Fever Machine. Yet the turn out was a bit disappointing, more on that in a minute.

First up, the bands. I missed all the experimental/noise acts unfortunately. The first band I saw were The Fever Machine. Check them out here. I'm one of those people who has to listen to a song a few times before I can really decide if I like it, often my instant reactions aren't entirely accurate. I've now seen The Fever Machine about three times I think and their songs are getting some traction in my head - they've got a couple of belters. They played a tight set with hardly any breaks in it (perhaps due to the smallish crowd) and were on good form. They've been playing a lot recently and are showing no signs of slowing down any time soon so go see them.

Next up were Boys Climbing Ropes in possibly their last show before a summer break. It'd been an age since I'd seen them play at MAO Livehouse (around a week) and it was good to see them back on the stage. Seriously, I can't get enough of this band and when they dominate the MAO stage in that way there are few better live shows. It was a short set, but if they are taking a little time off for Shanghai's ridiculous summer, they went out with a bang.

That's pretty much it for the bands from my side. Pet Conspiracy weren't on until later and I had to scuttle away to watch an abysmal England performance. But what about the attendance? China Music Radar recently posited that the Expo was having an impact on gig attendance in Shanghai. The massive influx of foreign acts, they argue, has possibly led to foreign band overkill and has bred indifference among local fans. Read the CMR piece here
Thumbnail image for map.JPGThat's right kids, welcome to shitty map country. Songjiang is the new university district of Shanghai. It's a fair way out of town. As in, a 40 minute metro journey from civilisation. Still, there's a whole load of universities out there and, surprise surprise, a large number of students. Seems like a good place to open up a gig venue right? Well, that's what someone clearly thinks as they've done just that.

It's called Corner Bar, opens tonight (with a show from Triple Smash no less) and is at number 131, Lane 1292 on Xin Songjiang Lu. I'm not going to lie to you, that's pretty much all the information I have on it. What do you want? I haven't been down there.

They've got a gig on next Tuesday night as well with Momo and Little Nature. This comes on the back of Lezi's recent university tour with the Zhu Lu He Feng collective, which (as noted before) went down pretty well. Given this and the bands for that Tuesday gig, I sensed the hand of Soma/MAO Livehouse, but apparently it's nowt to do with them. Which might mean it has a good chance of success. Ho, ho, only teasing.

Seriously though, this isn't a bad idea. A lot of kids moan that it's too far into town for venues like YYT and MAO Livehouse from Songjiang. The opening bands have hardly finished before it's time to think about heading back. So why not bring the bands to them? Of course, this depends on the size of the venue and their ambitions, but why not add a gig in there on the band's schedule on a midweek night before they play down town? I suppose you could argue that it might draw people away from the downtown venues, but really, how many people from Songjiang are regular gig goers in the city centre? And when they do come in from the wilderness, maybe they'll have a taste for gigs and alternative music and want to keep doing it when they're downtown. Interesting to see how it goes anyway...

Photo: Subs in Shanghai

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p75994362-9.jpgCheck out this photo of Kang Mao in Shanghai. It was taken by someone using the handle Malfunction on Douban and you can check out the whole set here. For those of you who know/care about photography, it was taken on a Nikon F3 with a micro-nikkor 105 F2.8 and shot onto Kodak Tri-x 400. No Photoshopping was involved apparently. Whatever, I like the scratchy feel of these.
e253415.jpgThey're a bit late putting this out there, but Yuyintang are throwing a Dragon Boat party tonight with five bands playing. Here's how the line-up looks:

9:30-10:00 X is Y 
10:10-10:50 Thruoutin 
11:00-11:15 Anita Shwanz and the Dudettes 
11:20- 12:00 Break for Borneo 
12:00-late Rainbow Danger Club

X is Y I wrote about back here. Thruoutin is from Beijing apparently, though his MySpace says Ningbo. Whatever, listen in here. There's some more on Anita here. You can listen to Break for Borneo's EP right here.Rainbow Danger Club meanwhile are here

It's 30 kuai to get in and all the event details are here. So now you know - those of you with holiday can pop along.
This is my third and final video from Saturday's Good Jive 3 night at Yuyintang. It's like you don't even have to go to these gigs really, you can just watch the videos here. Anyway, this is The Beat Bandits doing a cover of The Small Faces' 'Whatcha Gonna Do About It' and if you like what you hear you can catch them this weekend at LOgO with The Dead Vikings. I love The Small Faces and The Beat Bandits do this well, check it out.

More video: more Ho-Tom

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Today is Ho-Tom the Conqueror day at Kungfuology.com. All Ho-Tom, all day long. Seriously though, I just managed to upload this video and it's a bit better quality than the last one. Watch it, then go see him live down at Anar tonight. It's a holiday tomorrow anyway (well, not for me actually, but probably for you), so why not?

Video: Ho-Tom the Conqueror

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Here's a video of Ho-Tom the Conqueror doing The Love Song of Daniel Mao. I think that's what it's called (I got it wrong last time). Daniel Mao is in the title somewhere anyway. My camera's a bit fucked so it's all blurry, but the sound isn't totally shit so you get the idea. Give it a click, listen to Ho-Tom doing his thing and then decide that you want to go see him play at Anar tonight. He's there every Monday and should be on around 10.30pm.
p467774588.jpgLast month during Pet Conspiracy's performance at the Strawberry Festival, Helen Feng jumped off the front of the stage into the area between the stage and the crowd and crumpled. It was hard to see from where I was and it wasn't clear if she was lying on the floor singing as she some times does or if she was seriously hurt. Turned out to be the latter. She then got treated incredibly shoddily by organisers and relied on the generosity of a fan to get her to hospital. You can read her thoughts on it all here.

Anyway, upshot is that she's not fit enough to be jumping around the stage simulating sex with the other members of Pet Conspiracy and all that other oh-so-crazy stuff that they do during their live act. So when they hit MAO Livehouse this weekend as part of STD's 3 year anniversary (which also features Boys Climbing Ropes, shit loads of local DJs, Lymbyc System and Danger), Pet Conspiracy will be a mere quartet. Doesn't mean that they're not going to bring the noise and do all that crazy shit as usual mind and clearly this show at MAO is going to be huge anyway.

If you need a refresher, here's how it went down last time with Pet Conspiracy at MAO. Let's hope Helen makes a speedy recovery.

Good Jive 3, Yuyintang

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P6120524.jpgThis was kind of an odd one. The turn out wasn't great - again it was a school night for a lot of people, plus I guess the World Cup didn't help, but let's not talk about that or Robert Green, the muppet. It was a solid line up of bands regardless.

The Beat Bandits got us started and were great. I really like this band. They had their (newish) keyboardist playing last night who I always think makes a difference. I like their three-piece show as well and it seems to suit LOgO really well, but when they have the girl on the keys it just makes their surf/mod-rock that bit more summery and adds to the sound. This was their second gig at YYT in as many nights (they supported The King Khan and BBQ Show the day before) and, though as I say they suit LOgO for some reason, I hope this is the start of them playing at YYT more where you can actually hear them properly. I like 'em. They played a Small Faces cover - what's not to like?

Next up was Ho-Tom the Conqueror. As ever, I feel I should point out that Tom is a good friend of mine. Not like the other bands, I hate all of those people on a personal level. Just kidding. Friend or no, Tom was brilliant last night. His line-up was switched up a little and he had backing from Tom and Jerry, two Mongolian dudes who are in Lan Cao. One was on the mandolin, one was on the banjo, George was on harmonica and Ho-Tom was on fire. People lapped it up and rightly so, he was excellent. I've got a couple of videos of him to prove it. I'll get around to uploading them tomorrow probably.

X is Y were next. There was only two of them, LON wasn't around. Not really sure why, but they were good all the same. They play a kind of math rock and you can download an entire album of it right here. They're also at Yuyintang next Friday supporting The Dead Vikings with Pairs (The Beat Bandits support the Japanese crazies the following night at, oh, at LOgO). Go see them.

Sun Ye cancelled by the way. Nuts. No matter, because Stegosaurus? went on next and closed the night out with a good set. Those who were there enjoyed it naturally, it just felt a little empty. Maybe the two big gigs the night before had cleaned people out - as I say, a lot of people had to work today. Shame, because it was a good night until y'know Rob Green went and did that.

Time for a totally random link. Go and read this interview with MIA, just because she's brilliant. I love her music and her scattergun approach to everything.

SUBS bitches!

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subs2.jpgThis was the kind of gig where I ought to open the post by saying something like 'I'm still recovering', but fuck it, I'm no way near recovering from this. Maybe I never will. This gig was immense. Here's a bit of disclosure: I was mildly involved in this event. Not really enough to skew any judgment, but I'll tell you the story regardless. I'd been on at Kang Mao for a while about Subs' new album and about coming back to Shanghai because they hadn't played here in ages. About a month or so ago she called me to say they'd booked a date in Shanghai, she said they didn't have any support bands yet, but they had a slot at 021 bar and what did I think. What did I think? 021? For Subs? Fuck that.

So yeah, they ended up at MAO Livehouse instead and then we got Boys Climbing Ropes and Pinkberry in to support. It was a line up I was excited about, but events still conspired against me and I managed to miss Pinkberry's set, which was a shame.

Still, I was there in time to watch Boys Climbing Ropes give a towering performance. Anyone sick of me banging on about how good this band are needs to skip the next paragraph. Seriously, they were so, so good. I love it when they play a venue like YYT and you're really up close and everything, but they're basically one of, if not the only, Shanghai band who can really own the stage at MAO and when they do it's incredible. They played a fairly short set (Subs wanted on fairly early, it was a school night for a lot of people remember), but they don't need long to get things going. They have the stage presence and they have the music to just really kick things off. They were brilliant.

Then Subs came on. They played a lot of new material - fair enough, this was a release party for their new album after all. That meant that things didn't kick off in the audience as much as they could have done, but things still got pretty lively down there. Oh yeah, there's no shit photos of the bands from my point and shoot for this post by the way, Subs gigs aren't for taking photos, they're for throwing yourself around like a loon. Anyway, Kang Mao was amazing, she really is the queen of fucking everything. Wu Hao is one of the best guitarists you'll ever see and as for the head gear, Luwan Rock has pointed out the likely influence. That's also where I stole this photo from.

Anyway Subs were immense. They are the best, there's no two ways about it. I got a nice lump on my forehead after someone brained me in the middle of one song, but it was completely worth it. For me, the highlights were like this: Postlude from the new album, Kang Mao nonchalantly expressing a wish to crowd surf by flicking a finger out to the audience with a 'should I?' expression on her face that sent people into a frenzy and them closing the night out with What More. Shut up, shut up, what more you wanna say?

Is it the weekend already?

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beatbandits.jpgPretty much, yeah. So other than watching England cock things up in the World Cup against a country who don't even call the game football, there's a bunch of top gigs coming your way. Here's a cursory run down.


Alright, so there's an all-girl band event going on up at 696 which is very right on and everything (Ann, Miss Panda and Machiato are the bands), but let's face it Friday comes down to a straight fight to the death between The King Khan and BBQ Show and the Queen of Fucking Everything. Who's your money on?

In the blue corner: The King Khan and BBQ Show. At YYT with The Fever Machine (interview here) and The Beat Bandits. Totally crazy and weird. Plus, they split up the other day and have only just reformed after some fucked up shit at the Sydney Opera House or something. 

In the red corner: Subs. At MAO Livehouse with Boys Climbing Ropes and Pinkberry. Subs back in town after over a year away and with a new album to boot. China's best live band plus local favourites BCR and Pinkberry in support isn't too shabby. As has been stated elsewhere, 'expect death and mayhem'. 


This one's probably an easier choice, even if the main show of the night was completely passed over by another so-called music preview out there on the interwebs. You've got the Summer Rock Party up at 696 with Max, Sear, Purple Planet and a whole bunch of others, but down at Yuyintang it's the third installation of Han Han's Good Jive night. 

Good Jive's bill looks a little like this: Ho-Tom the Conqueror (possibly with a new line-up featuring the Curry Soap), X is Y (top notch math rock), Stegosaurus? (good times rock and on stage antics), The Beat Bandits (excellent garage rock) and Sun Ye (legend).

And that's pretty much how it looks for the weekend.

New New Vector

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P5150133.jpgRemember New Vector? I first saw them back in October last year playing at a 0093 showcase and really enjoyed their set. The singer has since departed, but they've carried on regardless, pursuing an instrumental post-rocky kind of path. Anyway, they've just uploaded two new demos, entitled 'For What We've Sacrificed' and 'Parmi Nous', onto their Douban page so you can have a listen to their new sound yourself and see what you think. Click here to give them a listen and here to see the old New Vector in action. 

You can also see them covering Curry Soap's Little Northern Europe here and you can hear another of their songs on the Here Comes the Spring compilation album released by Music Fever by clicking here.

That's it really. 

Bits and bobs

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This is another one of those posts with a bunch of random links and what not, that aren't really related to each other except for the fact that they all relate to underground music here in Shanghai. Don't expect it to flow too well, but all the points are noteworthy. Let's go.

First up, check out the picture on the right. Fuck yeah. Hopefully the release party will be free so we can have some more of this.

Speaking of new albums, Pinkberry have managed to shift over 100 units of theirs in the first month. Maybe 100 doesn't sound like a lot, but bear in mind that the release party for the band's debut EP Go! Boom! was stomped all over by Haibao so they've not done badly. The band have recovered some of their mojo of late and have reportedly gone down particularly well in Zhu Lu He Feng's recent spate of university tours. You can catch them in action supporting Subs together with Boys Climbing Ropes on Friday at MAO Livehouse.

Zhu Lu He Feng's first round of university tours is now complete and, as I mentioned before, they've pulled in decent numbers. So much so that the label has received invitations from a load more universities to come and play on their campuses. Whether this can translate into more numbers at regular gig venues in the city is questionable of course, especially for students based way out in Songjiang or up in Yangpu, but hopefully it'll help feed into the scene in general and help the development of these young bands.

MR, newly signed to the Zhu Lu He Feng collective has put up a new track recently.

As has Sister Whale (a Velvet Underground cover), part of Grand Flower Children, who unfortunately had their gig with Cocoon messed up by a complete freakout 'personal issue' for the French duo the other week.

Even more exciting than that are two newly uploaded tracks from Duck Fight Goose. It's been a while since I engaged in the blogging equivalent of foaming at the mouth over this band, but I saw them last week as part of the TransmitChina thingy and they were as outstandingly brilliant as ever. Their Adventure of Strange Rock tour with Boojii winds up in Shanghai at MAO Livehouse on July 2 - you'd be an absolute fool to miss it. Talking to Yang Haisong (ahem, name dropping) outside LOgO last Friday, he was saying how much he likes the band and is keen to get them into the studio. Please can we have a DFG album soon?

And that's about your lot for now.
I didn't make it to the Pose Rock gig at Yuyintang on Saturday unfortunately. I caught Pairs at LOgO on the Friday and they were excellent, I saw a few seconds of Rustic at the Gibson shop on Hengshan Lu and then last night I saw The Medullary Paralysis at YYT. Anyway, in the middle of all that I missed Triple Smash, The Fever Machine, 21 Grams and Little Wizard, which is a shame. If you missed them as well, check out this video of Triple Smash playing an as yet un-named new song.

0093 back in the game

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0093.jpg0093, the rehearsal space and one of the keystones of the local music community here will be opening their new premises this weekend. It's a few blocks down the road from their original space on Lingling Lu. The new address is 1228 Quxi Lu, near Dapuqiao Lu and the nearest metro is Luban Lu on line 4. Head to that address and you'll see a hotpot restaurant with a giant globe in the foyer. Go in, turn left, cut through the kitchens and down the stairs and you're in the new home of 0093, a familiar underground bomb shelter setting.

There's eight large practice rooms down there that were in the process of being kitted out when I visited on Tuesday. Tian Tian and Shaoqing assured me that it would be open this weekend though and on their Douban group the opening date is set as tomorrow. I didn't take any pictures while I was down there so this photo on the right is of the old space on Lingling Lu. The practice rooms in the new location are larger, but it's essentially the same set up.

Their original premises closed back in October for 'refurbishment', but there was more going on than that and the place didn't open again. There was the attempt to open a space out near Caoyang Lu, but when Andy and I visited that one it wasn't exactly up and running. This new location on Quxi Lu seems like a safer bet though. Whether the bands who have migrated to other rehearsal spaces will return remains to be seen, but hopefully 0093 will be able to settle down now and continue their good work.