STD turn 3 at MAO Livehouse
This 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.
In terms of foreign acts coming over, I feel it's a fairly logical argument. Usually, when Splitworks bring in a foreign band, even if you haven't necessarily heard of them much, you generally know they will be a quality act. That's what Splitworks do. But when there's wave after wave of foreign bands coming because of Expo and they're all being touted around, then things get saturated and if you've not heard of any of them, why go? Add in the fact that a lot of these gigs charge higher than the usual prices and you get small crowds.
For the local scene, I'd argue that the impact has been minimal. Subs maybe didn't pull in as big a crowd as it could have done, but there were other factors at play there (namely the holiday) and in general, attendance at the local shows hasn't changed dramatically. The other thing to keep in mind is that crowds at gigs always drop off around this time of year. In fact, one of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog was about the drop off. At the time, I wasn't really clear what was happening, but thinking about it, it happens every year.
For the STD show specifically, I'd say it was a mix of all these factors. Foreign band fatigue is easily trumped by quality acts who have laid the groundwork in China - the return of Handsome Furs in August should be packed. But it's the summer, attendances are dropping off anyway, the World Cup is hitting anywhere not showing it fairly hard and 150 kuai on the door is a big ask, even with such a strong line up. But that's just my two jiao, maybe I'm wrong.
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