September 2010 Archives

Guai Li at MAO

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guaili album cover-thumb-350x299.jpgThis blog went to Beijing for the weekend, and this is what it saw: Guai Li's album release show at MAO. 

I'd missed the show in Shanghai the other week so thought I'd catch them in their native Beijing instead while I was up there. This time round they had CDs on sale right from the start, incidentally. 

I'm not sure who the support band was (anyone care to help?). It was originally advertised as Rustic and though the boys seemed to be there, I didn't see them play. The band who did play were a fuzz-rock three piece with no drummer, who sounded a bit dodgy when I first walked in, but who really grew on me. Toward the end of their set they had three really strong songs in a row, though they could do with a better singer.

Guai Li came on to headline and opened with 'Devil Rabbit', which featured the video on the screen behind them and someone dressed in a rabbit suit jumping around the stage. Fortunately, the person in the rabbit suit eventually left the stage, though they stuck around for the rest of the gig, generally annoying the crowd.

The crowd was disappointing though. I think Sunday was a working day so maybe people didn't want to go out on a school night, but it was a bit of a poor turn out. Which was a shame, because Guai Li really played well. There was a bit of debate on Andy's blog about their performances, particularly those of Wen Jun, and it's true that they sometimes don't pull off the kind of attitude they're aiming for, but in Beijing the band really went for it and Wen Jun was properly engaged throughout. It was just a shame that there weren't more people there to witness it.

Torturing Nurse torture Europe

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p637292083.jpgCopenhagen got to experience harsh noise Shanghai-style recently as Torturing Nurse descended on the city to play their 'harsh as fuck' sounds. The show included Junky and Xu Cheng tying up a bunch of people, which is the kind of thing that's pretty much par for the course if you go to a Torturing Nurse show to be honest. Those people should be grateful they didn't have raw meat thrown at them. More on why they were in Copenhagen here and more photos here.

Pairs album available for free

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p513800011.jpgNot much more to add to that heading really - Pairs have recorded an album, done in a single take at Yuyintang to get that 'live' feeling and produced by Adam Gaensler. The album will be out courtesy of Qu Records very soon in the form of physical CDs, but for now you can download the whole thing by paying absolutely nothing (more on the process here). Click here to download the tracks.

Congratulations to everyone involved, now on with the Little Punk album...

Brad Ferguson on CNNGo

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controlbrad.jpgRegular readers of this site will be familiar with Brad Ferguson and his impact on the local live music scene here. Now, 'the fifth member of Duck Fight Goose' has been profiled on CNNGo and the piece has all sorts of familiar people contributing to it, including Adam from Luwan Rock, Han Han and one Andy Best. That's partly because the piece has been written by another local scene stalwart, Dan Shapiro, staying true to his word to keep writing about music despite ending (the print version of) The Beat.

Anyway, enough waffle, check out the piece here.
e292213.jpgBefore this gig was advertised, I didn't really know much about Streets Kill Strange Animals. I'd heard good things about them from up north, but hadn't really followed them too closely. That'll change now, they were brilliant last night. I thought that maybe the gig was done in the way they sometimes are in Beijing whereby the headliner actually goes on in the penultimate slot because it's the peak time before everyone heads home. The crowd certainly thinned after Bigger Bang!, but anyone who missed Streets Kill Strange Animals missed an excellent set and they were worthy of top billing.

If people had run out of energy after Bigger Bang!'s set it was understandable. They haven't been in Shanghai for a few months, but you can tell how much they like playing here. Last night was no different - they were tight, played a great set and Pupi was on top form. They also played two great covers: Joan Jett's 'I Hate Myself for Loving You' and, more surprisingly, Beck's 'Loser' with Pupi pulling off the raps.

Before that Pairs had torn through a typically exhilarating set that had people around me worrying about Xiao Zhong's vocal chords. I'm pretty sure he'll be fine.
e291715.jpgYeah I still don't have a camera so here's the flyer in place of a photo. Photo donations are welcome by the way.

Anyway, last night saw two bands at Yuyintang - The Fallacy, a post punk outfit from Henan, and Boys Climbing Ropes who you know plenty about.

The Fallacy kicked things off and played a solid set. They sounded a bit like ReTROS to me, similar kind of basslines and what have you. But I like ReTROS a lot so that was a good thing. Perhaps due to a lack of familiarity among the audience with their material, they failed to really kick things off and to spark much of atmosphere in the crowd. People weren't going crazy, but everyone seemed to enjoy them overall.

Boys Climbing Ropes were on after them and rattled through a set that got everyone worked up into a deliriously sweaty state. Some things don't change. There were old favourites, but they also debuted a new song, full of their trademark energy. No idea what it's called, but it sounded good. The Boys are back in town and it's been a while since Yuyintang had that many people jumping around like loons, hopefully tonight we'll have it again - 'tis the season. 

Top Floor Circus still alive

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They might be banned in Shanghai still, but Top Floor Circus are still about and here's some proof - Lu Chen and Mei Er laying down some Shanghainese chat for the song '快递员' or 'Courier'. They're also at the Lijiang Snow Mountain Festival next month if you fancy a trip down to Yunnan to see them play.

The Beat (no longer) goes on

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1113.jpgUPDATE: Here's the link

One of the things Andy (and occasionally I) used to do on this blog was round up the music coverage in the local magazines and media. Given my current job, I've stopped doing this as it's difficult for me to comment on such things without being accused of a conflict of interest (if anyone actually takes these things that seriously). Still, I'm going to make an exception here, because in the latest issue of CityWeekend comes confirmation of the news we've known for a while now: Dan Shapiro is to stop writing The Beat column.

His last entry isn't up online yet, but if you pick up a copy of the magazine you can find it - with him doing a round up of his favourites entries over the years. As he puts it himself 'while I'm not much for sentimentality, I'm definitely a believer in self-congratulation'. And he has lots to congratulate himself on. In the last two years, Dan has been one of the few writers giving regular English-language (or any language really) coverage to the underground bands in Shanghai, bringing them to new audiences.

In addition to bringing a whole host of domestic bands to Shanghai and promoting the hell out of them in order to get them the exposure they deserve, Dan has been a strong supporter of the local music scene whether he's involved in the gigs or not. He's always at shows and is known to everyone on the scene as very much a part of the local music community. 

Hopefully this isn't the end of his music writing (I think he's going to be contributing music articles now and then for CityWeekend still) even if it's the end of an era for The Beat column. 

Friend or Foe and friends at YYT

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p623206965.jpgThere was a solid turn out last night at Yuyintang for a midweek gig that featured The Instigation, Friend or Foe, X is Y and The Beat Bandits.

The Beat Bandits and X is Y have been written about before on this blog, the other two less so. Unfortunately, I only caught the tail end of The Instigation, though I did catch them tearing through a Reagan Youth cover which was excellent.

I don't have an awful lot to add to what I've written about X is Y and The Beat Bandits previously, so let me just rattle through them quickly before writing a bit more about Friend or Foe, the newest act on the bill. X is Y went on third and had a new bassist, which should see them have a more settled line up now. It's math rock and it's played well, though I felt their set went on a little long last night. That's not necessarily their fault - just that someone needed to remember that it was a Wednesday and that there were four bands on. 

The Beat Bandits closed the night out and were excellent as always. They were in four person mode, with the girl on the keyboards. They're a tight outfit, play some great songs and have an energy and enthusiasm that's hard not to like. The crowd always feeds off them and it only took a couple of songs before everyone was attempting '60s-style dancing out on the floor at YYT.

However, the thing I really took away from the night was the performance of Friend or Foe. This was my first time seeing them - I think they've only had a couple of shows previously - and I was really impressed. Not that their competence was particularly surprising, their line up features Zack on the drums, Adam on guitar and Fish on bass - all strong musicians. I don't think they have a Douban or anything yet (please correct me if I'm wrong on this) so I'm going to describe their sound to you as broadly funked up rock and occasionally just straight up rawk. They reminded me at times of Cake and at other times of Soulwax songs like 'Too Many DJs' or 'Much Against Everyone's Advice'. But maybe that was just me. Regardless, they're really good and you should make sure you catch them next time they're playing live. Photo courtesy of 幽小巫

This weekend is a biggie

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3936540837_297d90ca08.jpgWe mentioned this before, but this weekend is one of the best gig-going weekends in a ong while. Time to get those cobwebs blown out of your ears. There's every possibility that I'll spend the next four or five nights at Yuyintang. Here's why:

Tonight - X is Y, Friend or Foe, The Beat Bandits and The Instigation

Tomorrow - Choir of Young Believers

Friday - Boys Climbing Ropes and The Fallacy

Saturday - Streets Kill Strange Animals, Bigger Bang! and Pairs

Sunday - Hydrophobia

Ka-boom. Alright, so I might flake on that last one - deathcore on a Sunday after all that lot might be too much for me I'm afraid - but that's not a bad few days of gigs. Added to the mix are Queen Sea Big Shark at MAO Livehouse on the Saturday for some corporate gig thing (likewise I think Bigger Bang! are involved in flogging Puma goods at MAO Livehouse on the Friday with Mavis Fan). 

Take that summer malaise...
Sept 8th show.jpgI was out of town this weekend, meaning my barren gig stretch was extended. Shame, because it sounds like Chaos Mind tore shit up.

Nevermind though because tomorrow night at YYT sees a chance for redemption. If, like me, you've been in a bit of a non-gig-going rut recently, it's time to get over the summertime blues and head to this show. 

On the bill are The Beat Bandits, The Instigation, Friend or Foe and X is Y. The Beat Bandits are really good and The Instigation is another of Toshi's bands so (though I haven't seen them yet) I'm sure they're quality. X is Y I've written about before on this blog and I'm pretty sure I've emphasised before that they're well worth seeing. Friend or Foe are a new band, but one I'm keen to see as they've got that nice Zack Smith boy in their line up. 

So basically, it's a night worth getting into work late on Thursday for.