November 2010 Archives

Go with the Flow

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
p708107001.jpgJust so you know, I'm going on holiday for a week or so, so you'll have to look elsewhere for your local music fix. The usual places should suffice. In the meantime, know that this EP on the right here is coming fairly soon (next few weeks basically) and that's it's very, very good.

Read: Shapiro on Little Punk

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
p585467888.jpgHey guy, you are big time alright. Just saying. Also, here's something you're going to want to read: an article all about Little Punk by Mr Dan Shapiro. I don't really have much to add to be honest, so here's the link and here's another one to a nice Little Punk package which includes the album, a bunch of photos, lyric sheets and what not. Clickedy click click.

Trash a Go-Go at Yuyintang

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)
p709577937.jpgBefore we get anywhere, I just want to quickly say congratulations to Lu Chen, the Top Floor Circus frontman, who sent me a message last night to say that his missus had dropped their sprog at last. 陆雍 was born at 6.30pm last night.  

Anyway, on with the gig. Unexpectedly, I found myself at Yuyintang last night. Unexpected, because usually around this time of the month I don't have any free time, but I managed to get out of the office and so headed to the first of two Trash a Go-Go shows this weekend (they do it all over again tonight, also at YYT, with Dead Elvis).

The Instigation kicked things off and were their usually tight, lively selves. If you haven't seen The Instigation yet, you really ought to. They play hardcore/punk in the style of Reagan Youth (whose 'Degenerated' they always close their sets with) and singer Simon sings from in front of the stage, pacing backwards and forwards at the front of the audience. They were very nearly upstaged last night by a crazy Japanese dude who kept jumping on Simon and onto the stage, and by a white guy next to him who was dancing like your uncle at a wedding, but the band were good enough to just about remain the centre of attention. Seriously, you need to check these guys out.

Similarly, if you've somehow managed to get this far without seeing The Fever Machine, you need to sort that out pretty soon. They went on second and were on fine form. In fact, I think the version of 'Dance with Deviance' that they did might just have been the strongest I've seen from them yet. Again, quality musicians with a really tight set up and a strong set of songs who know how to put on a show.

Finally, there was The Beat Bandits (well, actually finally there was Japanese act Goggle-A, but it was getting late and I had to work today so I didn't stick around for them unfortunately). They had Papa from The Instigation on drums last night and I'm not sure if he was just standing in or if that's a permanent move, but as always their surf rock was on the money. They were in foursome form last night, which meant they had the girl on keyboards as well, which always adds a little something.

So yeah, a good night all in all - just as well, as that's probably my last gig for a little while...

The youth is out there

| | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)
p707778065.jpgUPDATE: Just got a message from Lezi to say that the second round of the Zhulu Hefeng university tour has been going really well so far with over 400 students turning up for the Donghua University show (pictured).

This blog and Andy's basically focus on gigs that take place, and bands that play, at a handful of venues around town: Yuyintang, MAO Livehouse and occasionally Zhijiang Dream Factory. Now and again, one or other of us will make it up to 696 or Live Bar, but otherwise we pretty much stay in our city centre comfort zone. And why not? There's nothing else going on out in the sticks anyway, right?

Maybe. But recently Micah Sittig left this comment on a post on Andy's blog.

'> There has been(?) a move of focus from the centre to the suburbs /

> closer to the universities by local bands.

This is something I've wondered about for years. When I was living in the city center and had more time for shows (about 5/6 years ago), it seemed to me like the YYT/Gua2 scene was bringing to a more urban audience the "cream" that rose to the top of the university scene. I somewhat regret that I never took the initiative to explore that scene, but with the universities being so far out and the metro system not yet reaching them it meant several-hour bus rides, searching out new people, etc.'

Obla-di Obla-da

| | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (0)
Carsick-Cars-001.jpgUPDATE: Word is the new Carsick Cars will play NYE at D-22...

This post is nothing to do with The Beatles and Apple: that was hardly the epoch-shifting announcement it was built up to be was it? But then again, the reaction to the announcement that is the subject of this post is likewise slightly overblown in my opinion. By now you've probably heard that Carsick Cars have split. You can read the English translation of the original statement here and I recommend you read Dan's take on it all here. In fact, I started writing this as a comment on Dan's piece before I realised it was going to be too long.

There's been an outpouring of grief following the announcement on Douban (one thread in the CsC group has over 8,000 comments on it so far), but I don't really think it's a massive deal that Carsick Cars have split. Don't get me wrong, I like the band, the two Lis are both excellent musicians and it's always a shame when an original line-up that has stayed together for so long comes to an end. It's true too, that the band has had a major impact on the development of Chinese rock music, but is this the end of Carsick Cars? Probably not. 

Make your own Dingma cover

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
p708355909.jpgTop Floor Circus' G.O.O.D Fridays-esque album release continues apace - they've just put up 'Love Song for Suzhou Creek' for free download on their douban. Also, they're letting you design the artwork for the album. There won't actually be a physical CD release, but the whole album will be packaged up and released as one big file before Christmas. 

In the meantime, you can design your own cover and upload it to the running gallery, also on douban. The official cover, is the map of Shanghai that you can see there, but there have been some great alternatives put up, so even if you don't want to make one yourself, have a browse of the gallery here (quick, before they get harmonised).
e346761.jpgThis blog doesn't often deal in public service announcements, but when it comes to beer and rock 'n' roll, there's not much we can do but help spread the word. Oh, and it's from Pairs so even better. Read on:

On Saturday December 4th we're going to Suzhou to play the Trash A Go Go show.
We're thinking of hiring a bus that leaves from Shanghai sometime in the afternoon, and return sometime later that night, after the show.

Right now, we are just seeing if people are interested, that way we'll know if we need to hire a big bus or a smaller bus. But tickets will most likely be under 100yuan and will include entrance to the venue. We'll also make sure there is beer and drinks on the bus.

If you're interested, please send an email as soon as possible to and leave your name, number and how many seats you want and we'll get back to you with more info later.

The Gar and Mr Graceless at LUNE

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
p710650860.jpgThey only went and played 'Circle'. After all that 'we'll never play it again' stuff, they played it. Naturally, the place exploded when they did. Crazy. Other important things that we learned from this night: Mr Graceless are pretty good, The Gar still rock with their new line up and LUNE is not a gig venue.

Having cycled across from YYT as fast as I could in the hope of catching The Gar's set, I actually got there before either of the bands had started. Out on the street there were a few people drinking beers from the Family Mart next door - was this what everyone meant when they said the spirit of LOgO would never die? Having climbed the stairs to LUNE, it became clear why people were milling around outside - they were playing lounge dance music inside.

Anyway, Mr Graceless took to the stage and played a pretty solid set. They had a couple of slower, shoegazery numbers which didn't come off so well given that they started at 11pm and people were looking for something a bit more punchy, but overall they delivered a good set of melodic rock songs, with bursts of energy at times. I'm listening to their demo CD now and it's good. They may look like they're all 15 (that's probably just me getting old), but these guys are well worth keeping an eye on.

The Gar followed immediately afterwards and, although there was the odd new song, they generally stuck to the classics and, as I mentioned, when they played 'Circle', the place went nuts. They were as tight and spot on as ever, with Box slotting in nicely on the bass - it was as if they'd never been away, despite this being their first gig here in 18 months.

Alas, they should have been in a proper gig venue. LUNE is a lounge bar, with sofas and a stage that is only slightly raised off the dancefloor. It might work for a lounge band or something, but when you have a quality rock band and people who want to jump around, it doesn't work. At least the sound equipment was better, but at LOgO you at least had that down and dirty rock atmosphere so gigs worked there. The crowd was a bit disappointing in terms of numbers, but when things did kick off, I got sent flying at one point and took out a girl who was standing on a chair next to me because she had no other way of seeing the band. Luckily she landed on a sofa and was ok, but if either of us had been a metre further forward, one of us would have hit a pillar instead. This is not a venue built for rock bands I'm afraid.

Still, The Gar are back and, on this evidence, on fine form, so let's hope for an album in the new year.
p700980920.jpgYuyintang was packed last night. I mean properly rammed. I got there just after 9pm and there was no hope of getting anywhere near the front. By the time Ho-Tom took to the stage to open (he wasn't dressed like this incidentally, think that photo's from Halloween), I had to stand near the back by the bar and crane my neck to watch him. Even that became a crush and I ended up by watching him from the side of the stage.

What I saw nearly had me welling up. See, Tom is a good friend of mine and he was playing to a packed crowd at Yuyintang. That's pretty special. Not only that, but they loved him. He introduced all his songs in Chinese and, from the first song which he explained was about Hu Jintao's daughter, the crowd was cheering loudly. When he did 'I Don't Know Why Your Mum and Dad Don't Like My Mum and Dad', a song he penned himself in Mandarin and with lyrics about not having a Shanghai hukou and not having a house, the audience was enraptured.

He was playing with Franco ('the Fierce') on mandolin and George ('the Goliath'... I think?) on harmonica, which added a nice layer to his sound and worked really well, especially on the YYT stage and with such a big crowd.

Clearly Omnipotent Youth Hotel (or Society, as their album has it) have a big following here, but Tom certainly won them over and was a worthy support act for the Hebei band who so many had turned out to see. Of them, I don't have much to say really - I saw the very start of their set, but was really there for Tom and had to barrel across town to make sure I caught the return of The Gar...
p692260731.jpgRemember I wrote about Live Bar reopening in a new location after their Kunming Lu space got shut down? Well after a few weeks of renovations and building work, they're pretty much good to go. They're going to be opening with two days of bands on the 19th and 20th and entry will be free. No details on who the bands will be yet, but if you're in the Fudan area or want to celebrate the reopening of a Shanghai institution, you know where to be next weekend.

Thursday night giggin'

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
Thurs Gig.jpgJust a quick heads up that there's a couple of gigs on tonight if you feel like starting your weekend early. Dalian post-rock band Wang Wen are at MAO Livehouse, releasing their new album. They're pretty much the cream of China's post-rock crop, so if you dig the whole instrumental thing you should get to that one.

Alternatively, you can check out the show at Yuyintang, which as you can see from the flyer here features Androsace, Friend or Foe and Stegosaurus? So there you go, a couple of ways to celebrate this 'Singles Day' thing (or just go see some good live music).
flyer1260803640.jpgThis is something that's been going around the rumour mill for a little while now and I have to stress that it's unconfirmed and just a rumour. But it's an interesting one and one that I've heard from a number of reliable sources, so I thought I'd put it out there. 

I first heard that the people behind Yugong Yishan were looking at opening a venue in Shanghai a couple of months ago. I've not been able to contact them to discuss any Shanghai plans at the moment, but it would seem like a logical move for them. There's also been mention of the involvement of JZ Club, though people I've spoken to there say they know nothing about it. I know that makes this story just seem like a lot of talk and with no real quotes to back it up, but that's why I'm putting the caveat that this is just a rumour at the top there.

Even if it is just a rumour, it refuses to die and the latest take on it that I've heard is that the plan involves taking over the Zhijiang Dream Factory space. That too, seems to make a lot of sense. The Dream Factory is a decent venue but needs some investment - a new  soundsystem and some lights and Shanghai could have a pretty good mid-sized venue to go along with MAO Livehouse, itself in the midst of change.

Speaking of MAO Livehouse, the Dream Factory has of course had collaborations before, which ended rather unsuccessfully. If Yugong Yishan were to take it over though, I'd feel a bit more positive about it than I did when Soma got involved.

Still, it's just a rumour at the moment, albeit an interesting one and a story to keep an eye on...

Photo stolen from SmartShanghai

Listen: MR; Read: X is Y interview

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
p696846547.jpgMR was recently signed to the Zhulu Hefeng label as you may have read here. They've been recording with her and mixing some tracks and some of the results have gone up on her Douban. Have a click here to listen to those.

Also out there on the interwebs is an interview with X is Y. It's on pangbianr in preparation for their show in Beijing this weekend and can be read here.

MAO Livehouse on the move

| | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)
mao.jpgI'm sure you all read Time Out Shanghai from cover to cover, page for page (like this blog does), so you've probably read this already in the Boozehound section, but MAO Livehouse is moving at the end of this year. They'll take over a new space down near the Bridge 8 complex on Sinan and Jianguo Lus, with February being touted as the most likely time for an opening (my guess is post-Spring Festival). My first thought was that it might be the old 4Live space, but apparently that's not the case.

Rumours have been swirling about the imminent demolition of MAO Livehouse's current location in Red Town for over six months now (China Music Radar first broke with that one here) and, though they will make it to their one year anniversary this month, don't expect there to be too many gigs there beyond December. UPDATE: Lisa Movius has kindly clarified some of the details in the comments and MAO will remain open up until the new venue is ready - read Lisa's comment for more information.

So after a year of half-filled gigs and some of the worst bar service in the city, are they down-sizing? Err, no. Apparently, the new space will be even bigger - with sources at MAO Livehouse likening it to Star Live in Beijing. I've not been to Star Live I have to admit, but the official capacity is 800, with some sources in the capital saying that the actual capacity is bigger than that. It sounds ambitious, especially given their previous form here, but if we're being kind we could perhaps argue that with a new, bigger venue, renewed investment and without the threat of demolition hanging over them (presumably), Soma et al will actually put more effort into filling this new venue and into making sure the well-documented problems with the current space don't reoccur in the new one.

Ben Houge and friends in Suzhou

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
4451474556_b1db4b01e1.jpgAfter my preface to the QSBS post, Andy wrote up pop punk band White Eyes' show here, so I don't need to bother with that one. Instead I want to write a little about a show I went to in the day time on Saturday at the True Colour (though they may not use a 'u') Museum out in Suzhou. It was arranged by the multi-talented Ben Houge for the opening of his Point of Departure show at the gallery, which is the result of his six month residency there.

I've been lucky enough to know Ben for a while now and I'll be sad to see him leave (he's heading back to the States), but this was a fitting farewell from him. It showcased a lot of his immense talent as well as demonstrating his ability to switch between a wide array of genres and mediums without seeing a dip in the quality of his art.

A quick word about the gallery though. It's an incredible space. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere in Suzhou (though a metro station will open near it next year), but that actually makes it a better space in some ways - I quite liked the isolation of it. It's a huge space, apparently the largest modern art museum/gallery in China, and is well designed. In short, it's well worth a visit and if you go before December 6th, you'll be able to catch Ben's exhibition. 

'Self Portrait, Dusk at the Point of Departure' is a fascinating video work that I don't want to say too much about as you really have to see it. Besides, Ben himself explains it much better than I could here. There's also a range of other works which are equally mesmerising, including some of his 29 Giraffes series and the brilliant 'Shanghai Traces' (pictured), which you can also see installed at Glamour Bar.

To celebrate the opening of this show, Ben drafted in some help from sound artists Xu Cheng (one half of Torturing Nurse), Yao Dajuin and Wang Changcun - all of whom gave absorbing performances. In between their sets, Ben played himself, performing three different sets of music: ambient electronic/sound, piano-led renditions of Jay Chou songs and numbers by John Cage among others and finally a brief set of his own pop songs. It was a great show and a reminder of why Ben will be missed when he leaves China.
p699497953.jpgI've had a pretty busy weekend this weekend, culminating in a trek out to Ai Weiwei's river crab party up in Jiading district, a party he wasn't allowed to attend (more on that here). It's left me pretty knackered, so instead of going to Buyi tonight, I'm going to blog this show and, if I get around to it, a couple of other things from this weekend: White Eyes at YYT and Ben Houge in Suzhou. Those posts might not go up until tomorrow though, we'll see.

Anyway, Queen Sea Big Shark at MAO Livehouse was on Friday night and was a big deal. This was the release party for their second album, a record that has been highly anticipated for a while now. It was their first show in Shanghai in a long time - provided you don't count the brand showcase things they've done.

It was 80 kuai and there was no support band, but that didn't stop a big turn out. There were plenty of foreigners, but it was a majority Chinese crowd - QSBS remain a big deal and, especially when it's an album release show, people are prepared to pay for them.

When I met the band up in Beijing back at the start of last month, they'd promised something special for their show in Shanghai and upon entering MAO, the crowd was greeted by a stage covered from top to bottom by a huge curtain. The only support was Linfeng DJing, but it was clear QSBS had something special planned - the picture here gives you an idea of what was revealed when the curtain dropped, but before that the band played CBD from behind the curtain with some great visuals projected onto it, climaxing with shotrs from the Beijing Olympic countdown.

It got the crowd fired up and the band ripped through a couple of tracks from the new album, which has seen them take a more poppy, dancey direction. They suffered a bit from the lack of familiarity among the crowd for these songs and from a slightly muddy sound in places, but most people remained transfixed by Fu Han and when they played the old favourites, the crowd went nuts. They also made up for the lack of support with a long set, including two encores.

Queen Sea Big Shark are not a band who appeal to everyone, and they may have alienated some with their commercial work and with their new dance-pop material, but they know how to put on a show and entertain the crowd and they did just that at MAO Livehouse.
p653100368.jpgJust a heads up that if you're planning on going to QSBS's big show at MAO Livehouse tomorrow, the copies of the new CD they'll have on sale there won't play in your CD player. Remember CD players? No? Oh. Well anyway, you can stick it in your COMXXXPUDA and rip it and then stick it on your MP3 thingy or whatever, but you won't be able to put it in your CD Walkman. In other news, there will also be no release on cassette tape. I know.

Basically, someone fucked up with the mastering or whatever bit it is of the process that makes a CD playable on a computer but not on a CD player. Maybe that's not such a big deal in these days of MP3 players and what have you, but just wanted to let you know.


| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
We've talked enough about Duck Fight Goose on this blog for regular readers to know how highly we rate them. One of their members, Han Han, has also been covered a fair bit on this site and his various side projects and activities are always something we take an interest in. This is his latest one, a solo project entitled GOOOOSE. Here's what he says about the process: 'Pure hardware music, no sounds are from computer. And they are all recorded live, no multi-track mixing.' Click here to give it a listen.
image-20101102-od169co3eixl99tsgboh_t570.jpgI wrote a while back about how I was looking forward to Rainbow Danger Club's new EP. Well here it is (h/t Mr Shapiro). Go, go, go

Here's how November looks

| | Comments (11) | TrackBacks (0)
e326502.jpgSo we woke up on Monday morning to a brave new world. A world without an Expo. Where were the hordes of people at Madang Lu metro station who have made my commute to work a pain in the arse for the last six months? Where was that American guy shouting 'And now the daily update from the Expo site' at the metro station? And where were the students dressed in Expo garb sleeping at the Expo volunteer stall? Gone, who knows where, but definitely gone. I don't about you, but I spent most of the day standing on the wrong side of the escalator, barging my way onto the metro and spitting everywhere amongst the pollution - it's great to be back to normal.

Someone else is planning an in-depth piece on post-Expo-ness and its impact upon the live music scene here, so I'm not going to get into it much, but what I do want to get into is what's coming up this month gig-wise. After the Olympics, the music scene here came back with a bang and we had a run of incredible gigs. The impact of the Expo has been much harsher and more far-reaching than that, but there are some good gigs coming up this month. I'm not saying it's the same as post-Olympics - not by a long shot - but I am saying that these should all be dates for your diaries. Feast your eyes on this lot (which I've pulled from the listings of a certain local magazine, ahem):

Friday 5 - Queen Sea Big Shark release their new dancey, poppy album at MAO Livehouse

Saturday 6 - White Eyes go nuts at Yuyintang

Sunday 7 - Beijingers Buyi hit up MAO Livehouse

The last days of LOgO

| | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0)
photo.jpgYou know this already, but last night was the last night of LOgO. I had to bow out around midnight (y'know work and stuff), but it was pretty rammed and I'm sure it had a good send off. In fact, it's probably still going on now. The police stopped by for a bit, which was nice of them, just to remind everyone why it's shutting down.

Anyway, after YYT on Saturday night, I'd headed over to LOgO to find Friend or Foe on stage. It was another strong showing from the boys, despite Adam's guitar disintegrating toward the end of the set. By the end of it, which found him lying on the dancefloor on his back in the middle of the crowd, he might as well have been playing an erhu there were that many broken strings. Whatever, it was a great performance and one of those classic, slightly chaotic gigs that we'd all come to associate with LOgO. 

Last night was the Jam Session thing. Hmm. But there was also a brief appearance again from The Misfits, joined on stage by Marc Bolan at one point. I'm not sure who those guys were requesting 'Whale Song' though - pretty sure that's not a Misfits song.

So that's that. For now, the people behind LOgO look like they'll be focusing their energies on swankier new spot LUNE. I'm not sure how it'll work as a venue, but it'll get its first proper road test as a gig venue when The Gar come to town for their first show in over a year (now with ex-Hedgehog bassist Box) in a couple of weeks. Keep an eye out for that one...
e316421.jpgThis was a great night at Yuyintang - packed out and with great performances. Ordinarily, I'm not really into cover bands, but these were all done so well and with such humour that it was impossible not to enjoy it - unless of course you were that irate Wham! fan who complained that Pairs' "tribute" was sacrilegious before storming out. For me, that just made it funnier.

The night started with X is Y (plus two) as Joy Division. They did the songs really well - although I'm not sure about the metal/ska moments that crept in during 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. Any problems they may have had with people not recognising Joy Division's back catalogue (people stood around me kept asking who they were supposed to be) they overcame with an energetic performance that meant people got into regardless.

If their's was a pretty close study of Joy Division, Pairs' version of Wham! was something else entirely. With F and Xiao Zhong dressed in Choose Life t-shirts, the pair ripped through a couple of classic Wham! tracks but in the Pairs style, before Xiao Zhong kicked 'the other one' out of the band and went solo for 'Careless Whisper', which featured one of the best endings to a set ever as he kept everyone singing while he packed up his shit and walked off the stage.

Boys Climbing Ropes then came on and did The Misfits, with Little Punk bouncing around the stage as Danzig. They really got the crowd going and had the biggest mosh of the night, though some dickhead threw a glass at some point. Someone had crowd dived during Wham! with a bottle in hand as well. Seriously, how fucking stupid are you? Anyway, I don't want to dwell on it - it shouldn't take away from a great performance from BCR, something they reprised at LOgO last night as part of the farewell to the Xingfu Lu bar.

Finally came KISS who looked and sounded incredible. The make up, the costumes and the music were all spot on. They really had it down, with Dan staying in character throughout and all of the band members with studied mannerisms - Fabi's bright red tongue was waggling all the way through the set. They even did the synchronised bit with the guitars. It was brilliant.

So yeah, a brilliant night - well done to everyone involved. If anyone has photos or videos from the night, please send them my way, I still don't have a camera. Ta.