January 2011 Archives

The new Yuyintang

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new yyt.jpgMAO Livehouse shuttered their first location in Shanghai at the weekend, with around 1,300 people packing into the Red Town space according to the organisers. I didn't make it to the show unfortunately, but I did pop in to look at how Yuyintang's renovations were coming along this weekend.

The heart of the local music scene, Yuyintang closed their doors a couple of weeks ago and plan to reopen on Valentine's Day with a special unplugged show from Yuguo. So what have they been up to in a month? A lot. The refurbishments are extensive and should create a vastly improved venue.

The building was never intended as a gig venue, which was clear from its layout, and though this lent YYT some of its charm, it also led to frustrated punters at some gigs. Hoping to change that, the venue has made some major changes. It's a bit hard to describe without more photos, but I'll give it a whirl. First up, they've shifted the entrance to the left of the old front door, as you can see above. The small lounge area that used to occupy the space directly in front of the entrance has gone, replaced by a long bar down the side of what is now one big room opening out toward the stage. The stage itself hasn't moved, but the area immediately in front of it has been extended all the way back. Presumably a sound and lighting desk will need to be put in at the back (there wasn't one there when I snooped around), but overall the viewing area will be larger. They've also flipped the staircase so that it slopes towards the front entrance now, meaning it doesn't impinge on the area in front of the stage. I'm not sure if they've changed things upstairs as I couldn't get up there, but it's a major overhaul.

There's still a fair bit of work to do to finish it all off, but it seems like a positive change. Check it out for yourself when Yuyintang reopens on February 14th.

New stuff

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cautionMOFOS-1024x634.jpgIt's cold outside, I'm probably not going to make it to MAO Livehouse on Saturday and things generally on the blog are a bit slow at the minute. It'll get better, just bear with me. In the meantime, here's some new music for your listening pleasure.

This one's doubly new - a new song from a brand new band, The Dangxin Mofos. More details, full lyrics and the track right here. Make sure you give that a listen.

A doubly new double. Crazy. Yep, another new band, this one called Fierce Wind Zone, with a new track. Fierce Wind Zone in case you're wondering are one half of Stegosaurus? so check it out.

It kind of peters out after that. Sorry. All I've got is this. A new track from Candy Shop called 'Never Give Up'. 

Top Floor Circus in Shanghai Daily

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What a difference a year makes. Back in December 2009, Top Floor Circus were slapped with a performance ban after their anti-Expo anthem proved a bit too popular with the masses. Now, in January 2011, the band are featured in the Shanghai Daily. You can read the full piece on 'the absurdly-named' band right here. Hat tip to Lisa Movius on this one, I have to admit that Shanghai Daily isn't exactly saved in my favourites, so I never would have found it if she hadn't dropped me the link.

The video embedded on the right here is Top Floor Circus' 'A Love Song for Suzhou Creek (KTV Version)' meaning you can sing along just like you would at PartyWorld.
stuff 309.jpgI finally ended my gig drought last night with my first trip up to the new Live Bar, where I saw Chaos Mind, The Fever Machine, Stegosarus?, Pairs and a surprise appearance from Yan Tiao. Actually, I thought the surprise guest was going to be Hang on the Box - I thought the girls were there and everyone was saying they were going to play, but they didn't, which was fine actually because Yan Tiao were really good. 

I got there a little late, missing Pairs, but arriving for the start of Stegosaurus?'s set. This was the first time I'd seen them in a long time, so I was glad to catch them. They were on good form, with their usual high energy levels and a solid set of songs - including some new ones that I hadn't seen live before - plus some extra special headgear.

The Fever Machine were up next, despite being the headliners on the bill. A lot of the crowd seemed to be there to see them and people were really into their set. Their track 'Dance with Deviance' is still available for free download right here by the way. That left Chaos Mind to play next who now have Levi (ex Mortal Fools) playing with them and were excellent.

Dan then took to the stage to announce that there would be another band who, as I mentioned, we all thought was going to be Hang on the Box. Instead two guys took to the stage, one on drums and one on guitar. And they were really good. Turns out this was Yan Tiao from Beijing.

As for the new Live Bar, it's a great little space. The size and layout are really good and there's a nice mezzanine/balcony overlooking the stage from the back of where the crowd would stand, a bit like D22 but at the other end of the room if you know what I mean. It works. It's actually a much better space than their old location on Kunming Lu, the only real problem being its accessiblity for those of us who live downtown. But then, as I've mentioned before, it's very close to the Wujiaochang area of town, which is a large-sized hub and in particular has a big student population, so while it might be a bit of a trek for fans/bands downtown, it's an excellent space for that part of town. There's going to be a couple of big shows up there in the next month or so (watch this space for more details nearer the time), so I recommend you get up there for them. 
3499821992_7f7614b4d4.jpgUPDATE: Festival rumour season is officially in full-swing. Strawberries? In Suzhou? In April? What could it all mean?

UPDATE 2: More fuel for the fire.

Is it too early in the year for a Midi Shanghai rumour? Apparently not. So here it is. This rumour comes courtesy of her out of Cold Fairyland who has put out a call for local bands because she says she's had a phone call from someone organising it asking for recommendations and she doesn't know any Shanghai bands. Huh. So I'm cranking up the rumour mill and declaring Midi Shanghai 2011 officially on. It'll happen in May and will be held in your apartment.

We've been here before, so many times before, I'm kind of bored by it already. Sure, a festival in Shanghai would be cool I suppose, Splitworks' Yue Festival a few years back was good fun, but I'll believe it when I see it. 

Also, aren't Midi signed up for ten years in Zhenjiang or something? So they're going to do Zhenjiang and Shanghai? I know last year saw a ridiculous number of festivals, but isn't that spreading things a bit thin? Let's face it, you see the same bands at all these festivals anyway (yeah, I still go). At least this time Midi might actually invite some Shanghai bands, which is nice - usually the one or two Shanghai bands that get to play at these things are on much earlier than they ought to be so maybe they'll sort that out. If they can hold a completely independent, open and unbiased music awards ceremony there's no reason why they wouldn't put some of our best bands on in headline slots, right?

Anyway, we'll see. Midi Shanghai 2011, it's definitely maybe happening. Possibly. 

MAO Livehouse going out with a bang

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176843692_453415f6d3.jpgThere have been plenty of gripes and moans about MAO Livehouse since it launched at Red Town just over a year ago, but at least when they leave their current premises they'll be going out with a bang. For their last show before they shack up with the Luwan district government and Pangpang takes over the reins from Lezi, they've put together the following line-up:

Top Floor Circus
Boys Climbing Ropes
Chaos Mind
Runaway Snail 
Little Nature

Dingma and BCR on the same bill? Can't say you're not tempted by that. It'll be on Saturday 29, start at 8pm and set you back 50 kuai.

Picture courtesy of ShanghaiStreets. Please note: MAO Livehouse show may not be as exciting as this

Shanghai bands on The Guardian

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p442773267.jpgTwo Shanghai bands have been featured on The Guardian recently, with Rainbow Danger Club and Duck Fight Goose both getting mentions on the British newspaper's website. 

First up, the MAP project featured Rainbow Danger Club's 'Neighbours on the Rooftops'. The Music Alliance Pact asks 35 blogs around the world to post up their track of the month each month, with my good friend Henry Barnes doing the honours for The Guardian. Last month's offering of the RDC track came from Wooozy. See the full list here.

After that, Duck Fight Goose were picked out by Louis Pattison as a band to watch in 2011 in The Guardian's round up of international acts to look out for this year. You can read that article, with some comments from Shanghai's own Dan Shapiro, right here.

Are you watching Beijing?
image-20101102-od169co3eixl99tsgboh_t570.jpgOne of Shanghai's best bands, Rainbow Danger Club, are bringing out an album very soon (probably March) and they're looking for a little help in creating the cover art for it. Following last year's excellent EP, the band are currently putting the finishing touches to a full length record and are seeking designs for the cover from local-based artists. Your hard work won't go unrewarded either, with a 1200RMB prize up for grabs for the best entry and the possibility of your artwork appearing on MTV Iggy. If you fancy your hand at gracing the sleeve of what will doubtless be a great CD, click here for full details. Hint: don't do something like this image, they've done that already.

Coming soon: New Sonnet album

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sonnet14.jpgLocal pop-rockers Sonnet have announced that they're currently putting the finishing touches to their new album, 14. At the same time, the band's drummer Lezi has announced that he will leave MAO Livehouse at the end of this month.

The new album will be Sonnet's first release since the six track S-File EP around two years ago and to stir up a bit of hype for the record, they're running a competition whereby you can get your photo put on the sleeve of the CD. All you have to do is upload a picture of the 14 in your life (whatever that may be) to their Douban gallery or weibo it at them: @Sonnet.

Meanwhile, Lezi has said that he will leave MAO Livehouse when they close at the end of this month. The venue, which will reopen at new digs near the Bridge 8 complex in March, will be run by Pang Pang instead. Lezi has said that he intends to concentrate fully on the Zhulu Hefeng label that he heads up, a project which has been consuming more and more of his time lately. 
65971052-1.jpgBeen waiting for a big release on 11.1.11? Well it's finally here. Not Kanye and Jay-Z, but Break for Borneo's new album. It's called Life Gets in the Way and, listening to it now, it sounds great - basically the perfect remedy for the ridiculously cold weather in Shanghai, full of summery vibes. Enough piffle paffle, go listen to/download it now, right here.
p776290311.jpgDennis Ming Nichols, who you may also know as a member of the excellent Rainbow Danger Club, has just posted an interview with Top Floor Circus up on Shanghai Expat. He talks to Mei Er about singing in Shanghainese, the new album and their hot guitarist. Check it out here.

Listen: New Beat Bandits

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p547444166.jpgSo not an awful lot going on right now. I managed to miss all gigs last weekend and now that Yuyintang has closed for a couple of months my gig going probably won't be up to much for a while. Not that there isn't stuff going on of course - I'll do my best to get to what I can and update you on what's going on as always - just that YYT was always the venue I went to most and the easiest venue for me to get to. Plus I'm lazy.

Anyway, The Beat Bandits have headed into the studio recently to record a new round of tracks, which will hopefully appear online over the next week or so. The first one to emerge is called 'Pharaoh Surf' and can be enjoyed right here.

UPDATE: Another new track for yous: '30 Seconds Death', actually a 5 minute something track from Puppets of Distortion. That one's here.

Read: 2010 in reviewness

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2010.jpgSo happy new year then, hope you had a good festive period and all that. Before we head into 2011 - the first few months of which could be a bit quiet with Yuyintang closing after this weekend and MAO Livehouse closing at the end of the month - here's a quick look back at 2010 courtesy of other people.

Plus, in case you missed it, check out this massive piece of good news on China Music Radar. Congratulations and well done to everyone involved.

UPDATE: Rock in China and Wooozy have self-promoted their own wraps ups in the comments below...