March 2011 Archives

56934_446282050973_7124595973_5818456_8111871_o.jpgFestivals, festivals, festivals. It's hardly news that China is in the grip of festival fever. The latest addition is the Kama Love Music Festival, taking place in both Beijing and Shanghai in June and being headlined by Eels.

That adds to Split Works' JUE Festival, which wraps up this weekend with (despite all the troubles) two shows at MAO Livehouse, the planned return of the (more traditional festival-like) Yue Festival that they held in Zhongshan Park a few years back, the Nanjing (International) Music Festival (line up here) going head to head with Modern Sky's Strawberry in Suzhou at the end of April and Midi, which is finally coming to Shanghai, taking over Century Park from May 6. 

This latest addition seems to be more in the form of a one-night concert rather than a festival festival, but if they're pulling in an act like Eels, then they clearly mean business. The other thing which makes you think they're using the 'festival' term rather loosely is that they're holding it at MAO Livehouse. Still, Eels - that's not bad eh? The Kama festival's website consists mostly of a bunch of dummy text at the moment, so it's hard to know what the details are, but Eels have announced the date on their official website so it seems pretty legit. There's also (less excitingly) whispers of Keane coming, but we'll see how that one develops....

The latest from Trash a Go Go

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mohanik best alternative.jpgPicture by Andy Cullen.

So after all this, a couple of updates from the Trash a Go Go camp:

There will not be a show at Mao Livehouse this Sunday. Here is the new show information:

Trash A Go-Go

Place: Yuyintang (851 Kaixuan Lu, by Yan'an Xi Lu)

Time: Sunday April 3, 11:59 pm (LATE SHOW)

price: FREE


-Mohanik (Mongolian punk)* [more on Mohanik after the jump]

-The Fever Machine (big-riff rock)
-The Instigation (hardcore punk)

 DJ BO then goes on to explain a bit about the cancellation:

I'd like to establish that the decision to cancel the Trash A Go-Go at Mao Livehouse for this Sunday was made by the management of Mao Livehouse. It was made for the exact same reason that this Thursday's show there was canceled: clearly, Mao has not been given permission by local authorities to hold events at their new space.

The fine people of Split-Works will be having their shows at Mao Livehouse this Friday and Saturday. I assure you it is due to the special efforts of Split-Works, not Mao Livehouse, that these shows will not be interrupted.

Mao Livehouse put out a release saying this Sunday's show was canceled due to an illness by a member of The Lemons. That's simply not true. As I mentioned, Mao's reasons for canceling the show had nothing to do with the performers and everything to do with local authorities.

p142506453-1.jpgAfter all those updates, I thought it was best to start a new post for this one. So, less than a week in and the new MAO Livehouse has been experiencing a bit of trouble. Here's a quick recap:

  • MAO Livehouse opened their new venue by hosting Shanren as part of the JUE Festival and then trying to squeeze in a Paul Kalkbrenner show afterwards, angering both promoters

  • On Saturday, Hanggai's appearance as part of JUE wasn't allowed to go ahead (despite support act Abaji performing), apparently following complaints about the noise from the previous night; Hanggai have since been rescheduled for May 13th

  • MAO Livehouse and Split Works (the people behind JUE) have confirmed that the JUE shows on Friday and Saturday this weekend will still go ahead - all non-JUE shows for this week have now been cancelled including Sunday's show with The Lemons and this is where the new update comes in

MAO Livehouse have put out a message on their Douban and on Weibo stating that 'due to the guitarist being ill' the promoter has had to cancel the appearance of Mongolian rock band The Lemons on Sunday. Given the confusion that has surrounded cancellations and postponements in the last couple of days, I decided to contact the promoters behind the show to verify this. Here's what DJ BO, part of team Trash a Go Go and responsible for bringing The Lemons to Shanghai told me: 'This is a MAO cancellation, this show has definitely not been cancelled by us.' 

Understandably, he's pretty angry about the cancellation, but especially about the way MAO seem to be implying that it's been cancelled by the promoters rather than the venue. Trash a Go Go effectively work as volunteers, they don't take a cut from any of these shows and this was their first attempt to put on a gig in a venue the size of MAO Livehouse. Obviously, the cancellation, and the way it's been handled, have left a bad taste in the mouth to say the least.

Trash a Go Go are working on other arrangements and I'll let you know any developments as soon as there are any. 
p899567435.jpgUPDATE3: Hanggai have just announced that they will return to Shanghai on May 13, which is great news.

UPDATE2: You can read a fascinating and, in the circumstances, fairly balanced account of what happened over the weekend from Archie Hamilton of Split Works here.

UPDATE: Thanks to Xiao Zhong in the comments who has pointed out that the Sunday 3 show with Mongolian band The Lemons supported by Pairs, The Fever Machine and The Instigation will also go ahead as planned.

MAO Livehouse have also now issued their own apology, blaming a 'force majeure' for the cancellation, which I guess is one way of referring to the PSB. Read the full text here.

As you may have heard already, the new MAO Livehouse ran into a little trouble on their official opening weekend. After hosting Shanren and shunting everyone out of the door to make way for a packed out Paul Kalkbrenner show on Friday, things went pear-shaped on the Saturday when Hanggai's appearance as part of the JUE Festival was cancelled. The band took to the stage, but were unable to play - the official reason being given on Douban and other sites at the moment is 'noise complaints', which doesn't bode well for future shows. With a month of big shows scheduled at the new venue (in addition to two more JUE shows next weekend, they have SUBS, Queen Sea Big Shark and Mono among the acts booked in for April), it's fair to say that this wasn't really the start that MAO Livehouse were looking for.

Fortunately, Split Works have just announced that their shows at MAO Livehouse this weekend will go ahead as planned, which is good news for them and for the venue. The promoters have also apologised for the Hanggai cancellation and offered a full refund for anyone who went and hasn't claimed one yet. It also means that anyone planning to go to the Gala (Friday 1) or the World's End Girlfriend (Saturday 2) shows can relax, they're on. 

Shanghai 24/7 launch, Yuyintang

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shanghai 24 7 002.jpgI was actually thinking of going to see Shanren on Friday night and check out the new MAO Livehouse, but then I bumped into Ho-Tom The Conqueror at lunch time and he reminded me that he was on the bill for the Shanghai 24/7 thing so I ended up going to watch the same bands that I always watch at the same venue I always go to. Or at least, that's how it looked on paper. The night actually ended up having a surprisingly fresh feel to it.

Of course there's the new Yuyintang, but after a few gigs there now I can't claim not to be used to the refurbishments any more. It was more to do with the bands. Ho-Tom himself kicked off and was joined not only by regular conquering companions Franco and George, but also by the full Song Dynasty line-up. It's the first time I've seen him with a full band backing like that and he made the most of it, playing the longest set I've seen him do at Yuyintang. The full band brought something different to his songs and the crowd got into it too. Word is they're all recording some songs together so, though it'll be a few months yet, I'm looking forward to that one.

X is Y were up next and seem to be playing all their songs in double time these days. They certainly have a lot more energy and punchiness (for want of a better word) about them. Their set got off to a flyer and didn't really look back, with people jumping around again (which as Mr Fossy noted the other day was something that didn't really happen much before at X is Y gigs). Of course, despite the new energy to their set, the songs are still notably X is Y tracks, which is a good thing - I just feel like they've found a new balance to their sound that is working really well for them at the moment.

ChaCha on the Beeb

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p419093178.jpgRemember this? Well ChaCha's on UK radio again, again with Kode9. From the sounds of it, she's all over Kode9's forthcoming album and he played a couple of tracks with her on and talked about the Shanghai-based singer and producer when he previewed the record on Radio 1 recently. Check out the show here (he comes in after around 48 minutes and it's only available for six more days) and ChaCha's own stuff here.

Don't forget that ChaCha's latest project, AM444 with Jay.Soul, release their debut album on Friday April 1. This is their website and if you have even a passing interest in this kind of music, this is a site you should have in your favourites. 
inline.archie.jpgInteresting comment piece on CNNGo from Splitworks head honcho Archie Hamilton, a man more qualified than most to comment on the Shanghai music scene. Here's a taste:

'Beyond institutional progress, bands need to realize that their futures are in their own hands.

'It's a global phenomenon to be sure: in a world of DIY distribution and promotion channels and more direct-to-fan options than you can shake a stick at, why is it that most bands still harbor the dream of signing to a major label?'

Read the whole thing here. Presumably CNNGo are working on getting this translated for their Chinese-language site? UPDATE: They just have, here.
e413738.jpgClearly taking their cues from Top Floor Circus, Sonnet are steadily releasing their new album (their first full-length in six years) online for free download. Keep an eye on this page for the songs - there are three there already including 'Perfect Son' which was previewed here a week ago and there will be more in the next couple of weeks leading up to the physical album release on April 4th at Yuyintang.

Speaking of the Dingma influence, the latest track to go up, '了了上海伐老乱哪能立得牢脚' features a chorus in Shanghainese along with other lyrics in English. Oh, and if you thought 'Perfect Son' was different to their previous material, wait until you hear '14-bit'....
maps-cover.jpgThat includes $0 if you really want to be a tight arse about it. Whatever you pay, you won't regret it, this is a great album. Get clicking.

Hedgehog and Naohai, Yuyintang

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hedgehog 027.jpgSometimes there's nothing wrong with a bit of familiarity. This was a classic night in the newly-refurbished Yuyintang with a packed house being sent into a sweaty frenzy by Hedgehog ripping through their old favourites.

Of course, there were plenty of new songs too - the Beijing three piece were in town to release their new album after all - but when they closed their set out with what was effectively a greatest hits run-through it invoked the kind of jump around, big grin atmosphere that Hedgehog are so adept at creating. They're just one of those bands that you'd have to try really hard not to like and their live shows are infectious. People had to jump around and by the end it was a hot, sweaty mess of a crowd that screamed for an encore - like numerous Hedgehog gigs at Yuyintang before.

The new songs sounded great too of course. There's not been a massive shift in direction by the sounds of things (I haven't played the album yet), but that's not a problem. It's always hard playing a bunch of new songs to an audience who hasn't heard them before, but there were enough hooks and jump along moments to keep people happy until the more familiar tunes came around.

The other new element to the night came courtesy of support act Nao Hai, a band that I mentioned being interested to see live the other week. I've not seen them on any bills before anywhere, but they have some good demos on their Douban that had caught my interest. Still, given their lack of live shows to date, I'm not sure how they got on the bill to support one of the country's best bands, but their short set didn't seem out of place. They're still pretty fresh and a bit rough around the edges, but overall it was a solid showing of Gar-like rock that went down well with the crowd. Hopefully this is the start of them gigging regularly, they've got a lot of potential.
rainbow danger club album release 038.jpgMad professors, crowd-surfing teddy bears and story book readings. At a time when most bands in Shanghai seem to be recording or about to release records, Rainbow Danger Club set a high bar for album release parties last night. You need to do something special when you have bands supporting you such as Pairs and Friend or Foe, bands who regular introduce an element of theatre into their performances (last night was no different, with Xiao Zhong nearly eating the drum stall and Friend or Foe entering via a cops and robbers skit). But Rainbow Danger Club gave a triumphant performance last night to give their excellent new album a fitting release.

Despite a busy Friday night, they drew a good crowd to Live Bar and overcame technical difficulties, which they turned into an impromptu song, to put on a memorable show. After Pairs and Friend or Foe had played typically entertaining sets, the headliners opened with Professor Levi from Stegosaurus? reading a passage to start the story. Cameos from other Stegosaurus? members followed including Dr Bren, Ultraman and a bizarre freak called Bobo. The whole thing was backed with fantastic visuals from Tina Sprinkles as well.

Not that the antics distracted from the songs and performance of the band. They had the crowd enthralled from the start and by the time they played 'Drown the Creatures' toward the end of their set, Live Bar was filled with the 'bom bom bombom bom bom bombom' of the chorus. All in all, it was a fantastic night.

UPDATE: Check out some more photos from the night here.
live bar feb 26 023.jpgThere's a few shows going on tonight, but really, you and I have both known for a while that I was going to head to Live Bar. Rainbow Danger Club have become one of my favourite Shanghai bands and their album release is an event not to be missed. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the new LP, Where Maps End, a couple of weeks ago and I've hardly stopped listening to it since. I can't believe you don't know this already, but tonight the album gets its release at Live Bar and it promises to be quite a show. Here's a few links to get you in the mood:

Listen to 'Enduring Love' from the new album
Download the EP (if for some bizarre reason you haven't done so already)
Read Zack Smith on why this is 'one of the most anticipated albums in Shanghai rock's recent history'
Listen to a couple of tracks from the album and read an interview with Nichols over at SmartShanghai

Decisions, decisions (part two)

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Still agonising over where to go on Friday? Wait til you see what's on on Saturday.

e404378.jpge414952.jpge407864.jpgThumbnail image for Tsunami Benefit - March 19th.jpg
Click on the pictures to see the flyers a bit bigger.

Decisions, decisions (part one)

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It may only be Wednesday, but this weekend is such a big one for live music that it's a good idea to start making your plans now. First up, these are your choices for Friday:


Click on the images above to see them nice and big and easy to read like.
14 cd cover.jpgUPDATE: This track is now available for free download at Sonnet's Douban. It's been a while since local indie rock quartet Sonnet released a new record. They had the S-File EP two years ago, but their last full album was way back in 2005. However, next month will see them release a new LP, entitled 14. The record will be released at Yuyintang on 4/4 with support from Plastic Chocolate and Yin. Some new tracks from the album will be going up on the Douban soon, but for now you can check out a preview of their song 'Perfect Son' after the jump.
0 001.jpgFrom the time when Friend or Foe entered Yuyintang in boxing shorts, sparring in the middle of the crowd before they took to the stage, this was a night of straight up, quality rock. I was surprised that they were on first, but - after their great entrance - they kicked things off with a lively set. They showed off a couple of new songs as well, including 'Smith & Wesson' and they seem well on their way to having a record out before the summer slump hits, or if not, immediately after it. If you missed them, they're playing again next weekend as part of the Rainbow Danger Club album release (more on that later in the week) and again the weekend after that for Moon Tyrant's record release. As if that's not enough, they'll also be hitting Beijing in April so any northerners reading this should keep an eye out for them.

The next band were one half of the Nanjing contingent for the night. Micoo took to the stage with their frontman in his trademark blue shirt and cap and tore through a set of grungey rock. They have an album out, though I didn't see it at the show. They should have it with them when they play at Live Bar in a few weeks (April 1) so if you liked what you saw, or like what you hear here, check that show out.

The Fever Machine were up next and played a really powerful set. You really ought to know what The Fever Machine are about by now, but if you don't then make sure you catch them soon. Their 'and friends' shows are pretty much monthly - the next one's April 23rd - and you can hear four of their demos on their Douban (and download one for free).

That left Nanjing punks Old Doll to round things out. Unfortunately, it was pretty late by this point and I'd had quite a lot of beer to drink, but they're a quality act and I seem to remember enjoying their set. No one ever said this blog was about professionalism.
Tsunami Benefit - March 19th.jpgThe coming weekend is a massive one for live music, but here's a show to bear in mind on Saturday. DJ BO says:

Originally it was going to be your standard (high rockin' and awesome, mind you) free party, but we felt it would be more appropriate to help those in a desperate situation. 
We've contacted the Japanese consulate and are working to make sure the money gets to Japan as quickly as possible after the show. All the information on the attached poster is accurate, except we are now asking for a 20 RMB donation.

Bands: The Dudettes (Shanghai comedy-rockers), The Beat Bandits (surf/garage), Hotter Than Teppanyaki (Latin/fusion party), Sal & Upnavala Groove (sitar-based band - debut performance) 
DJs: DJ Sal, J B.O 

The Mushrooms for Meters Bonwe

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It's been a while since we heard anything from The Mushrooms - they went and got signed and haven't really done much since, which unfortunately seems to be something of a pattern for the band: they get a break, then go quiet for ages. But now they've popped up flogging Meters Bonwe's range of jeans. There's lots of gratuitous shots of their trousers obviously, but stick with it for the band talking about their city and their influences as well as footage of 0093 and Yuyintang. The band are on a few festival line-ups in the next couple of months and let's hope the tune sound-tracking this video is evidence that a record is finally on the way....

Duck Fight Gooseness

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p883694229.jpgAs well as working on a few new songs, Duck Fight Goose have been busy creating some new visuals recently. Here are some of the results. See the band live at Zhijiang Dream Factory on Saturday 19 and at Yuyintang on Friday 25. 
newmao.jpgThis is what the new MAO Livehouse looks like at the minute. Bear in mind there's nearly three weeks to go until they open, when they'll host Shanren as part of JUE Festival. Presumably that gig will be sans piles of rubble. 

Read a bit more on MAO Livehouse's new location here and here

Another new Hedgehog video

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I mentioned last week that Hedgehog had put some of the tracks from their forthcoming album up on their Douban for people to hear. Well here's another one in the form of a new video. The track is called 'Buried in the Sun'. See the last one here and see both songs played live at YYT on Saturday 19.

In other Beijing band news, Carsick Cars, who are off to SXSW soon, have recorded a new version of their song 'She Will Wait'. Check it out here. Come Sunday, they'll upload another (completely) new track called 'Could You Be There', which you can prepare for with these lyrics.

AM444 artwork released

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2373247296-1.jpgThis blog doesn't usually deal with electronic music in Shanghai not because I don't love it, but because it's covered by people elsewhere who do it better than I could. That's why I'm just going to drop a link here and tell you to head over to the Sub-Culture blog where they have the artwork and track list for the forthcoming AM444 record, an album that I can't wait to hear. It's one of a number of great local releases coming up in the next month or so from Shanghai-based musicians and bands that show that the city really has something to shout about musically. You can hear a teaser for the AM444 album right here. Get on it.
the routes 011.jpgSo the new Yuyintang eh? Very nice, very nice. Last Friday was my first time in the new place for a gig and it was impressive. Trash a Go-Go packed the place out with the sort of numbers that would have made the old YYT uncomfortable and hard to navigate. As it was, the new venue dealt with the crowds pretty well. With the new bar, the larger main room and the upstairs seating, it's a big improvement on the old Yuyintang, much as I loved it.

And the bands were pretty good too. Things kicked off with local quartet Out of Groove. They seem pretty fresh and only played four songs, one of them an instrumental lead in. No Douban or anything that I can find on them yet, but keep an eye out for them playing again soon, likely with the Trash a Go-Go crowd. They play a kind of bluesy rock and the singer has a good voice on her.

The Beat Bandits were up next and were their usual fine selves - they're just a band it's hard not to love. They were followed by The Routes who played a good set of Mod and garage rock that went down well. And the night was rounded out by The Instigation who I unfortunately missed as wasn't feeling too good by the end. Overall though, great night with great bands and I came away really impressed from my first gig at the new Yuyintang.

Douban round-up

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Untitled1.jpgA few bits and bobs floating around on the Douban:

Monkey Shine have a couple of new demos. Dodgy band name, but still, the songs are here and are emo-tastic.

Runaway Snail have had a line-up shuffle. They're now joined by Mei Er from Top Floor Circus, which seems a good move. The band should be gigging again next month once they've had a chance to rehearse together.

A bit of Beijing band news: in addition to Bigger Bang! coming back here armed with a new song for The Longest Nite show (12 hour party thing at the Mercedes-Benz Arena with 7 local bands) on the 19th, Queen Sea Big Shark are also returning, playing MAO Livehouse in April. Also back in April are Subs, whose Kang Mao and Wu Hao have recently formed a new, seemingly acoustic, band called 拜拜,多谢你们的鱼! No plans for them to play down our way yet, but they'll be at Yugong Yishan with the aforementioned Bigger Bang! next Tuesday.

Hedgehog, who are also in Shanghai on the 19th to promote their new album, have uploaded four new tracks to their minisite here. They've also announced that there'll be a separate CD of demos available at the gig, details here.  

Finally, a couple of days ago a little message appeared in the bottom right corner of Douban pages with a few polite reminders from your friendly Communist Party. In particular they'd like to let you know that according to Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the following things are banned:
'Organising to incite resistance'
'Fabrication of information or distortion of the facts, spreading of rumours in relation to the social administration'
'The inciting of illegal assemblies, marches, demonstrations and general disturbing of the public order'
'Engaging in violations of state, society and collective interests'
Please note these are rough/truncated translations of the points made in the notice (see the picture above for the full versions), but the message is pretty clear. Just in case you were wondering what that box was....
On Saturday night at Live Bar I took a video of Rainbow Danger Club doing 'Drown the Creatures' and it came out pretty well if I do say myself. Unfortunately, the file seems to be corrupted or something because I can't load it onto any computers. It plays fine on my camera but... bah technology. Luckily a few other people were filming too.

Shanghai24/7 have a couple of videos here while the one of X is Y on the right here comes from this page where you'll find a whole load of clips from the evening. The man with the movie camera was Bren from Stegosaurus? so many thanks to him for sharing and making me slightly less annoyed about my own video failure.
e401668.jpgI mentioned the other day that it looked like Shanghai was going to get it's own Midi. SmartShanghai has information about Strawberry Festival coming to Suzhou the week before as well. And now Nanjing is entering the fray with the Nanjing (International) Music Festival in Bingjiang Park on the same dates as the proposed Strawberry (April 30-May 2). 

The organisers held the festival last year, with our very own The Fever Machine in attendance, and buoyed by that success are beefing things up this year. The line-up thus far features Chinese acts such as Li Zhi, He Yong, AK47, Zuo You, Loudspeaker and Yuguo as well as a number of (International) acts such as Taiwan's Go Chic!, Sweden's Little Dragon, Japan's Mix Market, Malaysia's One Buck Short, Holand's Ming, the Philippines' Slapshock and The Morlocks from the States.

If that line-up floats your boat, check out their Douban page right here.