Chinese Music: September 2009 Archives

Remembering Joyside

| | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (0)
joyside.jpgSo it's finally over. Joyside, the Beijing band renowned for their chaotic tours and, well, chaotic lives have called it a day. Despite them saying that the split was "a sudden decision", rumours had been circulating about the future of the band for a while. Joyside will now play a special farewell gig at Mao in Beijing this weekend and for those not able to make it, Yuyintang will dedicate next week's film night to the band, showing a video of their 2008 China tour as part of a "Remember Joyside" night next Tuesday (September 15th).

Formed in early 2001, the Beijing punk rock outfit became well-known for their memorable live performances, which regularly consisted of the band getting absolutely hammered before going on stage, just about managing to get through some songs and then getting into fights after the gig. For some, they were a shambles, for others they were punk gods. Even as recently as May this year, Beijing's Time Out magazine chose Joyside lead singer Bian Yuan as the capital's coolest rock star over Hedgehog's Atom and Queen Sea Big Shark's Fu Han. Here's what they said about him:

"On stage, he's been known to be a drunken mess, singing songs such as 'I Wanna Piss Around You!'; off the stage he's professed that he just wants to get girls. Yet, whether ranting about the meaningless of life (as in gonzo rock flick Wasted Orient) or finding God under a Xinjiang sun, he somehow comes across as a poet rather than a hooligan."

Despite such accolades, it seems that "China's answer to Jim Morrison" was never the easiest of people to get along with and the band had been through a number of line-up changes over the years. Nevertheless, while their early shows were legendary for their drunken antics, the band had mellowed more recently and Bian Yuan had even explored more acoustic sounds with side project . The release of an EP on Maybe Mars and of the documentary film The Joyside of Europe (not the first time they'd been the subject of a film, see also Beijing Bubbles and Wasted Orient) back in April seemed to suggest the band weren't finished yet, but ultimately they have decided to call it quits. The band have stated that "the break up of Joyside was something that no one wanted to see and it's the same for us. But the fact is that it's happened now and so we all have to accept this reality."

For an excellent overview on the history of Joyside, visit the Rock in China page on them here. Film night at Yuyintang is every Tuesday, starting at 8pm and entry is the cost of one drink (they start at 10 kuai, though for Joyside it seems appropriate to buy a beer). If you're in Beijing, the farewell gig will be on the 12th at Mao. Entry is 60 kuai (they wanted to make it free apparently, but couldn't because of the venue cost so are giving everyone a free CD on entry instead) and it kicks off at 9:30pm.

Glamorous, Glorious whatever you want to call them, 美好药店 are a class act. Check out this video of one of my favourites, 翻唱, from Sunday night. It's partly spoiled by the person in front of me taking photos, but I can't complain - I had my camera in the air too. It's still worth watching though I reckon.

Glamorous Pharmacy, Yuyintang

| | Comments (7) | TrackBacks (0)
glamorousacrobat.jpgLast night was one of those nights that just makes you really appreciate the Chinese music scene and the intimacy of a venue like Yuyintang - a really quality band performing a great set while being totally approachable and friendly in the process.

The night before had been so packed that any movement more energetic than blinking resulted in you sweating buckets. Last night, it was nicely busy, but with plenty of room to move around freely. Of course, Glamorous/ Glorious Pharmacy are a completely different kind of act to Handsome Furs so it was hardly a surprise that the crowd was completely different too. One similarity that I hadn't expected however, was the 80 kuai door charge. And there was no support act.

It's a measure of the quality and status of the band though that, even at these prices and even on a Sunday night, a decent-sized crowd turned out to see them. Not only that, but they were all dedicated fans too, which made for a really good atmosphere. Headed up by Xiao He, Glamorous Pharmacy are real heroes on China's underground folk scene and deservedly so. Their music is more accessible than Xiao He's solo stuff and their recent Rumbling Footsteps long-player is a good starting point if you're new to their music. It was this album that they played from last night.

The band were at their mischievous best with Xiao He (from Hebei) trying out his Shanghainese and peppering the set with jokes and references to the Expo. This is no doubt under the influence of fellow Expo-lovers Top Floor Circus, most of whom were in the audience and to whom Xiao He dedicated the track Acrobat. There was even an impromptu cover of Beat It, playfully spliced with a classic Chinese pop hit that I recognised but can't name and the patriotic anthem Love My China. The crowd lapped it up.

Chinese rock in the US of A

| | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (0)
chineserockinusa.jpgJust in case anyone in the United States happens to wander across this blog, I thought I'd mention that there's three great Chinese bands currently touring over there. Hedgehog, Queen Sea Big Shark and Casino Demon are three of Beijing's best acts and they're playing at a number of cities across the US throughout this month, including a show with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The whole thing has been organised to raise funds to help children orphaned by AIDS in China. You can find more details of the tour, the fantastic cause it's supporting as well as all the tour dates here. If you're in that part of the world make sure to check them out.

Above is a photo of members of all three bands down at Venice Beach. It wasn't taken by me unfortunately.  

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Chinese Music category from September 2009.

Chinese Music: August 2009 is the previous archive.

Chinese Music: October 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Recent Photos