Chinese Music: November 2010 Archives

Obla-di Obla-da

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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. 

Ben Houge and friends in Suzhou

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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.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Chinese Music category from November 2010.

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Chinese Music: February 2011 is the next archive.

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