Shanghai Music Scene: December 2010 Archives
As I'm off to spend Christmas in
Harlem Stroud, this blog will shut down for a week or so like the British transport system after a bit of snow. I'll be back in 2011 with new records from Rainbow Danger Club, The Fever Machine, Duck Fight Goose and X is Y and Boys Climbing Ropes amongst others, a newly revamped YYT, the new MAO Livehouse, plus all the usual tittle tattle and show reviews etc to look forward to.
Pinkberry have uploaded some instrumental versions of their songs to their Douban and made them available for free download. The idea is that you download them and then sing the vocals yourself. I guess if you want you can then record your own version and upload it somewhere to share with the world. If that sounds like something you'd like to do, click here.
Yuguo meanwhile have uploaded a little taster from their forthcoming album, which they plan to release early next year. It's called 'The Place Where Dreams Start', which for me is bed, but for them is something a lot more meaningful. Check it out.
New Vector are one of those bands who seem to be a bit intermittent, but the last day or two has seen their most recent flurry of activity with them uploading several tracks here.
That may just be a result of them switching from a Douban artist page to a mini-site, something that Screaming Saviour have done too, resulting in a load of their tracks going up. But then, any excuse to mention Screaming Saviour (although their name was better when it was Screaming Christ) is ok I think.
'On 31st January MAO Livehouse will temporarily close for business until the middle of March. The new MAO Livehouse will be at 308 Chongqing Nan Lu. There will be space for 1,000 people, a specially designed bar area and both a large stage and a small stage.
'The new MAO will be an amusement park for musicians and fans where you can see the most exciting live music shows, while also seeing musicians up close on the small stage and can organise artist salons. At the new MAO, we will continue the philosophy of the old MAO, strive to do better and thank everyone for their long-term support.'
- Li Dalong
Ahead of their Christmas Eve show at the Fei Art Centre in Zhabei district, Top Floor Circus have made their new album available as a packaged download. In addition to all 13 songs, there's the lyrics and guitar tabs as well as the covers designed by users of Douban. They've also promised to make 'Kala yongyuan ok' available for download soon (Update: here) - one of my favourite Top Floor Circus songs that you can also hear here.
For details of next week's show, click here. To download the package, go here. Update: In the comments, Brad has pointed out that it's also available on 115 (where you don't need to download a programme first). Some of the guitar tabs are wrong too apparently, check out the corrections after the jump.
This was a great night for one of Shanghai's best bands. The release of Duck Fight Goose's debut EP had been hyped up, but deservedly so - this is a record that many of us in Shanghai have been looking forward to all year. Click after the jump to see how the record was packaged incidentally and if you didn't make it to YYT last night to get your hands on a copy, you can buy the EP here and on iTunes
Pairs opened proceedings with a typically laid-back set of down tempo chill out songs and were on really fine form as always, but this was really Duck Fight Goose's night. Part way through their set, DFG were hit by technical difficulties - hardly surprising given the number of wires and gizmos they have up on stage with them. But it provided a suitable interlude during their show. Up until that point they had played the songs from their Flow EP, but after the technical mishap, they showcased their new material.
They're never a band to stand still and in a lot of ways this EP feels very much like the closing of a chapter - the recording and releasing of a set of songs that they've spent the last year or so perfecting live. That's why I thought the interlude proved suitable - their new material is different in tone. It's not an enormous change, but there's a definite difference in the sound there, in particular with Han Han using his keyboard more. The band played three songs in this new mode and they were all frankly blinding. If the EP is one of the best records to come out of Shanghai this year, then we should all be very excited by the prospect of a new DFG album next year.
This was my last gig of the year and from here until early January, this blog will slow down a bit (possibly for longer given the closure of YYT), but this was a great way to round out the year.
Well, sort of. These postcards are available from Link Shanghai down in Tianzifang, a shop where they also have some Popil t-shirts and a very cool book from her too. But these postcards in the photo are SanSan's handiwork and they're great. I forget how much I paid for them, but they're not very expensive and obviously worth it.
Speaking of SanSan, I hope you've not forgotten that the Duck Fight Goose EP release is tonight. It's a big big night for Shanghai rock, so get to Yuyintang and get yourself a copy of that Flow record, you won't regret it.
Remember that Shanghai Soundbites book from a couple of years ago? It had a set of brilliant photos from Tim Franco, a man who's been documenting the live music scene in the city for quite some time now. Well, you can now view the whole thing online for free. All you have to do is click here (though you'll need a VPN or something similar if you're in China).
A few more details about the new MAO Livehouse have emerged in the past couple of days. The new space, which is due to open some time in March (or possibly April), will be operating as a full time bar when there are no gigs on - i.e. the bar will be open daily regardless of events. The bar service at the present MAO has been little short of appalling, so there's certainly room for improvement and hopefully this move will spur them to do something about it.
The other little nugget of information is tucked away at the bottom of this article by Justin Bergman on whether Shanghai has lost its 'artsy edge'. Feast your eyes on this:
'Now, however, Mao will have to be more careful: it was actually courted by officials in the district of Luwan, a section of central Shanghai, to move to a new space in the same building that houses the district government offices.'
We already knew the new space would be in that area of town, but in the same building as the local government? They certainly will have to be careful.
Local label Zhulu Hefeng have just completed their most recent round of university gigs. Andy wrote about them when they kicked off here and I mentioned it again here. They've just wrapped up the tour and it seems to have been a big success, following their similar tour earlier in the year. Here's what ZLHF's head honcho Lezi had to say about it all:
Here's a choice for you: would you rather usher in Christmas with legendary Shanghai act Top Floor Circus playing their first headlining show in the city in more than a year, or with Beijing-based party act Pet Conspiracy now fronting a new line-up? That's what it comes down to on Christmas Eve as Dingma play at the Fei Contemporary Arts Centre in Zhabei and PC at some shopping mall or something in Jinqiao. Hmm. I won't actually be here, but I know where I'd be if I were in town. Incidentally, if it helps, Pet Conspiracy will also be popping up for a big NYE show at the Cool Docks a week later.
Speaking of Pet Conspiracy, Helen Feng posted an interesting piece on Douban recently. She's currently touring Europe with the band, which she will leave at the end of the tour. In an entry entitled 'Are we a Chinese band?', she talked about her experiences with the continent's media. I recommend you read the full post here if you read Chinese, below are just a couple of quotes that I picked out:
'Every reporter asks us: is performing in China particularly difficult? Do you have enough freedom? When I hear these questions, I know that my answer really isn't important, they already have their set ideas. They don't understand our performances at all, nor do they understand what young people in China want. I don't know how to answer.'
'I can't say I feel entirely free, for example I don't even know if this blog will be deleted from Douban, but to say I feel no freedom at all is inaccurate. All I can say is artists in China have a lot of space, but at the end of the day, they also have a lot of limits.'
That, of course, is something that Top Floor Circus are all too aware of as well.
Sorry, I can't turn off the autoplay at the moment, but whatever, this is a newly-recorded track from Friend or Foe and you should enjoy it anyway. It's called 'Snortin' Clorox' and is the one about the joys of household chemicals. Listen, love it and then go watch the band play live Saturday night at LUNE. For those of you not behind the Great Firewall, I think there's more tracks on their Facebook as well, go check those out. For the rest of us, that link above will take you to their Douban,
where hopefully the other two demos will be available soon... where you'll find the other demos.
Having finally got their licenses and permits sorted out (well, until the government decides to change the rules), Yuyintang has decided to shutter its doors for most of January and undergo some extensive renovations, reopening again after Chinese New Year in February or possibly as late as March (it's currently unconfirmed). YYT has been going around six years now, about three of them in the current location and the management have decided it's time to give the Kaixuan Lu space a bit of an overhaul.
It'll be more than just a lick of paint too. The idea is to knock a couple of walls down and expand the bar space among other things, hence the closure being several weeks long. This isn't the first time the Kaixuan Lu livehouse has undergone such changes of course, when it first started out the current entrance area didn't exist and the "bar" was an old guy with a Coke fridge sat in one corner selling all drinks for 5 kuai.
Attendances have risen significantly since then and now they have the right paperwork in place, they've decided to remodel a little. They'll close on January 10th.
After over a week away from Shanghai I got right back into it on Saturday night with a Trash a Go-Go show. Well, sort of. It actually took place in Suzhou rather than Shanghai, but still, the line-up was all-Shanghai and a beer-fuelled bus ride to the city ensured that the crowd had plenty of familiar faces too.
Pairs, The Instigation and The Beat Bandits were the bands and Wave the venue. The bands have been written about a fair bit on this blog and they all gave well-received performances so I don't feel like I need to get into that much - click the links above if you really don't know who I'm talking about.
I was interested to see what the venue would be like in Suzhou and it turned out to be a pretty cool little place. Although Suzhou has a population that is slightly larger than Scotland's, it's still considered a small place in China, especially when Shanghai is so close by. Nevertheless, there's been some stirrings of a live music community there for a while now and this venue seems well-equipped to help push that forward.
It's part of an "arts complex" kind of place that also includes a bar and a youth hostel. The venue itself was a decent size, with a good stage and space in front of it. It seems to operate as a bar the rest of the time, but it wasn't like one of those bars with a stage added as an afterthought. At times the bar seemed like it would rival MAO Livehouse's for knowledge of drinks, but they were sweet about it and it was cheap so people got over it and all in all it wasn't a bad little venue.
It was hard to gauge the size of the Suzhou contingent in the crowd, but there were certainly more than the 30 or so people who came on the bus. I don't know if anyone reads this blog in Suzhou, but if you do I'd be interested to know how regular gigs are there and how well-attended they are.
Finally, credit should go to the Trash a Go-Go guys and to Xiao Zhong of Pairs for both arranging a show outside of the city and then organising transport to it for everyone as well. It was a great idea and seemed like a big success. And if you're interested, Trash a Go-Go is on tour again in a couple of weeks in Nanjing. More details on that one here.