Gig Review: Ourself Beside Me @ D-22, 2010.02.27
I have had the misfortune this winter to always manage to choose the coldest night of the week to head out to D-22, and last night was no exception. At least this time, I made the trip by taxi and not train, but the fact still remains. Unlike previous chilly nights out Wudaokou way, though, there was no draft inside D-22. There was no room for a draft, as it seemed like every punk rock fan in the area had gotten sick of there being no gigs for two weeks in a row and had packed into the tiny little area. It was great, though, and just how I like my venues — packed to the rafters with no emergency exit strategy. The extra level of danger adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the evening.
Fire safety codes aside, the night went well. I arrived towards the end of Fat City’s set which, to be honest, worked out well. “Experimental noise” is not a genre I can very easily get into, and I’m sorry to say that seeing it performed live didn’t help its case at all. They did make some interesting sounds, and whenever a song started out I was inspired to listen, but after four minutes of effectively the same sounds being manipulated, without lyrics to accompany them, I was far more interested in my beer and my gig mate than the music.
Then, just before 11PM, Ourself Beside Me was up. I’d heard of the band a while ago, back when I first found out that D-22 had given rise to the Maybe Mars record label and was checking out all the bands that called the venue their home. I ran into them again when looking up Hang On The Box and seeing where the members had gone afterwards, but I had never bothered listening to their music since I never saw them listed as playing in Beijing. As soon as they took the stage, though, draining their beers before they started to play, I knew I was in for a good show. While they were themselves fairly low-energy, their music is much more energetic than their recorded songs might have you believe. (Check them out on Google Music if you’re in China.) It can sound a little monotonous, like a lot of punk music can, but they’re a brilliant live act, engaging the audience with their music if not with their on-stage personalities. I think my favorite song of theirs was Sunday Girl, which they played early on in the set — after which they asked for more beers.
After Ourself Beside Me, and once I’d managed to make my way a little closer to the stage in the between-sets shuffle, B-Side Lovers emerged at around midnight. B-Side Lovers is what happened after Hedgehog lost their bass player, and I have to say that, with as much love and respect as I have for the bass line, the pair leftover do not suffer from the loss. I have always been absolutely in love with drummer Shi Lu, and this performance did not change my mind. She’s a phenomenal drummer, and manages to sing with such energy that I honestly wonder how she does it most of the time. They did not want for energy, and I really enjoyed the set.
Even when the guy in front of me puked on the floor.
Oh, D-22. Stay classy.
After B-Side Lovers, at 1AM were The Molds. After listening to the tracks on their MySpace, I was pretty interested to see what they were like live. They reminded me of Pavement’s “Killing Moon” and had that Donnie Darko soundtrack sort of vibe, but unfortunately they were short one man and missing a lot of energy. I stuck around for a couple of songs for the sake of the new beer that I had purchased, but ended up bailing after about twenty minutes. Hopefully the next time I catch them will be more inspiring.
All in all, this was a really good re-entry to the indie music scene after nearly a month off. I’m excited to see how Hedgehog/B-Side Lovers progress, and will definitely be catching Ourself Beside Me again.