First up, a disclaimer. I got a free ticket to this show through a friend. I probably wouldn’t have paid the full 260RMB for the experience, but I might have paid the 180RMB pre-sale price. I had never heard of British Sea Power before, and wasn’t particularly interested in them, and I find a 260RMB price tag a little too much for a band that isn’t going to pack out the place with all the fans they have (and British Sea Power didn’t). Just because a band is foreign and visiting for a festival (they’re playing Ocean Midi this weekend) doesn’t mean they necessarily deserve such a high ticket price, and I think it discourages Chinese people who might have been more inclined to check out a foreign band — especially with the epic Chinese opener they had.
Setting aside ticket prices, though, I have to say I was most excited to get to see Muma & Third Party again. I first caught a glimpse of Muma at Strawberry Festival 2010, and I was deeply impressed even after hearing only three songs. Of course, I foolishly never bought his CD, but that will definitely change now that I have seen them again. As I said more than a year ago, Muma is an intense performer, and being so close to the stage this time was such a treat. Their music is the best kind of dark rock, heavy and gothic without being completely oppressive, and I enjoyed it immensely. One thing that did confuse me was that there were backing vocals and extra instruments for which there was no explanation, and during the set I thought it was a bit tasteless that he use a backing track rather than get a full band, but I was relieved to find out afterwards that there was a guy behind the mixing table making all these sounds happen. I can only assume that his presence on stage with his computer would have ruined the aesthetic of the performance, and while that’s probably true, they could have just stuck him in the corner, not invisible behind the mixing table. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and his forty minute set was exactly as long as I wanted it to be.
British Sea Power, on the other hand, I didn’t care for very much. Which is strange, because given my taste in music they fit the bill: upbeat indie rock with cutely quirky band members. However, after about six songs, they started to all sound the same, and it’s music I’ve heard before already. As I said to those I went with, I probably ruined it for myself by listening to my favorite cutely quirky upbeat indie rock band before I arrived, but Muma should have cleansed my palate and left it ready for some great indie rock. Whatever the case, British Sea Power didn’t impress me at all. And to make things worse, they played for nearly an hour and a half. When songs start to sound the same after half an hour, you don’t want to have to stand through another hour of it. So instead, I listened to what I wanted to, and then went and had road beers with a like-minded friend.