This gig was originally billed as Hot & Cold’s final show in Beijing, with some great special guests from the world of experimental electronic music: Fat City, Soviet Pop, Zhang Shouwang, and The B-Side Lovers. What it turned into was something entirely different. It was, of course, still Hot & Cold’s final show in Beijing, and all of the people who promised to be there were (though I missed Fat City). I saw Soviet Pop first and settled in to believe that everyone in the place was there to catch the expat group’s final show, as they’ve been in the city for a long time and have undoubtedly amassed enough people to convince to come to a show. However, it slowly dawned on me, as I looked around at all the other people who didn’t seem completely enraptured or even very interested in Soviet Pop’s set, that the little secret I knew wasn’t really a secret at all.
I’d gotten an email forwarded and then forwarded again from a friend of a friend earlier in the week that said that Hedgehog and Carsick Cars were playing a secret show. It didn’t say where or when, but given that pretty much everyone involved in both of those bands was going to be at D-22, I surmised that they would be playing instead of their experimental alter-egos. It was a great little secret for a while, but when I overheard a foreigner talking about seeing Hedgehog for the first time, I realized without a doubt that I wasn’t the only one who had heard.
In a way, it was a good thing. It got lots of people to the show, and more importantly lots of non-committal people who were more than happy to mill about outside rather than all cram in expectantly for each set. On the other hand, those non-committal people weren’t really there to hear bands like Soviet Pop, who were the bands that Hot & Cold seemed to be more in touch with during their time in Beijing. Still, the place packed out for Hot & Cold, so I can’t say that the other bands entirely stole the show, though they did slightly overshadow the point of the evening — to farewell one of the better experimental groups in Beijing.
At the end of the day, though, it was a great show. Hedgehog put on a great show as usual, and invited experimental violinist Yan Yulong onto the stage for a song or two. Hot & Cold for their part rocked the place with their melodic brand of music coupled with the wild antics of Simon Frank. And of course, Carsick Cars did a reliably good job at pumping up D-22, even if it was already past midnight. The only thing about the night that was a real surprise was that Carsick Cars opened with a song that they haven’t played in a really long time — Zhongnanhai. Arguably the anthem of D-22, if not of Carsick Cars’ generation of punk rock in China, it hasn’t been heard in a while but it’s just as great as ever. I managed to catch it on video, so enjoy!