The month of
JUE March started off with a bang, with an epic show sending off some of Beijing’s most-loved bands. I skipped out on most of the show, since all I really wanted to see was the new Rustic lineup, but it was packed with punters and that’s always a good thing. Rustic was great as usual, though there really is something to be said for the dynamic that Ricky and Lucifer had on stage. I think Ricky leaving, while the right choice for him artistically, hurts both bands a little.
When 2 Kolegas re-opened after the epic winter months, it was fitting that it was a Ningxia night. I really didn’t care who was on the lineup, though it was all the old faves — Buyi, Wu & The Side-Effects, WHAI, Lidong. I think I just spent most of the evening wandering around saying how much I had missed 2 Kolegas…
The Sally Can’t Dance experimental festival was held over two days at “the new D-22″ at Di’anmen, which made it doubly as interesting as it would have been by itself. I posted about the space, but the music was great as well. I went for the second, less harsh noise day and really enjoyed myself, and was happy to discover that Li Daiguo’s music was just as amazing as everyone had always told me.
Continuing in the theme of Sally Can’t Dance, the first JUE event I attended was the Tea Rocker’s Quintet, which was just as amazing as you’d imagine a band with Xiao He, Li Daiguo and Yan Jun would be. It was held in a gorgeous guqin studio in 798, and it was a delightful afternoon show filled with tea, music and relaxation.
Also at JUE’s 798 extravaganza that weekend, I managed to catch David Thomas Broughton, a wonderful folky singer-songwriter from Britain via North Korea who does a wonderful job looping sounds and weaving them into amazing songs. There were a couple of incidents where he threw things (a water bottle, his shoe) that I found more than a little odd, but it was forgiven for how great he sounded. I also stayed for a while afterwards to catch Lucifer’s quieter solo side, but they were mostly covers and I left when he started to cover Adam Green.
And then it was JUE, with their big first act of the festival, Death Cab For Cutie. This is, of course, not Death Cab but Life Journey, because the entire crowd was comprised of exuberant American youths, which is fine when you’re one yourself but mostly just makes you feel alienated if you’re not. The band put on a great show, though, and musically I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Post-rock night at Mao was just what it was advertised as: some of Beijing’s best post-rock musicians performing one after another. I got to see Sparrow, who I haven’t seen for nearly two years. They were just as good as ever, as was Glow Curve, but pentatonic and Grinding Ear weren’t really my favorites. However, we were hanging with an ex-member of pentatonic and got lots of juicy band gossip that I have totally forgotten by now.
This was billed as Black Cat Bone’s last show, since Jon Campbell was in town for The Bookworm and his book tour, and it was pretty damn good. It started after 1AM, and it was a total change from the zen-like night at Mao, but with enough fire in the belly it was jam-packed fun, as those masters of blues always are.
Another JUE offering, this was a snap decision on my part. With Jianghu being so close to my house, and the fact that singer-songwriters are a particular weakness of mine, I went down to see Courtney Wing after dinner and I do not regret the decision. It was a low-key night, with a bunch of people at some alumni party who didn’t even realize where they were, and the music was great. I also got to meet the lovely Qu Wanting, who had played a sold-out show at Yugong Yishan the night before.
Chapelier Fou is one of those artists you really have to see to believe. Listening to his tracks is great, but describing him is difficult and doesn’t do him justice. He’s an electronic artist who uses the violin, guitar, his voice, and whatever else he can get his hands on to create not only interesting pieces of music but also ones that wouldn’t go astray at clubs. Check out his myspace for now, and if/when he’s back in Beijing, catch him. Seriously.
I have never really considered myself a fan of trip-hop, though that’s probably because I never really gave it a chance. It’s a good genre, though I will admit it’s not the best one to see performed live. I enjoyed myself at the AM444 show, but I think the music lends itself to creating an atmosphere in headphones rather than in person. I didn’t stick around for ROM. Enough said.
One of the most anticipated Shanghai bands, though, were Rainbow Danger Club. It’s too bad I had been to Great Leap for the chili cook-off because that meant I was a little more than tipsy when I got to 2 Kolegas. Still, I remember having an amazing time, even if it took me a while to remember who was actually there with me. I do remember pogo-ing to RDC, and having the promised Jager shots with the guys from Friend or Foe. It was a super night and while I wish I had been more sober, I’m also glad I had that water break and got through it like a trooper.
Jef from New Noise had told me about how popular pg.lost was with the Chinese crowd, but I sort of didn’t believe him. But when I turned up to a totally packed-out Yugong Yishan, the proof was right in front of me. It wasn’t as fun as it could have been, stuck watching the show on a projector, but the music was great — I definitely really enjoy their brand of post-rock. And yet again, I close out the month with a Swedish post-rock group…