It would be wrong to say that I accidentally attended this gig; that’s not exactly right. I had been sick the entire week, and had gotten home from a spot of chu chai with work to Xiamen that evening, so was emphatically not planning to go out to save my sanity and health. However, a friend from foreign lands was visiting for a couple of days so I conceded to going out after dinner. It didn’t put me back terribly far in the health stakes, but it did mean that I didn’t see the whole show. We turned up late, missing Girls Are Waiting To Meet You, and left before seeing Nakoma. It might be biased to say that I think we still caught the best acts of the night, but that’s how I see it.
This was, ostensibly, a Halloween show, but it wasn’t much discernible from any other gig at Mao Livehouse. GAWTMY, apparently, decked themselves out as zombies, and Not There held a costume contest and threw candy out intermittently during their set. But those were about the only differences. We were promised candy with our tickets, according to the Mao Livehouse Douban, but unless you caught some, there wasn’t any handed out.
The first band we caught was Not There, an international expat group. They were mainly instrumental, with meandering psychedelic rock riffs punctuating the general post-rock experience of their performance.
There was a singer, but he didn’t do much (Apparently, I mis-remembered!); the bass player did most of the talking, in some of the best colloquial Chinese I have ever heard from a foreigner. Aside from that, they brought up a friend for one of their last songs, who added to the performance with a bit of rapping in some non-English, non-Chinese language. I thought it was French, and my friend thought it was Hebrew. It may remain a mystery. (It doesn’t; Not There bassist Jon says in comments it’s a mix of Ukranian and Russian.) Their set was solid; it definitely held my attention in a way that not all instrumental acts can or do.
Next up was Nanwu, who were surprising and amazing. I had no expectations, but they exceeded them anyway: they’ve got a softness and quirkiness to them that makes me want to describe them in folk terms, but they are most definitely a rock group. They were energetic, too, and enthusiastic in getting the crowd to sing along, which they did with much gusto. Songs like “Lalala” are made for audience participation, and “Huahua Gongzi” was so catchy it was impossible not to sing along, even if you didn’t know the words. Their song “Post-80s” is also responsible for their Chinese folk feel, with a flute and the conversational feel of a Nancheng Brother song. I really enjoyed their set, even though I didn’t get through the whole thing (due to Mao Livehouse being the worst place for a person recovering from the flu to hang out). Definitely check out their Douban, and consider getting their album from an indie music store near you.