We told you yesterday in our ode to the Eagles that something had come to us, almost like a gift from St. Christmas, something that filled us with good cheer and hope for the year ahead. The story goes a little like this:
Local blogger and “scene” stalwart Andy Best (he does love the word scene, by the way) wrote an article reviewing the Expo. You can read his coherent and visceral “appreciation” in full over at Kungfuology. The main thrust was that Expo came and went without leaving much, if any of a cultural imprint on Shanghai. To most, it was an inconvenience (although we miss the clean air, which we are sure was a massive inconvenience to all the Jiangsu and Zhejiang factories forced to close for 6 months), and the culture that came in was restricted to people willing to brave the hoards, the distance, the hugeness. Finally, the price (tickets weren’t actually that cheap, when you consider the cost of a gig ticket). As an aside, the actual Shanghai music infrastructure almost ground to a halt – venues were booked solid with a succession of no-name bands from all over the world on a government dime, and local bands and crowds were left out in the cold, slowly losing the will to live. Our summary may be a little overdone – head to Andy’s article for more.
In any case, the most important part of the article was when Andy laid down a gauntlet. With all the money that brands and governments were spending, was anyone actually willing to make an investment in the local scene itself? He gave an example that in his eyes would genuinely make a difference to Shanghai’s musicians: would anyone put some money behind most vital party of Shanghai’s nascent infrastructure? The tireless and profitless work done by TianTian and co. over at the 0093 rehearsal rooms.
A variety of friends of this website teamed up to leave us with this reminder of the Shanghai Expo and its most wholesome of messages “Better City, Better Life”. Rapper Tang King, videographer Bas Roeterink and Massive Music’s Diederik van Middelkoop put this video together to commemorate the beauty of the Shanghai streets. Watch, enjoy
Music video featuring Tang King, featuring Shanghai’s beautiful streets post-Expo
SMAP, the outrageously popular (and questionably good) Japanese boy band were due to play two nights at the Shanghai Stadium at the end of the October Golden Week. The shows were expected to be smash hits – apparently 80,000 tickets had already been pre-sold. You could have bought tickets HERE.
CNNGo is reporting that ticketing on the shows has been suspended, with an official from the organizing company stating that the postponement is due to technical difficulties relating to stage setup.
However, Japan and China have been at odds recently over the arrest of a Chinese trawler captain who is alleged to have rammed two Japanese coast guard boats in disputed waters. China have declared that if the trawler captain is not released, then there will be “serious consequences”. There is as always, a world of difference between what is being reported on international news wires and Chinese ones.
Amid demonstrations in China that included ritual Japanese flag burning, the SMAP concerts were probably a risk too far. Security couldn’t be guaranteed, particularly in the wake of the Super Junior fiasco earlier this year. This is the second time China has been cruelly denied SMAP this year.
Shanghai’s Expo is nearly over. Despite a certain amount of pessimism pre-event, the Expo has actually received a majority of positive feedback, certainly from the local population and most of the people involved. Shanghai has been the recipient of much governmental largesse as artists are flown in from all over the world at great expense, play to (rather too frequently) sparse crowds, but then descend on Shanghai and give a free show or two to people in the know. The huge crowds that have populated the even huger site have been exposed to all manner of crazy foreign “art” and the artists themselves have more often than not played to huge crowds of incredulous but appreciative Chinese at the various outdoor stages around the site.
That’s not to say that any kind of value for money quotient has been achieved. The huge missed opportunity to actually promote the majority of these artists properly in China has been nothing short of a tragedy, with bands, performance artists and the like in China for a single performance with no onwards Chinese or Asian touring and absolutely zero PR in local press. And the carbon footprint…
Usually, it’s Beijing’s bands and venues that get the international headlines. The Guardian, BBC, PRS, New York Times, Wall Street Journal have all got in on the act of calling Beijing the new “(insert name here)”.
Perhaps it is a sign of the times and the bands and venues that are now taking up the mantle in China’s financial hub, but the Miami Herald have just written a surprisingly well researched two pager into Shanghai’s underground. Of course, prompted by Expo, but hey, Shanghai’s musicians deserve some loving.
This is something that we’ve been mulling for the last month or so, brought to a head with slightly disappointing turnouts for both the TransmitCHINA tour that our partner company Split Works put together in the first week of June and also nearly all the shows that we’ve attended over the last couple of months.
The backstory: we are just 6 weeks into Shanghai’s World Exposition 2010, and while according to most, the turnouts to the National Pavilions and the Expo site proper have been massive (although we have heard a couple of contrarian reports saying the numbers are WAY down on pre-event predictions), the volume of acts coming through China’s major live houses, theaters and clubs as a result of said Expo are somewhat traumatizing what was/ is still a shallow and immature market for foreign entertainment. Take this coming weekend for example: alongside the STD 3rd Birthday extravaganza and Wonky Kong’s Drop the Lime, there is the French “Fete de la Musique”. A kaleidoscopic weekend featuring over 20 shows, all for FREE.
About 4 months ago, we received word that the reclusive “Diva of Asia” Faye Wong would be returning to the stage in late 2010. Word was that she wanted to do 10 shows in Shanghai and Beijing, with the artist fee (per show) at around the US$1m mark.
We now understand that the venue (certainly in Shanghai) has been booked – it will be the 18,000 capacity Expo Performance Centre, which around November (the time of the shows) will morph into the Mercedes Benz Arena.
There is precedent for this – from 1994-95, Wong Fei did a series of 18 back to back shows at the HK Coliseum, and in 1998-99, she added 7 mainland China dates, 1 Japanese and 5 international onto 17 shows at the Coliseum.
180,000 fans in Shanghai, all willing to pony up an average of 2,000RMB (the mooted average price). Can it work? Probably…..
Lisa Movius, longtime Shanghai resident and commentator on Shanghai cultural world/ sphere/ void writes frankly in the WSJ on Shanghai’s relationship with it’s Expo. In the article, she explores how the inevitable backlash to Expo is being led by Shanghai locals, who have felt/ still feel largely excluded from the big event. As residents in this great city, we too feel somewhat removed from what is happening over in the temporary city Pudong-side. You can read the full article HERE.
A recent delegation of 5 young (under 35) British entrepreneurs from the field of music won a trip to China to explore business opportunities here. The entrepreneur with the clearest vision of how they could expand and extend their business into the Middle Kingdom would be given £5,000 to try. All 5 attended a panel at the UK’s Great Escape festival to sum up their experience. This article covers the panel. Congratulations to Ian Hogarth from Songkick for winning the cash. Watch out for Songkick (CN) on a computer near you.
First the up: Beijing’s biggest (only) electronic music festival is back. Intro was premiered in 2009 at Beijing’s D-Park Creative Hub (our review HERE) and despite problems (being closed down early, police, illness) the festival was mostly a success, certainly a great achievement for a first go. Intro is back for 2010, featuring another lineup of mostly techno and minimal. Oxia and Takkyo Ishino headline. You can find out more HERE.
UPDATE: Yuyintang is apparently back open for business. Let’s hope these are the last problems for Shanghai venues this year. Somehow we think not…
Shanghai Expo is almost upon us. Our “excitement” about this 6 month jamboree (with the most awesome lineup imaginable) has been tempered somewhat by the oh-so-predictable noose-tightening that in now in full flow in Shanghai.
First, we had the ruffling of LOgO feathers last weekend. This weekend just past, we’ve seen the even more autocratic raid on YuYinTang, a little venue that is both the heart of Shanghai’s music scene, and the focus of much of the Shanghai based international artist activities over the next 6 months.