This interesting review of a Shanghai New Year’s Eve came the Radar’s way this week. Author Louis Yu is a Chinese born (and raised) DJ on Canadian University Radio (CFUV 101.9 FM). He pays special attention to the emerging Chinese music scene during his programs. In the name of research, Louis went along to welcome in the New Year with one of Shanghai best and most enduring bands, Cold Fairyland. What he saw, and subsequently wrote about, says much about the continuing struggles for Shanghai’s emerging underground. Read for yourself:
Here’s a story, read on, this is my bitter experience at the cold fairyland NYE show So I saw cold Fairyland on NYE, I looked on the Internet and saw that they are playing and I thought “oh cool, at lease I get to see one decent Chinese indie band during my trip to China”. This turned out to be one of the worst concerts I’ve ever saw, and not because of the band at all…
The show was held at “the Melting Pot”. I didn’t know where “the Melting Pot” was and it turned out to be one of those bars on the bar street so right away I was approached by hookers and pimps and people trying to get me to go to their bars instead [ED: the Melting Pot on Hengshan Lu]. I went into the melting pot and asked the waiter” is cold fairyland playing?” “uh?” “band, is there a band?” “yeah, yeah band…” “what band is playing” “I don’t know, new, new band” “do I have to pay for a ticket?” “no, no free”. I sat down and it took me a while to clue in that cold fairyland was just some bar band that night.
Since that there was no cover charge, I had to order a beer (I don’t drink). There was another band playing on stage at the moment. That band was horrible, think John Mayer, but with this 70 year old dude wearing a gold bucket hat trying to rap on top of John Mayer”. During their set the old dude kept going into the the crowd and yelled with extreme enthusiasm “say yoooo !!” (nothing from the crowd), “say yo, yo !” (silence). “Oh my god, this can’t be an opening band, I must be in the wrong place” I thought, but I stuck around for another 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the old dude said “thank you, this is our set (thank god), Cold Fairyland is coming up next..” so I thought “oh good, they are playing “. By then another couple walked into the bar and did the same song and dance with the waiter (“is cold fairyland playing?” “who?”) so I had to tell them “yeah they’re coming up”. I looked around the bar, I don’t know from looking at the attendees how many people knew of cold fairyland before the show, I think not many.
Cold Fairyland came out and they were pretty good, better than I expected actually. Perhaps the best part of the show is that the band played games with the audience and gave them little home-made gifts made by each band member. Which is like the fucking sweetest thing ever. Except… So the old dude, every chance he got, he tried to go on stage, at one point he tried to add rap on top of cold fairyland’s music. Then he tried to continuously participate in the band’s game, until Lin Di (the Pipa player and the leader of the band) said “no you had enough”, and he proceeded to tell his friends to go on stage and participate in the game.
For one of the games he was asked to give his fav number, in which he said “oh my fav number, beside cold fairyland’s promotional number (WTF) is the number 69″, and then he looked around the room and laughed proudly. At that point I wanted to throw my glass at him. Another game he was asked what his fav animal was by which he said “pussy…”, and another one, he finally won the game, and the band member gave him a gift, in which he pulled out a condom from his pocket and gave it back to the band member… So by now my eyeball’s rolled back into the back of my skull.
The NYE countdown starts, the 70 year old dude proceeded to go on stage, grabbed one of the Chinese lady and said “This is my wife Ruby, she owns this club, everybody says thank you Ruby”, and then he gave the lady a big wet kiss (and the lady gave one of those look like “oh fuck yeah I married a white guy, jealous?”) So now everything made sense, the classic Caucasian man meets/ marries/ shows off much younger Chinese woman”. Then Ruby, grabbed the microphone “everybody, every Tuesday night the melting pot have Salsa night”, now my Salsa teacher’s going on stage to give everybody’s a lesson. So some random female, went on stage, and danced Salsa with Ruby. Cold Fairyland is then forced to take a break.
Call me crazy but I don’t want my indie rock interlaced with two women dancing Salsa, so that was when I left, I was then repeatedly hassled by pimps, hookers; they followed me for the next four blocks. I then walked for another 20 minutes till I got a taxi. “This is horrible” I thought, “Clueless, people are clueless, art is hopeless in China….nobody fucking get it”. I fucking whined to every one of my friends on facebook that night “worst night ever”.
The next morning I thought of the movie “ghostworld” in which Steve Buscemi’s character Seymore wanted to catch his fav legendary blues singer at a bar, only to have his evening ruined by the Dave Matthews band sound-a-like “blues hammer” (if you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what I’m talking about) The very same day, at noon, I had lunch with Tyson Meade of the Chainsaw kittens (a legend indeed), and I told him the story. He said “oh this sounds like when Husker Du first started out, and when we (Tyson’s first band, Defenestration) first started out, the bar wouldn’t even want us because we didn’t play covers, and all bars wanted bands that play U2 or Thompson twins covers, so we played at just birthday parties and shit, and you know Sonic Youth played countless of these type of bar shows before they finally pushed their music through….”
oh, ok, when you put it this way, I don’t feel so bad…. so the moral of the story is: hang in there cold fairyland, hang in there..