The last few days have seen some pretty intense scrutiny laid at the feet of Shanghai’s burgeoning music scene. Shows raided, bands taken in for questioning (not sent to jail it is important to note) and festivals canceled. It’s been a tough week.
Some thoughts on this rainy Monday
the expat situation is pretty out of control in Shanghai. The Yongkang Lu // Yongfu Lu epicenters must be increasingly difficult to ignore
it’s a shame that the live music scene is the one being targeted, as it is really not a massive contributor to these issues, but we suppose things like the FCFCW gig night emanating from the live scene might push things further in that direction.
the band // licensing area is one that the authorities can readily control, as there are strict laws already in place. Plus, there aren’t massive hongbao to be earned from live houses, unlike the bars and clubs
rumor is that it’s a new police commissioner in Shanghai flexing some muscle, but we can’t really confirm // deny that one.
it could also be an annual crackdown leading up to the anniversary of a certain square
or it could just be the new blood in power and a change in policy. It is unknown if XJP and LKX are big fans of rock and roll
We just hope that this is another temporary blip rather than a permanent shift. It’s important to remember that we are foreigners in a foreign land, and that we should be extra careful with what we do and how we behave – it is very very obvious when expats behave badly. We tend to live in a bit of a bubble here, and we are still at a very early stage in China’s cultural awakenings. We need to walk before we can run and be sensitive to the local community, or else things could change very quickly for the worse for all of us….
This was an eventful weekend down at ChongQing and Jianguo Lus in Shanghai. We had booked two shows at the new Mao Livehouse across their opening weekend. This being China, it was probably a mistake.
Before we start, let’s get one thing straight – Shanghai needs a venue like Mao Livehouse. The advent of this space has revolutionized the live music scene in China’s second city. The new edition is a good one – a decent use of space and some interesting design touches. Still too many unlit little steps though – expect to trip a few times on each visit. This is not a rant against a very valuable stakeholder in the future of live music in China, just a series of requests for better communication and more transparency.
In what amounts to harassment of foreigners in Beijing leading up to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PRC and in what appears to be a first comprehensive “pub crawl” search, Chinese Immigration officials were out in full force in the Drum & Bell Tower/Nanluoguxiang area last Thursday, entering bars and checking foreigner’s passports and visa status.
They entered MAO Livehouse and stopped the in-progress show to check the passports of China-based Norwegian band “Luohan.” The show was reported stopped for 10 minutes, and Mao staff were questioned as to why a foreign band was performing without proper ID and visas.
The show was allowed to resume, but MAO will no doubt be working through various means and ways to ensure China Immigration does not again take a sovereign interest in their humble home of live music.