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.
MODERN SKY FESTIVAL 2009 We’d been planning to go up to Beijing for a while. The combination of the 60th Anniversary of China’s Communist Party, a city with artificially beautiful skies, and the Buzzcocks playing the Modern Sky Festival in ChaoYang Park in the middle of it all was too much to resist. Of course, the hugely unfortunate cancellation of all 14 international artists from the bill added a sense of mystery. Why had it happened?
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.