UPDATE: well, that didn’t last long. CSC’s announced this morning that there would be a new lineup featuring:
Drummer: Lin Banban (Boys and Girl)
Bass: He Fan (Birdstriking)
Carsick Cars, one of the better known independent Chinese bands, played their last show in their current configuration last night while supporting the Raveonettes.
A friend of the Radar was in the audience, and reported thus
Sad last show. Shouwang announced it in Chinese to an almost entirely ex-pat crowd who didn’t understand a word or respond. They ended with Zhongnanhai. Count of 1 zhongnanhai cigarette thrown from crowd to stage. Sad. I nearly cried.
It’s a huge shame that CSC’s chose to go out on the undercard of an international artist with an expensive ticket price. The result was that their core Chinese fans weren’t there to bow them out in grand style. Carsick Cars (and in particular the song Zhongnanhai – Chinese indie’s first “pop” hit) have been hugely influential in the big steps forward that the independent music sector here has taken recently, and deserve a proper send off. Still, will make that reunion show all the more exciting…
Good luck to all with their solo projects, Soviet Pop, White+ and Snapline
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.
After our round slating of yesterdays video car crash, we give you something a little more edifying.
Andrew Field teaches Chinese History here in Shanghai and made a film in 2007 “Notes from the Chinese Underground” which was screened for the first time in D-22 last week. The press release says it better than we could:
Back in June, we reported that some teasers had surfaced of a documentary done pre-Olympics on the Beijing Punk scene. You can read what we said about it back then HERE. Thanks to a comment in that article, left last night by the film maker (we presume), we have been alerted to the official trailer, which you can watch below. It looks pretty juicy and features lots of chat from Maybe Mar’s honcho Nevin Domer (who still plays in a hardcore band as well as running Beijing’s most exciting label) and lots of footage of the most enduring and great Beijing punk bands Demerit and Misandao.
We’re not sure this will receive SARFT licensing for public release in China any time soon. Let us know what you think!! Thanks to Sean Jefford for making this happen.
Official trailer for Beijing Punk – the documentary
UPDATE: Andy Best has written a long and erudite post over at his excellent blog, talking about what politics really is and why this article (and many others) fail to appreciate the realities of life, pure and simple. You can read Andy’s full rant n’ roll HERE. What Andy points out is that our world (or at least the vast majority of it) is pretty messed up – he refers to absolute poverty levels, and to the ongoing war in Congo, which is all very well and good, but when referencing music, takes the whole “politics” argument too absolutely. We think Alice Liu’s article can be summed up as the following (and shouldn’t be limited to China, but is, because that is her area of expertise): musicians are influencers (particularly those who are young and extremely talented), and wouldn’t it be nice if they used their influence better (in the vast majority of cases), which we think is a perfectly fair point. In China, this is particularly obvious, because this current crop of musicians can be compared very easily to their immediate predecessors.
A very interesting article in the Asia Times about the realities of rock music in China’s new middle classes. The thrust of the article is that emerging stars of the “underground” rock scene in China are now comfortably ensconsed as responsible citizens with jobs and a detachment from a political system that doesn’t really affect them on a day to day basis. For us, this could be an indicator of why we feel there is a relative lull in the Chinese alt-music industry, an apathy even, that is reflected from the bands to the fans. Chinese kids aren’t engaging with the very real issues facing them, but because they are not being immediately suppressed and because they can play shows and release albums with relative impunity, they feel no need to talk about societies ills. Saddest for us is the apparent disrespect that individuals like Shouwang have for their forebears and their struggles:
“We’re not into the politics and don’t care that much about the older generation: for them it was like religion. I don’t really listen to their music, including Cui Jian. As new bands come, the old ones demise.”
On the other hand, this apathy is not restricted to just Chinese youth. Generation Y everywhere is famously a-political. Our planet has undergone an unparalleled period of peace and prosperity, and young people the world over are more obsessed with money and fashion than with governments and society. Anyway, read for yourself HERE and let us know what you think.
Hot on the heels of Modern Sky‘s Sing for China 15 stop tour across the US (some comments and review to follow shortly), Maybe Mars are packing their bags and heading off to the home of country music, blues and techno.
This November, the Beijing indie label will take five of its key artists on a tour across the eastern US. Between November 5th and 19th, PK14, Carsick Cars, White, Xiao He, and Snapline will play a string of dates in New York, Washington DC, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Illinois. The tour will be centred around the photography exhibition that Matthew Niederhauser will be presenting in New York. Matthew is an American born photographer that has documented much of the rise of Maybe Mars and D-22 over the last 2 years, and we have an interview coming up with Matthew later this week as well.
With a RMB1m prize purse (including cash, equipment, a national concert tour and recording time in LA), and “up to 5,000 concert auditions”, Pepsi have made a commitment to the “real” Chinese underground music scene by announcing a new reality TV program to air over 7 months on the Zhejiang satellite network.
A few words of explanation regarding the cute little application that’s recently cropped up on the far right of our homepage: It’s Neocha’s NEXT player, an easy way to sample Neocha’s large library of Chinese underground music.
How it works: Think of it as a randomly shuffled playlist of songs you’ve never heard before, from electronica to garage rock to metal. The tracks on NEXT are all from Neocha’s catalogue of user-uploaded music. You can skip from one song to the next by clicking the round “NEXT” icon. The play/pause button is just to the left, and the “O” in “Neocha” is also the volume control button (click and then use arrow up/down to adjust volume). Down below, you’ll see the artist’s name and song title. Clicking on either of these will send you to the artist’s Neocha profile page.
NEXT is one of many innovative widgets from Neocha, a social-networking site for Chinese artists. Launched in 2007, the site is an aggregator of all things creative in China, with over 10,000 registered users including musicians, comic-book artists, film makers and more.
Neocha is Chinese-only, but you can check out these English interviews with founders Sean Leow and B6 here (written) and here (video).