Shanghai and the China music scene is losing one of the most outspoken and interesting figures in Brad Ferguson as the Texan prepares to pack up and move back to Austin, TX. Brad’s been around since 2002, managing live venues, producing, building amps, managing and whatever else needed to be done. The man even has his own Rock in China entry. Alas the tides shift and Brad’s heading back, taking wife and Duck Fight Goose drummer Damen with him. Yuyintang is throwing him a goodbye party this weekend, with DFG and a sort-of reunion from Boys Climbing Ropes (G from X is Y on guitar).
If you missed it, here are some of Brad’s greatest hits. His unsmiling mien will be sorely missed.
March is a kicker for sure. After full houses at the MB Arena for the Eagles and Usher last week (more on that later), it’s the turn of the underground to bark loudest. We’ve been building up to this in China’s Southern Capital for quite a few years (don’t hate, Nanjing). While Beijing regularly sees a slew of great shows across any given weekend, Shanghai has never seen a weekend like this one before.
All venues are packed full of juicy goodness, from the JUE Festival offerings of Besnard Lakes and Vitalic on Friday night (plus a literary battle and the opening night of ENTER at Source), and a showcase from Maybe Mars bands Snapline and AV Okubo on Saturday night, to uprising local band Rainbow Danger Club‘s Where Maps End album launch, to Beijing band Hedgehog’s latest return to the capital, to the ambitiously titled “Longest Nite Ever”, an 8pm – 8am extravaganza over at the new Hennessy sponsored Mixing Room at the Mercedes Arena. Finally, there is a benefit for Japan run by the Beat Bandits. Run along to Lune around midnight to give your 20RMB to a good cause.
We are sure there are other bits and pieces happening, but this all seems to reflect a new appetite for live entertainment in Shanghai. There are more (and better) venues and with Mao Livehouse set to open next weekend, it finally looks as if Shanghai might be developing a live music scene worthy of her status as one of the world’s most important city… get out there and support your local music scene this weekend Shanghai.
Shanghai’s live music scene is about to get a lot hotter. The two main venues both closed at the end of January for renovation (Yuyintang) and a move (Mao Livehouse). YYT emerged from its cocoon this week and you can see photos of the new and expanded space over at Smartshanghai.
Mao Livehouse will be coming back at us towards the end of March. We’ve actually been into the venue already which was well under way 3 weeks ago. We’re not allowed to say too much about that at the moment, but it will be similar in size to the last venue, with a slightly lower ceiling and two stages in different rooms.
For live music lovers in Shanghai, it’s gonna be a cold, cold winter. The cities two best live houses will be closing soon as things change up a little.
Crowd favorite Yuyintang will spend January and February 2011 under renovations, as they open up the venue to accommodate more people. YYT has always been prone to bottlenecking – the bar is conveniently placed that it is impossible to have people buying drinks, entering the venue and getting into the main room simultaneously when busy. The other way in is best known for having to stand on the stairs or crane your neck for a view of the stage through the small doorway. However, this lowly blogger generally finds a bit of pushing normally results in being thrust into the middle of the main room, where there is often space. A redesign would most certainly make sense, although the stage space might lose a bit of intimacy, particularly on less well attended shows. YYT aims to reopen in early March 2011.
As has been widely reported elsewhere, the Red Town developers are putting the building that houses Mao Live to more lucrative uses. Shanghai’s largest venue has served its purpose and is being cut loose just over a year since it opened. Mao’s owners have located another venue on the ChongQing Lu (next to the southern part of the N-S gaojia) and will reopen sometime in late March/ early April.
It’s going to be a long winter people. We recommend complete hibernation.
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.
We hope you all had a wonderful Chinese New Year. It is now year of the Tiger, and you can expect the following from the year (according to City Weekend)
The Tiger in 2010:
Tigers are the courageous iconoclasts of the Chinese zodiac. Brave and competitive, you Tigers dive into challenges at work, in life, and in love with unabashed zeal. But in the Year of the Tiger, you big cats tend to get kinda insecure and emotional. And all those tender little feelings will manifest themselves in the worst way imaginable.
If you get an inkling that something’s not going to your liking at work, your first instinct will be to get impatient. Who cares if your actions will offend subordinates and bosses? Pounce first, ask questions later! In love, on the other hand, insecurity takes its hold on you like a niggling ache. At best, you’ll find yourself relying on your partner for affirmation. At worst, you’ll focus all your nervous energy on your other half, demanding that he or she change to your liking. Needless to say, that’s a lot of pressure.
So in 2010, Tiger, when you’re unhappy and you know it, and you really want to change the world, there’s one word for you: Don’t. The Year of the Tiger is truly unsuitable for making any big changes. You must view any bad decisions made as good experiences had. Control your temper and seek inner peace.
So what should we in the music industry expect from this year of the Tiger here in China? Casting an eye into the immediate future, we don’t think we’ve ever seen a busier month for the small to mid-size part of the market. Venues such as the Maos, Yugong Yishan, Yuyintang, the Shelter, new Beijing clubs Lantern and White Rabbit (2) are all full to bursting this coming month, and at the bigger end of the market, Korea’s Super Junior and the Backstreet Boys are moving in for some stadium action.
By now, we expect most readers of this site will have heard of Converse. The sneaker brand. Who sponsored 2 x Chinese independent artists on a proper road trip around China, in 2008. Converse Love Noise made quite a stir as a good way for brands to actively engage with the new creative class that is coming out of urban China.
And where once there was one, now there are many. 10 days ago, we were down at Yuyintang in Shanghai for a show with Beijing ex-emo band Tookoo and their sidekicks Bigger Bang. We had heard that Vans (the “other” sneaker brand) was supporting Tookoo, and it seems like that now extends to Bigger Bang. In between bands, we wandered around the venue, only to see that the Chinese sneaker brand Feiyue were getting in on the act with a media party at the same venue. So without further ado, this is what’s happening in the increasingly branded world of indie music:
Archie arrived in China in 2005 to set up Split Works, a company focused on building a music industry in China and generating compelling creative and content for brands that have a youth bias. Split Works book and produce tours all around China and Southeast Asia, and curate and produce festivals and brand campaigns — outdoor monster Yue Festival (watch out for this returning in 2010), the International Music and Arts Festival JUE | Music | Art, Bacardi Sino Sessions, Converse Love Noise, etc. He writes a blog on the Chinese Music Industry called China Music Radar and manages a Chinese language only blog on the music industry in China called Wooozy.
I arrived in China exactly half way through the decade. Now, at the end of it, I look back with affection on some of my favorite musical moments of the last 5 years, 5 years that have seen extraordinary growth in live music in China.
My choices are somewhat skewed towards Split Works events, because
I attend them all
I have generally listened to the music intensely for 3 months prior to the shows
I have a large say in which artists, and thus pick artists that I love already.
I have tried to be objective though, and I hope my choices reflect this: