It’s been a sadly eventful week for Beijing’s independent music community.
Last week, the live music venue DDC hosted the performance artist Lin Ce, a poet who explores, among other things, issues of body shaming and body image (link NSFW). Her…risqué act (see flyer below) generated some rather controversial images that spread quickly via Weibo and Wechat.
Cut to Thursday the 21st, and DDC honcho 69 is temporarily detained and DDC placed under lockdown. Most observers, us included, were alerted to it by the sudden cancellation of the Mentha Project’s second anniversary show on Friday the 22nd.
This started a cascading shit-show of cancellations, crackdowns, postponements and official investigations. New venue Modernsky Lab was the first domino. It’s currently under ‘investigation’, with its future uncertain. The beloved Mao Livehouse’s farewell shows were partially postponed, with no word on when (or if) they’ll be rescheduled.
Modernsky’s annual music conference and showcase, Sound of the Xity, was next under the scanner. Those who bought tickets to their shows this week were abruptly refunded, and their series of shows (some planned at DDC) were made ‘free’, and moved to Yonghegong club Tango.
This must be particularly jarring for the bands and DJs scheduled to play these showcases, who now find themselves slotted for mid-afternoon sets on a Wednesday and Thursday.
Sudden crackdowns are a sadly common occurrence in Beijing, but they’ve always tended to be localized or specific to bands, venues or a series of events (see last year’s crackdown on the 330 Metal Fest, for instance).
But last week has seen a careful, even systematic dissection of a significant portion of Beijing’s live music underground that does not bode well. Two venues down, a notable annual event left floundering, and a scene cornered.