Musical Devolution 1: Things have Changed

Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
Any minute now I’m expecting all hell to break loose

People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

This place ain’t doing me any good
I’m in the wrong town, I should be in Hollywood
Just for a second there I thought I saw something move
Gonna take dancing lessons do the jitterbug rag
Ain’t no shortcuts, gonna dress in drag
Only a fool in here would think he’s got anything to prove

As I was listening to Things Have Changed by Bob Dylan, I found myself thinking about days gone by or years gone by, back to pre-olympics Beijing, when anything seemed possible.
I the years between 2004 and early 2008, the country changed in front of me for the better (i think). Access to information was easier, food selection better, air cleaner, music scene more vibrant etc… We were all excited about the change in the air and the potential that was being realized.

For those of you that didn’t experience it, check this out:

yeah.. exactly! It happened, I was there and it was not cancelled! Cui Jian returned to Beijing and played outdoors for the first time in ages. NIN was on the same stage as Public Enemy back in 2007
That same year, The Rolling Stones and Elton John amongst others played in Shanghai… Life was good again! Even NOFX was allowed to play a show in Beijing. High and fast times… talk was all about getting the likes of Metallica and Santana to come down and play the last frontier.

Then this happened and she opened her mouth

As he sang, things have indeed changed!

Since then it’s all been downhill! Celine Dion’s concert was cancelled after that and it became increasingly difficult to get any sort of foreign acts playing China in General (with the exception of Beyonce and a few have-beens or never-been). one only needs to google “cancelled Beijing Show” and see how many results they get. Modern SKy and MIDI both have a few things to say about that I’m sure. To be fair, concerts by Linkin Park and The Killers were cancelled due to health and other concerns, the government had nothing to do with it.

but the result is the same we have gone from NIN & Public Ennemy to expecting shows by Richard Clayderman and The Backstreet Boys….. my oh my, how the mighty has fallen! How low did we sink and is there a way out?

Recent announcements about a possible Bob Dylan show as well as the “Concert for Peace” have been met with so much sarcasm and bitterness from the Beijingers, me included. It’s getting to the point where just about everyone i know will not bother with advance tickets because they know for a fact that it will be canceled and that’s where the catch-22 begins.

For artists to come, they need interest and pre-sales to be substantial enough to get their rear ends on a plane because let’s face it, they gotta make a living too. So if the pre-sales are low, they will think that the interest is low and most likely cancel the show due to lack of interest. That will result in the bitter locals thinking they were right about not buying the tickets and the cycle continues…. everyone loses!

what's it gonna take to have this again in Beijing or anywhere else in China?

So, what’s next? Where does it go from here and who will make the first step towards reconciling Beijing with foreign acts?

And no, don’t give me that bullshit about Saosin and Andrew Bird came by, it’s not the same! I’m talking about the Shakiras and Kid Rocks, the Metallicas and Madonnas… how do we get them back?
One argument that is being put forward is that local bands can step up and fill the void but I’m not sure they’re remotely close to being ready… more on that next time.

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2 Responses

  1. doctoro says:

    NOFX in 2007 was probably the best show ive seen in my life. And without a doubt the last time I will stage dive 😉

    Even they remarked that they hadnt had a show with that kind of energy since early 90’s Germany. PE / NIN / Cui Jian were also top notch – and let me throw the Yeah Yeah Yeahs into the conversation as well…

    Interesting post – ‘that dumbass’ (whom I still love dearly) opening her mouth on Tibet did fuck a lot up – and it has certainly been interesting watching the fallout….

  2. Beijing Daze says:

    I don’t think it was just her doing but it definitely didn’t help! The combination of events just precipitated the downfall and here we are now 🙁