Jue Thoughts: Beijing gets Artistic Awakening with Poetry Slams, Abaji and more

From Jue’s Website:

What is JUE?
觉 / JUE (pronounced joo-eh) –verb: to sense; to awaken

As far as I am know, Split Works was one of the first parties to organize such a festival over a period of time ( 2 or 3 weeks) bucking the trend of stuffing tons of shows in 2 or 3 days. I like that kind of spread because I can actually appreciate the event without feeling rushed through god knows how many options. And the lads did a great job so far this year.

The Shows:

Poetry and Whip Cream = more please

I managed to make it to the Poetry Slam at 2 Kolegas, a collaboration between Jue and the Bookworm’s literary festival, that had over 200 persons crammed inside the drive in. I can’t really comment much about the content: I’m a rap ignoramus…. the poetry side was pretty cool! What did strike me was the variety of of people this event attracted to 2 Kolegas: locals, expats, backpackers, teachers, bankers, authors, rappers etc… All of them pretty much stayed in and enjoyed most of the night’s festivities.
To me, that is what Artistic Awakening is all about: using arts to bridge the gap between various echelons of society, using art to bring these otherwise-overly-different crews together!
In that regard, this event succeeded!

This past sunday was my second Jue event and the one i was looking most forward to: Abaji’s concert at Jianghu Jiu Ba.

It did not disappoint!!! I remember gloating about Abaji in my quickslants, remembering the first and only time i had seen him before. Well folks, this time was even better, and not only by my reckoning. This is one amazing gentleman with more talent in a fingernail than i have in my whole body. The way he interacts with audiences, gets them involved, dances with them through his compositions is nothing short of spectacular.
Here is an email i got from someone just a little while ago:

[..] The concert the other evening was fantastic! [..] For me that concert has been the best I’ve seen in my time in Beijing, and it would be great […]

jianghu packed to the brim

The show was a packed house affair with guest performances by Zhang Weiwei and Song Yuzhe amongst others. Much like the event at 2 Kolegas, this one managed to bring out an huge number of folks considering it was sunday night. We had an audience that was just as diverse and multi-ethnic as the musicians themselves.I’d say there was a good 150 to 200 people crammed in there.
Now, what made it even more special is how respectful this audience was of the musicians on stage! Inside and outside, when they talked, they kept the chatter to a minimum and at low volume… (unlike previous occasions elsewhere ;-p )
I was up front for the whole thing filming it which probably made me the most impolite and annoying audience member since i was up and down all the time trying to get a better angle.

Ruby made it to Shanren at the Starlive ( now Tango) and had positive things to say about the show and the organization. Her main complaint was that the turnout was not that good. I heard that about a lot of shows over there lately and I can’t help but think that the location works against them.

Alex, from Beijing Gig Guide, managed catch the Perdel/Yuguo at Mao and had similar concerns about it being not well attended.

Last Words:

I like Jue as an initiative. Sure, I might not be interested in everything they organized, especially from a musical perspective, but I can appreciate the effort that went into it all. This year seemed to have a huge emphasis on cooperation with other creative/artsy outlets in Beijing like The Bookworm and our good friends at Pangbianr. Heck, even I got involved to some extent by helping film the Abaji gig which turned out to be quite gratifying.

– I would have liked to have a lot more cooperation between western/local artists akin to what happened sunday at jianghu. I truly see that as the catalyst for new creative energies when these folks are let loose to explore common difference.

– I would have also liked to see more efforts, heck any effort, to get some merchandise from the bands out in the hands of the audience. A lot of folks i spoke to would have liked Abaji CDs or Zhang Weiwei songs for their collections which were not available. Sure, bands need to think about this stuff themselves but they have proved unable to do so over the years. I expect a company like Split/Jue to step in a make sure that it happens. People are willing to pay for a CD in Beijing, just give them an opportunity.

– I would have loved to catch some of the Pangbianr events with movies/ documentaries but alas, there wasn’t enough time.

– I didn’t understand the idea behind holding so many events on the same nights sometimes but I guess it works if you’re doing it at D-22 and 2 Kolegas. it’s far enough to attract different audiences but at the same time but it’s double the effort. There’s gotta be something to be said for not cannibalizing yourself1

– It seems like an improved and more diverse edition than the previous one where the only show that caught my eye was the Trippple Nipple gig at 2 Kolegas (which i walked out off).

big ups to Split Works for organizing a cool Beijing edition of Jue.. I hope Shanghai was just as good dspite the setbacks with Mao Live there.

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2 Responses

  1. Archie says:

    Thanks dude, and appreciate your coverage. It was pretty nice down this neck of the woods too. It is a lot of work, but as you say, we’ve been the beneficiaries of a LOT of help by our various partners who have put together a lot of amazing events alongside our own. That’s what this is all about – getting the community involved and hoping that everyone benefits.

    My team have done the most amazing job this year – can’t wait for 2012


  2. abby says:

    thanks for the kind words and the feedback.always good for us to hear constructive criticism about our events. the merch point you raise is well taken.

    something as simple as making CDs available at shows sometimes becomes unduly complicated (either due to the artist’s relationship with their record label, or trying to avoid hefty customs fees of bringing many CDs into china, or just that the artist is on a long tour and sells out of merch before they even make it to china). but of course this isn’t always the case. thanks for reminding us to place more emphasis on this at our future events. cheers!