Yugong Yishan still reigns supreme for Beijingers and Ramblings

It’s been a long weekend with touring and what not (more on that later) so I didn’t quite have time to touch on this until now. But if you were paying attention last week, you’d have noticed that Yugong Yishan was voted BEST live music venue in Beijing by the readers of the Beijinger ( full results here for 2011 ). Mao Livehouse and D-22 have taken second place or as they call it, outstanding awards!

First of all, congrats to Yugong Yishan, Gouzi, Doro, Carlo and Ou Yan for the award! There is no arguing with the readers!

I’m a bit disappointed though to see them win it yet again for the nth time in a row. They’ve had a bad run of sound problems over the past year ( that was fixed) and a lot of shows that i made it to were almost empty. Still, some shows were beyond full like re-TROS, Silver Apples etc… Yugong is the fashionable place for people to go to and that’s the end of the story. I equate their long reign to that of the Tree in its category. Actually, to be fair, I don’t have a problem against Yugong Yishan itself, but against the crowd it draws

Mao Livehouse has managed to put on consistently better shows with better sound and I wouldn’t have minded seeing them pick it for a change ( exodus , Shonen Knife, SUBS, Omnipotent Youth). Jianghu did manage to come out of the corner swinging this year with amazing amazing shows, great crowd and a fun athmosphere.
I wouldn’t give it to 2 Kolegas, my personal favorite, because they’re not a livehouse… they’re a dive bar that incubates musical talent!

I’m still convinced that given the tendency of expats not to move around much, there is plenty of room for one hell of a livehouse in sanlitun with proper sound, management, security and advertising. There is way too much foot traffic there, day in/day out for it not to succeed if it’s done right and kept simple.

4 Responses

  1. Josh Feola says:

    nice analysis. i agree with your point, i think Mao should take the honors. to me it’s more focused on music than YY, while still at a large enough scale that it feels more like a venue than a bar (a la 2Kolegas and D-22).

    • Beijing Daze says:

      yeah.. the only ones that can pretend to the throne are Yugong, Mao, Mako and now Starlive… That’s only fair.

  2. jtdj says:

    I love the guys at YGYS, as Gouzi books such awesome shows, Some of the best one’s ive seen in Beijing were held there. No doubt the bookings, its location and interior help it stay on top. However, nobody seems to talk about the elephant in the room – Yugong’s sound sucks.
    I don’t know if its a sound man issue or equipment, but all i know is that here are always sound issues. dropped guitars, staticky mics and just bad balance are rampant. Especially when you compare it to MAO and MAKO, who always sounds decent.

    Also I dont think One Space gets enough love. Its off the beaten track (718 Art Zone, Chaoyang) and the aesthetic isnt hipster cool by any means, but its got great equipment, totally competent sound guy (A Lin, who also runs recording studio there) and acoustic installations. Pocket Records has been showcasing all the foreign acts they bring in over there, and as far as a pure sound experience goes, its hard to beat.

  3. Beijing Daze says:

    I’ve touched on the sound problem at Yugong a few times over the past year, especially during that catastrophic Yaksa show where it hit rock bottom. Thankfully i have not had to complain as much since then and they have fixed their setup more or less.

    The bigger elephant in the room IMHO is the audience that goes to YGYS… They’re not there for the music and spend half the time talking which cause the sound guys to increase volume of course which in return makes those pundit talk even louder.

    In this particular situation, foreign audience are the guilty ones… Locals are a heck of a lot more respectful of musicians than some Genus-Expatus…