I’ve actually been looking forward to Clement Berger and his gang opening up their Bar/Livehouse in Gulou. These guys’ pedigree and background would surely blow our mind. I think an accurate reflection of my state of mind is the writeup by Time Out’s Ross Goulding. Never mind that the Gulou area is becoming saturated with live music venues, there’s I guess always room for one more.
Opening night was as rock n roll as it could get with the cops shutting down the bands due to neighbors complaining… perfect start! It didn’t stop plenty of folks from sticking around and enjoying the half priced drinks on the night… cool beans. The only low point was the smokiness of that place! I was looking forward to catching a show there which i managed to do a few days later when the Hot Cat Club of Beijing was playing
Here’s a summary:
1- Sound: With people that have music street cred at the helm, I expected a better sounding venue. Unfortunately, the shows I’ve caught there were pretty much flat. Can’t fault the equipment as they did get decent gear but they sorely lack a proper sound guy. Come on!!! When is this city gonna start appreciating sound technicians and putting a fair value on their contributions to making or breaking a live show? This would have been one place I expected sound done right, not some musician moving knobs up and down.
2- I’m reluctant to call it a Livehouse. The stage is small and I can see it making it as a bigger version of Salud with pretty much the same crowd hanging there but unless tables and chairs are moved, you’re a long way away from having big gigs there. It’s gonna eventually compete with Gulou 121, Jianghu and maybe Jiangjinjiu in terms of size and pulling power.
3- Fuck does it get smoky in there. Hopefully it’s temporary but both times I was there, I had to get out for fresh air.. and trust me, I smoked enough cigarettes to not let it bother me… This level of smokiness was ridiculous though.
Now, I know this is extra harsh but I really had high expectations when I heard of this place. The right size, the right people, the right credential and location to do something different. Unfortunately, it ain’t the case!
I’ll give them a few weeks to iron out the kinks and get things done right, including maybe a smoke extractor and getting that staircase going before really passing final judgement. They need time to plan their concert schedule and all that so we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, don’t believe the 5 stars ratings an lower your expectations! You’ll have a better time there that way!
Here’s hoping the guys get the formula right because it ain’t easy!