I must admit it’s refreshing to see non-Chinese bands every so often because it puts things back in perspective. Now, maybe it’s the wrong way to put it but no matter how many good solid Chinese bands there are out there, the number of mediocre ones is just staggering high and i do find myself looking at the silver linings every so often trying to find positives!!! Friday night at Mako Livehouse was not one of those nights!
There were plenty of good shows in town mind you but i had this one marked and was not about to miss it even though it pained me to skip a ChunQiu show next to my house. Still, it was gonna be all about Barcelona’s La Pegatina with their upbeat rumba/reggae/fun matched up with Hanggai’s grassland rock. I picked well!
Mako was filled quite early actually with a decent crowd of at least 200 by 8:30. All of us early comers were treated to a little 30mn performance by Nine Theaters ( Jiu Bao), one of the newest up and coming Mongolian bands in Beijing. They played during day one of the Mongolian Festival, also at Mako, a few weeks ago where they stood out. The band has a charismatic frontman/guitar player and an interesting mix of throat singing with Metal… They might be a bit young and green but there’s something in there! I’ll be curious to see what they sound like in one year if they stay under Hanggai’s protective wings.
La Pegatina came on closer to 10 pm and set out to turn the place into a gigantic party… which they abso-freaking-lutely did! From the opening note until they came off the stage, they were hell bent on making sure every on had fun… I think they were even more hell bent on having fun themselves, which it looked like they had plenty of.
With Ruben and Adria taking turns or sharing frontman duties for most of the songs, these guys just were in control of the crowd regardless of language barriers or differences. Axel and Romain, on trumpet and accordion respectively, had the sides of the stage covered with their own antics, jumping up and down, getting the crowd worked up and generally letting the good vibes flow.
One of the coolest things i’ve seen in a while was when Ruben, during his introduction, was carried over by the crowds from the stage to bar, grabbed a beer, and was carried back…. those kids were enjoying themselves
The songs are very reminiscent of Manu Chao but with more of a merengue edge to it and a lovely richness.. something we just don’t get in China often enough.. heck, even the few times we got it back in the days at the old Latinos, one would argue that it never was as genuine as what this bunch did.
Hanggai came up next and did pretty much what they do best: Bring the audience to their knees with their grassland flavored throat singing. I never get tired of catching their shows mostly because of their professionalism. I think I’ve mentioned it many times before where I believe their experience accumulated touring overseas is helping them develop into better entertainers and hopefully raise the bar for other China based bands.
On friday, they played their classic show but threw in a few variations here and there like having the drinking song early in the set. Xiger Xiger is always a crowd favorite and my personal favorite is slowly becoming Borulai’s Lullaby. I think I’m really starting to see Mongolian music differently now that I’ve been exposed to so much of it.
The encore came courtesy of both bands with a dual Spanish/Mongolian version to the drinking song much to the delight of the crowd.. check it out for yourself on youku:
Maybe not the best show of the year but definitely in line for being one of the most fun ever! This was really a good mix of bands and sounds that was thought off by their common management company! Here’s looking forward to a repeat in May when the spaniards come back.
I’m really starting to dig Mako as a venue for this type of shows.. they’re a more spacious Mao basically with a better bar.