There were pretty much as many choices on saturday as there was on friday of this past weekend with the jam over at xuanwumen as well as Ma Tiao Sessions at Zajia lab… add to that a secret little show by La Pegatina at 2 Kolegas… I debated long and hard heading to xuanwumen but unfortunately, it was just incompatible with the rest of the night. Ma Tiao at Zajia labs won out for the first part.
I had been hearing about the zajia labs session for a while and was curious to check them out. Where the hell were they supposed to put the bands in such a small space? turns out they had a whole stage area setup across the hallway from the main drinking spot… Nothing too big, just a cozy little space that might seat 50 at the most with a workable sound system, at least for folk type acts. Ticket was on the steep side with RMB60 for one act but given the cozy nature of the performance, it’s justifiable… at least I didn’t mind!
In true Beijing fashion, it started a bit on the late side but I still did manage to catch a good 10 songs before i ran off to 2 Kolegas…. but no matter how hard I wanted to like the show, something was missing: Soul and Spirit! The reason i like Ma Tiao back in the days was his edge and his passion as he performed…. it’s something sorely missing from his performances of late and saturday was no difference: the mustang has been tamed and is going with the flow.
The only time I’ve seen the old passionate Ma Tiao play come to think of it was a few months ago for an improvised set at Jianghu when he was beyond drunk and pulled off an amazing 20mn….
On saturday, as I mentioned, he seemed like he was barely there, going through the motions.. when you’re playing simple blues rock progressions with poppish vocals, it just doesn’t work for me! At least on some of the songs, like 城市 or 山水 or even 阳光中的向日葵, there is a special flavor Uighur that stands out… the rest? vanilla and a waste of my time. He was never the stereotypical Xinjiang musician and did more folk rock blues than flamenco style rhythmic but now I just don’t get it!
Keep an eye on the zajia labs though… there’s an upcoming session with song yuzhe that could be definitely worthwhile.