The Summer Music Died…. in Beijing
it’s been a weird summer. it’s been a really weird summer! To put it in perspective, I’ve only been to a handful of shows since the final ‘dazeFEAST. There was a time i did that many shows the same week. So yeah, it’s been a weird summer.
I remember 4 years ago, I was hanging out with J-curls during world cup time and he mentioned that he couldn’t wait for the world cup to be over so that music could come back. Which it did! This time around, none of us harboured such hope.more than a month after the world cup finished, we’re forced to conclude one thing: It has been the summer that music died!
The Bands are gone:
The good bands are gone from Beijing, pure and simple! Everyone is out touring in festivals all over China and/or internationally. Anyone that has a name of some sort and can be marketed a slight bit has pretty much packed up and gone touring. Hanggai has been jetting between Europe and Asia, Rolling Bowling did Europe, Ajinai is overseas, longshendao in Canada, the Ningxia crew playing all over the country etc..
The only exception is the punks. The punks are in town and have been rocking up a storm over at School. And school was the only venue to keep up an excellent schedule throughout the summer, and they deserve some big kuddos for that. That said, the quality is just not there, with a few exceptions.
Basically, the bands left in town were the bands that didn’t have time to go on tour or play, bands that nobody wanted on their festival bill, or bands that were just not good enough… and god knows there are just too many of those.
2 Kolegas Factor:
Summer is the season of 2 Kolegas and has always been. This year, regardless of the poopoo that took place a few weeks back, they’ve pretty much pulled one hell of a disappearing act. Long gone are the ningxia parties, the reggae parties etc.. Heck, the last big event there was pretty much ‘dazeFEAST.
They went for weeks without advertising a single show sometimes and the city’s music scene is a lot worse for it.
Beijing losing the draw?
What i’m hoping is that this is not a general indication of what’s coming in Beijing. Rent are going up, people are still reluctant to pay for tickets but they’ll gladly drop 5 times the amount on booze. Musicians are forced to live further away from downtown and incur higher transportation costs, making shows even less profitable. The political climate is also not the most favourable right now with the various crackdowns, be it for local or foreign acts.
In the meantime, other cities are developing more of a live music culture and that, associated with a much lower cost of life, might just be the deciding factor in them staying here or leaving.
The new guard is nowhere:
An issue that’s been coming up in conversations with pretty much ever live house manager/owner is that there are no new bands that are worthwhile. Nothing, zilch… As far as most of us agree on, the last good bands to come out were Residence A, AV Akubo and Nine Treasures. It’s already been a few years since those two broke through. Where is the new guard? heck, even most of the bands from that era have vanished ( remember guaili, 24 hours etc..)
back in 2009, where record companies tried their hands at managing live houses and gigs, they almost single handedly brought down the industry: Only their bands played and established bands would rarely share the stage with the young/upcoming ones. They were left with nowhere to go and nowhere to play. You had to be in the clique to be invited. When they finally realised what was happening, it was almost too late. but the damage has been done!
I’m not trying to talk down the live houses or the bands… they worked with what they had as far as availability and talent. This scene has always suffered from a lot of mediocrity but there were always a few bright spots. This summer, there was none!
On the bright side, autumn is knocking at the door and we’re finally gonna get some action back in town… Tongue is getting their album release show soon and we have both the hardcore and punk festivals happening by month’s end bringing in some energy from the likes SMZB and King Lychee.
September, we’re so looking forward to your arrival.