There’s been a lot of noise around Beijing recently with an infamous artist writing a piece about how Beijing has lost it among others. There’s also been a lot of bickering in the press and the discussion forums about traffic, increased cost of life, pollution and what not! What’s happening to the city? The first set of answers came indirectly from good friend Kaiser Kuo on his goodbye column that you can read here: http://www.thebeijinger.com/blog/2011/11/03/Auf-Wiedersehen-Ein-Beijinger-Says-Goodbye This saturday, a very distinguished panel of what i consider knowledgeable China Hands will gather at Capital M at 4 PM and dissect Beijing’s Soul, if it’s got any… Danwei’s Jeremy Goldkorn, David Moser, Kaiser Kuo and author Zha Jianying will be the surgeons in charge of said dissection. This Saturday, December 3, CET and Sinica will present “The Soul of Beijing,” a live podcast event about where Beijing is and where the city could be going as it barrels into the future, at Beijing’s Capital M restaurant. From the event page: Where is Beijing headed in the 21st century? What sort of city is it morphing into? Has it found a way to maintain its role as political and cultural capital while keeping its historical character and ineffable personality? Why do we still love it so, despite it’s toxic air, its horrific traffic, its disastrous fengshui? And is it in danger of losing its soul? Join us for a lively and thoughtful discussion with Renaissance man Kaiser Kuo , author Zha Jianying (”China Pop” [...]
Seriously, as the title says, where were you? Heck, did you even hear about it? That’s what I found myself wondering as i was standing in the middle of a pretty darn empty Tango on sunday night watching some pretty darn good musicians play for a good cause. Was it the rain? nope, Sunday night was the better night for attendance as far as I knew. What was it then? How about god old fashioned lack of promotion??? The event was pretty much not listed anywhere at all and that sucks… How the hell do you go about putting a 3 day charity concert at Tango and not promote it properly? sad sad… anyways, those of us that came and were there on day 3, we were treated to some pretty special performances… let’s recap the action: Longjin, whom I never heard off before, opened up the festivities. They’re listed as a funk rock band…they didn’t sound like it. Heck, they didn’t sound like much but we’ll be nice on this one and just say: Don’t go out of your way to see them. Exit A was up next and that was not a good surprise as I expected Residence A to play.. my bad! It gave me an opportunity to check out the band after almost a year and a half of avoiding them. I had some hope for the band while Wang Yuqi 王钰琪 was with them but since his departure, they just started swimming along the shores [...]
I’m a huge fan of the Sinica Podcast series hosted by Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn. The topics are pretty well picked and more often than not relevant in regards to the China we live in. Last week, the guys tackled the music industry, or a small subsection of it, with the help of Michael Pettis ( D-22/Maybe Mars) and Archie Hamilton ( Split Works/ China Music Radar) http://popupchinese.com/lessons/sinica/the-china-rock-podcast The discussion covered a range of issues with some valuable opinions and comments made by all parties. It makes an interesting addition to last month’s issue of The Beijinger that yours truly was part off. I’ll come back later with some detailed thoughts on this one.
I’m a big fan of cover bands and would rather listen to good cover than a shitty original. Sure, Beijing has its share with The Beijing Beatles ( apparently 2 different bands), Purple Smog or Muse among others. Still, the reigning kings of the Cover Band scene, years later, are still Dirty Deeds with Kaiser Kuo and Jaime Welton at the helm. Rush Hour might aspire to get there if the members stick around and play often enough. When i caught them a week ago, you could easily notice the improvements when compared to their first go a little while back. Dave’s voice is more up to it and the Marcus is getting more comfortable with his drumming. Kaiser can play those songs with his eyes closed. That particular friday, they did Free Will, La Villa Strangiato and Red Barchetta (see video below).. pretty cool guys, keep it up! I’d love to here Temple of Syrinx whenever you get around to it Not bad, eh?
ChunQiu was never your traditional Metal band, they’ve always done things differently in trying to bring elements of Chinese Folk into Rock music, most specifically the metal variety. That’s one of the reasons their songs are quite pleasant when done acoustically. I could be wrong but i think that’s what Yang Meng, who founded the band along with Kaiser Kuo, brings to the table. When I heard that he was branching out with his own folk solo project, Diary of Sun City 太阳城日记, I was really curious to hear how it would be different from the band’s unplugged sets. Last friday, at the release party show, was the perfect opportunity to check it out and see it for myself. The place was comfortably full when I got there around 9:30 with Yang Meng, Kaiser Kuo and Kou Zheng Yu digging into classic ChunQiu material in between solo songs. They played two sets to an audience that was mostly appreciative of the performance. Yang’s bandmates also served as his backing section for his new material on most songs except two when he solo-ed it on guitar. How was the new stuff? unsurprisingly similar to the older stuff and I do not mean that in a bad way. It’s a positive statement. What Yang Meng and the gang have done is really merge the monophonic Chinese folk with foreign harmonies and arrangements. There’s a flamenco inspired rhythm at times that vanishes in favor of a bluesier sound only to come back again [...]
Last week, the one and only Kaiser Kuo along with a few friends decided to put on a Rush tribute at Gulou 121 under the name “Rush Hour”. That has kickstarted a whole Rush craving whereby I’ve spent the past week or so listening to 2112 all the time. I made it there friday night for the first of two nights and got myself a decent 45 with songs like Freewill and limelight amongst others. The real feat of the night was that drummer Markus had never heard Rush before and had not played drums in a while. Yet, he was able to play Peart’s parts well enough out of music sheets… that is one major up! Kaiser’s guitar playing is as tight and exemplary as ever, the man works on his craft. Dave’s bass was good but his vocals suffered on some songs. I wished they had played Tom Sawyer and The Temples Of Syrinx but the guys just didn’t have enough time to practice and put things together. That said, I loved it and hope Kaiser can get some extra help and make this a regular thing. It was my first time at Gulou 121. The sounds system was pretty darn good for such a small venue, the staff was friendly and drink prices reasonable. I don’t usually as for more from a live music venue. The seating setup is definitely not conducive to big show or headbanging kinda performances but I’ll be back there. I would have [...]
Last weekend looked boring on paper but i still ended up at 2 shows, both of which were interesting/good. This coming weekend is looking like it’s gonna be one of those crazy ones with multiple gig nights because they’re all sounding good right now. It’s kicking off tonight with Hanggai & Blackwater at Yugong Yishan. I’ll be writing about some of them a bit more later in the week but for now, here’s what’s gonna be cooking Friday Kaiser Kuo & Friends cover Rush@ Gulou 121: (updated) Our good friend and rock legend Kaiser Kuo put together this one off lineup so that his old band-mate could get to play in Beijing. Knowing Kaiser, they’ve been practicing like crazy and will cover Rush classics. Two sets planned, one at 9:30 and then 11:00 Amazing Insurance Salesmen + Made in Ningxia @2Kolegas: on a night like this, things starting late at 2 kolegas work out really well to catch the Rush gig then head over to the drive in. Expect a night of raunchy partying to celebrate the fact that Buyi are back in town and GBoB winner, The Amazing Insurance Salesmen, will be there too. 4 Good bands on the lineup… wouldn’t wanna miss it. ( WU & The Side Effect as well as Nucleus round up the bill) SUBS & Friends @ Yugong: The Queen of F%&king Everything brings her friends for a good evening of punk rock with He Yang, Bigger Bang and Chasing Stars advertised. I like [...]
The show was labelled “Passing the Torch” this past saturday at Yugong Yishan with really old school bands The Face面孔, Thin Man瘦人乐队 and Zhou Ren. I remembered noticing the lineup a few weeks ago but somehow, it still managed to fly under the radar. By the time i got there, Zhou Ren had already played but Thin Man was just getting started! These guys have been around the block for a few years now and were one of the first bands whose CD i got in China. Progressive yet classic with a charismatic front man. I remember back in 2007 at the Chaoyang Pop festival kicking the ball around on the grass with them and I’ve kept a little special place for them in my heart. On saturday, they had clearly slowed down a bit with frontman Dai Qin looking his age. Long gone is the long hair, replaced by a cap. The vocals were slightly off compared to 3 years ago and there was a bit of going through the motions early on in the performance. But then, towards the end of their set, they raised it up a notch or two, delivering the kind of show and intensity I’ve come to expect of them. One music insider spoke of them as one of the bands whose contributions to the Chinese Rock scene will go forgotten in the grand scheme of things and that’s a shame. They brought a lot to the table and can still rock with the [...]