Last thursday, Mako Livehouse (not to be confused with MAO Livehouse) hosted a great live-aid type show nicknamed “A Prayer for Yushu” to raise money and awareness for the victims and survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Qinghai a few weeks ago. It was the first event of the sort (that I am aware of) held in support of this disaster and what an event it was!
I arrived a bit late so missed the 8:00 pm start but there was nothing to worry about as the show was scheduled to go on for a few hours.. and boy did it ever: There were plenty of scheduled performances by the heavyweights of the local Folks music scene, performing solo and even joining forces in some cases for impromptu jam sessions!
I’d be lying if i said i kept track of everyone that played or that i actually knew who everyone was as i had no clue in certain cases and neither did some of the other audience members but we ate it all up and enjoyed every note (almost).
There were so many, almost too many, too keep track off but some were indeed mindblowing: I got in on time for Mamer, the kazakh eagle, who delighted the crowd with songs in Mandarin in addition to others in his traditional dialect. Dong Zi, Mr. Folk in China, came on after that and delivered a masterful powerful set that had the audience mesmerized! Zhou Yunpen (think Ray Charles with a guitar) also came on to a huge applaud and received a standing ovation by the 600+ strong crowd. Xiao He, the madman of Folk, took some time of his busy schedule to perform a few songs! His might have been the shortest set but it was delivered in masterful fashion.
Another magic moment came with the unannounced reunion of Evening News, a veteran act of the Chinese Rock scene. Their performance definitely clashed with the folk/acoustic theme of the night but the audience loved every second of it: They welcomed them like old friends from afar who finally came back in for a visit!
Their set also marked the most emotionally charged moment of the night for me when the guitar player came up to the microphone and sang the Tibetan Prayer to the Dead.. I had chills going down my spine for that one!
Overall, there were about 20 performances and I was told that the show kept going strong for another 2 hours after I left slightly past midnight.
At some point, it was announced that there had been 670 tickets sold at the door which is quite a decent turnout IMHO for a show that was postponed and organized fairly last minute. Also, the crowd was decidedly local with maybe a dozen foreigners gracing the grounds. That is no doubt due to the location of Mako as well as the possible confusion with Mao. Nevertheless, the audience was there in good numbers and very much into the performances.
I’m not sure who Mako’s target audience is going to be but on that particular night, much like on my previous visit there, the crowd was an interesting mix of students and older folk. The availability of proper seating space is probably scoring Mako points with that later age group.
Color me impressed! This was my second trip to Mako and it cemented my initial impressions: This is a great venue for live shows! The sounds system is probably amongst the best in Beijing and extremely suitable for acoustic/unplugged type of shows. I had some doubts when Evening News started playing with their electric instruments as there was a bit of reverb but the sound guy had it fixed within minutes.
The drinks at Mako are also quite affordable and diverse with a staff that seems to enjoy what they were doing. I had no problems getting them to make White Russians my way and god knows I’m a picky SOB when it comes to those.
I remember an outpour of passion and solidarity for Haiti with 3 concerts in Beijing as well as numerous fundraising events. The response and reaction to help the Qinghai victims is nowhere near! Here’s hoping there are more initiatives of the sort!
More about some of the bands: