So I was stuck in Shanghai for the week (well OK, 3 days, but it felt like a week!) and thought I’d try to catch some music while I was there. It seems there’s only two live music venues in existence now, thanks to Expo restrictions, and apparently no mid-week gigs?! Mao Livehouse is still laying low after recent closures and only advertising weekend shows, but I was luckily able to find a Thursday night gig listing at Yuyintang for French guitarist One Lick Less, so I went along to check it out.
Got there around 9.30pm with a couple of Chinese workmates J & A in tow (their choice to tag along, not mine!) The place was dead, and when I say dead, I mean apart from us there was a bar chick and door boy, and no sign of the band at all. People started rolling in just before 10 when it was scheduled to start, but I don’t think there were more than 30 people in the place all night. A little disappointing for the only gig in town!
My first time at Yuyintang and I like this little place. It’s got that dive bar feel, kinda like a smaller 2K, but without the outdoors area. Has some cool artwork on the walls too. With a French artist on the bill, there was of course a small but vocal francophone contingent present, along with a few random music lovers enjoying their beers – Y30 for ja-pi, not too bad for Shanghai! The music kicked off around 10.20, which is pretty early by Beijing standards, although J had already admitted to being slightly “stroppy” that they didn’t start on time. (Where did she learn that word?! And why did she come ….)
So I’d heard a little of One Lick Less on his Myspace page and he sounded interesting, and that he was. First up playing an electric guitar he made himself. It was exactly what I had hoped for tonight, loud blues influenced guitar. They’d had some issues during the sound check and the microphone was pretty low, so you couldn’t really hear the vocals well, but the guitar was great. The first song went for maybe 10 mins or possibly longer? (Unfortunately J did not find this to her taste and was almost blocking her ears! But she wanted to stay …)
After a couple of songs he moved to a “normal guitar” and played some softer, mellower folky tunes. This microphone was louder, and the soft melodic vocals blended well with the tunes. His bio mentions contributing to film soundtracks and I could definitely hear this is the moving instrumental style he payed with.
It was around an hour long set all up, moving back and forth between guitars and mixing the tempo and intensity of the music. I wished the microphone beside the home-made guitar could have a been louder to catch the rough howling vocals which were being almost drowned out by the guitar. Would have loved to hang round after the set to chat, but my workmates were ready to rush out the door as soon as the music stopped, maybe worried about turning into pumpkins at midnight?
I think we’re a little spoiled music-wise up here in Beijing! A trip down south really makes you appreciate the choice and variety of live music we have on offer here. One Lick Less will be heading up north for a gig at D-22 on August 3. Yes, it’s a Tuesday night gig, but that’s no excuse to miss it! Hopefully he will get a better turn out than what I saw in Shanghai. I’m keen to make the trek out to Wu to catch him again (sans workmates this time!) Who knows, I may even be able to convince BD to pop his D-22 cherry and join me for this one??
Catch him at D-22 Tuesday night August 3, 2010.