This has been one hell of an interested weekend all over Beijing with great performances, once in a lifetime events, reunions, festivals and what not. I was dead set on the Back to Basics concert at Workers Stadium for Friday night but I ended up at Yugong Yishan instead for Zippo Hot List with Chasing Stars, Bigger Bang, Free the Birds and The Face. I did not regret it!
I was surprised at the size of the turnout considering the number of big scale music events around town with Tanglewood festival and the Gongti show but there must have been a good 350 people at YGYS.. however, about 1/2 the audience had managed to score tickets for free somehow.
Chasing Stars 追星族 opened up the festivities with a full lineup including drummer Wang Yun who’s been mostly with Bad Apples over the past few years! Singer Guo Keyu looked visibly nervous as it’s been a long time since she’s been on stage singing due to her movie obligation! There was a noticeable hesitation and self doubt in her demeanor during the first few songs but she picked herself up eventually and performed like i remembered. Her voice is just incredible..
Most of the sounds/songs remain the same and those that did not received a big Keyboards/synth treatment with a bit of trip-hop feeling that i really do not care for. My favorite song of theirs since 2006, wenti zai nali, has been slaughtered to the point of me rather listening to Xiao He instead! I mentioned this during a quick conversation with Ou Yang after the gig and he said they were considering bringing back the original!.. yay!
Bigger Bang was up next! This is the third time i see them in such a short span of time and they’re growing on me! Pupi is even starting to look quite attractive with her new sense of fashion which include dresses and mini skirts!
She’s is many ways reminiscent of Kang Mao with less screaming! The bands played their classic gigs like Shanghai Love and threw in a few curve balls such as a punked up cover of Joan Jett’s “I hate myself for loving you” that had the crowd jumping up and down!
To my general surprise, Free the Birds was up next! I expected them to be the Headliner. This was going to be the first time in 3 months that Helen Feng would be on stage and I was really curious. How would her foot hold, how would Mao Mao last show with the band be, how would the audience react etc….
Let me tell you folks, it was all freaking good! it was goddamn amazing and the band delivered! They came out covered in blueish paint and proceeded to to just tear things apart! Guitars were on the spot, drums on the spot, bass thundering… not to mention the voice and stage presence of one Helen Feng! At this particular moment in Beijing, I am ready to crown her “The Queen of Live”!
Their set lasted about an hour and reached a climax with the sensual and provocative “free the birds” where every male ( and even female) in the audience would have given anything to be that microphone stand, the high octane cover of “Helter Skelter” and finally the crowd favorite “take it off”. Helen, we missed ya babe! please please don’t hurt yourself again! oh.. I those red panties were hot…
There was rousing applause for Free the Birds from an audience that throughly enjoyed their performance… and for good reasons!
Last but no least was The Face, veteran metal band that’s been around for quite some time now! They share Ou Yang as bass player with Chasing Stars and they’re solid. The crowd was substantially thinner with about 100 or so remaining in the pit for what turned out to be a decent metal performance! The Face don’t do anything special but what they do, they do right! we had loads of headbanging, some pretty sweet riffs, semblance of a power ballad and back to some blistering riffs. Seemed that at least a few audience members were familiar with their songs and were able to song along! I gotta get me some of those tracks!
Overall, yet another good installment of the Zippo series which are fast becoming one of my favorite regular series of events in Beijing. They’re picking decent lineup that seem to mesh and work well together! Ruby made a remark about how the best band always plays 3rd at Zippo events while another one comes on to close the show for them… that certainly was the case last friday! An added bonus to making it to this particular gig was an impromptu hour long conversation with none other than Helen Feng herself after all the songs were over! Folks, she’s all that and more! One hell of a well spoken and articulate individual that oozes personality and energy!