Ember Swift, the Laowai Anthem and a Petition to Deemer

I’ve managed to miss just about every single Ember Swift performance in Beijing since the first time I saw her along with Jess Meider at the bookworm almost a year ago…. it’s not that i didn’t try, but there was always some reason or another for me to be either on the other side of town if not the other side of the planet…. until last week that is. Having been busy recording, she hasn’t played much lately so when the date was set for her return to Jiangjinjiu, I made sure I would be there… and boy was it worth it!


I can’t say the turnout was big, which sucks for the artist but it was comfortable enough to have a seat which is a rarity these days over there. Between the Ma Tiao and Miserable Faith gigs, my last trips there saw the place packed tighter than a can of sardines.


Her music is good! She is good! I could leave it to just that. The girl has a great voice, rocks up a mean guitar and is not afraid to talk back to the audience which i find refreshing. The backup band consisting of the funny Zac Courtney and the Girl-with-the-hip-tatoo were on spot. I’m digging Zac’s freestyle drumming a lot.
They did some of the songs i had heard before to a good crowd reaction but nothing could match the reaction she got from locals and foreigners alike when she launched into her “Wo bu zhi shi yi ge lao wai” (I’m not ONLY a foreigner 我不只是一个老外).
If that song is not the anthem for every foreigner in China at some point or another in their stay here, then I don’t know what is. It’s funny, witty, abrasive enough without being impolite and really describes a reality we’ve all faced, especially in the backwater cities. The “Hello” shouting, the staring and everything else that comes with it.

I want this song on my playlist yesterday… and I wanna lobby for Andy Deemer, of poultrygeist fame and zombie girl fame, to direct the video. We’ve already thrown around a few ideas involving a bunch of construction workers from dongbei doing the “hello” screaming section…. so, Andy and Ember, how about that?

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