Beijingdaze Note: I really wanted to make it out to Shunyi this year for this little festival.. but a 7:00 a.m return home from the first day of 2 Kolegas anniversary bash somehow got in my way. I’m glad however that good friend and banjo player extraordinaire, Peter Schloss, was able and willing to send in his review!
By: Peter Schloss
Standing in the courtyard of Pomme O’Shea’s as the curtains closed on the 7th Annual Rynostock Music Festival, my wingman (and attorney) casually asked, “Do you think anyone knows what they’re missing by not being here?”
As BeijingDaze had not made his oft talked about, but never actually experienced, trek to Beijing’s Northeastern suburbs, I surmised that unfortunately Beijing’s music scenesters wouldn’t be able to know how good this Festival had become unless they had been there to see for themselves.
You can understand my excitement then when my phone rang early Sunday morning and I was asked by the Man himself if I would “guest blog” about Rynostock*.
Imagining myself as a modern-day Lester Bangs, I jumped at the chance for fame and fortune and began organizing the voluminous notes I had luckily taken throughout Saturday. So, without further ado, I give you a Rynostock Running Diary.
4:00pm: Bad Apples, the band from the International School of Beijing (not to be confused with the long-time fixtures on the Beijing music scene with the same name), get things started on the outdoor stage and puts on a courageous show in front of a somewhat circumspect audience. Playing a combination of jam band, funk and original tunes, the boys of ISB show off some nice musicianship as well as custom made guitars. Wesley Kwok displays some aspirational Guitar-God chops. I overhear one converted fan say that she will like the band even better when all of them turn 18.
4:46pm: Chaos reigns supreme as beer and food vendors have obviously not received the memo that band members are supposed to get free food and drink throughout the day.
4:48pm: All under control on the free beer and food front as the mix-up, and potential ensuing catastrophe, gets resolved. Some karaoke type singers on the indoor stage while the outdoor stage gets prepped for the Berlin Mummies.
5:20pm: The Randy Abel Stable gets things going on the indoor stage with their high-octane mix of bluegrass, country and blues. I don’t think many in the large crowd have ever seen or heard a banjo or mandolin in Beijing before. Randy Abel, the band’s namesake helms harmonica and lead vocals, tearing through the one-hour set with bluegrass traditionals like Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms and clever bluegrass turns on rock classics like Wild Horses and All Along the Watchtower.
5:45: Berlin Mummies rocking the outdoor stage as a real battle of the bands get going. People can’t decide between indoors or outdoors and many choose to split the action (as it is equally hot in both locations—both temperature and music-wise).
6:30: The boys from Maggie Who, by now, wizened veterans of Rynostock; take the stage with as near to their original lineup as they’ve been in a year. Brian Cormack, Phil Schloss, Jim Tseng and Mitchell Trent, give the crowd everything they hoped for (and more) with a mix of hard rocking originals and covers. While their usual frenetic show is somewhat limited by a small stage, its obvious regular gigging in Wudaokou and other Beijing venues has allowed them to perfect their craft. Rumors swirl throughout their set that this will be their last show. This only adds to the rousing send-off Maggie Who receives.
7:35: Management of the Pomme makes a great PR move and declares this a free festival for the residents of Baixinzhuang. Hopefully this decision will keep the police from shutting things down early because of complaints from the neighborhood. The immediate result is wide-eyed villagers soaking in the spectacle of rock in roll amongst a gaggle of increasingly inebriated festival-goers. The streets surrounding the Pomme have become a sea of people, with a circus like atmosphere of jugglers, acrobats and rope tricks.
8:06pm: Perhaps the strangest performance of the day takes place on the outdoor stage by the Beijing Beatles. Sporting wigs and dressed in replicas of the uniforms on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, these “lads” played note perfect versions of Beatles hits including Help, Ticket to Ride, and I Want to Hold Your Hand. The highlight of their set is the kids from the Baixinzhaung village giving thumbs-up as they sit on the edge of the stage watching in awe.
9:15: The crowd starts to get antsy as it waits for headliners Out of Control. First though, a reggae band takes the stage much to the chagrin of almost everyone in attendance. Going by the name de guerre “The Bob Marley Band” these Rastafarians, shake Shunyi to its roots with Trenchtown classics, No Woman No Cry, Get Up Stand Up and I Shot the Sherriff. The temperature at the Pomme is now definitely 93 Degrees in the Shade.
10:30pm: Taking in the Rynostock vibe for most of the day as spectators, Out of Control hit the stage with a vengeance. Hailing from all over China, this quartet now calls Beijing home, and is the hottest thing going in local music mix. After telling the crowd in near perfect English “we are all old friends” (as O.O.C. has played Rynostock for several years), frontman Scott Chen launches the band into a howling assortment of both English and Chinese songs.
Chen stalks the stage, radiating a distilled passion like a Lizard King redux, as his aggressively raw but tightly wound rhythm section bolsters driving and evocative guitar riffs. Musically these boys are real professionals. Guaranteed never to hit a bad note. Performance-wise, at their best tonight, O.O.C. just rocks and socks you right out of your chair. You can’t help but dig them.
Well, that’s that from Rynostock**
* It seems that BeijingDaze had never made it to Shunyi as he had yet to return from the 2 Kolegas Birthday Bash that began on Friday night.
** Blogger’s Note: A very appreciative crowd called Out of Control back onstage for an encore. After lurching into a song, suddenly everything went silent and black. It seems that an unappreciative villager had cut the power. So much for community outreach.
Thanks again to Peter for taking the time to write this and send pictures over. If you have time, you should definitely make it over to Hot Cat Club on saturday to see him along with the Randy Abel Stable
Also, note that Maggie Who has at least one last performance in them: ‘dazeFEAST on june 25, 2011