I love that we have such a strong music scene here in Beijing, but when you have so many livehouses with shows on and then throw in an Aircraft carrier rave and Moon Beach party just outside the city, what you end up with is a dilution of fans; and bands who deserve to be playing to full houses, instead playing to an almost empty room. This is unfortunately what happened last night when Chengdu psychedelic rockers Proximity Butterfly came to Yugong Yishan for the last stop in their album tour ‘Pillars of Creation’.
Bedstars, the ‘darlings’ of the Maybe Mars label opened the night to a dismal crowd, many of whom disappeared outside during the set. We were told we should expect big things for these 4 kids, but I wont be wasting my time or door fee seeing them again anytime soon! They play an un-original style of uk indie rock and to me every song sounded the same. That possibly was aided by the fact they were drunk as skunks during the set. In fact the only highlight was the guitarist literally nose diving off the stage during the first song, head first into the photographer’s pit. There was a little delay while he was picked up, guitar checked and for a moment we thought they may not continue (which would have been a good thing!) Sorry boys, but you got a long way to go before you’ll get any kudos from me!
Next up ‘daze central favourites Rustic. Ricky had broken his ankle, so the signature high kicks were out. Instead he was wheeled on stage by his sunglass wearing ‘doctor’ who spent the set wheeling him around while he played. The sparse crowd really got into the tunes, even a rare appearance of ‘Poison Ivy’ a song they don’t play often. Halfway through the set Ricky jumped out of his wheelchair and sat on the edge of the stage to play and Lucifer quickly joined him. The crowd assisted by holding their microphones and the show took a more intimate, but none less wild turn. Someone in the audience was giving Ricky a hard time, until he finally told them to “bi zui’ and Li Fan came out from behind the drums to defend him. I don’t know I it’s possible but this may have been more entertaining than a usual Rustic set!
Finally the band I’ve been waiting to see for over a year took the stage, Proximity Butterfly. The first half of their set was the heavier songs, from their both last album and the new one. The small crowd really got into ‘Tiptoes of Shiva’ a few songs in. Unfortunately when you stick what was essentially a D22 crowd into a venue the size of Yugong the vibe is not great. There was plenty of toe tapping and nodding, but none of the ecstatic dancing and moshing I was hoping to be part of. I spent most of the set right up front, trying to ignore the people behind me, captivated by singer Joshua’s immense stage presence. We have so many bored shoe-gazer bands in this city, that it’s great to see someone show so much passion and emotion on stage. And his voice, although a little drowned out by the music at the start of the set, was also equally amazing. Those of us show stayed around until the end of the set were rewarded by the slower, more moving songs – Sacrifice, Sadness and the highlight of the night for me – the mesmerizing Evil. The Yugong sound system which I so often complain about, was actually not bad tonight, and I really like how Heather’s bass was turned up loud!
BD and I got the chance to chat with Joshua and Heather during the night and they were both really humble and down to earth. While you could tell the turn out was disappointing, they were still on a high from the last night’s show in Shanghai, supported by the Fever Machine. I realise the show was moved from Maybe Mar’s home base of D22 in the hope it would be a full house. But with so many events on and big parties outside the city, I was really disappointed with the turn out. In Chengdu, where there are only a handful of live venues, Proximity Butterfly plays to packed out venues. They come to the big city and play to barely 200 people. This one probably would have been better staying out in the Wu – where at least they place would have felt more full.
While I too kinda wish I had been in Shanghai on Friday to see the show there instead, I still really enjoyed the show. As much as I love Rustic, I agree with BD – how awesome would this show have been with Beijing’s best pyschadelic rockers Wu & the Side Effects or AIS in support? I’m overdue for a trip to Chengdu, so I think I’ll try to time it with a show at The Little Bar to see Proximity Butterfly in their natural environment.