a lot was said in the comments on the lead up to this show in terms of band quality and who was deserving of spots over in Austin, none of it mattered come showtime last thursday at Yugong Yishan. I feared Yugong being overtaken by the lensless cool crowd but thankfully, that was not the case!
A decent turnout of 300+ music fans were out to see a rare pairing of bands before they took off for Austin. I actually expected it to be too much, especially with Carsick Cars on the bill. The darlings of the Indie scene have been know to fill up the place. All the bands, rookies and veterans, had a chance to show up and be accounted for… did they?
Deadly Cradle Death opened up the festivities with what I can only describe as noise. My untrained and unappreciative ears had a hard time figuring out if that was the speakers going bezerk or someone making random noise onstage. Not my cup of tea folks so make up your own mind!
Next up was old ‘daze darlings: Rustic… I have a hard time thinking of that band without Rikki Sixx and I’m not the only one. For the first two songs, it was just bizarre seeing the band up there without the familiar high kicks, antics, gyrations and hip thrusts. The lack of chemistry was also noticeable! Many a time you could see Lucifer looking over his shoulder for a ghost, expecting a little something extra that wasn’t there! Li Fan, the drummer, has picked up some more of the slack in terms of vocals while the new kid on the block gets used to things. Musically, the band was alright! Some songs were tighter than before, others were a bit too loose and there is nothing really to distract a discerning audience from bad tuning. They did manage to get it all together with the last song, Rock n Roll for Money and Sex. Having been a Rustic fan for so long, I can see the differences but I can also see there is a future for the trio musically. They’re just not ready yet… I wish they had another couple of months to work out the kicks before being shipped to Austin where they could be eaten alive if they look so tentative! Still, there is hope! One thing that bears mentioning though, there seemed to be a little shift in their sound towards a heavy indie theme..
Nova Heart took over the entertainment after that! I’ve gone on the record criticizing them over the past few months saying that I expected better from Helen and her crew… well, we got better! This was the most inspired i’ve seen Helen onstage since the Christmas Shinding at 2 kolas back in 2009… yeah, that long! I’m still not a huge fan of this sound but i can appreciate when it’s well executed! I find myself every so often wishing for more diversity in the beats and a real drummer.. There were a few gaps in some of the songs, some empty tempos where a little badabang could have helped. I’ve heard a bit of criticism from friends who thought Wang Hui didn’t really cut it on guitar but i beg to differ. I felt he had stage presence and knew when to come in or get out of the way. Helen Feng was in top form running around, dancing away and connecting with the audience… she actually looked relaxed!
I’m an electro ignoramus but i was entertained and caught myself dancing to the beats more often than not. Austin is gonna love these guys.
Finally, it was Carsick Cars time! Now, I’ve bitched them out more times than i care to mention and will probably continue to do so! That said, I gotta respect what they do and they earned a few extra notches on the respect ladder with Thursday’s performance! They had the floor at Yugong hopping non-stop throughout the whole set… Any band that can do that with this type of tough audience gets kudos in my book. This is the second time i seen them where they don’t even play their live anthem, Zhongnanhai, and that takes balls when you know the audience expects it at every turn. Musically, they actually sound better! Much like with Nova Heart, this is not my favorite kinda sound but if that’s what they do, that’s what they do. Funny thing for the evening is that I enjoyed the performance but some friends who are actually big Carsick Cars fan were less than impressed… Go figure!
Austin knows them and they will be welcomed back.
I’m glad I made it out that night… sure, it sounds like I’m drinking the koolaid ( *wink wink*) but i’ll beg to differ. The kids did good that day and might do even better! I’m really not a fan of Rustic going unprepared like that.. it’s a different band headed to Austin and that’s not who was invited.
As far as the other kids go, I just wish them all luck! I’m hoping to catch Re-TROS this saturday though…