So last year at some point, the Beijinger managing editor promised a New Music Showcase and the team set out to deliver.
The result was called “The Beijinger New Music Showcase” that took place last week over at 2 Kolegas… The promise was for the audience to discover new music, drink a lot of beer ( free flow from 4:00 to 11:00pm included Slow Boat, Vedett, Tiger and Budweiser) and have one hell of a party. I got there a little late on the day so I missed the first few bands that went on, namely Not There and Pacololo but I did manage to catch Residence A, Stiletto, Elephant Fresh,Ronnie’s Will, Bad Mamasan, the new SUBS and the Amazing Insurance Salesmen.. That is a decent lineup worth the admission price , especially at RMB100 ( btw, full disclosure, I didn’t pay to get into this gig). I was excited to actually catch some band I hadn’t seen before along with some sure values. Granted, the only really new band in the fold was Stiletto but we’ll deal with that later.
Residence A was on as i got there putting on a performance like only they can do. The played most of their usual songs but also had some new material that sounds a bit different, mellower than their early efforts. They had the crowd jumping throughout most of their set and the excitement boiled up with some moron pouring his beer over Zhao Zhao whom managed to not miss a beat and keep playing. Moron might be too nice of term actually… he was just a fucking dick! I’m hoping the kids managed to make enough of an impression and get a few more fans.
Stiletto were up next and they had me wondering what the fuck they were doing on that bill… While they were musically tight, the lead singer just didn’t have the voice for the cover songs they were doing. He did one original where his range was actually quite nice but other than that, hell no! I think I said something along the lines of “I’m going to puke 30 seconds into their cover of Billie Jean. There was however a reason I hadn’t heard about them before: Stiletto was a Beijinger experiment to see if they could put together a band in a few weeks.
Elephant Fresh played some interesting tunes and included Sindy+Romyn of 16mn fame. I didn’t actually care much for the hip hop side of things but there were some good moments
Ronnie’s Will has been making the rounds for quite sometimes. I even remember classified adds to put the band together from a while back. They took the stage with a vengeance and put in a decent little amount of Hardcore for the audience. not quite their target market but I like them. Good presence, nice tunes.. give them a little more time and they might actually hold their own with the likes of Unregenerate Blood or Return the Truth.
The 3 “headliners” were no strangers to the music scene but all had something new to try out:
Subs V. 2012: talk about weird.. SUBS without a bass player and Kang Mao using a Keyboard for effects. It actually took me a little while to get into it as i spent the early part dissecting the sounds and figuring out what was wrong. I must say i was surprised that it didn’t blow completely. The band sure didn’t sound like themselves 100% but they were not that different. Save for the few times Kang Mao was on the keyboard, she was pretty much up in everyone’s face doing what she does best. I’m willing to check them out with this lineup once they’ve tried it a few times but they need work on equilibrium. The voice and Face of the band can’t be pushed to the side of the stage. I hear their follow up gig a Mao Live for the punk festival went pretty well.
Bad Mamasan was getting the machine into 5th gear preparing for their upcoming new album release. They brought it a new song, a few originals and some crowd favorites. All sounding good. I think even the originals like God of War are actually starting to stick in some heads. I can’t wait for all the surprises they have in store SAturday night at Temple and if this showcase was any indication, they are in fighting form
The Amazing Insurance Salesmen came in last to close the show sadly to an almost empty space.. I’m really thinking they are cursed. There was still a decent enough turnout for them with some 40 odd people jumping up and down. They played a few new songs, some old one and pulled a few tricks here and there. Consistent AIS quality. Some of the new material is sounding good but there was one song i really did not care for. will have to double check on this.
Overall fun with the biggest crowds in there for Residence A and SUBS.. Other bands kept a steady 50 people in there listening to the music while others were enjoying the noise assault of Electronica
Thoughts and Ramblings: The Good
– It was nice to see the magazine try and get some more exposure to the music scene considering they’re moving away from it and that the music section, along with most of their other sections, is canned. Any exposure the scene gets, especially with the expat crowd that doesn’t leave sanlitun can be looked at as positive.
– A lot of promotion went into this and the whole idea of experimenting with starting a band can be interesting.
– Great value for the money to the concert goers.. People were happy.
– Good turnout despite the crappy weather. I think they probably had a good 350 to 400 people overall.
Thoughts and Ramblings: The Bad
– Having a DJ outside blaring sounds all along is disrespectful of the music and the bands. You’re trying to put together a music festival, then you put the bands first. There were times when the DJs drowned the music inside the venue. That is a huge No-No and completely disrespectful… That pissed the shit out of me! Not to mention that those DJs were crap IMHO.
– The “free flow” of beer completely killed the music spirit and brought in the douchebags in force unfortunately. Now, I’m not generalizing but there was a high number of them running around the lawn to the point where free beer was really the star of the show and quite a few of the folks that attended were honest about it. The obvious hint was that the place emptied out pretty much as soon as the free beer ran out…. so much for music showcase.
– There were a number of things behind the scene that took place which would discourage me from playing this kind of event if i were an artist/musician! Having spoken to a few of them during the party, they were all pretty pissed off at the organization.
Thoughts and Ramblings: What can be improved
– Other than their own prefabricated band, there was nothing about new music…not even close! Most of those bands have been around for years and some have even toured outside of China. It would have been more honest to say “Music Showcase”.. drop the “New” and make your life simple.
– Get organized and have someone dealing with the bands at all times explaining schedules and set times.
– Put a limit on soundcheck and changeovers… it took sometimes up to one hour between bands that played an average of 30mn each.
– With so much free booze running around, you know there will be tons of people. Plan the food accordingly, especially in the later hours where everyone is in an advanced state of liquid refreshments.
– Care about it or don’t do it. There was an overwhelming sense of no one giving a fuck about the music and everyone more worried about the party, attendance and marketing. A Music showcase should be about the music.
Thoughts and Ramblings: The bands
I’m sure very band that played the showcase will get some coverage and attention in the upcoming music issue and that’s why they did it in the end: Exposure!
That said, there’s been a whole bunch of people screaming and shouting about the event, especially insiders. It’s not fair to bitch the magazine out when you’ve agreed to the conditions and this is especially for the younger bands. Sure playing gigs for free, especially when there is such a door fee seems chitty but once it’s agreed on. That’s it! It’s called being a professional and playing by the rules of the game, no matter how shitty they are.
Also, come on folks… bands with releases…. where is the freaking Merch? You get an avenue to advertise yourself and you waste it!! T-shirts, CDs, printed gig schedules, Flyers… gimme a freaking break
Thankfully, the regular 2K crowd showed up later on in the evening and all was back to normal there… well, except for the mountain of trash outside!