Dragon in the Rear View: Memorable Performances of 2012

Note: Better late than never: I started writing this in January 2013… finally getting it out.
I’ve finally got a bit of time to sit down and try to look back at 2012.. gigs, festivals, craps and mishaps. It’s been a long year really and probably the one with the lowest output on ‘daze as I changed jobs, opened a bar and saw my free time reduced to zero. Still, rock n roll was there and there in numbers. I made the gigs, listened to the songs and spent my evenings/nights with my underground brothers. How did it all pan out?


It was a strange year really with a lot of bands reuniting and or coming out with long overdue records. Here’s looking at you Zhang Wei Wei and Brain Failure just to name a few. Still, more so than many years before, this one belonged to the young guns. But we’ll get to the records at some other points. Let’s first look at the most memorable performances of the Dragon year:

NOTE: This is in NO particular order!!!

– Miserable Faith @ MIDII never got around to writing a review about this particular one but i’ll probably never ever ever forget it. Picture yourself in an outdoor festival, 10000 people standing in front of the main stage for the final performance of a 3 day musical onslaught and they’re singing in unison all of the band’s songs before the band even came onstage. for 30 good minutes, the crowd was a freaking riot… and then the band came onstage. I was lucky to be in the photo pit for that one and was able to see the whole thing from the best possible perspective. It wasn’t a show, it was a religious experience. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is the best LIVE band in China right now. Fuck me… when you can ask 10000 people to sit down and they do, all as one, you’re unto something. You want yaogun? this is fucking it… bar none.

– Randy Abel Stable @ ‘dazeFEAST

oh boy… I tried really hard not to include dazeFEAST in this but i couldn’t. Every single band had a memorable performance and played their guts out. but when the stable launched into their cover of “house of the rising sun” in a packed and wet 2 Kolegas and the whole audience started singing in unison, it felt like magic. The timing was right, the song was right, the people were right and the atmosphere was so electric it might have brought down the death star. Intense, intense, intense… I just finished hearing that part with House of the Rising Sun again and it sent shivers down my spine.

– King Lychee @ Mao

What do i look for in a performance? Charisma, delivery, quality, audience participation and generally a good time. I want feel like i didn’t get enough! King Lychee delivered all that and more on their visit to Beijing earlier in 2012. They took over Mao Livehouse along with some of their hardcore brethren and brought it down to its knees. If anyone was ever in a position to take the kids back to school, King Lychee did it. Just thinking about it again gives me goosebumps. Read the review

– PK 14 @ Yugong Yishan
The boys returned to Beijing after quite some time and gave Yugong Yishan a reason to celebrate like it hasn’t in a while. i was never a big fan of the music but i maintain that live is what matters. That night, live and onstage, PK 14 delivered an onslaught of unique music to an audience that was sold to their cause. I’m a fan now! That night also marked one of the rare moshpits i’ve been in in China where the moshing lasted for more than 20 seconds. Haisong et Co. were ace ! Here is how it went down

– Miao @ 2 KolegasShame this was a one off but this little band from Yinchuan came to 2 Kolegas taking advantage of the fact that their singer and leader was back in China for a few months and proceeded to impress every single soul in the drive-in that night. Their performance stood head and shoulders above that of all the bands and that was no easy feat. Heck, that night would have qualified as gig of the year considering how much quality came out of it. Read the Review

– SMZB @ Yugong Yishan
Punk… it’s like pizza, you think you know it but it comes in different shapes and forms. Well, when SMZB came to visit Yugong Yishan, they brought the only kind of punk that matters: the good kind. Old school, diverse, sharp, edgy songs. These guys from Wuhan came in and gave Beijing an education in PUNK. There was nothing flashy about it, but you could smell it, taste it, hear it, hear it, feel it and be bathed in it: It was real!

– Voodoo Kungfu goodbyeLast time i experienced such fury, emotion, passion, madness, love and more was when Exodus graced Beijing with their presence.. if that one was intense folks, Voodoo Kungfu’s last gig was nothing short of cataclysmic! If the audience was possessed, you can try imagining how the band was: They were tense, intense, playing with a determination and purpose that was lacking from their previous show! Li Na matched every concert goers in intensity and raised them ten-fold. So did the rest of the band! REad the review

– IZ @ Temple
To quote Beagleboss: “if a steel-mill could sing, that’s what it would sound like”. She made this statement when the “prince of darkness” and his band descended upon Temple earlier last year and delivered an inspiring and perfect performance where his whole thing came together better than i had ever seen. no doubt that the cavernous nature of the room provided better acoustics to match their dark, industrial, metallic rumbling sounds. An audience that was very much well behaved and in a trance-like state during most of the performance.

– Yemen Blues @ Mako
I couldn’t find a video from the gig so this will do!I gotta hand it to the crew behind the Hanggai festival and also the band themselves. I had never heard of Yemen Blues until they started advertising the festival. They had me at the first verse of “Trape La Verite”. The band’s musical prowess was out of this world and the performance they put on at Mako that evening took the whole audience by surprise. If one ever needed proof that music transcends genres, languages and ethnies, then one just needs to look at a video of that gig or to have been there. It was humbling, inspiring, inspired and just overall one of the best ones I’ve ever seen, period.

– Bad Mamasan @ Temple
To celebrate the release of their EP, the band gathered a crew of misfits to come onstage and have one hell of a good old fashioned rock n roll party: Helen Feng, Kaiser Kuo, Rikki Sixx, Kris from Bad Apples, Cedric (AK47, Devils at the Crossroad), Kou ( suffocated/ChunQiu) and even yours truly. It was an old school decadent rock n roll party like none other this year. and you know what, that’s what performance are all about sometimes: Fun, drinks, good music and good people rocking the stage without arrogance and or pretention. Yours truly got to sing on AC/DC’s Big Balls with Kaiser himself helping with background vocals. how is it that for niu-fucking-bi?

There were plenty of other performance from the dragon year that did stand out but the ones above were just heads and shoulders beyond all the rest. I’ll throw in some mention for SUBS @ MIDI, Su Yang @ Mako, Buyi‘s May holiday gig @ 2 Kolegas, Abaji @ Temple, Xiao He @ Ditan Folk Festival, Low Wormwood @ jianghu, Hangai OUtdoor Party @ 2 Kolegas and, of course, Lidong Album Release@ 2 Kolegas the just to name a few.
What were yours?

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