Hanggai & Blackwater fight off the noise, Tofu Goodbye and the Mother of Rants

Last Wednesday was bittersweet in many ways but fun and amazing in so many others.

The evening kicked off at Yugong Yishan with Blackwater opening for Hanggai. As expected, every foreigner in Beijing that pretends they enjoy Chinese music was out there with the venue packed to the brim.
Blackwater got the worst of it that evening with their Irish Folk constantly drowned in the chatters of the concert goers that had no idea who these folks were. In their defense, they still pulled off what i thought to be a great show.

Hanggai came on next and pulled off a great set IMHO. Being heavier and louder than Blackwater helped them with the noisy crowd but it was still a struggle. That said, towards the last 3 songs, they managed to win the battle of sounds and were clearly heard all the way to back of the room. I had heard the new songs before and seen the same set at 2 Kolegas not too long ago so there were no surprises.
I wasn’t convinced by their latest record but still, as a friend of mine mentioned, if i had to give one CD to someone outside of China and tell them that it’s something they’ll never hear elsewhere, it might be a Hanggai CD.

< Warning: RANT!!!>

I’m really happy when a band is successful enough to fill yugong yishan but I’m starting to hate that crowd.. It’s the hip venue for acts where the “must be seen” idiots hang out and they’re fucking killing it! If you’re going to a show, listen to the goddamn music or get the fuck out! I don’t understand why this only happens at Yugong Yishan. I’ve seen Mao Live packed to the rafters with the crowd appreciating the music, may it be a local or foreign band. Same thing over at 2 Kolegas when people seem to go in and enjoy the show and Hanggai’s last show there was a perfect exemple.
Only at YGYS do we get these obnoxiously loud fucktards that ruin it for the bands and their fellow concert goers…
< Rant :: Over!!! >

After Hanggai, there was a bit of a stopover at VA for their Open Mic Night organized by David Musket (more on that later) which was one of 2 send offs for Jon Campbell and then we were off to 2 Kolegas for the mother of all emotional send offs: Tofu’s last night in town.
If you’ve spent any amount of time over at the drive in, you’ve me the charismatic multilingual rum guzzler… I’m not going into details on this but suffice to say emotions were running high with the who’s who of musical personalities in Beijing present to say goodbye! and intimate affair of tears, laughs, music and good times …..

Here’s hoping we meet again.

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3 Responses

  1. Jaime Welton says:

    Fucktards!!! LOLOLOL

    I got an idea… before the next acoustic show I see that might have a problem, I will eat an entire can of Bran, some broccoli, and then some hot pot, and then some more bran topped with warm Budweiser which I will guzzle for max effect, then do some jumping jacks and summersaults….maybe I’ll even eat a bunch of speed too to really get it going….. then launch a fart attack on all those that can’t keep their dick garage shut!….Then if they dare look at me, I will blow an air horn in their face.

    What do ya think? Anyone else got a better idea?

  2. Froog says:

    I’ve had the same gripe about YGYS pretty much since it opened in the new Rui Fu space.

    It’s not that hard to see where the problem arises. It’s at least twice the size of Mao, maybe three or four times as big as Kolegas – so they get way more people in there. Plus they have lousy acoustics (there still isn’t nearly enough damping on those high ceilings and hard walls). Worst of all, I think, the lounge seating area encourages people to not attend to the music and start up conversations instead. Having the bar in the same room as the stage doesn’t help either (at least they’ve got out of the habit of hurling the empty Tsingtao bottles into a huge garbage bin every few seconds!!); 2K manages to get away with that because the bar is right next to the stage, so there’s no danger that the bar can become someone’s main or only focus rather than the music (even now that those 2m-high speakers stacks have obscured the view of the stage from the bar area).

    But maybe you’re right: it’s not just the sheer numbers, or the bad layout of the space – it’s the type of people that it attracts. Because of its nice, central location – right next to a subway station, not too far from Sanlitun – and its more nightclubby kind of vibe, it tends to attract a lot of trendy or affluent expats who aren’t always particularly into the music.

    I’m afraid I find it very difficult to take YGYS seriously as a music venue any more. I said over at my place a few weeks’ back that it was “marginalising itself a wealthy expats’ social club”. There’s no way I’ll go to a show there if I can see the same band at Mao or Kolegas the same month.

  3. Froog says:

    Ha – love Jaime’s idea!! I’ll remember to take my noseplugs next time I go to an acoustic gig.

    Interesting comparison: do you remember when Jianghu moved the bar outside into the courtyard a few years back, they had a really bad chatter problem (not from the bar courtyard area, but in the main music room) there for a little while afterwards? When the bar had been at the back of the music room, everyone faced towards the stage; even if you were at the bar, you’d sit on a high stool facing the stage. When they removed the bar, at first they had a couple of booth style seating arrangements at the back of the room, with bench seats facing away from the stage: the people in those booths – whether facing towards or away from the stage – often used to get lost in their own conversations rather than watch the musicians. Tianxiao eventually figured out what was wrong, and made sure all the seats face the stage.

    They still haven’t had that moment of insight at YGYS. Booth seating is the ARCH-ENEMY of live music!!