A friday marathon: Chunqiu unplugged, Voodoo Kungfu and Tag Team Shindig
Legal Disclaimer: This hectic schedule is for professionals only, please do not try this without proper supervision!
I was facing one hell of a dilemma this past friday as to which show i would check out: the evening’s offerings were all intriguing and had the potential to be fantabulous shows. After struggling with the decision for a while, it seemed like the only viable option was to make it to all 3 shows… with careful logistics and proper timing, it seemed doable so i decided to go for it.
Chunqiu at Jianghu Jiu Ba
First stop of the evening was this little gem of a
fire hazard bar tucked in the jiaodaokou area. Kaiser Kuo and his band, Chunqiu were playing an acoustic show there and i had been trying to see them for a while. I had previously checked out their music online where lengthy performances are available on tudou and was curious as to how they were gonna carry their brand of metal to the unplugged side.
To say that Jianhu was jam packed would be an understatement: The place was so full you couldn’t breathe without touching somebody! That said, it was pretty cool to see such a support for a local band.
Chunqiu went on around 9:45 and played a first set consisting of at least one cover that i recognized as well as some of their own songs with 3 guitars providing the soundtrack. The set, while not out of this world, was freaking solid! It’s the kind of performance that showcases the difference between the boys and the men. Yang Meng’s vocals were on spot, the guitars crisp and the performance masterful. I’ll be watching for their next show.
Voodoo Kungfu with Chinese Folk Orchestra:
I regretfully left before Chunqiu came back for their second set and shuffled off to Mao Livehouse for the second show of the night. The curiosity towards “Heavy Metal meets Folk” had the best of me!
I made it to Mao by the time the band was on their 3rd song and I was literally afraid for my life: The concrete walls were covered with “bloody” white sheets and the lead singer, painted in red, was presiding from a stage above the stage inciting the mosh pit into a riot. The contrast between the previous show and this one was too much.
It took a few minutes to settle down and deal with the fact that i wasn’t in kansas anymore.
Voodoo Kungfu is Metal, definitely metal! The band was rough, fast and violent. The folk orchestra was more like a Mongolian throat singing band and that is how the two went together so well. Wooden traditional drums complemented the normal one, a horn made the sounds and the screams more haunting and finally the er hu and other traditional string instruments picked the slack on the rhythm side.
There was a huge Pagan ceremonial undertone to the show with various graffitis around the room along the lines of “Only God Can Judge Me”, crosses, semi preaching and what not.
The folk sound and the screaming guitars complemented each others in ways i didn’t think possible and it made the show interesting. Voodoo Kungfu’s singer was an imposing presence on stage and seemed capable of only two different sounds until he got to the weirdest covers of Bob Marley’s “Get up Stand up”.
I’ll try and watch them again but I won’t make it a priority.
Tag Team Shindig at 2kolegas
I finally made it there around midnight and missed the first part of the show. I walked in on the worst DJ in the world playing some weird type of electronica that no one but himself was enjoying! A lot of folks braved the cold to get away from it but the DJ kept going.
Finally, after about 40mn of boumbamboum on a laptop, Arrows Made of Desire came up on stage.
I had seen Joey’s band once before at the NLGX street festival and was looking forward to catching them again. Joey is by all accounts really talented but I was less than impressed. As a friend said during their performance, a lot of songs were interchangeable with similar tempo and beats. There were a few bright spots here and there but that’s where i stand.
ZIYO was next! and oh my freaking god did they rock the sh-t out of that place! Hands down “The Performance of the evening”. It was my first time seeing Helen Feng’s crew live and you can be sure I’m gonna be stalking her from now on!
They went through a blistering 10 song set full of passion, energy, raw pleasure and loads of fun.
At some point, Helen tripped with a mic line wrapped around her neck, fell over a chair, brought down christmas decoration but still got up and kept singing without missing a single beat.. holly molly!
In true rock star fashion, they brought down the house and took down the stage and just like that, yours truly fell in love! more on them at a later date!
The shindig ended with a mini-jam session that was nothing to write home about but either way, I don’t think anyone could have topped ZIYO’s performance for me that evening. It was cool to see members from a lot of Beijing’s finer acts out there and even Abigail Washburn made an appearance.
As I was headed home at 4:30 a.m, I noticed something remarkable: a pitch black sky and stars overlooking the city, not to mention a clear and gorgeous crescent moon watching over us.. nice end to a hectic night! The drawback of making it to so many shows was missing out on great conversation with the peeps at jianghu but having everyone and their mother present at 2kolegas almost made up for it.