Rock ain’t dead & The Flying Mantas, Steely Heart, Los Crashers et co. proved it

As bad as I thought the friday at Yugong Yishan was, the show at Mao Live more than made up for saturday night. I missed Jacky Danny and Kick Ass but managed to catch Steely Heart, Dude, Los Crashers and the Flying Mantas for a rocking good time.

The show must have started early as 2 bands had already been on by the time i got to Mao Live around 9:40. Steely Heart was on stage much to my surprise as i didn’t remember them on the bill. I’ve seen them enough times by now and made enough comments about lead singer Sai Li 赛力 and his shoegazing. That said, somebody might have spiked his drink on saturday: he was actually jumping around on stage and displayed some emotion even. I’m starting to dig their songs, especially Sexy Lie.

Dude was next! How to describe these kids? They punkify classic songs and they’ve gotten good at it. With their formula, wherever they play in China, they have a built in advantage because the local audience knows every single word to every single one of their songs by default. That’s not a bad trick if you can pull it off! Cody is an engaging frontman that loves to interact with the audience and the band is really high energy. This is not socially aware music that will save the world, but it’s a 3 chord blast that will save you from boredom.

When the next band – Los Crashers – came on, I Immediately had visions of bad 80’s parodies with cliches, bell bottom pants and scarves around a microphone.. maybe time to grab some noodles next door! Think again.. Sure, there was no denying that these kids all went to the Steven Tyler school of Rock n Roll but tell you what, it’s about freaking time someone did and we get some charismatic frontmen in Beijing. They’re old school hard rock and that’s my music of choice. They played 2 originals and a few covers including Slash Snakepit‘s Ain’t Been There Lately and Neil Young’s Keep on Rocking in the Free World. I remember standing side by side with The Flying Mantas‘ Skip Lunch and both of us just smiling appreciatively at the gimmicks, the style and the music. I loved these guys and will go see them again!

Talking about the Flying Mantas, they had drawn the short stick and were going on last despite having another gig scheduled that same night at D-22.. brave guys I’m telling you. I wasn’t really sure how their set would go with the renewed emphasis on surf rock as opposed to their punk roots but I was willing to give it a shot. I’m glad I did! I don’t think audiences would appreciate 45 mn of their instrumental songs but on Saturday, they sounded extremely balanced with a few of their older tunes like Poser and All Talk No Action sprinkled in between the lyric-less songs. Skip and Chery are a talented bunch and probably some of my favorite musicians to catch live right now, they’re on a dimension of their own onstage. I’m still not sure how CZ fits in the band but hey, as long as he can play the bass. I’m digging their vampire song with rich riffs and a cool groove.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, was a freaking rock n roll show!!! I estimate a good 200 people showed up for the festivities, about 50 of which stayed all the way through. Gulou is becoming a reliable hotbed for these type of gigs but I’ll get to that another day. I really enjoyed the fact that none of the bands had keyboard or pre recorded sounds, just good old live jive

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