The great Beijing gig crawl: three venues, five bands, one great night in the ‘Jing.
Sometimes I wonder if the sheer amount of shows on in this city is a blessing or a curse. There’s been countless times I’ve wanted to split myself in 3 to make sure I don’t miss anything. Saturday was one of those nights. After a mellow Friday hanging out 5 mins from home at Old What I was really to tackle the challenge of the Beijing Gig Crawl and try navigate my way to three shows I wanted to see on the same night.
First up Hot Cat for Illness Sickness. I first saw these guys a few weeks ago at Mao, originally going because a) Residence A were on the bill, b) I know IS’s bass player and wanted to check out his band and c) they’re post-rock, my current obsession. One of the things I love about post-rock is that it can build from the softest plucking of the guitar to the full force of a metal band and back within one song and this is something IS do really well. They played two new songs at Hot Cat which were a bit heavier than the ones on their douban and I’m really liking the new stuff. Hot Cat’s sound system doesn’t always play nice and I’ve heard a few bands struggle with it, IS used it to their advantage though, they were loud, but not too loud that people couldn’t stand up front. Another thing I like about these guys is that they’re super organized, they have flyers available for their next show, they video each show, they’re recording songs and going on a mini China tour next month. Too many bands in this city just show up and don’t even bother to get there early for sound check, so it’s great to see a band that are putting in the work. I know post rock isn’t everyone’s thing, (BD calls it suicide music!) and some people can only being able to deal with it in small doses, but if you like it, then I’d recommend checking out Illness Sickness. Their next show is in support of Australian band Flounder at Gulou 121 on Dec 8.
On to gig no. 2 Jianghu’s 5th birthday show. Jianghu was one of the first venues I started going to in Beijing, nestled in the hutongs it’s the perfect space to listen quiet folk, a jazz jam sesson, or even an acoustic metal band like Chunqiu. It has a family feeling similar to 2K in that a lot of the bands who play here, also hang out here when they’re not playing. Getting there a little late I’d already missed Buyi’s Wu NingYue and Kang Mao’s Bye Bye, Thanks for the Fish. Chiren were just finishing up their set on energetic folk rock, they’re not really my style, but they are definitely a crowd pleaser. One of my first times here over 2 years ago was to see Lao Liu & Sand, and I’ve been a fan ever since. They were up next, joined by Jianghu’s laoban Tianxiao on sax. The place was packed, but despite the chatter outside the main room, the soothing tones of their bluesy folk rock filled the air. The night ended with an inpromptu set from Lidong’s front man Lixia playing their gorgeous folk tunes solo to a still quite full venue.
Joining BD 2 Kolegas after midnight, I was lucky to find the last band The K still on stage. The last time I saw these guys was over a year ago at the 2K Halloween show where they were all dressed up as a zombie wedding party. I can’t remember much more than the costumes from that show, but they’ve obviously been working hard since then, because last night they sounded really tight! The crowd was dancing along to their fun ska-punk and having a great time with a really party atmosphere in the drive-in. Unfortunately Da Bang (formerly Bigger Bang), who I was hoping to catch didn’t end up playing, but BD was raving about a earlier set from Twinkle Star (formerly Alt Senior) who I also haven’t seen in a long time and must catch sometime soon. I’m sure he’ll write more about them though.
While I wont be attempting this every weekend, I’m glad I did this time. Three different venues, three different shows, one great night showing the variety of Beijing music!