The Beijinger Showcase Delivers on Good Times, Beer and some Music

So last year at some point, the Beijinger managing editor promised a New Music Showcase and the team set out to deliver.

The result was called “The Beijinger New Music Showcase” that took place last week over at 2 Kolegas… The promise was for the audience to discover new music, drink a lot of beer ( free flow from 4:00 to 11:00pm included Slow Boat, Vedett, Tiger and Budweiser) and have one hell of a party. I got there a little late on the day so I missed the first few bands that went on, namely Not There and Pacololo but I did manage to catch Residence A, Stiletto, Elephant Fresh,Ronnie’s Will, Bad Mamasan, the new SUBS and the Amazing Insurance Salesmen.. That is a decent lineup worth the admission price , especially at RMB100 ( btw, full disclosure, I didn’t pay to get into this gig). I was excited to actually catch some band I hadn’t seen before along with some sure values. Granted, the only really new band in the fold was Stiletto but we’ll deal with that later.

Residence A was on as i got there putting on a performance like only they can do. The played most of their usual songs but also had some new material that sounds a bit different, mellower than their early efforts. They had the crowd jumping throughout most of their set and the excitement boiled up with some moron pouring his beer over Zhao Zhao whom managed to not miss a beat and keep playing. Moron might be too nice of term actually… he was just a fucking dick! I’m hoping the kids managed to make enough of an impression and get a few more fans.

Stiletto were up next and they had me wondering what the fuck they were doing on that bill… While they were musically tight, the lead singer just didn’t have the voice for the cover songs they were doing. He did one original where his range was actually quite nice but other than that, hell no! I think I said something along the lines of “I’m going to puke 30 seconds into their cover of Billie Jean. There was however a reason I hadn’t heard about them before: Stiletto was a Beijinger experiment to see if they could put together a band in a few weeks.

Elephant Fresh played some interesting tunes and included Sindy+Romyn of 16mn fame. I didn’t actually care much for the hip hop side of things but there were some good moments

Ronnie’s Will has been making the rounds for quite sometimes. I even remember classified adds to put the band together from a while back. They took the stage with a vengeance and put in a decent little amount of Hardcore for the audience. not quite their target market but I like them. Good presence, nice tunes.. give them a little more time and they might actually hold their own with the likes of Unregenerate Blood or Return the Truth.

The 3 “headliners” were no strangers to the music scene but all had something new to try out:

Subs V. 2012: talk about weird.. SUBS without a bass player and Kang Mao using a Keyboard for effects. It actually took me a little while to get into it as i spent the early part dissecting the sounds and figuring out what was wrong. I must say i was surprised that it didn’t blow completely. The band sure didn’t sound like themselves 100% but they were not that different. Save for the few times Kang Mao was on the keyboard, she was pretty much up in everyone’s face doing what she does best. I’m willing to check them out with this lineup once they’ve tried it a few times but they need work on equilibrium. The voice and Face of the band can’t be pushed to the side of the stage. I hear their follow up gig a Mao Live for the punk festival went pretty well.

Bad Mamasan was getting the machine into 5th gear preparing for their upcoming new album release. They brought it a new song, a few originals and some crowd favorites. All sounding good. I think even the originals like God of War are actually starting to stick in some heads. I can’t wait for all the surprises they have in store SAturday night at Temple and if this showcase was any indication, they are in fighting form

The Amazing Insurance Salesmen came in last to close the show sadly to an almost empty space.. I’m really thinking they are cursed. There was still a decent enough turnout for them with some 40 odd people jumping up and down. They played a few new songs, some old one and pulled a few tricks here and there. Consistent AIS quality. Some of the new material is sounding good but there was one song i really did not care for. will have to double check on this.

Overall fun with the biggest crowds in there for Residence A and SUBS.. Other bands kept a steady 50 people in there listening to the music while others were enjoying the noise assault of Electronica

Thoughts and Ramblings: The Good
– It was nice to see the magazine try and get some more exposure to the music scene considering they’re moving away from it and that the music section, along with most of their other sections, is canned. Any exposure the scene gets, especially with the expat crowd that doesn’t leave sanlitun can be looked at as positive.
– A lot of promotion went into this and the whole idea of experimenting with starting a band can be interesting.
– Great value for the money to the concert goers.. People were happy.
– Good turnout despite the crappy weather. I think they probably had a good 350 to 400 people overall.

Thoughts and Ramblings: The Bad
– Having a DJ outside blaring sounds all along is disrespectful of the music and the bands. You’re trying to put together a music festival, then you put the bands first. There were times when the DJs drowned the music inside the venue. That is a huge No-No and completely disrespectful… That pissed the shit out of me! Not to mention that those DJs were crap IMHO.
– The “free flow” of beer completely killed the music spirit and brought in the douchebags in force unfortunately. Now, I’m not generalizing but there was a high number of them running around the lawn to the point where free beer was really the star of the show and quite a few of the folks that attended were honest about it. The obvious hint was that the place emptied out pretty much as soon as the free beer ran out…. so much for music showcase.
– There were a number of things behind the scene that took place which would discourage me from playing this kind of event if i were an artist/musician! Having spoken to a few of them during the party, they were all pretty pissed off at the organization.

Thoughts and Ramblings: What can be improved
– Other than their own prefabricated band, there was nothing about new music…not even close! Most of those bands have been around for years and some have even toured outside of China. It would have been more honest to say “Music Showcase”.. drop the “New” and make your life simple.
– Get organized and have someone dealing with the bands at all times explaining schedules and set times.
– Put a limit on soundcheck and changeovers… it took sometimes up to one hour between bands that played an average of 30mn each.
– With so much free booze running around, you know there will be tons of people. Plan the food accordingly, especially in the later hours where everyone is in an advanced state of liquid refreshments.
Care about it or don’t do it. There was an overwhelming sense of no one giving a fuck about the music and everyone more worried about the party, attendance and marketing. A Music showcase should be about the music.

Thoughts and Ramblings: The bands

I’m sure very band that played the showcase will get some coverage and attention in the upcoming music issue and that’s why they did it in the end: Exposure!
That said, there’s been a whole bunch of people screaming and shouting about the event, especially insiders. It’s not fair to bitch the magazine out when you’ve agreed to the conditions and this is especially for the younger bands. Sure playing gigs for free, especially when there is such a door fee seems chitty but once it’s agreed on. That’s it! It’s called being a professional and playing by the rules of the game, no matter how shitty they are.
Also, come on folks… bands with releases…. where is the freaking Merch? You get an avenue to advertise yourself and you waste it!! T-shirts, CDs, printed gig schedules, Flyers… gimme a freaking break

Thankfully, the regular 2K crowd showed up later on in the evening and all was back to normal there… well, except for the mountain of trash outside!

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13 Responses

  1. josh says:

    i’m just curious… BJer got all that beer for free and didn’t pay any of the bands so wtf did they use the ticket money for? those hand fans they printed for promotion?

  2. Ruby says:

    Fair review BD. I’m glad I didn’t go, I probably would have taken out a few of those drunken douchebags!

    Totally agree with your comment though – either do something well, or don’t do it at all. I’m interested to see this ‘Music Issue’ now and how much effort is put into that.

    Were the bands allowed to bring their merch? ResA are usually pretty good at having that at their shows. Also you didn’t mention Trouble Trouble, how was their last show ever?

    • Beijing Daze says:

      Thanks Ruby
      If nothing else, I’m fair in my bias. I missed Trouble Trouble too unfortunately so I can’t speak for that.

  3. Papa says:

    Come on Daze! “brought in the douchebags in force unfortunately” What’s that!

    While I understand the sentiment you’re hinting at – no one really enjoys this city’s clubbing scourge at any of Beijing’s alleged “indie” or “underground” music events – you can’t criticize The Beijinger for part of the audience its event attracted!

    As a musician for 15 years, my experience with Beijing’s musical landscape leads me to conclude that it is dominated by an air of exclusivity, entitlement, and attitude. Certifiably mediocre bands, venues who have some weird claim as the progenitor of the scene, and in general people hyper-critical of mostly anything they find slightly different and therefore super disagreeable!

    So while D-Bags manifest themselves in disco locations, my own research leads me to conclude that they also manifest in the music scene too. Same douchy proclivities, different species of douche bag.

    Generally I support anything that attempts (willingly or not) to break up the monotony of such a scene by doing something different – which is what The Beijinger did. They did something different, threw a big party, got a bunch of people drunk, and BBQ’d what looked to be a HUGE CAT or something. It has been said that this event has been criticized already by a large swath of Beijing’s self-appointed arbiters of the music scene. I think that’s lame – if they were really about the music for the music, you’d think they’d be at least a little encouraging?

    and besides, are these bands REALLY entitled to an audience?! haha!

    Cheers guy

    • Ruby says:


      – you can’t criticize The Beijinger for part of the audience its event attracted
      Yes, you can. Advertise all-you-can-drink at an event in this city and this is the crowd you will attract. They come for the beer, not the music. And they’re not necessarily ‘clubbing scourge’ as you put it, just drunken idiots of all varieties.

      – in general people hyper-critical of mostly anything they find slightly different and therefore super disagreeable
      I would say people ‘in the scene’ here in Beijing are open to almost anything, just not drunken idiots disrespecting performers, for example getting on stage & tipping beer over them. Imagine if the situation was flipped – someone came to a fancy wine/beer tasting and started playing music on their phone really loud, and helping themselves to bottles, breaking glasses etc. Wouldn’t you find that offensive??

      – They did something different, threw a big party, got a bunch of people drunk…
      Good on them, no complaints about that, call it a big party & we’re all good! BUT call it a “New Music Showcase” and there’s an expectation you’re actually going showcase some new music!

      – and besides, are these bands REALLY entitled to an audience?!
      Well, I’ve never seen your band, but yes, most of the other bands that performed here are. And if people are paying for tickets, the bands are entitled to be paid too.

      • Papa says:

        I see what you’re saying, I just fundamentally disagree.

        You can’t criticize them for the crowd they drew. You’re typifying and oversimplifying e.g. ‘these kinds of people like free beer’. Free beer only attracts one kind of person: those who like to drink beer. You’re also approaching this from a standpoint that infers you believe beer was used as the main attraction. It wasn’t. The bands were. And what’s with the exclusivity – is the attendance of these seemingly Undesirables bothersome? I think all should be welcome to any event.

        I’m unaware of any incident of drunken idiots disrespecting performers. You may be referring to Residence A’s set, where towards the end some beer managed to make its way out and over the audience and onto the singer. Residence A had a killer set and had the house dancing. Beer + dancing = spill. Happens all the time. From where I was backstage when it happened, the singer didn’t look more than just slightly surprised.

        They did showcase new music, and your disagreement stems from your perspective on what the word ‘new’ entails. For me, new means lots of things. Take my band, Ronnie’s Will, for example. I joined up about a year ago, and the guys had been playing for about a year very non-cohesively before that. Revolving band members, different songs, different styles altogether. Not many people have seen us, as we usually just play for fun out at 13 Club about once every two months. Also we play a kind of hardcore/metal blend, a style which is not really granted much attention in the current state of Beijing’s scene. So I’d say we’re new. I think we could agree that with one or two exceptions, the profiles of the bands who performed tended towards the unknown, upcoming, etc. Thus, I think the word new and furthermore showcase were fair and accurate.

        You take issue with the name too, haha, come on, no way! Change the name and we’re all good? Can that really even register as a complaint? That’s a yellow card in the great game of debating!

        I’m not sure I agree with your take on entitlement either. No band is entitled to an audience. If you like a band, you stick around and listen. If you don’t like a band, you’re not obliged to give them your attention. About pay, well, if it’s agreed you get paid then you are entitled to pay. In this case, it was agreed in advance bands would not get paid. Thus, no, they’re not entitled.

        Basically, I take issue with the fact that in the reviews I’ve read, there has yet to be a post that doesn’t reek of the old possessive “know more about beijing bands than thou” olfactory that both permeates and plagues this this place.

        • josh says:

          how can you even argue against the FREE BOOZE = DOUCHEBAGS axiom?! it’s a global constant! and as far as the douchebag in question, it’s very obvious in this video that he jumped on stage and intentionally poured his beer ON TOP OF ZHAO ZHAO’s head:

          obviously not accidental spillage. you can only call that “douchebag who drank too many free beers” spillage.

          i wasn’t there so i can’t criticize the event on many points, but to claim that music was the main draw or even the ultimate point of this event is absurd. it was a marketing event focused on extending the Beijinger’s brand, but anyone with half a brain could see that and avoid it.

          as far as your whole anti-“insiders” rant… well i can’t do anything about the chip on your shoulder but if it weren’t for “insiders” – and specifically Beijing Daze in this case – this event would not even exist.

  4. Robin says:

    fair review IMO

    I don’t mind playing for free in the name of promotion for a well organized event.
    let’s hope the next one would be better organized etc.

    yeah and whats with the band Stiletto being chosen for the event? they weren’t even original, and played for like 6 songs???

    • Beijing Daze says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I wondered as well about Stiletto, especially with all the new bands in town but I like the experiment they did. I wish the band stayed together to see if they could grow into it.

  5. Beijing Daze says:

    oi oi oi!!!! Put the knives down and everybody calms down (i.e Ruby & Papa).

    There is bias in the blog and I say so clearly. That said, I don’t think there’s ever been a “I know more about Beijing music than Thou” attitude. I’d say it’s more along the lines of “Hey, here is some things I think are good and here is the not so good +why”
    As far as the review goes, it was mostly about the music… and that’s what the blog is about! There were thoughts and ramblings at the end, both good, Bad and what could be improved IMHO. and I’ve also mentioned the point that this was a great opportunity for everyone and a cool initiative by the mag….

    I will however stand by my comments on D-bags! Thankfully, that day, most of them stayed out in the lawn and didn’t get in the way of the music. The venue is great that way… I spend enough time at shows getting pissed off about people paying premium to watch a band and spending most of their time just talking loudly over the music….

    As far as entitlement, yeah.. both on the same page! It’s gotta be earned! no need to say more

    At the end of the day, people came, bands played and hopefully got new fans…. I only wish they managed to get more people to listen to the music and hope that next year’s showcase, if there is one, takes that into account.

    some valid points in there but at the same time, what is is exactly what is… I don’t blame bands for their audience or party organizers for their audience…. Insider’s perspective and the general audience are different. As an insider, I wish it was done better.
    As an audience member, I had a good time and enjoyed the music. ‘nuf said!

    • Papa says:

      Badr – I’m cool with bias guy! You should be bias. You say it clearly on the blog, that’s fair. i think the most boring things I have ever read tend to be things without bias in them. Lukewarm reviews, puhhlease. End my life. You had a very balanced post as well – very much about the music. I also don’t think you have a “I know more than you attitude” and am sorry if it came across that way. Actually, you’re the man because you’re more or less chill with everyone, inclusive, and fair and objective when it comes to bias.

      Also I don’t think there are any knives out, I’m a fan of people being able to debate for or against each other in any format. It’s part of the process. Of course, people tend to get a bit testy when others disagree with their opinion, but I think for the most part we’re all mature individuals and can respect different opinions from our own and not hurl petty insults at those who hold them. Amiright?

      There definitely were some D-bags at that event! I served beer there for 7 hours straight, you might say I was at the epicenter of their origin. I say we blame it on Slow Boat too, Captain Chandler was putting magic D-Bag powder in the beer (I seen it!) which more or less is the equivalent of feeding gremlins after midnight. But free beer does not attract D-bags – D-bags who drink too much and act like D-bags are D-bags. Frankly I find the way Robin and Ruby argue this point is just..well…lazy.

      About D-bags, in both Robin and Ruby’s posts make me feel as though these D-bags were D-bags before they entered the gate, which is a sentiment I find to be slightly disagreeable. I think people’s behavior determines their…’D-bag-osity’…not what they listen to, where they go, what they wear, etc. If you act like an asshole, you’re an asshole, that’s a fair standard. So where I disagree is that while we all have taken accurate account of the people acting out their various degrees of assholedom and correctly judged them as D-bags, another sentiment in a few posts identifies those people who preferred the DJ to the bands themselves, preferred to stay outside with their friends and drink, etc…are also being considered D-Bags. A very lazy, prejudice, and gross oversimplification. That and the fact that both of the people making these D-bag allegations self-admittedly did not attend the event…hehehe.

      I agree with Badr – people came, had a blast, and some cool bands played. That seems more or less on par with any other large music event in this city. Like Badr said, insiders all see ways to make it better etc, but let’s not let these opinions dilute the scope of the event.

      I think everyone had fun, and that’s ultimately what is most important and should not be overlooked.