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General information

Shanghai's PuDong seen from the Bund, photo by Azchael
Chinese Name 上海 / Shànghǎi
Geographical Location 31° 11' 60" N, 121° 30' 0" E
Province Municipality of Shanghai
Bands associated 93 (show all)
Venues in town 16 (show all)
Musicians born/died in town 4 (show all)

Shanghai (上海)

General information

Shanghai (Chinese: 上海) is the largest city in China in terms of population and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, with over 20 million people in its extended metropolitan area. Located on China's central eastern coast near the mouth of the Yangtze River, the city is administered as a municipality with province-level status.

Originally a fishing and textiles town, Shanghai grew to importance in the 19th century due to its favorable port location and as one of the cities opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. The city flourished as a center of commerce between east and west, and became a multinational hub of finance and business by the 1930s. Shanghai's prosperity was interrupted after the 1949 Communist takeover and the subsequent cessation of foreign investment. Economic reforms in 1990 have resulted in intense development and financing, and in 2005 Shanghai became the world's busiest cargo port.

The city is an emerging tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as the Bund and Xintiandi, its modern and ever-expanding Pudong skyline including the Oriental Pearl Tower, and its new reputation as a center of culture and design. Today, Shanghai is mainland China's center for commerce and finance, and has been described as the "showpiece" of the world's fastest-growing economy.

Check out our extensive list of places to go in Shanghai and artists in Shanghai.

See our Shanghai Band Forming Timeline.

Shanghai Travel Guide

The scene

Rock music history of China
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The Year in Review (Photos)

2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1998 | 1997 | 1996 | 1995

The scene in Shanghai is - different from Beijing - not as active (i.e. not as many concerts), but also with a higher influence rate by foreigners; consider the websites and compared to the number of bands).

Chapters missing: SUS2


Shanghai's community gets united by the AV World magazing and according to Zhang Haisheng, monthly gatherings happened bringing hundreds of readers together to listen to music and watch videos.[1]


Chinese and foreign students form the band Vexing Practice.


June 1997: The Honeys were formed in 1997 after lead singer Yu Tian - formerly of Lunar Eclipse - had moved to Hangzhou to attend the prestigious China Art Academy.

The band Godot is formed.


Bird On a Wire is formed in 1998 by four students from East China University of Science and Technology located at the southern part of Shanghai. They are Bunny (Guitar), Jjay (Vocal), Dingding (Bass) and Tang BB (Drum).

June 1998: Crystal Butterfly is formed with three of the four remaining members from Lunar Eclipse.

Further in 1998, the band Dark Song was formed as one of Shanghai's first punk bands.


The band Dark Song changed their name to Loudspeaker.


The Shanghai compilation Underground Shanghai 2000 (VA) is released online by Bunnyman.

In October, B6 and MHP form Aitar.


Sometime in 2001, Cold Fairyland are formed by Lin Di and Su Yong. In the same year they release their debut Flying Over The City.

June 2001: Three Yellow Chicken are formed and they were actually named when all band members went out drinking after a long rehearsal session. Eating the local Shanghai dish "Three Yellow Chicken" they suddenly found the name sticky.

October, Top Floor Circus is formed.


Sometime in 2002, Sonnet are formed by Johnny.

November 2002: The Honeys returned to Shanghai and cut their debut album "Zai Jie Shang" (On the Streets) in 2002 with Fanyin Records. It was the second ever album released by a Shanghainese band, and the first on a Shanghai-based label.


Yuyintang Logo

Cold Fairyland releases their record Kingdom of Benevolent Strangers.

In summer 2003, The Herb are formed.

October, the Yu Yin Tang organization is founded by Zhang Haisheng and Joecy Wu as show promoters.


In March, CF's Bride in Legend is released.

April, Torturing Nurse are formed. On the 11th, Ark Livehouse holds a Nirvana 10 Years Concert.

Summer 2004, 21g are formed.

June 2004, 33rd Island are formed.


2005, April 16th
Metal Night at SUS2 Bar, photo (c) User:Azchael

May 21th - 29th, 2005, the Get it louder event happened in Shanghai. Furthermore, Sonnet release their self-produced record From The Last Century (Sonnet).

July 16th and 17th, the SUS2 Music organisation celebrated their 5th anniversary with a concert at the SUS2 Bar. July 23rd, the music group Torturing Nurse started an event of electronic and noise cometogethers in Shanghai.

August 24th, 2005, Ozone, B6, MHP, Emcore and AMNJK start the electronic / noise event series Antidote in Shanghai.

September 26th foreign rock band The Frame performs in Shanghai's The Ark with support of Sonnet.

During the year, Cold Fairyland's live record Live at ARK is recorded which is thereafter released in 2006.


The 1234 Beach Rock 2006 Festival
September 16th 2006
1234 Beach Rock 2006, photo (c) Shanghai Sky

The heavy metal scene in Shanghai is pretty small with only a dozen bands sharing guitarists and drummers focusing mostly on death or black metal and a few progressive ones. Metalcore has not yet arrived in Shanghai (as of 2006) in contrast to Beijing (2004-2006).

Therefore there is a stronger rock scene with more than 100 bands. However as of 2006, the actual release per band ratio is still poorly. Despite numerous self-releases there had been only 4 real major releases as of 2006.

Sometime in 2006, the record label Miniless Recordings is founded, signing bands such as Muscle Snog and The Los. Furthermore the band Banana Monkey formed itself out of the remains of Marrow.

In March, Yu Yin Tang settled down, after having shows in different venues around town, in their own venue in Long Cao Road, the Yuyintang Warehouse.

In May the website (by Aric Queen) went online, only to disappear in August after 14 podcast and video shows.

September 15th/16th, the 1234 Beach Rock 2006 festival happened at the Shanghai SanJia Harbor Water Paradise.

In October the compilation record Shanghai Rock: Volume 1 (VA) is released, showcasting artists active in the years 2005/2006.

November 11th, 2006, the venue 4 Live opens, formerly being known as Fabrique.


Media Murdered the Young, by The Los

February 13th, 33rd Island's record In Search of the King is released on Modern Sky Records.

April 2007, after the clamp down of the warehouse location by the XuHui district Culture Bureau Yu Yin Tang temporarily held several shows at the Zhijang Dream Factory (in Jing'an District) and finally moved to a new location on Yan'an Xi Lu in late 2007/early 2008. Furthermore on April 14th, the NeoSpring Creative Festival happened at the Husizhan (Warehouse) with over 50 artists.

May 2007, Miniless Recordings released The Los record Media Murdered the Young (The Los). Yuguo releases their record Lost Paradise (Flying Fruit).

June 29th - July 1st, the Dino Beach Rock Festival showcasted over 30 local and non-local bands.

October 5th, the Yue Festival 2007 took place at the Zhongshan Park.

November, Bang Bang Tang debuted at one of Maxell's competition.

At the end of 2007, the 0093 event series is started by Jiang Shaoqing (who goes by Lao Jiang) and Wang Xiaotian (known as Tiantian).


At the beginning of the year, three bands started out to become popular in the rock scene Crazy Mushroom Brigade during a 0093 event in the Yu Yin Tang[2], Little Nature also at Yu Yin Tang[3] and Momo (or at that time Happy Strings). All three bands' members became friends and started to hang out and perform at the Bar 288 in Shanghai. They created a collective called Jiao Ban, performed at the Yu Yin Tang[4], Happy Strings changed their night during that concert into Momo and all three bands stroke record deals that night with record label Soma Records.[5] In the aftermath of the SiChuan earthquake, Cold Fairyland releases the song Power of love online as video in memory of the victims.

In January, Miniless Recordings releases the "Meng Noize" Live@4live,2007,08,31 live record of Muscle Snog.

March 2008, Miniless Recordings released CDGE's record AVAVA EP (CDGE).

May 2008, Andy Best starts to write his blog Kungfuology. Further in May 0093 holds a huge earthquake benefit show with eleven bands including Banana Monkey, Little Nature, Boys Climbing Ropes and Bang Bang Tang; a show which was the downtown debut of new favorites Candy Shop (Tianpin Dian). "We've been practicing at 0093 since we started, and it's given us a lot of opportunities," says Candy Shop guitarist Nicholas Zoe. "We were in the Earthquake Benefit, our first big show, because Lao Jiang invited us. We attracted some attention then, [Yuyintang's] Zhang Haisheng offered us more shows, and that's how we got started."[6]

June 28th, the Ark Livehouse,one of the oldest rock venues in Shanghai, has their last concert with The Honeys, Crystal Butterfly and Blue Garden.[7] In July 2008, the Ark Livehouse officially closes then.

In July, LAVA.OX.SEA's record Beloved, our deserted landscape is released by Miniless Recordings.

August 2008: Brad Ferguson is fired as manager of Windows Underground on his decision to keep on hiring Chinese bands.[8]

September 2008, the Shanghai Jazz Festival 2008 took place over three days. September 16th, 5-Pointed Star are formed.

October 2nd-4th, the NOTCH08 festival took place in Shanghai with Hard Queen, B6 and Cold Fairyland.

In November 2008, Soma Records created the brand Indietop[9] which hosted a landmark show[10] on December 5th 2008, featuring Zhong Chi, Momo, Crazy Mushroom Brigade, Little Nature, Sonnet, Wang Xiaokun and Qing Ma Dao, while releasing a compilation record[11].

In December, LAVA.OX.SEA's record Heavy Metal Rock is the Best Music is released by Miniless Recordings.

At the end of 2008 Sean Leow has written a few interesting articles about the electronic scene, hiphop scene, jazz scene and rock scene. Especially the jazz scene has long roots in Shanghai and with recent additions, e.g. the Shanghai Jazz Scene Blog, the Lawrence Ku Septet and the JZ Club, Shanghai has a firm basis for good jazz'n'nites.


January 7th-17th, the JUE MUSIC ART Festival 2009 happened in Shanghai. On the last day, the first Maybe Mars showcase happened in the Dream factory with AV Okubo, Snapline, Ourself Beside Me and Carsick Cars.[12]

March sees the Yu Yin Tang concert series March Madness hitting Shanghai. On March 6th, Sonnet releases their EP S-file, which is also available for free on Douban.

April, Hard Queen releases their EP Holiday, produced by Brad Ferguson. The movie Up From the Underground, documenting Hard Queen's release party, is screened and released the same month.

May, as the Yu Yin Tang has its nights crowdly booked with bigger acts, the 0093 showcast series is pushed back into the O3 Space (Yangpu District).[13]

May 8th, the Pepsi Battle of the Bands 2009 / SMG TV bands show ended its first show in a fiasco with an outrage in the music scene. As Andy Best informs: In fact, it was so completely balls in every way that prominent scene figures are making official statements and debates are raging in various threads around Douban.[14] One of these statements comes from Helen Feng, who had been hired to MC the event: One day before one of these MC gigs, I asked (to the sponsors) ” Do you likerock music?” The answer was “No not really, but I read a book about it.” I just smiled and said, “well that’s good.” Suddenly I wanted to shout drink Coca Cola.[15] May 22nd, Shanghai band 8mg came under fire as a douban discussion started calling 8mg the most ignorant band I've met[16].[17]

July to August, Soma Records organized the Channel One summer music series 2009.

September 26th, they M.A.O. Shanghai opened its doors with free show of Momo, Sonnet and The Life Journey. The venue was completely crowded, yet still kept its sound amazing.[18]

On October 14th, the Midi Shanghai festival is cancelled.[19] October 17th / 18th, the JZ Shanghai Music Festival 2009 happens.

On November 5th, The Shanghai Hot List (20 people to watch)' is published on CNNgo, mentioning Zhang Haisheng of Yu Yin Tang on place no. 7, Elaine Chow of Shanghaiist on no. 12, Archie Hamilton of Split Works on no. 16 and the crew on no. 19.[20] November 20th, the 696 Live Bar (aka Sound Garage) shut its doors, allegdely due to license problems.[21] On November 28th, the release of 0093's compilation record Rock Shanghai 2009 (VA) is scheduled, which however happens two days later on the 30th.

December 8th, 2009, Zhu Lu He Feng was founded by Le Zi, Sonnet drummer, part of the management at Mao, as a record label / band collective involving Sonnet, Pinkberry, Joker and 21 Grams.[22]


Guai Li at the Second Maybe Mars Show, Feb 2010, Photo (c) George Godula
Third Maybe Mars Showcase

Music Fever is founded at the beginning of 2010 by Fanqie Chaodan, Sunny (from New Vector and Runaway Snail), Tong and Wang Er Xiao.[23]

On January 22nd, 2010, the second Maybe Mars showcase was held in Shanghai, in the Mao Livehouse Shanghai, with P.K. 14, Ourself Beside Me, 24 Hours and Rustic.[24]

On February 27th, the third Maybe Mars showcase was held in Shanghai, in the Mao Livehouse Shanghai, with Carsick Cars, AV Okubo, Guai Li and Birdstriking.[25] The event started a discussion among the Shanghai expat community on price and form of underground concerts.[26]

In April, the Expo arrived in Shanghai: On April 22nd, Dan Shapiro reported about the lack of good music bands coming for the Expo.[27] On April 23rd, the Yuyintang in Shanghai was reportedly shut down by the local police. According to Jake Newby: Last night at around half past nine, police showed up at Yuyintang and told them the planned gig for that night (local folk artist Wu Ji) would not be going ahead. No real reason was given, they simply asked to speak to the manager and asked to see the venue's licenses. Audience members (there were around 20-30 people there at the time, not a huge crowd) were told that the gig was cancelled and that they needed to leave the venue. The authorities then confiscated equipment from Yuyintang - the cash tills and everything from the sound desk, including the computer.[28] On April 26th, it was announced that the Yuyintang would be open again with normal operation ongoing, leaving the whole scene in doubt, why the shutdown had been there at the first place.[29] April 27th, it was announced that the Shelter was announced to be closed.[30] The same day, Pupu of The Mushrooms announces: 上海人可以不摇滚!但摇滚人不能没有育音堂! ("Shanghai people can not rock, but rock people can't not have Yuyintang")[31]

On July 29th and 30th, the 0093 held their third anniversary party at the Yuyintang. According to Jake Newby: The turn out was good and so was the atmosphere. The problem with having so many bands play is that you have to rattle through them pretty quickly. Some of the earlier bands did four or five songs, but some of the later ones, wary of the time, could only do three. That was a shame, because to my mind the later bands were the better ones.[32]

December 27th, the 2010 Shanghai Grammys were awarded by the Cityweekend Shanghai focussing on the music scene in Shanghai.


At the weekend 25th-27th March 2011, the Mao Livehouse opened at their new location near ChongQing Lu and Jianguo Lu.[33]

On 30th of September, Pairs held their Summer Sweat record release party in the Yuyintang. According to Andy Best:

Pairs played in the middle of the pit and a lot of the audience went up on the stage. It was cool and worked well, although it ultimately cut out a bunch of people who couldn't see and went back out into the park. There were enough people to fill the floor using the normal set up. So in the end it felt like a private party for friends, with good feelings and extended thank yous between the final tracks. [34]

In October, Han Han of Duck Fight Goose was interviewed by Coincide. Asked about "Do you see Shanghai as a fostering environment for upcoming artists and bands? Have you noticed a change in the music scene here over the past 10 years?" they responded:

I personally think Shanghai is a good place for upcoming artists. For a city that’s lacking innovation of rock music for so many years, everyday is a day full of opportunities for anyone to create. Now the hardware is ready for any bands who wanna grow here, I mean we have plenty of decent livehouses, practice rooms and online instruments shops. The venue owners love music but they are not musical fools, they are at the same time serious business man and that’s good for some serious thing to happen. The most appreciable change is that now most of the bands don’t give a shit to the so-called conflicts between “ROCK” and “COMMERCIAL MUSIC”. It breaks some old-fashioned guys’ rotten motto and these mottos come from some childish magazines or media who never know what rock music is. There are so many pretentious underground-rock bands and there are some commercial bands under big label really making their own music. New bands are always more relaxing.[35]


In January and February 2012, Rock in China interviewed a number of Shanghai bands and asked them about the Shanghai scene. According to Friend or Foe:

I don’t think that Shanghai has one cohesive sound, I mean, there are so many types, e.g. Moon Tyrant is different than us, Duck Fight Goose, Candy Shop, Rainbow Danger Club, Sonnet etc., are all different from us. Besides the metal people and the electronic there is not much cohesive sound in Shanghai. In the rock scene there are not too many bands that sound the same, which I think is cool. When you go out to see a rock show you see 4 very different bands.[36]

In October 2012, black pop band Stalin Gardens mentioned:

(...) there is everything. It's so fractured. It's like you took a solid and cohesive music scene and dropped it on the floor. It'll blow into pieces, all over the place, become incoherent and useless. That's the Shanghai scene, all over the fucking music spectrum.[37]

Major Compilation Records of Shanghai

News from the rock scene

taken from Jake Newby's blog

taken from Andy Best's blog

News from the jazz scene

taken from Shanghai Jazz

Further information

Blogs/websites about the scene

BBS about Shanghai scene

Venues / Concert Organizers

Shanghai Magazines

Articles & Interviews


  1. Campbell, J.W. (2011). Red Rock. Earnshaw Books (Hongkong). Page 53.
  2. Andy Best (Kungfuology) (2008-06-01). "Crazy Mushroom Brigade @ Yuyintang". Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  3. Andy Best (Shanghaiist) (2008-03-30). "Saturday night live at Yuyintang". Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  4. Andy Best (Kungfuology) (2008-07-13). "Jiao Ban night at Yuyintang". Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  5. Andy Best (Kungfuology) (2008-09-03). "More magazines and Little Nature". Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  6. Lisa Movius (2009-04-01). "Enter the bunker of sound - 0093". Retrieved on 2009-05-07.
  7. Abe Deyo (Shanghaiist) (2008-06-27). "ARK Live House final concert, Cold Fairyland and more live music". Retrieved on 2009-04-30.
  8. Kenneth Tan (2008-08-02). "Windows Underground fires its manager over his decision to hire Chinese bands". Retrieved on 2009-04-11.
  9. Andy Best (Kungfuology) (2008-11-12). "Indietop showcase coming to Dream Factory". Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  10. Andy Best (Kungfuology) (2008-12-06). "Indie Top One showcase at Dream Factory". Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  11. Andy Best (Kungfuology) (2008-11-19). "Indietop first compilation CD line up". Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  12. Andy Best (2009-01-18). "Jue Festival two: Maybe Mars showcase". Retrieved on 2010-03-05.
  13. Andy Best (Kungfuology) (2009-05-05). "0093 shows in other venues". Retrieved on 2009-05-07.
  14. Andy Best (Kungfuology) (2009-05-09). "Pepsi / SMG TV bands show a predictable fiasco". Retrieved on 2009-05-09.
  15. Helen Feng as reported by China Music Radar (2009-05-12). "More big brand BS". Retrieved on 2009-05-12.
  17. Andy Best ( (2009-05-26). "Bits and bobs / music by the Fuck'ndrolls". Retrieved on 2009-05-31.
  18. Andy Best (2009-09-28). "Mao Shanghai opening night". Retrieved on 2009-10-04.
  19. China Music Radar (2009-10-14). "The shortest festival that never was…". Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
  20. CNNgo Shanghai (2009-11-05). "The Shanghai Hot List: 20 people to watch". Retrieved on 2009-11-06.
  21. Jake Newby (2009-11-22). "696 Live Bar, we hardly knew ye". Retrieved on 2009-11-27.
  22. Jake Newby (2009-12-09). "Lezi launches a label". Retrieved on 2010-03-27.
  23. Jake Newby (2010-05-27). "Music Fever are doing stuff". Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  24. Andy Best (2010-01-23). "Maybe Mars Showcase @ Mao". Retrieved on 2010-03-05.
  25. Dan Shapiro (2010-02-21). "Independent China in Stereo: Maybe Mars returns with Carsick Cars, AV Okubo, Guai Li and Birdstriking".
  26. Jake Newby (2010-03-01). "Maybe Mars showcase at MAO Livehouse". Retrieved on 2010-03-05.
  27. Dan Shapiro (Cityweekend Shanghai) (2010-04-22). "Slim Pickens: Expo 2010 fails to bring the noise". Retrieved on 2010-04-28.
  28. Jake Newby (2010-04-24). "Yuyintang shut down". Retrieved on 2010-04-24.
  29. Jake Newby (2010-04-26). "Yuyintang open again". Retrieved on 2010-04-26.
  30. Morgan Short (Smart Shanghai) (2010-04-27). "Shelter Shut Down". Retrieved on 2010-04-28.
  31. Jake Newby (2010-04-27). "Quote of the day: Pupu from The Mushrooms". Retrieved on 2010-04-28.
  32. Jake Newby (2010-07-31). "0093's 3 year anniversary at YYT". Retrieved on 2010-08-01.
  33. Archie Hamilton (2011-03-29). "The New Mao Livehouse, the opening weekend". Retrieved on 2011-04-04.
  34. Andy Best (2011-10-02). "Pairs Summer Sweat album launch". Retrieved on 2011-10-04.
  35. Co-incide (2011-10-08). "Interview Han Han". Retrieved on 2011-10-20.
  36. Interview with Friend or Foe (2012)
  37. Interview with Stalin Gardens (2012)

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