From Music-China Wiki
Hello, I'm Azchael, one of the two founders www.rockinchina.com.
2003: The early days in Xi'an
I came in contact with Chinese rock late in 2003, when I had been working in Xi'an. A friend of mine told me and my colleague about a rock show at the Dong Da Jie in Xi'ans inner city. We soon found the place (the Bella Bar), though the concert hadn't started and tickets were not yet available. So after settling for a dinner, we returned, getting our tickets and entering the Bella Bar to see my first Chinese underground show with Pulse and 206 and Thinkers on the bill. After the show and intense talks with Pulse's drummer, the bar's owner invited the whole audience for late-nite foods at the Muslim area nearby GuLou. On the 4th floor of a simple restaurant, a large portion of Xi'ans underground scene had gathered, drinking and eating jiaozi... not to say that the next day was spent intensively listening to Pulse first demo CD.
Over the next couple of months, my walk was more often than less directed to a couple of venues in the city, especially the famous 8 1/2 bar, which was owned by Zhang Wei. With Xiao Ma, a good friend of mine, I ventured out to see concerts of 206 and Thinkers (Oct 17th), Oxygen Can (on their national tour 2003, October 25th), Gao Qi, Yaksa, Cut at Waist and many bands I didn't know the names of back then.
Becoming friends of both the 8 1/2 bar's people and the guys around Lvzhou.net, I experienced the slow start of the Xi'an rock scene after the 2003 SARS crisis. One concert I especially remember was the large outdoor festival with Gao Qi and Yaksa, a collection of upto 8 bands from Xi'an and Beijing cart together at a resort in the far North of Beijing (Wei Yang Lake Resort). It was pretty cold that time and we had to leave early in the morning (me with hangover). There had been small food stands around and Xiao Ma and me froze while eating these snacks. The sound was mostly good and I saw my first major festival moshpit produced by Yaksa's song Fa Fa Fa, which caused dozends of crazed fans to rush towards the stage, nearly crushing those holding the handrails, but nobody got hurt.
With help of Pararox, another good friend of mine, I got the names for several famous Chinese metal CDs I wanted to buy during a short trip to Beijing in December 2003. Luck gave hand to success and on my journey to Xin Jie Kou Bei Da Jie in Beijing I ventured through several record shops until I met with the guitarist of Sour Love (?), which helped me to buy the Resurrection of the Gods (VA) and the second installment of that series.
2004: The Beijing days
On my arrival in Beijing I immediatelly sought the same record shop and discussed with my friend the upcoming shows. At the time, the closure of the Old Get Lucky Bar was imminent and several multi-band metal shows were on the gig calendar. The old Get Lucky Bar had been a faraway place (at least from where I lived), hidden behind a huge construction site (also for an underpass) with a cowboy/western style that intrigued me. Huge brewery signs and cheap 10rmb beer ensured that each night was a success, even though the bands played late till 3am or 4am with people heading home usually around midnight or shortly after. I remember seeing Suffocated, Regicide, Ritual Day, Evilthorn, Wrath of Despot and even Hollow in its first two gigs there.
Towards the end of March and with the opening of the New Get Lucky Bar, the scene moved , but the atmosphere could not live up to the old Get Lucky Bar. Higher Prices, more luxurious furniture and the general feeling of being in a high-class bar with attached dance-stage were added by the event of a security person attacking one fan during a show of Hollow sometime in April or May. Brutally kicking him down from the stage, the security guy was quickly rounded up by the metal audience, but would not issue any apology. From that time onwards most people shunned that place for metal gigs.
Another great gig that took place that time, though also in the New Get Lucky Bar, had been the Chengdu Blog Tour organized by Tang Wei of Chengdu's Little Bar with Soundtoy and Ashura on the bill. That gig really took me aside, as it was the first time since Xi'an to see really decent rock bands from outside of Beijing, playing good and passionate music. That night I bought both the Tomorrow never die release by Ashura and the The wonderful trip record of Soundtoy. During that night I also happened to meet Cui Jian, whom I recognized due to his famed red-star hat.
At one of the old Get Lucky Bar shows I met Yang, member of Painkiller magazine and later my friend. Meeting him we discussed a lot about metal, rock, Chinese rock and Chinese metal, with me offering him to help on the Painkiller website and do the English pages a little bit more structured. That time we also started to put online the first metal artist profiles at the subdomain china.painkillermag.com, slowly updating the pages every now and then in the Painkiller office in HaiDian. During one of these visit I had been interviewed alongside Yang for the CCTV-6 sports magazine, talking about extreme sports & metal/hardrock.
Yang was also the guy who introduced me to the Hollow crew around Brian, Julian and Florian, three young metalheads with ambition to rock up the scene. We brought them to the Old Get Lucky Bar shows, giving them the chance to showcast their talent in front of the harsh Beijing metal audience. On their second bigger gig, they had their breakthrough with Zicwag being their lead vocalist. That first gig with him, after he having had banged half-way through the set, before heading upstage, was still one of their best gigs for me. It was raw, energetic and full of passion. Had them seen before doing their three-man-piece thing in the Red Bar in Sanlitun and I remember that one night when a South American guy was listening to them doing a Metallica cover. That guy went crazy, banging and jumping around, it gave Brian a shock, though also the confidence to bring Hollow forward on a larger and bigger stage. Something they did well. You can read more about them in the interview I did with them.
One particular show I remember later in July had been the "Extreme Metal at Yun Meng", the newly renamed old CD Cafe close to the San Li Tun area in Eastern Beijing. Next to Suffocated and Evilthorn there were numerous bands at that gig, but far too few people. Still the moshing and poging was great for the usual metal "Evil Panda Crew" from the Painkiller BBS showed up, making the night a well success.
With a short break in August, taking part as international correspondent for the Painkiller Heavy Music Mag at the Wacken Open Air 2004, I was back in Beijing in September seeing the P.K. 14, Spring Autumn and Hollow show as well as the Midi Music Festival 2004 with CMCB and Spring Autumn as particular bands I liked. On the later released DVD, I am visible poging with a bunch of people. That time of the year, heavy winds were blowing Beijing, making the Beijing Midi Festival a freezing adventure, though in the moshpit it was rather warm. The festival was visited by fans from all over the world and I remember seeing a totally drunk Chinese punk girl laying on the ground with out any underwear. Laying there a security guy came over seeing if she was still conscious or not. She arose, shaked her head, looked irritated and grabbed another bottle of baijiu, gulping down a large portion of that liquid.
Shows I went to
March 28th 2004: Extreme Metal Festival
October 4th 2004: Midi 2004; photos
2004/2005: The Shanghai years
Coming to Shanghai in October for a new job at my old company, it was a couple of weeks of knowing nearly nothing about the scene and then one Saturday just heading out and trying to find a concert. My usual strategy worked pretty well. I headed for a huge department store, checked out the CD lines and asked the guys and girls there about a shop where I could buy Tomahawk's Dead City and voila, they pointed out the way to a shop called 2046 close to GuoDing Lu in the far North. Being inside and making myself known as a guy from Beijing and Painkiller, the shop's owner pointed me out to a concert the same day (October 24th), supposingly metal. Being not too far away from the shop (at least I thought so), I headed to the OLE Bar where a metal gig started a couple of hours later, most propably organized by the SUS2 Music Shop, though I am not sure. My first encounter to the guys of Ling Chi (SH).
Beginning of November (on the 6th) I had the pleasure to finally came across to the original SUS2 Music Factory close to the 2046 music shop at GuoDing Lu and see both Blood Funk and Sick Pupa rocking out this little venue. The bands started late and at that venue I also came into contact with Yiren Katoshi of Yaogun.com, the web's largest website about Chinese rock, unfortunately completely in Japanese and thereby not-understandable to most fans. At the end of the month, on the 20th of November, I had the chance to see a real punk night at the SUS2 Music Factory with Reflector and Loudspeaker rocking that small venue. The place was packed, the music loud and good and the action ok.
Meeting Xiao Yu of Blood Funk, we both often hung out at a nice BBQ somewhere in West Shanghai, eating huge lamb sticks. The first time we went there it was during an event we called No Punk, so Drunk (November 27th), as a punk concert the same evening was cancelled and the guys from the Shanghai Expat forum decided anyway to hang out and get, well, a little bit drunk. Alongside me, were Asa (later boyfriend of the vocalist of Cold Fairyland), Chris, Xiao Yu, Frank (of Sky Funeral), the guys from Deadly Sins, Valentina and famous Micah Sitting. Frank was showing off his new headphones and some guys went into a arm wrestling competition leaving the poor owner with one table less as he crashed in the middle of it. The toilet at that place was miles away and I remember getting through 5 doors, up three stairs, into an apartment and out again to enter a roof-bound room without lights. Amazing!
On the first days of December, the 4th to be exact, I had my first encounter with the Ark Livehouse in XinTianDi, a rather expensive, snobish and decadent area of Westerns dining out late and rich. At the same time there had been the best music venue of all China - at least to my experience - with a huge soundsystem, good light effects, a real stage and a dancing area of not unmentionable sice. Concert of the evening had been Give Live a Chance, a tribute to John Lennon, with numerous Shanghai bands covering a song of John Lennong (or the Beatles) and then setting off into their own set. Stars of the evening for me had been Another kind of Light that ended the show with fulminous hardcore version of Twist and Shout, though bands such as Sonnet, Cold Fairyland, Marrow, Clockwork Orange, On9, Floating Light and 33rd Island also delivered what they promised. That night I also got myself my first true Shanghai record, the Give Live a Chance (VA) compilation with the cover songs of this legendary night.
Getting into closer touch with both Sky Funeral and Blood Funk I joined them beginning of January (on the 8th and 9th) to their rehearsal studio, an underground place built in view of former war-like times. One had to go down long concrete corridors passing huge iron doors. The light was not good and there were scribblings on the wall, ranging from "Fuck you" to "Sex" showing a rather punk-like attitude though metal bands were practising there. Both Sky Funeral and Blood Funk were sharing members and both bands shared a fascination for metal legends Death, playing their songs as warmup to their actual original stuff. One song of Blood Funk, called Butterfly's Dance Into The Fire is available for download (uploaded by Rock in China) and gives you an idea of what raw power they had. Xiao Yu was always joking about doing a Wang Fei cover in death metal growl and I forgot who, but someone said, we should shoot a music video for them showing Xiao Yu doing his normal daily life work and instead of talking to others just growling, e.g. when reading out the newspaper or asking for the way. I guess we were inspired by the mp3 of another Shanghai death metal band with an intro of someone calling up for a friend and only growling the names and the question for the same. During the recording sessions I also made friends with Jamie, a young fashionable girl working as gig organizer over at Harley's.
Chinese New Year was spent travelling and my first gig in Shanghai afterwards was most propably the Comrade Lei Feng event at Harley's bar on March 5th. Bands included The Herb, The Honeys and Xiao Min is a Robot, three traditional Shanghai rock bands. That night I met not only Xiao Yu and Jamie but also the folks of Yuyintang, an organization that just jumpstarted around that time in Shanghai and which according to Joyce was thought of a community of like-minded rock fans organizing shows. March 26th I found news in the web that a folk / rock festival was taking place in Shanghai, somehow being happening directly inside a new shopping complex. Venturing their the place was packed with people and the billing was good, though I had to leave early just seeing two bands (Wan Xiaoli and forgotten...).
April 16th I attended a metal show at the SUS2 Music Bar close to the old SUS2 Music Factory place. Xuan Wu Men and Deadly Sins was on the bill with tight headbanging in the front row. After the concert, the whole gang of metal fans and bands went to a hotpot place with the special offer of pay the food and the drinks are on the house. Not to mention that most guys became hilariously drunk that evening, and I got to know several new friends from metal and also of rock bands of Shanghai. May 26th, Cold Fairyland was holding a gig at a art gallery close to a river, though I don't remember the name. Venturing out with Xiao Yu to see that gig we had snacks around the area and headed for the gig late in the evening. Such an intense concert, such intense music and passion in the songs is rare in the world and even more rare in China, but Cold Fairyland knows exactly what they are doing. Later (in July) I interviewed them only to find out that my old pal Asa was actually translating both questions from me to Miyadudu and her answers backwards.
Beginning of June, I headed out with a good friend of mine to a three city tour (Xi'an, Beijing and Shanghai) and during our trip to Beijing I had the chance to see Hang on the Box in the Nameless Highland, performing their song Shanghai. The same time, Yang came up to me announcing that we needed our own website and not just the subdomain of Painkiller for our band websites. Hence we acquired www.rockinchina.com and started to move all our Painkiller-hosted pages to the new home of what was now officially entitled Rock in China. Back in Shanghai, on the 19th, I saw my first band from Wuhan rocking the Ark Livehouse: all-female powerhouse Rococo, a pop punk trio making excessive use of the kitten-image and small growls in their music to show a certain way of kitsh and punk. I liked their image, their music and their attitude, and I have to admit that they were also quite cute. So they lived up to their pop punk image.
July 16th I got to know that SUS2 had their 5th anniversary and celebrated the same with a special small festival of two days concerts at their new SUS2 Music Bar up North near GuoDing Lu. Heading out for the first of two days I was able to see several old-timers of Shanghai in the bar, including The Honeys, The Herb and if I don't am mistaken Three Yellow Chicken. I am not sure if that had been my last concert in Shanghai or China in 2005, though unfortunately I do not remember any further gigs and my Flickr archives are not offering any help (for as I usually had my cam with me, but sometimes I decided not to take any photos). Hnce my departure with China was a difficult one and one that would not lead me on the mainland for long time in 2006 (only a month) until I returned in 2007/2008 for a period of 8 months in total.
Concerts I went to - at least those I remember with date'
November 6th 2004: Sick Pupa & Blood Funk at SUS2; photos
November 20th 2004: Reflector
December 4th 2004: Give Live a Chance - John Lennon Tribute gig at The Ark; photos
January 8th 2005: Blood Funk Photoshooting
January 9th 2005: Sky Funeral Photoshooting
March 5th 2005: Harley's Bar: Comrade Lei Feng Concert; photos
March 26th 2005: Shanghai Metropolitan Folk Festival
April 16th 2005: Metal gig in Shanghai, China; photos
May 26th 2005: Cold Fairyland : Desolute City
June 19th 2005: Rococo Gig at The Ark; photos
July 16th 2005: SUS2 5th Anniversary
2005/2006/2007: The intermediate years
Despite being away from China, my interest and my passion for the music did not falter by the distance. Naturally my focus shifted away from attending Chinese gigs and concentrated on German gigs (in Meschede, Munich, Paderborn and other places), but my heart was beating further for the Chinese rock scene and hence work on Rock in China intensified.
Late in autumn/winter 2005, the decision was made to move away from a HTML-driven system towards a more dynamic content management system (CMS) based on the Joomla suite. A move that showed our sincerity towards the topic we were covering, but also a move that cost us a lot of time and energy as we had to learn a completely new system for the sole purpose of presenting what we were doing in the months before in a more systematic way. In January 2006 I interviewed Torturing Nurse about his views on noise and rock music. I have to admit that at time I was totally unaware of the noise movement and incorrectly thought it to be a subgenre of guitar distortion and electronic music generation. Hence my rather blunt questions, which Junkyard answered in his typical thrashy way.
In May and June we opened the RiC Labs (which now are called Research) and started our own podcast (in the tradition of Dragonradio and Gigshanghai). End of the month, we started collaborating with Adam of Chaile.org, who had just left Beijing and China and sought for a way to spread the word about rock music from China. He established the Chaile wiki, which we of RiC joined in the beginning, but sooner than later (in December 2006) left in order to setup a wiki system at RiC directly. As much as Adam was devoted to the music, his job and family didn't leave him the time to fully concentrate on the wiki and the changes Matsch, Yang and me had in mind would have required lots of programming and changing, something which we are now able to do much easier on our own system.
2007 was mostly spent in updating the wiki whenever I had time for that, with studying and working unfortunately taking up a lot of my time. Though one particular event still clearly stands out and that is the participation at the Wacken Open Air 2007 for Painkiller as an international correspondent. Photos of the event were displayed later at the Painkiller website and are also featured in the print version of the magazine. At the press tent I also met the guys behind AFM Records, who were clearly familiar with the Chinese scene, as that guy was a friend of Yang and helped us to take photos of Doro Pesch.
2007/2008: Deep diving moshpits
Late August 2007 Beijing welcomed me back in his arms, and despite the nights of partying and days of hard work, I had the chance to see numerous concerts in the vincities of the 13 Club, the Mao Livehouse, the Yugong Yishan, the D-22 and the Starlive. One venue that I never had the chance to go to was the 2 Kolegas.
My first gig that time was in the WuDaoKou area and I was out with Yang and his girlfriend, first eating and then later out at the D-22 and the 13 Club. I remember that night quite well, for I met with Tookoo, Surprise and The Raving Radio as well as several other band in that genre, playing that night in the D-22. The venue was not too crowded and so I used the chance to take lots and lots of photos, drinking with the bands and finally in the end leading to loosing my glasses that evening. The friendship especially with Tookoo grew deeper over the next couple of months.
November 3rd it was and it was the night, that I saw Ashura, Chengdu's pop rock / new metal outfit on its return to Beijing and its second show that I attended. Further bands were Fu Shi and Tian Yi. The venue was the 13 Club and it was crowded, packed and ready to rock. Even though Tian Yi and Fu Shi were rather hard metal bands, Ashura nevertheless impressed the Beijing audience with its Chengdu sounds. Sometime in April 2005 they had released their second record and I remember clearly that I had bought the same in Shanghai shortly after its release in 2005, though on eating out with my Korean friend we came to a nice dinner that allowed us to play the music. The restaurant's owner liked the music so much, that I gave it to him as a gift, hence I had to buy the CD a second time.
November 9th, I followed the call of a fellow work colleague and ventured my first time to the Yugong Yishan, seeing Spring Autumn and Voodoo Kungfu (for the first time). During the break between the sets I had a talk with Kaiser, in which he mentioned that I was the first foreigner being able to sing along all their songs, to which I could only reply that I was listening to their songs even before they had their record released, as Yang gave me their demo on day in 2004 (at the PK office in Zhi Chun Lu). He then asked me whether I knew about Voodoo Kungfu, a question I had to negate. I still remember his chilling words: They are giving me nightmares and hell yeah they did. Voodoo Kungfu are still on ym list of best Chinese metal bands and everytime I see them is like a chill down to my bones. They are more than awesome!
November 29th, I headed out to Mao Live House in GuLouDongDaJie, a very nice students and tourist district featuring fashion shops for the young and hip and music stores for the fans and nerds like me that just need to have that second release of that band in Chengdu. That night I was lucky enough to see Last Chance of Youth, a fresh hardcore band playing the style of Pantera / Fear Factory, half rapping / shouting their way into the audience heart. Unfortuntely I don't know the name of any of the other bands. If anyone has the billing of that night, please let me know and send me a copy. I have so many band photos I still want to categorize that I definitely need your help in that.
Following in December (the 14th), I had the chance to see the legendary band Voodoo Kungfu once again live. Such monsters of thrash and death metal, destroying everything else, I recommended them to nearly everybody I knew, distributing their demo record and cheering with them, when they were invite to Germany's WACKEN OPEN AIR 2008 to rock the Metal Battle Stage as country winner for China, an honour more than earned. Voodoo Kungfu are a band that is not only showcasting corpsepaint, but are in full costumes on stage.
December itself was my concert and gig crazy month with me heading to shows continuously from 23rd to 30th, sometimes even two shows a day (27th) together with a good friend of mine or alone. The show on 21st was a punk one at D-22, one of the kind, that make the true D-22, dirty, raw, punk and rock, performed by Toy Head, Steely Heart, R.W.F. and The K. As much as I can remember from that night of punk and beer, is that guy's haircut and earring (a safety pin), as can be seen from the photo on the right hand side. The atmosphere was good, the place was full, not crowded and the music was energetic.
On the 23rd, day before Christmas (yes: Christmas is 24th, not 25th!), it was my first time to the Starlive in Northeast Beijing, directly above the Tango Disco. Event of the night was entitled to Chinese Wind and featured numerous Chinese rock bands including Maya, Caffe-In, The Last Successor, Tookoo, Mars Plan, Tie Bo, Tie Fu Tu and a metal band I totally forgot the name of. Caffe-In and Maya were the most remarkable bands for me that night. Caffe-In due to their high-energy powerloaden set of pop punk, that kindly reminded me of Rococo, whom I had seen in Shanghai before. The vocalist Sayu was wearing a scarf and wollen hat on stage and was jumping from left to right. The energy and attitude attracted me. Maya itself were a favorite of mine since the Midi 2004 DVD on which they performed the song Wo Wu Suo Wei (I don't care), with an uptempo rising beat in the song. This song was unfortunately not performed (also not the democn-distribute Game Over and Happiness), but the new stuff was also quite listenable and caught my attention, as well as my feets, for they were constantly moving. At this gig I also saw Tookoo's more britrock like show that had a more brit-like touch compared to the show I saw a couple of weeks earlier in D-22. Or maybe I had been just too drunk that time to really notice.
Christmas Eve, aka December 24th 2007, it was MAO day, my favorite place in Beijing for concerts as it was the most close place to my home in Beijing that days. Billing of the night was Subs, Surprise, End of the world, Lady Flame, Lin Jia, The K, CMCB and Silver Ash. Both Lin Jia and Lady Flame were two rockabilly bands (rockabilly in China???) doing their thing, interesting but definitely not my thing. Meng Meng, famous music magazine model, was singing that night, one of her few occasions on stage. End of the World were a pretty interesting ska band with doing Japanese jokes in Chinese on stage, performed by an American. CMCB gave a pretty good show, even though the bassist was doing a stage dive, hitting the floor with his head, though coming upstage seconds later. The keyboarder had a pretty cool hat and the crowd was with them. Best moshpit of the night was definitely with Surprise, though I think it was actually me who started it by hitting my colleague softly and others picking up on that. I met Kang Mao that evening and for sure I took the opportunity to get her photographed with the Painkiller Magazine for a collection I am doing online. Yao Rui of No Name was also at the gig and with our inside Xi'an Hua Ha, we gulped down beers a many, at least thats what I think it was...
A day of rest and then on the 26th Mao brought me the sounds of The Falling, Flying at Midnight, Self Portrait, Galaxy and Microbus. Self Portrait are a good rock band with keyboards, The Falling were actually known to me by their former name Mermaid (Renyu) to which I was made known to by a website called renyumusic, that contact me about interview exchanges and other things sometime in 2005/6. Totally new for me was the band Galaxy, which I met after the concert in the XinJiangJu, the small Xin Jiang place directly opposite the Mao Live House, which has become a hotspot for bands and fans to hang out before, after and during the shows to eat cheap yang rou chuan'r and drink good yan jing pi jiu. Day after I spent watching a podcast presentation at a small bar (English bar) in Wudaokou with my good friend Robert (of Raging Mob) and drinken a couple of beers before I headed out to Mao getting only a glimpse of The K.
December 28th, I had the chance to see Tookoo, Self Portrait (a regular now), IC女子 and Demerit. Before the actual set of IC女子, there had been a female dancer on the stage as a kind of "making hot" show. Actually, it worked! Not too much to say about that night, except that it was a fulmanent show at Mao with good cold fresh beers. Day after it was Mao Live again for me and I had the chance to see Industrial band Nuclear Fusion-G and famed Super VC for the first time live together with several other bands (incl. Fei Yu and R.W.F.. R.W.F. gave a great show, including their cover of The KKK took my baby away and the singer loosing his glassed (which unfortunately got destroyed when he jumped on them by accident), realizing the same and calling out a nice "Fuck you!". Nuclear Fusion-G's gig was loaden with problems in the sound, leading to readjustments after every song, something that really killed the mood for this (at least for me), much awaited band, as my friend Jojo had told me about them in 2005 when he visited me in Beijing. Super VC were a special kind of breed and their guitarist a total addict of Visual Kei, as he was heavily make-upped and drew the attention of half the audience for himself only. Somewhere I had read that Super VC were formed by one of the Silver Ash guys, but I could and I can not remember anymore whether that influenced my perception of them or not. Yet musically I would not see them again.
Sunday, December 30th, was spent differently, as I attended the Open Mic Night in WuDaoKou's Lush, an American restaurant, bar, lounge and breakfast diner, which was crowded and packed that night. Chinese and foreign students from BeiDa and QingHua University were rushing in to the open stage night, during which everyone, talented or not, was allowed to make use of the Lush's own instruments or those of others, if available. Incredibly a lot of the students in that area are quite capable musicians and rocked their way with an accoustic guitar, performing cover songs and original ones(!!!). The first step to D-22? As we had been wandering the summer palace the same day, my friends and me chilled out that evening together with Yang, cold Tsingtao beers and a shisha... Funny ideas proving well, we invented both the Lady Flame Beer and the Mao Pi Jiu that night, as we had stickers of the Mao Live House and of Lady Flame with us... a spare time activity we also advocated at the Mao gigs itself and wherever we were confident enough to spread the news of rock in the world.
January 3rd, into the new year and into the 13 Moon event at Starlive, the concert hosted by the record label 13 Moon with Galaxy and Self Portrait on the billing. The sound was awesome as usual in the Starlive (they merely make mistakes) and the bands showed off what they had. A typical Starlive gig, unfortunately not with too many fans in the audience (also quite common for Beijing gigs). January 4th, the Knockin on Musical's Door event took place in Mao and I headed over to catch a glimpse at ever-improving Last Chance of Youth, 绽火 and some unknown band (for which I still have not found any name, any one cares to help?). The latter one featured a very reggae-looking singer with dreadlocks and a Chinese flute to the later part of their show. When he was in the venue he was always walking around with his flute in a bag on his back.
January 11th, Painkiller had invited Scandinavian metal band Dark Tranquility to China, performing at the Yugong Yishan and I headed over to take photos together with Zakk for the magazine. Arriving far too early Han and Zakk went for traditional Chinese dinner with me where we met up with some guys from Rockyear.net and other websites. Back at the venue I talked to the guys of DT, some other photographers and went into the packed hall to have a close look at both Hades (or Narakam as they call themselves these days) and Ego Falls. Especially the later one, which I knew from their democn demos including Industrial Age and Echos from the Abyss impressed me and confirmed my claim that they belong together with Voodoo Kungfu to the better metal live acts of Beijing. Unfortunately their album is released with a too poppy touch, reminding me of the difference between real screamo and those "post hardcore"-titled bands in the USA. Dark Tranquility themselves performed as expected: beloved by the crowd and perfect in their technique and show. Compared to the previous band these musicians are huge, tall and slim.
On the 23rd, the MAO Live house was hosting their MAO Awards ceremony, celebrating their heroes of Chinese rock, similar to the Awards hosted by the Midi School end of 2009. Band of the night was Brainfailure that gave their usual punk show. Night off to Xinjiangju for a midnight snack.
With a short break in Germany in February, I returned to China in March, making a quick visit to Qingdao, city of Tsingtao beer and REDSTAR magazine. Two good pals accompanied me and so, one our first day (21st of March), we walked along the streets until suddenly a minivan stopped behind us, a couple of folks jumping out and shouting "Max! What are you doing here!" to which I only could reply "Tookoo! What are you doing here!". It seemed that they had been invited to the MAX 08 Festival in Qingdao and had played the night before, being sightseeing the day over and prepared for getting wasted the same night. Nothing to add that my pals and me went to the second dayof the MAX 08 festival hitting up with the guys of Tag Team Records, Hotpot Music, Tookoo, their friends and seeing the shows of Lonely China Day, Arrows made of Desire and UK band The Playmakers. After the main show everybody was hitting to a restaurant / bar somewhere downtown, drinking and eating and jamming along with the guys of Playmaker. Actually the band had to play a gig the next day in Beijing, though after that night it had to be cancelled, alledgebly as we drank too many beers with them, but that stands unproved. Despite the bands, the party and the night out, Qingdao has lots and lots of interesting sites and is definitely worth a visit.
A couple of days later I set of for the famed March 30th concert organized by Kou Zheng Yu, guitarist of both Suffocated and Spring Autumn for his birthday. As usual metal bands from all genres came to the party including Evilthorn (that I had last seen in 2004), Raging Mob (with Robert on vocals), Filter, the Metallica of China band, that perform in the style of Metallica including similar-sounding rifs and even a close-enough voice with the typical bass in it, Suffocated and numerous fans pogging, moshing and jumping to the tunes of real metal. That night was I think the second time I had seen Filter, with the first time being sometime in 2004 or 2005 on a night at 13 Club with Spirit Trace.
April 18th, I decided to try out a more pop-related rock night at the 13 Club, meeting up with Lavril the first time. Billing of the night included my old friends Galaxy that had invited me over, Fu Lan and Lucky Monkey as well as a band which name I do not remember (help anyone?). Galaxy performed a moderate set with their setlist, whereas both Fu Lan and Lucky Monkey rocked out to an unfortunately rather small crowd of people. Nevertheless they showed their anger, passion and emotion in their music. Hitting up with the bands Fu Lan and Lucky Monkey after the show, my friend Dennis and me got rather filled up with beer with them and agreed to see them again the next day at the same venue. Therefore on the next day, we headed (after a nice BBQ session) to the 13 Club, with a couple of colleagues, sponsoring a box of Yangjing beer and watching the energetic show.
11 days forward, me and some friends headed over to the MAO Livehouse as Gammalux was on the bill, originally scheduled to perform at the Midi Music Festival 2008, which was, in good tradition, cancelled by certain government authorities on claims of security and other grounds. Nevertheless Gammalux, 21st Century Noise and Turdus Musicus rocked a packed MAO Live House, hitting up with us after the show (with the guys of Tookoo and Reflector) to snack and drink at a bar in the depth of Nanluguoxiang. As often as I have tried, I never found that particular bar again. For those that tried and had the luck to find it, please tell me where it is. It has a beautiful fish painting on the wall. That night was also the first time I met Chris and the others of Gammalux for the first time in real. We had a lot of chats and talks, hitting up on the Midi rumours, the background of the same and promising for beers the next time we meet up in Germany (which unfortunately has not happened till December 2009). Actually Gammalux was playing the very next day once again in the 13 Club during a metal festival, for which the 13 Club is famous. Further bands of the night were Raging Mob and Filter and with numerous colleagues and fans I headed to Wudaokou, preparing myself for a great metal night. During the show of Gammalux a huge moshpit opened up and lasted for the complete set of that German band. Later shows by Raging Mob and Filter were similarly packed. Other bands of the night, I unfortunately forgot the names of as my camera was in the safe hands of Lavril while I myself was engaged in the middle of the moshpit. A true metal night at the 13 Club. Two days later, I headed for the Mao Live show of Tookoo, The Reason and The K. Hotpot Music (the guys I saw in Qingdao) had organised the whole show, packing the Mao with people. Honestly speaking the show of The Reason was full of problems with their sound, though they have resolved these issues since that time and on mylast trip in 2009, they had been kicking ass.
Concerts I went to - at least those I remember with date
October 19th 2007: Konzert
November 3rd 2007: Ashura, Fushi and TianYi in the 13Club
November 9th 2007: Konzert Spring...
November 29th 2007: Konzert in Mao: Last Chance of Youth
December 14th 2007: Voodoo KungFu, Last Chance of Youth Special Event
December 21st 2007: D-22
December 23rd 2007: Chinese Wind at Starlive, photos
2007_12_24: Christmas Eve at MAO Live, photos
2007_12_26: Mao Concert, photos
2007_12_27: Club Shots
2007_12_27: The K im Mao
2007_12_28: Mao Live, photos
2007_12_29: Rock im Mao
2007_12_30: Open Mic im Lush
January 3rd 2008: 13 Moon Event; photos
January 4th 2008: Knockin on Musical Door; photos
January 11th 2008: Dark Tranquility, Ego Fall, Hades
January 23rd 2008: Mao Awards with Brainfailure; photos
March 30th 2008: March 30th Birthday Concert; photos
April 18th 2008: 13 Club Rock Pop; photos
April 19th 2008: Concert at 13Club: Fu Lan and Lucky Monkey; photos
April 30th 2008: Gammalux Concert in MAO; photos
2008_05_01: 13Club Metal...
2008_05_03: Concert at Mao; photos
2008 / 2009: Out of China, out of sight
With my leave of China in June 2008 and jobs forcing me to travel from Germany to the USA to Germany to India, work at RiC was slowed down, yet never fully stopped. Two major projects I especially devoted a lot of time to around Winter 2008/9 was the cooperation with the University of Heidelberg on building up a library Rock in China collection for which I forwaded my complete CD collection to them for scanning and documenting and the second major project being the translation of Der Lange Marsch des Rock'n'Roll, Andreas Steen's book about the beginnings of rock music in China, which I translated so far up to one third, before my job forced me to bring that on a hiatus until work slowed down.
2009: a short comeback to the scene
In the month of August I had the chance to revisit Beijing and venture to several of my favorite venues: Mao, 13 Club and D-22, even though I only spent 10 days in total in Beijing.
Arriving close to the 4th, I unfortunately missed out the InMusic Festival in the North of Beijing, yet the opening evening I met Manda, tour organizer of Gammalux, a German metal/hardrock band I helped to touch down in China for in total 3 times now. Yang joined later that night in Xinjiang Ju opposite of Mao and he had a great dinner eating such delicious meatsticks...
August 12th, Mao was hosting a night of female vocalists only. First band of the night was 火星派对, though unfortunately the band broke up a couple of days before the gig and the only ones left were the singer (with guitar) and another guitarist, so that bass and drums had to be included by playback. The girl had a great voice and caught the attention of the fans, so that even with a diminguished band the sound was still clear and great. She hadn't had to apologize so often, for I liked her voice and what she could accomplish with it. Band numero duos was 李漠, a powerful lady with a back band performing straight hard rock. Well done! The third band on the bill was King Statue 国王之像, a pop rock band with a very soft voice and a very well, sexy outfit, for which some commentors said "whore-like", though I think that totally fitted into the style of the band. Last but not least, rather contrary, the best band of the night, with a good stage performance, catchy songs, an energetic show and a passionate voice: 大买麦乐团.
With Yang I discussed a lot about the way RiC could, should and might develop and how we have to update the structure of it. Yang is a good guy always up for a night out, friendly, calm and of good mood. Xiao Yang, as he is called by good friends, not only brought me into the team of Painkiller, but also jointly developed the idea of RiC with me. I remember sitting with him at some bar in Sanlitun, far too late at night with a beer too many, and talking about how difficult it is to find some good information about Chinese rock online. He said, why don't you make a website, Painkiller could offer some space. And voila, the first simple HTML pages were online. The first PK office was actually located closely to his home, so that when I visited him, I could always hope for getting some snacks as well, even though we soon voted for eating out at the close restaurant to the entry gates of his residential area. So we headed out with Han and Zakk of PK during the times the office was still there and not below the IKEA building.
Back to August 2009, night no. 2 (August 13th) that i saw a gig had been the "punk" night at D-22 with Gray, Inverter, Multi-Ego and XBJN. A moderate night, for as Gray and Inverter were normal bands according to Beijing standards and only XBJN stood out as pure electonic duo and Multi-Ego delivering a good set of high-energy music. After the D-22, way to 13 Club is not too far (just next door) and Gang Zi invited us and a couple of others for a good show of Mongolian folk music. Without door cover, we enjoyed a couple of beer with his voice in the background. A well deserved night of the Beijing music scene.
Before heading back to work in India, I visited the D-22 a last time on the fifteenth, seeing The Flyx, Birdstriking, 24 Hours and The Reason. Usually I love to see a passionate band that displays their love to music by either shouting, jumping, total engagement with the music or deep devotion to whatever happens on stage. The Flyx, a punk band, showed some of this devotion by actively involving all parts of the stage in their performance. The music was nothing special, yet the energy caught parts of the audience (which was part of a WeLiveInBeijing.com party). I was quite disappointed by both Birdstriking and 24 Hours, for I had heard Michael Pettis speaking very well about them and I expected them to be in a similar range as Queen Sea Big Shark had been when I heard them first, something new (James Bond sound as I call them), something that I hadn't had heard in China before. Though unfortunately they were just ordinary rock bands, with a solid set, but not of the sort that one would expect when Michael Pettis is recommending a band. I was by far more surprised to see my old time friends The Reason on stage, with which guitarist I had drunken many beers, as he is also the drummer of Tookoo and a good pal of mine. The Reason were performing a by far better set than the last time I saw them in 2008. Their emocore / screamo mix was perfect for a good mosh, though most people watched in awe of the band.
That being the only gigs I could attend and with a bag full of new records, e.g. the Carsick Cars one, the The Gar debut, Ourselves besides me, etc. I went back to India, focussing more on the wiki at night and working with Matsch and Yang heavily on content and structure of RiC. Two thumbs up, horns in the air and big thanks to both of them!!!
One of the major happenings after my leave from China is definitely the appointment to be juror in the Midi Awards 2009 ceremony in October 2009, for which I voted online. Controversy spawned on the net about the results, most originating from the Shanghai crowd that didn't see their bands in the front row or which were generally disappointed of the Midi and Beijing focussed selection of bands, though I can reassure, that more than 200 bands (with a lot of them being non-Beijing ones) had been in the starting list and as I mentioned before think that basically Shanghai bands do need more coverage outside of Beijing to really attract any attention.
Concerts I attended
2009_08_12: We are female vocalists at Mao; photos
2009_08_13: Concert at D-22; photos
2009_08_15: D-22 Punk Emo Part; photos
2009: What else is there to say
Since November I concentrated my time to fill the wiki with more information translated from Yaogun.com and to get more information from the Shanghai scene online, as Andy Best and Jake Newby are writing constantly on their blogs and voice on their podcasts. Bands that got extensive bios written were amongst others AK-47, Cobra and Joyside...
2010: New Year, New Moves
January of 2010 was filled with preannouncement of the Midi Music Festival 2010 and intensive work on the wiki adding artists, records, additional information and various services (making use of bit.ly, etc.).
The Chinese New Year brought a change into that and me being for a week in China, we checked out the Mao live house with old Yang and young Lavril, hitting up a couple of Britpop / punk bands with Dirty Seed and Me2Me being in my mind. Interesting young bands but nothing spectacular.
In March, together with Rene of Metalcon, a German metal community, RockCon is established, an international non-profit organisation for the cultural exchange between Germany and China. One of the first projects is to enable Musikreviews.de, a leading German record reviews website, to review over 40 Chinese rock & metal CDs. Herefore I joined their team as background researcher and support member.
2010: A new chapter begins... The Indian subcontinent
Work-related moves do bring a change in perspective as well as a change in location, and the change for me brought me into New Delhi, capital of India, subcontinent of its own and declared as to be South Asian. Despite the occasional Hard Rock Cafe Thursday night concerts, the real concert life started with the Kingfisher / RSJ organized Pub Rock Fest 2010, an event series that covered 80 gigs all over India. The first one I attended featured the Mumbai hardcore / metal act Scribe along with the local veterans Nigambodh, Rabbit is Rich and Arcane Deception.
A second event in that series was the Chicane concert in Noida, featuring Bangalore's very own Kryptos along with Delhi bands Rusted Strings and Phobia.
2011/2012: The return to China - Macau, Hongkong
With my step to Macau in September 2011, I also entered the realm of Hongkong underground, visiting The Wanch and Hidden Agenda for the very first times with new eyes on some great bands. On the most remarkable gigs in that period has been the visit of German metal band THE OCEAN in Hongkong's Hidden Agenda. That concert just blasted minds as the band caught the audience's attention from the very first second, entering the mosh pit with song number one and inviting everybody on stage for the last two songs. An amazingly intense atmosphere was created!
On January 8th 2012, after two months preparation jointly with Bunny Warren, I hold a talk on the topic of being an international-aware band at the Fullcupmusic Cafe in Hongkong. With band members of Jukator, The Lovesong and Qiu Hong as well as several Hongkong indie music heavy weights in the audience we had a very productive talk. I had a follow-up talk called "How To Tour China" in beginning of March and emphasized on how foreign bands and Hongkong bands find enough information to contact venues and organize their own tour in China.
During that time was also born the idea of CORE IN CHINA: a compilation record of Chinese metalcore, hardcore and nintendocore bands that would represent China on a global level. Together with User:Yang, I contacted a lot of bands via Douban and other sources and we opened a song competition online gathering by far over 20 songs from bands spread out all over China.
Table of Activities
|April 2004 - today||Co-Founder of Rock in China, largest English online encyclopedia about Chinese underground music with 7.4 million visitors, 1500+ artists and 800+ records.|
|April 2004 - today|| International correspondent for the Painkiller Heavy Music Magazine on volunteer basis.
Website: http://www.painkillermag.com Wacken 2004 photo report published in issue #14.
|2007 - 2011||Chief Editor for the English website of the Midi Music Festivals.|
|2003 - 2011||Concert photographer for over 50 concerts and 160+ bands from Germany, India and China.|
|August 2012|| Interviewed by Sindelfinger Zeitung (Sindelfingen Newspaper), Germany|
|March 2012||Interviewed by Global Times in Beijing on Metal in China.|
|March 2012||Interviewed by Underground Battlefield of Radiodada.hk about Rock in China.|
|November 2010||Interviewed by We All Make Music about the Chinese music scene.|
|October 2009||Midi Music Awards 2009 Jury Member; An Emmy-like music awards introduced by the Beijing Midi School of Music for the first time in 2009, with a jury selection of over 70 jurors from the Chinese music industry and scene.|
|2009 - 2010||Reviewer at www.musikreviews.de; a German metal and hard rock online magazine.|
|2008 - 2009||Creating the Rock in China record collection at the Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg for research purposes.|
|2004 - 2007|| Co-Manager of Beijing metalcore band HOLLOW, including release of debut record and selective EP.
More info: http://wiki.rockinchina.com/w/Hollow
|Autumn 2005||Interviewed by CCTV 5 on metal music in Europe|
Publications & Articles
|March 2012|| How To Tour China|
A presentation and talk about how Hongkong bands enable themselves to tour China
|January 2012|| Being an internationally aware band|
Presentation and Talk with Hongkong Music Industry Representatives at Fullcupmusic Café, Hongkong
|September 2011|| Selling out - the give-away-product music and survival of the smartest, on the value of music and hints for underground artists|
|2006 -2012||Interviews conducted: 3rd Kind Productions, Arcane Saints, Alev, Androsace, Ashtemato, Broken Promises, Cold Fairyland, Dagon Power, Dark Vampire, Dead J, Die In Velvet, Engel, Fly Fast Records, Friend or Foe, Hedgehog, Hollow, Horse the Band, Joyside, Liquido, Marry Dolls, Meat sucks, Mensheng, Mishkin, Moon Tyrant, On9, Overkill, Pairs, Pull A Star Trip, Raving Jokes, Reflector, Sean Leow (Neocha), Shut Up! Shut Down!, Silbermond, Sonic Bastards, The Final Virus, The Lucky Punch, The 4 Sivits, The Swamp, Thyhazard, Tookoo, Torturing Nurse, Villain, X is Y, Zang Nan Recording, Zhang Fan.|
|2006 - 2011|| Chief blogger at Rock in China blog:|
|May 2010||Why the scene has to get international - and China-only is a deadlock, a guideline and helping article for Chinese bands.|
|April 2010||Why No Beijing and D-22 are not worth the hype!, a critical view on the Beijing scene.|
- Rock in China
- Rock in China Blog (viewable only outside of China, but same content as RiC)
- All articles by me
Other sites of me
- Flickr Site
- MySpace Site
- YouTube Rock in China Videos, a list of collected concerts & events of the underground scene in China
- Last.fm Page
- Weibo Account
- Amazon.de list of Chinese Underground Music related items
- Douban page
- My record reviews at Musikreviews.de
- My posts at Layabozi