Saturday, May 05, 2007

Music Week

Sleep hasn't been getting much of a look-in this week. The weather's now too warm and bright for it to be possible to sleep in much beyond 7 or 8 am, no matter how late you went to bed (3am, 4am, 5am....).

I ended up only going to one day of the Midi Festival. Dave Stewart pulled out; I still haven't been able to find out why. However, Imogen Heap was a very tempting replacement. And I heard the Xiao He/Song Yuzhe partnership that wowed me at Jiangjinjiu before Christmas was to appear again on one of the small stages on Friday afternoon. Ultimately, though, I was just too exhausted, after a week of wild partying and very little sleep. Yesterday ended up being a 'recovery day' - i.e., hanging out in the 'hood with cheap beers, dropping by Jiangjinjiu to hear their Xinjiang 'flamenco' band (there must be some music every day this week!!).

I think Thursday at Midi was probably the best day, both in terms of weather (although it's been sunny all week, that day was a real scorcher, and stayed warm and cloudless right through into the evening) and the bands (most of the foreign 'headliners' have been a bit naff, to be honest; but this was the 'Chinese' day, with Beijing's finest bands leading the lineup - RETROS, Brain Failure, and SUBS). Xiao He was playing on his own on one of the side stages. Actually, there was a lot of good stuff going on unheralded around the fringes. I think the 'second stage', sponsored by Gibson Guitars, might have had the better stuff overall: I caught a great African bongo group there in the afternoon (name??), and a decent Danish garage band called Rock Hard Power Spray (terrible name!) in the early evening.

SUBS made the day for me. They really are a class above every other Chinese band I've seen: great musicianship and ferocious energy. If they sang in English, I'm sure they could win a worldwide following (actually they do have a smattering of English in some of their songs, but it tends to be limited to a few key obscenities). Their lead singer is fantastic. Kang Mao, I think she's called. I think half of Beijing is in lust with her. I certainly am. She's not very pretty, but damn, she has personality. Almost uniquely amongst the Chinese rockers I've watched, she knows how to work the stage, how to whip up an audience; she is scarily committed to the performance, screaming her lungs out and pogo-ing virtually non-stop. A wild'n'crazy gal, and sexy as hell! Even with her latest crazy hairdo - this year, it's huge, spiky mohawk crest. (Progress from last year, when the entire band affected horrendous bubble perms that made them look like the Liverpool football team of the late 1970s - not a good look for her.)

The fine people at Red T put together the mellowest of the week's many 'after parties', an open air evening concert at Ritan Park on Wednesday, based around the Stone Boat bar (thanks to Arle of the Norwegian jazz/blues outfit Good Time Charlie for slinging me a couple of free CDs).

That, of course, was for me following hard on the heels of the guitar/accordion jazz party at Jianghu on Monday, and the D-22 First Birthday Bash on Tuesday (and a foolhardy, failed attempt to stay up to watch the Chelsea v. Liverpool semi-final at home afterwards - my Infamous Man-Eating Sofa won that encounter!), and was followed by a trip to a sports bar to witness the Man Utd debacle against AC Milan, which was followed by a full day at Midi..... which was followed by a four-pronged bar crawl ending - yet again - at 2 or 3 in the morning. Hence yesterday being somewhat of a slow day.

God, I love weeks like this. But I suppose I'm relieved that they only come around a few times a year. Starting to feel my age.....

No comments: