Saturday, October 13, 2007

Not such a good night

It was probably a mistake to get so excited about the idea of going to another SUBS gig. It's only a few weeks since I last saw them, and that was a cracking show - hard to top. And they're playing all over the place this month, so there will be plenty more opportunities to catch them.

Schlepping all the way out to Haidian - at the end of a particularly long and exhausting week - was not really a good idea. Especially since I couldn't find anyone to go with me. And it was at D-22, which, as you may have gathered, is my least-favourite music bar in Beijing.

Why do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.

1) It's too small. Positively claustrophobic.

2) It can be difficult to see anything - unless you get right to the front, or look down from the balcony.

3) The sound is lousy.

4) The equipment keeps going on the blink: I lost count of the number of times they lost one or other of the microphones last night.

5) The service is terrible. (The staff always seem to be too busy chatting to friends, chatting to each other, watching the show, or just generally zoning out to actually pay any attention to people who might, you know, be trying to buy a drink.)

6) There's a cloying smugness about the place - "ooh, aren't we cool?" No.

7) The clientele is becoming almost exclusively laowai (foreigners). Worse, they're almost exclusively students of Chinese from the numerous Universities in the area. I hate fucking students!

8) They start the show hopelessly late (even by Beijing standards).

9) Before the main band comes on, you have to listen to 2 hours of COMPLETE SHITE.

No, I didn't have a lot of fun last night. Because SUBS' frontwoman Kang Mao is a bit of a screamer, the powers-that-be seemed to have decided that this should be the theme for the night and had rounded up three support bands who bawl wordlessly into their microphones. It seems there is a whole musical sub-genre here of which I had been previously unaware. It almost makes me appreciate rap (previously my least favourite brand of music), which at least has rhythm and phrasing and the occasional moments of intelligibility - rather than just a continuous stream of vocal noise. With Kang Mao, the words are still (sometimes, at least) comprehensible, and the shouting conveys emotion. With these guys, it was just like: "Hey, watch me wreck my vocal cords!"

The final support band could at least play a bit (a kind of thrash metal, played on a pair of bass guitars); although they did go on a bit, and the meaningless vocals were extremely wearing (I thought for a moment that they might be singing in something like Icelandic, but no: it was just a kind of manic throat-singing scat). The first two were just dismal, but mercifully brief.

So, yes, I was bored and irritable (and parched) long before SUBS finally got going at about 1.30am, and I only stayed for a few songs. KM was as exuberant as ever, but I think they were a bit inhibited by the size of the venue, and by the size of the stage (it really is a postage stamp: no room for her to leap around as she usually likes to! I rather think that video clip I posted the other week must have been shot at somewhere like WuMing GaoDi; it doesn't look like D-22). I didn't get the feeling it was going to be one of their great shows.

It was quite fun, though, to be two yards away from her, and gaze deep into her eyes as she yells, "Die, motherfucker, die!" Yes, that's rock'n'roll.

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