Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pet hate

The massive popularity of Pet Conspiracy rather mystifies me (good name, disappointing band). Oh yes, they try to bring an element of theatricality to their performance, introducing new fun pieces of business to each show - ripping up the scenery, forming a conga line, inviting audience members on stage to dance, etc, etc. All quite jolly, I grant you - but what about the music?

The music, I'm afraid, leaves me unimpressed - they just come across as a bunch of self-satisfied poseurs who can't really play all that well. Frontwoman Helen Feng tries to deflect comparisons with her other (much more rock'n'rolling) band Ziyo with a little self-mockery in one of her lyrics - "Doesn't this sound like Ziyo?" Unfortunately, that joke rather backfires because it is all too apposite: Pet Conspiracy's best songs do sound like Ziyo reject numbers - Ziyo songs played by a less good band, and without the benefit of having been honed through dozens of live performances. And that's the best songs; most of them aren't nearly as good as Ziyo's stuff.

I confess I have a low tolerance for electronica. And I'm inclined to resent the very idea of Pet Conspiracy because I'm disappointed that the project distracts so much of the lovely Helen's attention from the excellent Ziyo (and I also object to the fact that she's started insisting on noodling around with that dratted synthesizer of hers in Ziyo shows too; it is not an asset to their music or her performance).

However, I do try to be open-minded, you know: I like to test and challenge my prejudices fairly regularly. So, I thought I'd give Pet Conspiracy another go - I went to their Yugong Yishan gig on Friday night.

Well, I went, but I didn't stay. These days, an advertised 9.30 start usually means some music shortly after 10. Perhaps, since there's no support act, and since it's the weekend, more like 10.30 or 10.45 - but certainly not later than 11. Ahem - well, at nearly 11.30, there was still no sign of them going on stage, and I imagine the owners might have been holding back the start of the show to accommodate a huge gaggle of late-comers: when I left, there were at least a couple of hundred people mobbing the coat-check, or still queueing to get in. The crowd inside was already uncomfortably, dangerously packed (I've no idea what headcount limit the fire safety code gives them there, but I'm pretty sure that, whatever it is, they must have exceeded it last night). I quit for safety reasons as much as mere impatience (and general lack of enthusiasm for the band, and reluctance to keep on paying high prices for YGYS's poisonous fake booze, and the impossibility of being able to get anywhere near the stage).

Not only an over-large crowd, but an oppressively foreigner-dominated one. This is another of my pet gripes about Yugong: it is unaccountably popular with expat punters, who seem to like the loungey, clubby layout of the place (which I hate) while being strangely forgiving of the high prices, fake booze, and muddy sound. Chinese punters, I would like to think, are a little more discriminating; but it's probably just a case of them not being able to afford the high door fees being charged these days (80 kuai for one band??!!).

So, that's my major beef against Pet Conspiracy, apart from not liking their music - their huge following is almost exclusively laowai. I'd say at least 80% of the crowd on Friday night was non-Chinese; and, if you exclude overseas Chinese and the Chinese WAG phenomenon, probably 98 or 99%. And almost exclusively under 25 as well: NOT my kind of people!! Come, friendly bombs....

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