Thursday, April 29, 2010

Music news snippets

Hebei glam-punksters Rustic won the Global Battle of the Bands title in London on Tuesday night. Congratulations to Lucifer, Ricky and Li Fan - I hope they'll still talk to us now that they're famous.

Mao Live House got closed down at short notice a couple of weeks back. Fire safety code problems were cited as the reason (what the fuck? I have another post or several in me about that....), but one has to suspect there was something more 'political' going on. However, my sources tell me that the management is hoping to get the place rocking again soon - next week, with any luck.

Visiting French rasta Moussa Boudra had managed to assemble a crew of local musicians into one of the best little reggae bands we've ever seen in Beijing. Unfortunately, the gig at Salud last night (which I've heard is likely to be his last appearance in China on this trip) got squelched by the police around 11pm. Now, this always happens at Salud, and usually a bit of sweet-talking and an offer of a couple of smokes sends the local flatfoots on their way to the next item of pointless harassment on their schedule. On this occasion, though, they weren't the usual guys from the local beat, and they were being a bit more antsy about it. I left before things had been resolved, but I hear tell that it proved to be a permanent interruption of the music. The further rumour (so delicious it must be true) is that the reason for the ridiculous over-anxiety of the authorities was the presence in the neighbourhood of visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Oh, the irony of trying to avoid incommoding the French head of state by suppressing the performance of a French musician in a predominantly French bar!! And, of course, they were (as usual) so busy doling out grief to the only laowai bar on the strip (yes, it's the biggest and most successful bar also; and yes, the music can get noisy; but they only get this hassle because it's not a 'Chinese bar' - despite at least 50% of the clientele and the major shareholder being Chinese) that they didn't get around to addressing any of the other habitual noise pollution on the street (Guitar Bar, I'm looking at you).

And, thank heavens, we are finally looking forward this imminent holiday weekend to a resumption of the Midi Festival in Haidian Park, Beijing's best, biggest, longest-running open-air music event - an event stupidly suppressed by our city authorities in the last two years. If the weather is even half-way decent, that's where I'm likely to be on Saturday and Sunday.

However, I shouldn't overlook the Strawberry Festival also happening over the long holiday weekend. Leading local indie label Modern Sky Records did this for the first time last May (and last October as well?), and already it's growing into something that could rival Midi (although most of the big local acts will be playing both). Unfortunately, it's in Tongzhou. I heard very good things about last year's event(s). And it seems to be pushing itself as a more mellow, eclectic, hippie-ish sort of event (in contrast to Midi, which - apart from the token 'folk stage' - tends towards the heavier end of the spectrum, particularly with the imported Nordic metalheads on the bill). Unfortunately, it's in Tongzhou. I still haven't worked out how to get to Tongzhou. God knows, Haidian Park isn't exactly a doddle to get to, but Tongzhou?? I really should try to get out there for one day, though. It seems as though it has become one of the new boho quarters of outlying Beijing - remote enough to still have (sort of) affordable rents, but still (sort of) accessible via the subway.

Gosh, there's such a lot been going on lately.....

No comments: