Monday, May 03, 2010

A new venue in the 'hood

Walking home just now (being 'sensible' - for once! - because of an indecently early start at work tomorrow), I happened upon a new venue just around the corner from my apartment. It's on the west side of Jiugulou Dajie, a few hundred yards from the south end. It's only opened, I think, within the last few days, and does not yet appear to have any name above it (not even in Chinese, I don't think; certainly not in English); it so far seems to be identified only as No. 121.

I didn't really have the chance to go in: it seems to be quite a small space, and it was packed out for a show tonight. I rather fear that, given its prime location and its fairly plush period decor (it's really more like a traditional restaurant or teahouse than a bar), it will be a tad expensive. Nevertheless, it's always good to have new options - especially within a seven-minute stagger of home!

Tonight they had Shan Ren playing (check out their MySpace page for more info on them). I enjoyed their set at the Midi Festival on Saturday, so stopped to listen to a couple of songs from the doorway. I was tempted to stay for more, but that really is a very early start I'm facing tomorrow.

They're an odd band: great musicianship, but they don't seem to have any distinct musical identity. At Midi, they did everything from metal to reggae, with bursts of samba and rap in between; last night they did a ska number, followed by something that sounded more like traditional Chinese folk. Their main draw is the dementedly energetic Xiao Bu Dian, an astonishing performer who plays just about every instrument under the sun (harmonica, flute, pan pipes, mbira, percussion, and more). I gather they're playing at Jianghu on Friday: I fear it will be packed out, but I'm tempted to give it a look nonetheless.

And I'll definitely be keeping an eye on the mysterious No. 121 Jiugulou Dajie.

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