Monday, August 30, 2010

A mixed bag

I checked out the gig at new(ish) venue, Hot Cat Club, on Saturday. I guess it's been open several months, maybe a year or so now, part of the swanky Fangjia Hutong development - but they've only recently started doing anything to advertise in laowai circles. And on the few previous occasions I've breezed past, the place has either been dead or packed out, and I haven't been enticed into staying.

I was yet again caught out by China's perennially erratic approach to scheduling: Rustic, the band I'd most wanted to see in a bill of four, had gone on first, at around 9pm or so, and I'd completely missed them. When I got there, a band called Xiudaoshe were on stage; there was a reason why I'd never heard of them (and probably never will again).

Next up, it was Hang On The Box, the band I'd most wanted to avoid. Well, except that it wasn't really Hang On The Box; HOTB, although most of their songs were shite and their lead singer couldn't sing, were actually a moderately decent little band back in the day - but they split up three or four years ago. Now, their 'singer', the excruciating Gia, having failed to draw any sort of audience for the three or four other musical incarnations she's gone through in the last year, has decided to to try to revive the name of her "successful" former band, without the other original members. What we appear to have is her follow-up all-female group, Girl Kill Girl, augmented by a young guy with better guitar skills, doing the old HOTB material. HOTB is quite a well-known name, and a fair-sized crowd of laowai had turned out - who, I guess, had never seen the original HOTB and were curious about their reputation. Numbers soon began to thin out, though, after screeching talent-vacuum Gia took the stage. I managed to endure two or three numbers, and then went outside to rest my eardrums.

Luckily, the last act was some compensation. The Dancers have been - somewhat extravagantly - called a 'supergroup'. I don't think the fact that they've all previously been members of better-known bands like Joyside and Hedgehog really qualifies them for that title: they're not that famous or that good. They are, however, a fun band who play with a lot of energy and commitment. Despite having only performed together a handful of times so far, they now seem to be a very tight unit. And it's nice to see a bass-player taking centre stage for once. Unfortunately, neither he nor the other guy who takes on some of the vocal duties can actually sing - but that's par for the course in Beijing rock bands; at least they bawl so enthusiastically and unself-consciously that you kind of forgive them. Shame about the name, though: dreadful, dreadful band name.

I shall probably have more to say about the Hot Cat Club in a little while. On this first proper visit, I was very pleasantly surprised. I had expected it to be rather naff and overpriced (like the rest of the poncey Fangjia complex), but in fact it's cheap and grungy, like a proper music bar should be. Very cheap indeed. I'll definitely be back.


Ruby said...

"screeching talent-vacuum Gia" couldn't have said it better myself! I wonder if this will draw out the Gia-loons in defense of their banshie queen? (are there any?)

The thing is the girl can actually sing, she showed it in one song the other night, but then insisted on screeching and yelling her way through the rest of the set. Someone needs to sit this girl down and make her listen to some Karen O, Beth Ditto and Patience Hodgkins, so she can learn how to use her voice!

Froog said...

I'm surprised by the "can sing when she tries" claim. Missed that one song!

When I've seen her in the past, she hasn't been a screamer or a shouter like Kang Mao. She appears to have been trying to sing in a conventional style, but has a shrill, abrasive voice, and sings badly off-key most of the time.

Froog said...

I'm liking Hot Cat a lot. I've been back for a couple of other shows, and two of their 'open mike nights', just in the last few weeks. A longer post in appreciation may be due soon.