Sunday, September 25, 2011

A prime example of how Yugong manages to stuff everything up

Last Monday, I went to the execrable Yugong Yishan music bar to try to catch the highly regarded visiting Tuvan folk band, Huun-Huur-Tu.

Despite the somewhat eclectic nature of the music, and the high door fee being asked, and it being a traditionally slow Monday night... the place was packed. Well, they're Mongols, you see; or cousins of the Mongols, anyway. And Mongolian music has a huge following in Beijing, amongst the numerous Mongolians here, and a good many Han Chinese too, as well as laowai world music dilettantes like myself. So, the place was somewhere BEYOND packed out: evidently, no cap had been set on ticket sales, and the number of punters was way above any kind of reasonable estimate of the venue's capacity - there must have been at least 1,500 people in a space that can't readily accommodate half that number.  It wasn't comfortable, it wasn't safe, and there was no chance of actually seeing the band on stage.

I think that was probably the biggest crowd I've ever seen there. At a few other unreasonably packed out events I've been to, it has still been possible to slowly wriggle your way down towards the stage at the front, or at least to a point in the middle of the room near the sound desk whence you can catch the odd glimpse of the performers. On this occasion, there was no wriggle room at all: bodies were jammed together densely, four or five deep behind the sound desk - no-one was going anywhere.  And - with no crush barriers and no emergency exits - any attempt to push through a crowd that thick might have resulted in a very nasty incident indeed.

There was at least a large video screen displaying the stage on the side-wall near the bar; but that's a pretty piss-poor alternative to the live show you've come to see. And the crowd was even more talkative than usual, producing a clamorous babble that made it impossible to enjoy the music (and probably made it difficult or impossible for the musicians even to hear themselves play - I've seen that happen several times before at that place, especially with acoustic groups). I'm glad I caught a little bit of excellent local folk band Dawanggang before the crowd got even more packed, even NOISIER. There just wasn't any point in staying around to try to try to hear the main act.

And that was a pity, because they are really very, very good. Check out the video below, a piece called Chiraa-Khoor (er, something about horses, I think).

This is the curse of Yugong: they consistently manage to turn a potentially great night into complete SHIT. Any band with such a large potential following as Huun-Huur-Tu (and that includes pretty much any overseas band of any note at all) should book Tango instead.

There's lots more of this band (together nearly 20 years now) on YouTube. 

1 comment:

Froog said...

Apparently, the name of the group means the Jacob's Ladder effect - the phenomenon of shafts of sunlight penetrating clouds early or late in the day, appearing almost solid as they link the earth to the sky, particularly spectacular on the desolate Central Asian grasslands.