Sooner or later all these shows will begin to blur into one another – to the point where I can’t tell one apart from the other. It certainly doesn’t help that I ventured out to many events without my camera this year. But till then, here’s a list of shows, sets, and moments that left their mark on me in the past year. Was indeed a fine year.
Just an onslaught of darkness and likely the bleakest XP’s been this year. The lighting (or lack of), the VJing from Shanghai mastermind Tina Sparkles, and the hallowing death cry of Nahash was the most fun I’ve had bellowing in the madness. Sick, twisted genius.
I love exposing friends and newbies to stuff they’ve never seen – it’s glorious. So exposing your future mother in law is like the holy grail of marks. And having their first real taste of rock and roll be friggin Second Hand Rose, genuine rock and roll royalty, amuck hungry attendees at an outdoor festival. Too good for words. That’s something you don’t forget. Guessing the father-in-law will be a little tougher to convert.
School and Stockholm syndrome happens. It just does. But when you’re literally trapped in the confines due to one of Beijing’s many summer flashfloods, it’s a different story. Humid swarms of people having no other choice than to give their full right attention to the music. And Da Bang, effortlessly redeeming themselves with a knockout performance alongside white + who unveiled the next evolution of their sound. A fever dream of ridiculous awesomeness.
A continuation of the summer heat manifesting some deliriously good shows. Solid vibes, jinjiu galore, a screening of an adorably cute short documentary, and an onslaught of proof that there is plenty of life in the Maybe Mars cannon. Gate to Otherside is a swift kick of certificated badassery. Expecting a lot of good things from these four groups.
My last waltz with one of Beijing’s greatest hangouts, which we sadly lost late this summer. Everything great about the joint – the dewy lawn, the scattered tables; the food; the care-free attitude; the familiar faces – jam-packed into two nights of tomfoolery. And of course, great music courtesy of Re-Tros, Buyi, WHAI, Residence A, and more. When Dos Kolegas did it right, it couldn’t be beat. Miss ya bud.
Hong Kong smartalics, The Yours, all but setting the stage ablaze and sending a bolt of energy through all of XP. Though to be fair, I showed up half-way through their set in drunken glee. But seriously, when was the last time you saw crowd surfing at XP. That takes balls. Big swinging balls.
I’ve seen Hanggai too many times, at Mako Livehouse even. So what more could they have to offer. Yet, here I am remember just how much they killed it last April at their latest LP release, sucking up the enthusiasm of everyone and turning it into gold. Entertainers of the highest order and bonafide rock stars who don’t fuck around. Oh, and Paul Anselmi’s bald head. That is all.
All of Shanghai was a blast, one of 2014’s best excursions, but this moment will forever be engrained in my memory. Hungover, exhausted, and vulnerable, and then this. The equivalent of getting a colonoscopy. Good, bad, moving – doesn’t matter. I felt like a new man afterwards.
A pissing contest of debauchery from two of the scene’s most unhinged performers. Besides from seeing Bedstars completely out of their element both in a dingy record store and then a dingy basement bar in Shanghai (and loving every second of it), I had the pleasure of catching Round Eye all but screw a goat on stage with a performance that was wonderfully deranged. The encore became a mess of people crawling onstage, guitars being trampled, and didlos flying about aimlessly. Classy.
This is how you run a festival – keep it small, keep it audience-oriented, have local vendors, and invite a bunch of trigger-happy cameraboys to a breezy beach in Dalian. And having someone with good taste in music gather some of the most intriguing acts across China to perform, including Hiperson and Proximity Butterfly, two bands that would wipe the floor clean with most Beijing acts. Work and pleasure shacking up together never felt so good.
While it was perhaps premature to claim The Diders the band to watch this year in last year’s writeup, there’s no denying the bombastic charm of the bands original lineup (have yet to catch their new layout; fingers crossed). And the shitstorm of intoxicated egos hit its apex at the bands EP release where they butchered with effortless efficiency the Stooges’ ‘Search and Destroy’ with a guest spot from Joyside’s Yang Yang. Glorious. Did I mention one of the band member’s mother was there, looking on in horror.
First time’s the charm – LBM’s first outing was a Molotov cocktail of fun. Awesome bands including The Big Wave, who I’ve been jabbing on about for months, the friendliest venue with incredible hosts, good friends making the trek over to Wudaoying, and oh, having the sound guy look at me in disbelief whilst Cat AIDS jumped around on stage in jumpsuits singing about Kevin Bacon reacharounds. Beautiful.
While I missed Pairs’ last show, I was able to catch the last performances of Shanghai DIY hero Rhys’ two other bands – Hujiahuwei and Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes. The latter I caught after a longgg day of outdoor drinking, but holy shit, does their performance ring loud and clear at years’ end now. Cathartic shoegaze dream pop that hit me like a train.
And of course, Fake Fuzz Fest, our little baby. But more on that later.