2015 has seen a crop of new bands banging down doors and taking names. But what has struck me the most about these bands is the huge strides they managed to make in just one year’s time. Each has buckled down and evolved their sound, reaching a wider audience, and honed their skills so much that they’re already primed for a hell of a 2016. Talk about commitment – here’s the top five newest Beijing bands to hit the scene as well as a few other outliers worth mentioning.
5 Best New Bands (In Beijing)
Straight no frills indie rock that doesn’t fuck around or try to cater to any clique. As the band once mentioned to me, all they wanna do is make catchy music, and boy have their followed through on their word. Genuine rock stars without an ounce of cynicism. So much, that indie rock label Maybe Mars have already gobbled them up.
The Death Narcissist
Speaking of dirty fun, The Death Narcissist (note: I\’ve been kindly asked by the band to remove the \’s\’ cause there can only be one narcissist in the band – your guess is as good as mine) is the latest super expat group stacked with three very talented musicians who are firing on all cylinders. Riotous, dangerous, catchy stoner rock with a grunge backbone and an indie heart. Simply slays and cranks up the good times to full tilt each and every time out.
A band that operates in the post punk dance hall world, but does it with such confident and tweeked relish, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the beat. A band whose performances have become more and more reckless and infectiously entertaining. Dirty, offbeat fun that Beijing deserves more of.
Professionalism up the wazoo – Jajatao (formerly Jajatone) is the brain child of Liu Yucao who has been steadily tightening the screws on his grunge revisionist outfit, whose mix of traditional chinese instruments and folklore with volatile scream filled acerbic alternative rock circa early 90s, and boy have their created a unique, gut busting experience for us.
The band came out of the blue, under the name Color of Vanity, before settling on the more surreally alluring (and William Burroughs approved) Boiled Hippo – shoegaze turned up to 11. Noise rock with a thing for bone-crunching solos. And one of the most fascinating and unique takes on Velvet Underground’s ‘All Tommorw’s Parties’ – there’s something brewing in the slowdive outfit that’s begging to be heard.
Special Electronic Artist of the Year
Mengqi is the bee’s knees. He is a mastermind of the highest degree. He invents his own electronic toys which enrapture the imagination and bewilder the ears. He wears purple latex gloves sometimes just cause he can. And he never repeats a set. Mengqi is boss and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Visiting Band of the Year
Two bands, relatively new to the scene, who made the trip to Beijing and to my list, were Shanghai’s unhinged punk renegades Dirty Fingers, and Wuhan emo rock outfit Chinese Football, who both absolutely nailed it, with energized, assured performances which had me giddy like a school girl.
Updates on 2014 Picks
So two of the bands that made it on my list last year – Mammals and Luv Plastik – cease to exist (though I believe Luv Plastik isn’t officially dead yet). Bummers. Luckily, Mammals has sorta reformed, transformed, animorphed into Social Boar who make their debut later this month. The other two picks – Gate to Otherside and Horse Radio – have fared much better, the former getting signed to Maybe Mars this fall, and the latter dominating venues across town and picking up hordes of accolades. 2/4 ain’t bad.