While my camera didn’t frequent out as much (one of my resolutions from last year) I nevertheless found myself frolicking across Beijing’s venues night after night, from the dingy sweat and grime of School’s floors, to the jolly, familiarity of Temple’s tabletops, and everything in between. We lost a few soldiers along the way including XP and DMC, but gained a few as well including fRUITYSHOP, the new safe haven for Beijing’s experimental scene, and Modernsky Lab, the latest large-scale venue to suck up Beijing’s talent. Mako Livehouse got a Sanlitun makeover (and a drum cage of all things). Even places like 8-Bit and Caravan are getting in on the mix. LBM even threw their fair share of events this year (though enjoying those is a heck lot harder due to the crippling pressure involved). Yes, it was a hell of a year filled with a ton of fine evenings full of cherished (and possibly blurry) memories – here’s 2015’s best shows and moments.
The biggest cheat. Besides this being my first big solo outing at DDC, the event double as the after party for my wedding and it couldn’t of been more perfect. Surrounded by the greatest friends, the greatest family, the greatest partner, and some wicked ass music – there were too many good memories including my father shaking his ass to Luv Plastik, Cat AIDS calling out each member of my family, white + getting translucent, and of course, Tanya.
Hands down the best show of the year. A performance of staggering beauty, endearment, and above all, precision that’s once again put my faith in the ability to be surprised at shows in Beijing
The Bug at Dada
Just look at my face and that pretty much sums up my night with The Bug at Dada – where the Split Works team had to bring in a heck ton more amps to handle the bass and MC Manga jumping in right with the crowd. Pure chaos.
To be honest, I had a hard time remembering which Luv Plastik show was which – both were at School; both hosted by Dr. Smartass, the latest promotion team headed by Cool Ghoul; both getting up with me scaling the ceiling whilst crowd surfing and eventually falling on my ass. Both were riotous – but gotta give the one to Dr. Smartass’s October outing which also had me screaming head on into Gum Bleed’s set. A alcohol fueled cathartic release of adrenaline powered by the music lords.
Another early 2015 masterful performance by Wang Wen’s Xie Yuyang who played an ambient, drone-filled set on guitar and piano before being joined by some of XP’s Zoomin’ Night regulars. This was the performance which became the catalyst for Yang Haisong and Xie Yugang’s collaborative White Shirt release.
Just a punkful delight of an event —- six hours of nonstop bombed out punk. Floors ridden with broken bottles, crowd surfing misfits, and camaraderie to the fullest degree. Highlights included toilet paper shenanigans with The Diders, cucumber hooliganism with The Jet Boys (visiting from Japan) and Wuhan celtic punks SMZB.
Love me some one-off concept shows. And while the idea of doing a show on a bus was met by more than a few initial obstacles, by the time the sun set and the Breezers were flowing like champagne, I was completely on board.
White + at XP
For XP’s closing weekend, we decided to send off the joint in the most appropriate way possible. Take mind-altering drugs. And watch white +. Which I have no problem saying, is a pretty good combination. Will miss climbing the adjacent rooftop to XP.
Man how I miss my Mammals. Besides giving some of the most riotous, righteous hard boiled performances this side of Beijing, the band knew exactly how to work the crowd, using everything from popper and balloons to set the mood right. But really, it came down to them just murdering each and every song with relish.
While I’ve never been a regular Zoomin’ Night attendee, something about the mix of killer acoustics, curious crowd, and an ‘off-the-wall’ improv set from Zhu Wenbo, Zhao Cong, Yan Yulong, Li Binyu, Li Song, and A Ke, as well as a sweet and lovely guitar set from visiting New Delhi songwriter Lifafa, turned the evening into one for the books. Thinking outside the box you kids.
A transporting performance from an avant-grade legend – one that left me reeling and emotionally drained, BEME surprised the hell out of me with their guest artist Bob Ostertag. One of the few times you could hear a pin drop in the room.
Oh, how that guqin slays me each and every time. Zhaoze is post rock done right – grand ideas, grand arrangements, with plenty of sublime flourishes throughout. And that guqin – it was made for post rock. A set that left my camera and I transfixed.
Hong Qile at DDC
One of the times where you’re completely caught off guard and get stuck in a giddy trance. Glitch electronic artist Hong Qile got all anime on folks, using glitched out anime characters who disintegrated and terraformed before audiences\’ eyes. Just twisted genius work and a perfect marriage of visual and audio.
DCD was my Moby Dick this year. After missing their outings again and again, I miraculously was able to book them for my Summer Blaze event. And boy jolly it was glorious. Down and dirty, which was only elevated by the down and dirty distilled liquor batch my good friend had cooked up beforehand, it was being back in XP expect with people actually moving this time out.
If you know me you know I’m a sucker for all things Talking Heads. So when Shanghai off-the-cusp and slightly demented punk outfit Dirty Fingers, already proving to be one of the most energized punk acts I’m seen in the year (this was on a Monday night mind you) when they belted into a schizoid, invigorated take on ‘Psycho Killer’ I lost it.
The Gulou Double Deckers were one of the coolest things I’ve been apart of – just a joy to work alongside Mr. Feola curating simultaneous events at 206 Gulou Dong Daijie. Our true coming out party in March was likely the best demonstration of the event, where Dada was turned inside out (with a drum set stuck down in the middle) and had Temple brimming with excitement.
DDC Celebratory Monday Night Bash
69, like the high school valedictorian he is, threw a last minute rager after winning some awards. And like that time your buddy finds out his parents will be out of town and tells the whole school to come on over, the night turned into quite the impromptu bash full of (free) beer, good vibes, and a rotating cast of characters jumping up on stage including the sultry Mademoiselle and a makeshift Cat AIDS set. Righteous indeed.
Alright – there’s really too many to mention now that I think about it
— Bedstars dragging in a giant neon character from some demolished restaurant into XP for their set
— Marshall’s Fake Birthday at Temple where bubbles, smoke machines, and flaccid penises were all present
— pangbianr’s 5th year Anniversary balanced with zoomin night regulars and another stellar Chui Wan performance
— my student Shane attempting to pour beer down Dan and Dan’s throats during their Luv Plastik set resulting in the most hilarious of band meltdowns in history
— not putting in earplugs for Swans at Yugong Yishan
— Jia Huizhen x sunglasses x Dada = awesome
— the first time I saw Scare the Children and being in awe of their ‘performance’ (those masks will haunt me)
— enlisting a bunch of skinned head monks (a bunch of broham tourists coming from one of the Shaolin-esque retreats) to clear out the seaters at DDC with their dance moves for Summer Blaze
— staying up way too late with Pokemon Dad at Temple
— Kipp’s fifteen-minute reign of terror as Fratricide (seriously I want more)
— Dee kicking over his ‘doll’ in disgust or emotional upheaval during a set with Bai Tianke (I could make a whole list on Dee)
— Bassists hero at XP whose name I still do not know – watch – and if you know the whereabouts of this man let me know!