Being sick in my apartment with my mother-in-law gets old quick, so I jumped on the Maybe Mars bandwagon for the October holiday. The thing that became immediately clear after the onslaught of shows from the Beijing based independent label (though being recently acquired by juggernauts Taihe may just change that notion) was the strength of their non-Beijing based bands. While people like to point to bands like P.K.14, Carsick Cars, and Snapline as the paradigm for the label, I think the label’s real merit can be measured by their crop of bands that have emerged elsewhere – from Chengdu to Shanghai, from Wuhan to Xi’an. These are the game changers for me and the bands I was most excited to check out during the Golden Week. Day two of their 10-year Anniversary held two very welcoming surprises. First was the all-female psych-rock trio, Dream Can, out of Shanghai, whose tripped out, doll house vibes is something straight out of a 70s Russ Meyer film – it’s groovy, heavy, with an ominous edge that constantly reminds you – ‘everything is not all right’.
An absolute blast and a complete turnaround from what I remembered of them last year. Speaking of turnarounds, Wuhan’s AV Okubo have finally embraced their techno roots fully, and their new set is a roller coaster ride of high energy electro rock that trims away all the fat. The band has never sounded better in my opinion (and from the looks of it they lost quite a few characters) and I was wildly impressed. Very very curious to see how their next album shapes up. Finally, Beijing indie rock boys Backspace gave what might be their last performance of the year, and it was a hell of a way to go out. The band have been on a hot streak this year and sounded damn good on the big stage, injecting their set with a lot more surf rock rhythms and grandiose psych rock undertones. The newly signed band are going to have a hell of a 2018. So yeah – one down, two to go this week.