You know you’ve landed somewhere special when the bartender hands you a 15-RMB draft beer in a red cup. Literal tears in my eyes. And that was just the beginning. There is a new venue to be reckoned with in Pinganli, the often forgotten neighborhood directly west of Gulou and Houhai, and its name is 80 Music. Alright, not the best name. Also, not exactly new. But hear me out.
The basement space has been open for three years, mainly staying afloat via its rehearsal rooms and recordings studios. And while they’ve been hesitant to host shows as frequently as some of the regular Gulou haunts, they’re looking to put themselves out there more this year with more and more showcases. And with good reason. The venue is the perfect mix of proficiency and scrappy charm. With a size that can comfortably hold one hundred people, a no-fuss stage with plenty of space for even a six-piece band, and a sound system that gets the job done and then some – this is a true find for both bands and audiences yearning for something more akin to the old defunct Mao Livehouse in Gulou, with the punk rock appeal of School Bar.
That punk rock appeal is front and center in the bar’s offerings, a no-frills selection of cheap bottles (the usual suspects – Hoegarden, Vedett), cheap shots (B-52s for 15 RMB) and as mentioned above, fifteen RMB draft beer, poured into the infamous red cups of death (or if you really want to live it up – in a 3L tower of doom). No nonsense. This is what dive bars should be charging and 80 Music knows their customer base all too well.
While most of the cards put together thus far this year have been geared toward the punk crowd, with weekly events organized by grunge band Drunkard’s lead singer, they’re certainly not afraid to mix it up, as I witnessed firsthand last weekend, as indie pop groups intermingled with frenzied punk rockers. I was highly impressed with both Hangnail and Hind Brainwho both gave snarling, enraged performances that lit a fire under the audience’s asses. With the right kind of organizers and a steady foundation of musicians and fans, there’s no telling what the joint could pull off.
If you build it they will come – and 80 Music have built something above and beyond beautiful. And just a skip away from Gulou, time will tell if they will come.
Bands – Hind Brain反骨, Hangnail倒刺, Silt & Lotus 淤泥与藕乐队，
Mr. S, Soft Sound Bank音色库乐队, V89, Hybrid Theory混合理论