My biggest takeaway from tonight’s Maybe Mars blowout (their third day of blow outs) was how daunting it must be in the same league as a band like Hiperson, the Chengdu post punk five-piece have rapidly become one of the best live acts in China. The band pours everything into their sets, barreling through one emotional roller coaster after another, twisting and turning their songs and riffs into unknown territory only to emerge victorious, wiser and more transcendent. What’s even more amazing is that band could give zero fucks about playing their old material.
Besides one song, that’s been completely rewired so you don’t even recognize it, the band was playing a completely new set (a set that they even had ready last year when I caught them in Chengdu last year) with gusto and unflappable momentum.It’s mind boggling and was in stark difference to the other two sets of the evening from the Maybe Mars old guard, who to varying degrees are still finding solace in their debut material for better or worse. I’ll cut Birdstriking some slack as the band has been coming to grips with their latest release, and integrating it more and more in their new set. In fact, their new set is really growing on me and this song may just be my favorite album off the release.
Birdstriking remains one of my favorite Beijing bands – as they have always managed to cut to the emotional core of their songs and while their newer stuff doesn’t have the bite of their old stuff, the emotional truth is still very much present. It’s a more mature Birdstriking, but one I’ll gladly mature with. On the other hand, Carsick Cars was riding the nostalgia train, utilizing their original lineup (with Li Weisi and Li Qing) and mainly playing songs from their first juggernaut release (with a few gems from their sophomore release thrown in for good measure).
While the sentiment was there – I mean, that release was a huge deal for many many people, including bands like Birdstriking – and the fans were riotous – as they always are – butt, I couldn’t help but think how it felt like too easy of a sell. A soft ball if you will. Nevertheless, can’t knock a label for celebrating ten years with their flagship release.
In many ways, it was a nice comparative of generations (geez we’re really condensing that word here) of Maybe Mars bands – with Hiperson barreling forward with conviction, Birdstriking settling into their older selves, and Carsick Cars looking back at it’s younger self. Ahhh, I see what you did there Maybe Mars!