LBM took a little holiday trip in early May. Completely last minute, cobbled together based on what trains were available and what shows were happening. I had meant to get to Shanghai on Friday night but due to everything being booked I decided to swing through Ningbo. And am I ever glad. Laid back, breezy, and built along a network of bridges and rivers, Ningbo is modern China at its most culturally inert and peculiar. Chinese-style churches tower alongside massive mall complexes, cobble-stone streets usher in their own Sanlitun-styled bar area full of international students and import/exporters, while galleries can be found a stone’s throw away from massive hostess bars where girls are literally lined up for the picking. It’s a strange juxtaposition of the old and new, but what I was most impressed with was the budding music scene, particularly the newly established Time Beacon who in just one year’s time has become the defacto venue for indie rock in Ningbo, especially for visiting bands.
And while the local scene doesn’t come anywhere near the size of Beijing or Shanghai (or Wuhan, Xi’an…the list goes on) it was refreshing to see the city’s local scene come together for an evening of rock and roll. Locally-based funk outfit VANDALZ kicked off the evening with some spirited funk rock and gotta say – these cats were on fire, mixing it up left and right and keeping audiences moving their legs.
However, the band I was most hyped to see where der Berliner Nebel (or The Berlin Fog) – the local post punk noise outfit whom I spotted on douban sometime back. Scrappy, loose, shaky, and full of young-bloodied swagger, they were a blast. Something tells me we’ll be seeing more from these kids in the near future.
Jigsaw might as well been the biggest draw at the show tonight and it’s easy to see why. The ensemble plays a mix of covers and originals with precision and fervor and while it may not have been my cup of tea it was clear that they had a solid following in Ningbo. It might be strange to toss in a covers band sandwiched between a post punk and shoegaze band but hey it’s Ningbo.
The last act of the evening were shoegaze trio City Flanker, from Shaoxing. I had actually met the band via email ‘a couple years back when I put them on the Nasty Wizard Recordings China Shoegaze Compilation – so it was nice to catch them live for the first time. While the band has ditched their drummer for the time being, putting a larger emphasis on electronic backing, they set the mood right, injecting some ethereal dream pop into the air.
All in all, Time Beacon is a class act of a venue — highly recommend it to anyone who looking to mix things up in Ningbo. Find more video links below as well as more pictures below, including VANDALZ jamming out with City Flanker which was just about the most adorable thing ever.