While the monthly four-night series from White Light – White Tower has a lot going for it – showcasing up and coming talent in Beijing, pitting one band against another in battle royale, and shining a light on the underground electronic scene – the real meat of the series for me is the ‘Beyond Beijing’ showcase, where audiences are treated to a spectrum of the musical talent from China’s other developing scenes.
For this installment, Kunming was the city of honor, with four bands from the city, made the trip up north. While I wasn’t entirely swayed by the first two acts, the live electronic trio Mama Techno and the atmospheric coldwave duo Cephalosis, there’s no denying the distinctive sounds they were striving for, particularly the latter, who did manage to hit some emotional notes when its female half finally got on the mic.
The real treat of the night came in the form of Plastic, the nonsense melodic punk band who entered the stage like a cherry bomb of charisma and punk rock swagger, delivering one frantic, surly, and sure-footed punk jam after another. Maybe it was the desire for something fully instrumental at that point, but Plastic felt like a breath of fresh air. The maids of honor were surely South Acid Mimi, the synth-drunk electro trio whose tilted, alluring and sonically confounding tunes have made them a must-see act for years now.
And while the band didn’t quite lay into their off-kilter personas that have made their live shows in the past a treat, they instead found beauty in the meditative calm of their almost pacifist stage presence and their hearty catalog of songs, which are as bewitching as ever now. Definitely going to keep an eye out for their debut in the upcoming months. All in all, Kunming did not disappoint, and may well become a city to keep an eye on in the future.