Some of my friends are sad that last weekend is over already and some others are happy it is finally over. Last weekend China was invaded by music, it’s been a non-stop music trip since Layabozi began its operations, and the ride is getting more intense every time. One would imagine after a year of this we would already be used to these “rush-hour” weeks of music, but still sometimes it’s overwhelming.
I began May holiday on Thursday night at the already classic Antidote party at C’s, which had an indie rock theme for this edition. I arrived late, right after Brad Ferguson finished his DJ set. Michael Michael told me that when Brad came he said he was thinking about playing a set of Mexican Rock, Michael said to him immediately “Do it! Do it!”. And Brad did it, and it seemed like it was a total success. Shame on me: it’s one more set to add to my list of “I would like to have listened to…”.
The good news was that the weekend was just beginning. So when DJ Sacco took control of the C’s booth, my music trip began. Super Sophia was just coming from the gig with Army of Freshman at YuYinTang, right on time for us to dive on the dance floor together at DJ Sacco’s great set, the crowd danced and enjoyed the sound of the very well chosen electronic guitars and dirty drums.
From Antidote’s at C’s the flow guided us to LOgO. We made it to the after party, after Reptile and Retard, who I knew rocked Vox Bar in Wuhan the week before with the Antidote guys. DJ Alex was on the tables when we arrived to LogO, and though it was the first time I listened to him, the music was fantastic, the place was not very busy, but the right people were there to have the perfect end of the night.
Friday’s music began early evening at YuYinTang with the gig of Crazy Mushroom Brigade , Andy Best‘s own favorite Shanghainese band. 仆仆 (Pu Pu ), leader and singer of the band, has total dominion over the stage and the music this time sounded much clearer than other times I’ve heard them. I had fun with them. Creature was the Canadian band, the big dish of the Split Works night. The sound at YuYinTang was really impressive, so much it’s worth it to mention it. The place was full, not packed and impossible, but full enough to not be able to walk around freely. So it was a wonder who was causing the magic there. It just took a look to the back, to see by the soundboard a new face, someone totally unfamiliar, very possible the responsible for the miracle. I hope that whatever was the cause of the great sound is already fixed and set for good at YuYinTang’s soundboard.
Creature, the Canadian band, was very fun, the chicks were sexy, the music was tight, the front man was strong, and again, the sound was miraculous. I was planning to run after to LogO to end at The Shelter, but I was caught by Coco and his friends, and YuYinTang’s garden was haunting, and the people stayed long after the music was over. So the safe way out of there was straight to home.
Saturday came too soon, and the hang over from last night was annoying, but everything was still working perfect. Mike called me to go for dinner, and right after I followed him to his gig, the first set at JZ with Tico’s trio for Latin Jazz. The three members of the band are Tico Cardenas on the piano, Mike “Big Duck” Brownell on double bass, and Pablo Ortega on drums. This trio has been together for some time already, and their concept is pretty cool. Tico is the lead man mixing the Latin and the jazz sound, Mike brings the swing jazzy colors into the latin grooves, and Pablo the Latin drums, with a nice swing touch. All was cool, just when it’s about Latin music, I can’t just passed by without saying, why is always about tropical sounds? Latin music is as vast as Chinese food, and so I’m hoping soon I’ll get to hear some news on Shanghai Latin music scene, some Argentinean zamba, tango, maybe a Peruvian waltz, or some Mexican rancheras (notice I’m not being that picky, if so, I would be asking for some Andean tunes or a Sau Sau). Anyway, these guys are pretty cool, and I must say that you all should go and check them, specially the most awesome, good looking, and coolest bass player ever (who incidentally is our chief editor, and I better pay the proper respects here or I may get fired).
I would have loved to stay to hear JQ with the Abraham Carmona doing their flamenco fusion, but I had to run to Anar. Lions of Puxi have been a success in constant growth since last year. These French-Chinese-Mauritius guys are having so much fun together, it is impossible to avoid their happiness. All of them have been going through different experiments The Swing Gum Dynasty, The Gypsy Jazz band, Noukilla, the Mauritius sega band. And now when you see them on the stage, you can feel with them, this is what they were looking for. They fit together, everyone of them brings their own style and all together they create a general mood of joy, which is perfectly guided by the rhythm of their reggae vibe. Anar has a cool stage and the Lions clearly feel comfortable there. The band finished playing and all the guys jumped off the stage and left quickly, they are all working a lot and the day after there was a recording session for a Jazz album for some of them, TV for others, and a rest day for a few.
Next was again LOgO, Sweet Snacks with S.T.D. The band just finished playing when I arrived, and the general vibe of the people was very satisfied with the gig. The DJ sets began right after. There were four guys in the booth, and a VJ in the back. The graphics were great, and the sound was very impressive too. At this point I was thinking it might be because the spirits of Shanghai were in a good mood and decided not to interfere with the sound waves; it was too much coincidence. The DJ’s were really great, the people was impressed with their sound, the energy went never down, and it was difficult to leave. But Super Sophia and Julie were there and the rumor was “DJ Sacco is playing at MAO and he is going to do his all to get fired.” I was tired, but that is a weird invitation and curiosity has yet to kill this cat, so I had to go. We headed to MAO, a club struggling to survive since months ago, bringing underground DJs reluctantly. What I most regret about MAO is the way they confessed once they didn’t really care about the music they have. Have I told this before? I can’t remember. Anyway, I still remember such words. How can it be possible???
Well, at MAO, DJ Clement was there and he was genuinely angry to see all his friends there, who have never gone to his gigs at MAO. What could I say? Except I hadn’t checked his gigs at MAO but I was there when he played at Dragon with Laura Ingalls, a gig to remember because I learned a lot about Dragon with them there.
Back to DJ Sacco at MAO, there was the usual ‘MAO crowd’, and the others, should I call it the renegades of the electronic music in Shanghai, those that submit to the label of underground, just because they are people who are paying attention to the music and not only to the available drinks and affairs surrounding the speakers, which by the way, talking about sound, MAO’s sound system should be priced with the top one worst.
Sacco’s set was well prepared and disturbing, and amazingly well received. I don’t know yet what the result of the night was. I didn’t stay until the end (7 am), love of music is limited sooner or later by the need for rest.
Sunday was finally a bit slow, the rain and the holiday mood was good. I had a gig myself, and I was planning to go to Anar as soon as I finished, but I finished too late and when friends and me finally arrived at Anar, the music was over and the people were gone. So, LOgO. LogO’s Sunday Jam Sessions changed some time ago, and now they are guided by the Carmona Brothers. The Jam Session was finishing but there was a DJ after (of an unknown name, I was too done to do the proper search) and some of the guys who were just back from the Midi Festival. Some of them were totally discontented with the festival, but some others were so happy about it they had to go out to spread their energy around.
Right now I’m back from Monday at JZ, I made it to listen to the Lawrence Ku‘s Trio, with him on the guitar, EJ “Silver Ass” Parker on double bass and Chris Trzcinski on drums. This trio plays a strong and cool kind of jazz–a refreshment for the ears full of rock and beats–nice melodies, cool solos, and well developed dominion on the instruments.
Shanghai has so much music we are not being able to cover it all. The sounds are coming from everywhere, the bikes, the woks, the horns, the yells, the music. It’s rush-hour in music.
*Photos of Split Works’ Creature at YuYinTang by Damien Chang