The last couple weeks were pretty busy for music in Shanghai. The music exhibition, the JZ Music Festival, the fourth anniversary of the Uprooted Sunshine crew, and Layabozi’s first two live gigs – the Mushroom Jazz night at Anar and Culture Clash at YuYinTang. Add all these special events to the usual music events going on around Shanghai and you get some really tuckered-out bloggers.
The JZ Music Festival was a great success for music in Shanghai. I went only on Sunday and I heard most of the people talking about Saturday. The Electrograss stage had a great day on Saturday. Word of mouth is that DJ Siesta did an amazing drum ‘n bass show there. Sunday was Cui Jian on the main stage. The concert was great, the video for the show was fun, the crowd was excited, the orange hammer and sickle balloon was unforgettable. It was very nice to finally listen live to the father of Chinese rock. It’s a shame that we don’t get him around here more.
Most of all the great highlight of the festival was for the great work done by JZ to organize and set up this festival. My first JZ Festival was the last one done in Fuxing Park, still big for Shanghai. It was still a jazz festival too, and even though the work done was fine, it was not as big as it is now, but it was still full of jazz. JZ organizers did great engineering work, great advertisement, great work on the lay out of the stages, and very good for associations with others to make it larger. Restaurants, bars, stores, and the organizers of the Electrograss festival all added to the fun. But it’s a bit of a shame that jazz is moving every year to a smaller area of the festival. Somehow it should be the center and bedrock of this festival. This year it turned out to be just a side dish for the audience. OK, jazz is not as popular as rock and electronic music, but for those who joined JZ ‘s audience through jazz, we wonder how this transition of jazz from the center of attention to the shadows is going to be managed . Maybe they will have to do a different festival just to give jazz a proper celebration. I personally hope they give more lights to jazz. Shanghai is a jazz city and it deserves its own jazz festival. I love rock and electronic music but, well, the jazz stage should have had greater highlights.
Uprooted Sunshine crew did a very good celebration at The Shelter, they released an album “Uprooted Sounds” with originals. We will be reviewing it pretty soon. These guys have done a great work during their four years of life, Chacha, DJ Drunk Monk, Didjelirium, Deville, Esia, dji, Yas, Boombadil, Arminda, they have recorded a whole bunch of original tracks, some of them on this new album. And they have played alongside many nice DJs including Goldie, and Kode 9, on classic gigs organized at The Shelter, their actual residence. This is the first organized group of guys bringing reggae to Shanghai, and they have extended their range of work to dubstep, too. They are also organizing the events Shanghai By Bus, Sub-Culture and Dub Sessions parties at The Shelter. They were right to celebrate with all the energy that they did because they have worked hard and their work is bearing fruit. Give it a hey ho for the good work done by these sunshiny people, and pray to Jah with me that their musical life will be long, fertile, and prosperous.
About our gigs (Mushroom Jazz and Culture Clash!): It was a good experience to get out of the e-world and into the 3D-world. Both gigs had a great turnout. I feel a bit conflicted about reviewing our own gigs, but people are asking for it, so here we go (Get off my back, Newby!).
At certain point of the night at Anar I understood that if I was having fun then the gig was good for me. And if everybody else was having fun, then I can count the production as good enough, too. But there certainly is a big difference between the feeling of a gig produced by yourself from one done by someone else (like watching the sausage being made). I felt like I wanted to open my eyes and ears to what was going on, but the stress of the work was not allowing me to see what was happening objectively. Also, it’s hard to produce an event and have to be there all the time when I’m used to going around to many different places each night. I really wanted to jump to Dada and LOgO to be there with Michael Michael and the LOgO staff for the official after party of the Electrograss festival. For the Antidote show at Logo, I just could make it there when it was very late and of course the show was over long before I could go. I enjoyed the experience of producing, but I couldn’t do this all the time. I would become claustrophobic and desperately curious about what’s going on at the other gigs around town. So, for now, these Layabozi gigs are going to be once in a while. Impossible to happen too often, at least as we are now.
The music played at Anar by DJ Marcus Aurelius (I still can’t get over his name, which also was wrongly confused many times with other DJ Marcus Aurelius coming from Taiwan, the one here this time was one coming from Milwaukee) with Charles Foldesh, Jon Parker, and Theo Croker, on drums, sax and trumpet, was pretty good. My special personal favorite set was played by DJ Laura Ingalls, one of the Acid Pony Club criminals, he was coming from a long gig before, and he opened the after party with a great set that he didn’t record (shame on all DJs not recording their sets!). The jazz cats did a very nice job, it was difficult to know how it was going to turn out, but they were totally cool, they went on in a relaxed mood and were jumping on and off the stage to play with the DJs. People were always attentive to the music. It was complicated that this gig was the same weekend of the JZ Festival because Theo had to go to a sound check to Century Park in the middle of this gig, and Charles and Jon had to take power of the stage. Anyway, we were happy with the outcome. DJ Casie Lane was Layabozi’s partner in crime in producing this gig and she was bursting happiness even the day after. She was not only playing at the gig, but dancing all night too. People commented a lot on how nice the music was. It was very nice indeed, and it was pretty nice and surprising to be again at a gig where music was as loud as on the inside of your own head. People could talk without yelling there. That was nice, and it was easier to manage there at Anar than at Yuyintang.
Culture Clash, our gig at YuYinTang, has already been better reviewed by Jake Newby on Kungfuology.com, and by Adam G on Luwanrock.com. For us it was a great experience. We made mistakes of course, but we ended up with a positive outcome. Our biggest sin here was to have 5 bands playing on one night at YuYinTang, a place that used to be closed no later than 2 am, and we closed it at 3.45 am. It was a sin because the crew there is not used to this, and some of the guys of the bands were not ready to be there until that late. But on the other hand, we believe all the pre-production work done by every one of the bands was more than worth it. They prepared to rock harder this night, and they all did. Some even came with new songs to jam and play, like Duck Fight Goose , and Weghur. Boys Climbing Ropes were the last to play. They were amazing to me. They kept cool while waiting their turn, and their set was totally awesome. They made the crowd (Including me) jump, mosh, and yell after more than five continuous hours of rock on the speakers. The band was totally tight and on fire.
Many people talked to me during the night. I was happy to hear them impressed about the bands. Every one had their personal favorite. Some loved Weghur, others were totally open-mouthed over Dick Fight Goose (as I was the first time I listened to them, too). There were people who had never before listened to The Dovetail Joints and they were impressed with how professional they were. Adam’s riffs specifically turned many heads around. Rainbow Danger Club opened, but during the second song Nico’s bass stopped working. Accidents happen, and after some minutes it was fixed (of course we were all sweating buckets during those minutes). Many people were totally turned on with their music and their last tune, featuring cool jazz trumpet player Mike Corayer, which was a good way to keep us alert for their future work.
I was glad to find out that for many people in the audience this was their first time at Yuyintang…really! Yuyintang is one of Shanghai’s epicenters of culture and identity, so when I was talking with people that had never been there or had never listened to these bands, I felt we did a good deed.
Anyway, we are not looking forward to becoming senators and newspaper owners, if you know what I mean. But we need to push in every way we can to increase in readership. We want more readers to help all musicians and music promoters in their work, hoping they will bring more music to our home. We also want to improve the quality of our work to be more reliable for everybody, and then hopefully become a profitable machine, able to produce more projects. Then we will retire and become senators and newspaper owners.
As tired as I was at the end of Friday night on Yuyintang. I did go on Saturday to check out The Snots at LOgO. Even though it was physically impossible for me to jump and dance, at the end of the gig I had to move with them. These guys are cool rockers, they are all fine players, and their music is interesting and fun. The whole deal with their new lineup and name is still a llittle confusing, so if someone can clear it up, thanks in advance. What I got was that with new drummer Clayton, coming from Hotter than Teppanyaki, their name changed to The Bandits, and with another new drummer, who’s name I don’t know, replacing Fabi from The Rogue Transmission, they are now The Snots, and no longer the Snot Rockets. These identity changes are a bit complex, but hopefully they will turn into more music and more gigs to come soon.
Sunday was still non-stop, with a barbecue at Free the Wax‘s classic rooftop. Kat’s good bye party was important and we had to be there. We are wishing all the best to Kat and Leo on their new life on Rome. We are thankful for their work with Free the Wax and we certainly hope they will be back. Free the Wax is having a last gig at the Shelter next week. We will tell you more about it soon.
After the barbecue the meeting was at Anar again, for a surprise rehearsal gig of The Violent Phlegms, a cover band of course, featuring Adam G on guitar and leading vocals, Fabi on accoustic bass and back vocals and Clayton on drums. To be at the rehearsal gig was pretty damn good. Their official launch will be at the opening of STD’s Live and Undead with YACHT. I totally recommend this gig going on today. YACHT is already known for being great, but my heart is with our locals, The Violent Phlegms, Resist Resist, and The Youth and the Destroyer, who will reappear for the first time since their last gig opening for Ratatat. In other words, major gig!
At the end I had a seventy two hour intensive rock ‘n roll trip. It was not planned to be like this. These are the best trips. It was a hell of a weekend. We learned a lot and we party a lot with music. Consequently, Monday I could barely move away from my pillow, and we are again a bit late to publish this review.
Anyway, I’m still totally excited about the past couple weeks. I believe music is incredibly important. It’s difficult to skip live events that make people react and activate, or the passings of our favorite musicians. I feel it’s important we remind the people working on music that they are doing a great job. And the people that enjoy music need to know what is going on to let more music come into their lifes and make it even more memorable.
Here at Layabozi, we music nerds are proud of the work done by the “proper music industry in Shanghai”, and I say “proper”, because I’m not talking about the industry behind Asian pop. We feel proud to be a part of the music machine in Shanghai, especially when great music weekends happen.
Now, we are very motivated to produce more and better work here at Layabozi. We need to improve many things, as Jake mentions on his review we know we need to fix our publishing schedule. We are still messy, we know! Also, we will look for ways to get sponsors and do those things we can’t do until now because they require more money than we have. However, we are full of ideas and energy, and we are very happy with the work we’ve done until now. We especially enjoy being witnesses to the development of music in Shanghai and China. We pride ourselves on our sensitive ears and eyes, and we are grateful to all the musicians, Djs, promoters, bar owners, festival organizers, writers, photographers, and alcohol sellers that are working their asses off to bring us music.
It is actually all happening.