Last week our editor’s picks were in tune with my mood for music, and I followed the instructions provided by Mike “Big Duck” Brownell almost to the letter. The Rogue Transmission played at Anar last Thursday, with new songs, old songs re-arranged in different styles–ranging from country to progressive rock–and a classic to remember with John Nguidjol on vocals. Guitar player Adam Gaensler, also of The Dovetail Joints, has been a great addition of energy to the band: his creativity is having big effect on the band and it’s easily noticeable that he is having a wonderful time as one of The Rogue Transmission cats. Fabi has turned out to be a very classy rock drummer; moderate or fervent when necessary. John provides the attractive force necessary to the metallic sounds on the ground, and Dan’s domination of the stage is fun and energizing. His passion projects rock out of the stage and involves the people in the music with him. The band has evolved into a sexy, powerful character and the music has grown and become consistent and mature, seasoned and ready to eat.
It was an amazing night for rock in Shanghai and for The Rogue Transmission. At the end of the gig I was ready to sign up for their fan club and declare publicly that I’m nothing other than a groupie in love with music. Forget everything else: it’s all about music music music.
Right after I realized I was feeling like I should write a confession about my music tastes, but I don’t think it is necessary anymore. Those who love music don’t need any explanation of this kind.
As a last note about the gig, I was thrilled to hear John Nguidjol singing rock. I’m still hearing people talk about how amazing was when he sang with The Rogue Transmission. I know John falls for soul and r&b, but he shines so much on rock songs that I wish he would go for his own rock band.
The gig at Anar included an after party, but electronic music was not fitting my rock mood, so I ran to JZ for the last set of the former Alec Haavik Friction Five, now the Alec Haavik Friction Seven. Alec and his band are a delicatessen for the ears of rock lovers. The addition of LYJ singing with the band has brought more fusion to their sound, and it seems to be moving her to new adventures with her voice. The kindness of the band is also a great characteristic guided by Alec’s spirit for listening. Every time a guest joins them to jam for a song, you can enjoy the experiment with them. This time there were some newbies in Shanghai willing to give it a try, and old hand Jay Renard too. When he took Tinho Pereira’s bass, a bass with its own personality already, the music became playful and candid. The reception of the band to the guests, the attitude of the guests towards the music, the attention of the audience to the fragility of the situation, the last notes of the night: it was a perfect spell for music lovers.
Friday had been fixed since I got the tickets from Siesta Jane earlier in the week. Andy C is a big deal, in music history, for Phreakation, for Jane, and for those who love drum ‘n bass. I went to this gig with Spanish friends, old schoolers of Ibiza raves. We made it on time for the beginning of Andy C’s set. The way I’ve described the show is by explaining that I felt like a monkey playing on the grounds of destruction. The music was raging, and although I heard some complaints about the MC, the music was so much more relevant to me than the non-stop MC. Anyway I do respect the feeling of wanting the voices to shut up to hear the music, but in this case the music was moving in frequencies that held me for the whole the set. My legs were in pain until late Saturday. I was a freaking monkey jumping basses and drums, and so was everybody around me, including Siesta. Happy Anniversary Phreakation and a gig to remember for Andy C, I hope. Those who missed it can regret it.
On Saturday the road led to JZ again for the first gig of the new Big Band of the house. Not properly a big band as the rules say, but certainly a big band for music. It’s directed by Nicholas Bouloukos, a gentleman piano player as Mike fairly described him in Nicholas’ playlist. The band moved from swing to bossa, passing by Boulukos’s nice original “The Lion”. A radiant moment was Andres Boiarsky‘s clarinet on Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady”. Jon Parker’s sax solos were beautiful too. EJ Parker on bass is always candy for the ears, and so is Chris Trczinski’s drumming. JZ was full, it’s a great time when a big crowd is being sensitive to all the moves of the sound. When the mass pays attention to the music despite the alcohol and the distractions and stops the yelling to hear a solo it is a thrilling experience. I had to run out to The Shelter after the first set of the Big Band. Void was having a major gig there, with Surgeon on the tables. From swinging Jazz to hard techno one hundred steps might seem like not enough to prepare for the shock of the transition, but when the music is turned on, there’s no need to disconnect one from the other.
The Shelter was pretty crowded too, mostly by guys. I wondered for a minute if it was the music, or just a random situation. But the DJ booth was surrounded by guys, and even though the music was amazing the dance floor was slow. Surgeon was accompanied by his wife Doris Woo as VJ. Cheers to the graphics that were enchanting. Nathaniel from the Void was happy as a kid and so was everybody. Surgeon burned the tables and made a great spectacle. He showed very nice taste on sounds and a great ability to handle the vibes of the place, a master DJ.
I lost my friends in a minute, and then I found them with this group of guys who were playing earlier at the Oriental Art Center, a bass player and a violin player from the Pittsburg Orchestra. It took less than ten minutes to convince them to join us after, when we planned to come back to JZ for the late jam sessions they have every Saturday.
So from techno we went back to the beatnik’s spot and it was an epic night there. Mike was in the house band for the Jam, and he was excited as a kid too because it was a bassists night. At this point I was realizing it was a bass weekend for me. Mike counted more than once, and found that there were seven bass players in the house. It’s a shame they did not all come with their own double basses to have a bass jam, but anyway it was a great jam. JZ has a good soul for music: the musicians on the stage calling the cats in the house to join the jam, the drinkers at the bar talking about music, the gigs to remember, the beat gossip, the people high on the roof lighting smokes to the rhythm of the swing, the people in love with music. JZ does not close its doors until the last person leaves, and the music lasted until the sun came out. When we finally closed JZ it was time for breakfast. It doesn’t get more jazz than that.
Sunday was when I didn’t follow the editor’s picks. The last night of the band at House of Blues and Jazz was not my mood. I heard a lot about the jam session at Logo guided by Pablo Carmona and friends, and it seemed like a good time to chill on the sofas there, so the winds blew me to Logo. I made it for the second set of the night. Logo was as tired as I was, but the music wasn’t. Who could imagine flamenco rock was going to catch all the girls it did? The music was great, although not tight enough on the second set, but some mess is part of a jam session of this kind. It’s okay, anyway it’s Sunday night. It was Pablo Carmona’s last night in Shanghai too, but there’s still flamenco around town for those into gypsy things. The surprise of the night was Ana, a new girl in town. She’s a bass player and composer, is already rehearsing with her own band. The guys asked her to play until there was no way for her to say no, and she finally did it. Chicks that play bass, they have the talent of the low grounds. Ana was captivating and left everybody waiting for the day they can listen to her band.
So, I didn’t make it to Break for Borneo’s gig at Kaiba last Thursday, the Conflict of Interest Pick in the editor’s picks, but I totally recommend you check them out. The line up is interesting and the music is perfect for beginning a weekend in music. So today, Thursday, I’m going before heading to The Dream Factory. AV Okubo is coming to town and as one of their groupies I can not miss it. Yeah, it’s Ratatat‘s night, but I am proud to be looking forward to AV Okubo more: they are a band to make me feel proud of my middle country; these guys kick ass. So if not there, then let’s meet this Saturday at Antidote’s Festival, I’ll be following the peacock, because people follow peacocks.
*Photos of The Rogue Transmission by Stella Bozzato