Editor's Picks, January 28th-31st

I came across an interesting post about music in a blog called “The Frontal Cortex.”

…[M]usic requires surprise, the dissonance of “low-probability notes”. While most people think about music in terms of aesthetic beauty – we like pretty consonant pitches arranged in pretty patterns – that’s exactly backwards. The point of the prettiness is to set up the surprise, to frame the deviance. (That’s why the unexpected pitches triggered the most brain activity, synchronizing the activity of brain regions involved in motor movement and emotion.)

I have often thought this about music myself. I want my music (what I’m listening to and what I’m playing) to surprise me and others. Some people seem to want to hear the same songs over and over again (perhaps owing to nostalgia or erotic longing for David Lee Roth), but it’s interesting that what their brains probably actually like about the great old songs is their unpredictability (musically speaking.)

What do you want in your weekend? Do you want to see something you know should be good but maybe a bit predictable? Or do you want to take a chance and see something you’ve never come across before? There’s something here for everyone.

Thursday, January 28th

If a gig happens in the club and no one hears it; does it make a sound? Oh, wait, here’s something:

Sultans of Swing, 9 PM

Let these blues bros serenade you in their tribute to the greatest guitarists of all time, guitarists so great we can just use their last names: Page, Beck, Clapton, Hendrix. Could be a good little Thursday evening.

YuYinTang, 30 kuai
1731 Yan’an Xi Lu,
Entrance at Kaixuan Lu

Friday, January 29th

Andrew Bird, 9 PM

I was astounded to learn that Mr. Bird was a Squirrel Nut Zipper! I haven’t thought about them for a long time. This multi-instrumentalist from The Chi has got all of Shanghai on his jock right now, but here’s what I was talking about with the unpredictability rant above: You know what’s going to happen and who’s going to be at that show (more or less). Don’t aim too low.

Zhijiang Dream Factory, 180 kuai
B4/F, 28 Yuyao Lu,
Jing An
near Xikang Lu

Lions of Puxi, 9 PM

Anything can happen when you’re dealing with these crazy lions. Who else is on the bill, you ask? How about the Violent Phlegms in their first (maybe last) show since the night before Halloween? Full disclosure: my band, Break for Borneo, will kick things off a bit after 9 PM, but that has nothing to do with this pick. Nothing at all.

MAO Livehouse, 60 kuai (What a bargain!)
570 Huaihai Xi Lu
near Hongqiao Lu

Jasmine Chen w/ Bai Tian, Mike Brownell, and Feng Hao, 7:30

Holy conflict of interest, Batman! Look at good ole’ Mike Brownell moving on out to Moganshan Lu for a high-profile gig at the Two Cities Gallery. This group will be performing jazz interpretations of Chinese folk songs and the proceeds go to charity. Way to go, Big Duck!

Two Cities Gallery, suggested donation 50 kuai
50 Moganshan Lu, Bldg. 0, 2nd Fl.

Saturday, January 30th

Boys Climbing Ropes EP Release, 9 PM

Could anything else garner the coveted Pick of the Weekend Award this week? I say no. And it’s my pick so just shut the hell up, Bird! This show is to celebrate the release of their new EP, “Except for the Darkness” in case you’ve been in Xinjiang Province and couldn’t get on the Internet to find out. Here are two other great reasons to go: a free copy of the CD (after admission) and the music of Duck Fight Goose. If you are looking for bands that are as cool as the ones from Beijing we just saw last week, here are your top two contenders. Extremo is just not doing it for me right now. Or ever, for that matter.

Peppermoon, 9PM

One other possibility (if you were either French or related to one of these band members) would be to check out this French Pop/Lounge band at the Dream Factory. Break for Borneo to open. What can I say? The French like us.

Zhijiang Dream Factory, 100 kuai
B4/F, 28 Yuyao Lu,
Jing An
near Xikang Lu

Sunday, January 31st

Dude, read a book or something. There is nothing going on. OK, I lied. I can think of one thing you could check out.

New Faces Underground, 9 PM

Come to YuYinTang to look for the proverbial diamond in the rough. Candidates include Paradox and Candy Wine. Wish I could tell you something more about these stalwarts, but that’s why they play the games, as they say.

YuYinTang, Free
1731 Yan’an Xi Lu,
Entrance at Kaixuan Lu

So there you go. Now it’s time for that special time of the Picks where I dig up the best detritus of the Internet. “Time-wasters” doesn’t cover this batch of links. You would be an idiot not to check these out so let’s call them “Net Essentials.”

I damn near peed (Should that have three e’s? Peeed. Still doesn’t look right.) I damn near pissed myself checking out the deliciousness that is this list. I offer it in honor of Morgan Short’s (SmartShanghai and Boys Climbing Ropes) annual Worst Flyers of the Year Awards.

Lady Gaga inspires baked goods homages. And then gets burned by the immortal Carles.

Anybody else read “A People’s History of the United States” (amongst lots of other stuff)? Yeah, that dude’s dead now. RIP Howard Zinn.

There have been a lot of outrageous Time-Wasters, Net Essentials, or whatever you want to call them (“Hats of Meat”, anyone?) but this one absolutely takes the cake. Well, until the next one. You gotta love the Internet.

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