Herbie Hancock played last Thursday, May 13th, at the World Expo. I’d like to say the concert was totally beautiful, but it was not. It was nice to listen to Hancock of course and if I had missed it, it would have been like missing a Miles Davis show, so I was happy to go, and I’m happy I was there. Hancock has done so much for music’s evolution, and he has a stylish groove that pours out of his hands. Even when he was not playing with all his energy I could enjoy it. It was definitely worth it to be there, but there were many obviously wrong details to look at that clouded over Hancock’s sun.
The concert hall was not full and the sound was not what you’d like to hear when you have Hancock playing for you. In addition, the promotion for the show was very poor. I don’t enjoy complaining about a show’s organization, but I just can’t help to feel frustrated about it. My aim is to motivate the organizers to do a better job because we want to hear and see what they are bringing, hoping they will succeed in their work.
Back to the music: Hancock played bebop on a grand piano. Sorry, no keyboards or effects for the hip hop fans this time. The band from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and Dee Dee Bridgewater were pretty nice. I especially liked the bass player and the drummer. They were serious jazz cats. Check the photo review of the concert.
Later that night, the hang moved on to House of Blues and Jazz, where I hadn’t been in a while, and I found an enchanting surprise: the new band for this season, The Cangelosi Cards. They play really sweet music. If you are up for a trip to the Bund area to have some expensive beers and listen to classy jazz, then that’s the spot.
We then headed to JZ, where we met with the guys from The Thelonious Monk Institute, and I enjoyed a sunrise at YY’s with some of them, and other dear jazzy friends.
Friday was the day for Cafe Tacuba at the Expo. The concert was in the same area as Herbie Hancock’s but on an open door stage, right by the river, and on a spot where you felt surrounded by extraterrestrial buildings (especially if you come from Latin America). The spot is sweet, though if there’s any green spirit in you, you might wonder about the electricity bill the Expo is making us pay.
The controls to go into the Expo are pretty strict. If they could, they would check your soul, just in case it’s carrying a bottle of water. But once you are inside you can buy beer, and pretty much satisfy all the basic needs to enjoy a proper rock concert. So while the sound people were trying to figure out where the plugs should go, the very Latin crowd was warming up (they were all Latin that evening, even those who didn’t know the meaning of Viva Mexico, cabron! ). We were all getting ready to rock with such high expectations that we forgot that there were less than three hundred people present. Such happiness just because of the chance to listen to a beloved rock band.
Cafe Tacuba, one of the greatest Latin rock bands of all time, are not just popular. They are GOOD. They have the ability to play so many different styles of music that they can really get playful. They go from hip hop to disco, from electronica to hard rock, from rancheras to pop, and the trip does not end. Sadly, I can’t say the concert rocked, and this teaches us that no matter how good a band is, no matter how much the crowd wants to rock, no matter all the good intentions; when sound is shit, it can totally kill the party. The ” Tacubos” went all charged to the stage and after two songs they had to stop playing because of the sound. After half an hour of guys figuring out plugs and levelers, the band finally came back with the almost-like-football-final yells of the people (including myself).
The band knew how thirsty we all were for their music, they could feel it, and that’s why they played for two hours, even though it would have been totally understandable if they would have kicked the mics, the speakers and the sound guys’ asses. Anyway, at the end, everybody was glad they were there, but what a concert it could have been, if all would have been done as it was supposed to.
About the Expo: The best thing to say is that it is good there are still some months to go to give us hope that the organization can improve. The problems they have had with promoting and producing the music events can be understood if one considers that producers are not really well-connected in the Shanghai music industry, but they should improve the quality of the management. When I think about all the resources they have to work with and I compare them with the resources that promoters in Shanghai usually have, it feels a bit frustrating. What could The Antidote do if they had the resources of even one of the little pavilions of the Expo? Anyhow, I still have hope, and maybe after some weeks of experiencing our better city, the Expo will learn to do better productions. And hopefully the sound curse over Shanghai will miraculously transmute and we’ll finally get to listen the best sound that those nice equipment of the Expo can give us.
On Friday, after Cafe Tacuba, I went to Dada where the party was all weekend. Cheers to Dada for a victorious weekened. The DJs rocked from start to finish. To end my week with Caliph8, from Manila, a gig that seemingly was announced only to music geeks, was sweet. I had to take a 24 hour rest at home.
To close the music trip, one last thing: Yesterday at Caliph8 gig someone told me David Bowie is coming to Expo, I don’t know yet if it’s true, but what a sweet rumor.