Well, I finally got to a show in Beijing, although it wasn’t a grimy D-22 outing. It was a performance at Yugong Yishan by Canadian band-of-the-moment Caribou. I can tell you that Beijing is pretty much like Shanghai — the same band (the aforementioned Caribou, who had played Dream Factory the night before), same piss beer (except they call it Yanjing), same English teachers swilling said beer, same ladies entangled by cobwebs, false promises, and the musk of carnivorous plants. Deja effing vu.
I started off the night with my very first cab accident (!) which forced me to hoof it to the Metro which, after 3 transfers, deposited me in Shique Hutong where I watched the first half and some of the Germany-Argentina game. If you’re ever in Beijing and want to meet some friendly people, check out Culture Yard. The spot is strategically located a couple blocks north of Yugong Yishan (YGYS) so I took a leisurely stroll down there and got in just as the main event was beginning. Yugong Yishan is a nice little venue, kind of reminiscent of Dream Factory in its rectangular layout. They had a pretty good sound guy who had the mix down, except maybe a little quiet for my taste. YGYS certainly has more character then Dream Factory, but then, what venue doesn’t?
Anyways, I had been looking forward to this show ever since it was announced a while back, and ever since a copy of Caribou’s new album Swim fell off the truck and landed in my hungry laptop. This is a band for now, fusing psychedelic electro gizmocore with acoustic and electronic drums (played in tandem), as well as some well-timed guitar work. The cake is frosted with cryptic falsetto vocals and — voila! — instant buzzband. It’s the kind of music where you have to decide whether you’re going to bliss out and dance bootifully or trance out while gazing at some half-assed visual effects. I went for pretty much equal parts of each, helped along by a generous portion of yellow-flavored beer water (see above).
Really, the only thing I know about this band is that it is the pet project of a mathematician named Dan Snaith, who looks a bit like Jackson Pollack (as portrayed by Ed Harris). The highlights of the show for me were the tracks “Sun” and “Odessa” which I had been particularly grooving on when listening to the album. Other highlights included any time Snaith and the drummer decided to battle it out percussionately in extended duels that left the audience as victor. After an encore, the band descended from the stage to hit on the ladies I touched on figuratively in the first paragraph.After the show I nursed a Yanjing (for a change) watched people make out or try to find someone to make out with (not too creepily, I hope), mistakenly used the women’s restroom (awkward), and stumbled out to find a cab to ferry me to my distant home base.
Beijing’s a nice place to visit (actually, not really), but I was glad to get back to Shanghai, where the carbonated barley water is called Tsingtao, the mediocre venues are called Dream Factory, and the ladies…well, they’re pretty much the same.