It’s hard to come back to Shanghai after being in the States where jam music abounds and songs can last up to 20 minutes whilst guiding you to another dimension. So when I came to see Pigeon Milk (translated from the Korean) at Yuyintang this past Friday I was thrilled to be transported to that most delightful of places where sounds infiltrate your skin and buoy you up to euphoria, as if the instruments are the fingers lifting you, “light as a feather, stiff as a board”. Granted, I have a particular taste often satisfied at this venue, but there is also a strong vibe of relax and release for musicians there which I feel allows for the greatest expression.
The band’s Korean name is Vidulgi OoYoO, which they feared no one would be able to say in China, though I like it a bit better than the translation. The genius behind the beautiful sounds they make is Jong-Soek Lee and, lucky for me, his English was superb, allowing us to discuss influences, passion and life, topped off by a few frosty Tsingdaos. By the second song of the night, when they started playing their rendition of “Welcome to the Machine”, I knew I could easily attribute much of Jong-Soek’s style to Pink Floyd. Sure enough, after the show we both quickly agreed that one of our favorite music films of all time is Live at Pompeii. Lee really tries to let the music breathe and no concert ever the sounds the same. I was extremely impressed by the last 2 songs or, rather, 15 minutes of heaven. “Good Night Shining” from their lastest album Bliss City East and “Elephant” from their first album Aero, which I plan to get from yesasia.com soon. When I mentioned the oddity of the similar endings of some of the songs by winding down the effects and then coming to a halt, Jong-Soek told me they will usually play an hour straight without pausing or saying a word. But he was told that in China it is better to stop between songs and say something to the audience, and it obviously interrupted the flow of energy they had going on the stage, but he was so humble and adorable in his attempts that it was quickly forgiven..
That night I also had a chance to chat quite extensively with Tony Zhu, creator of Handshake Records, who managed the band’s tour. Not only is he the nicest guy ever, he seems to have excellent taste in music and is working very hard to spread new sounds around China. In that spirit, he is bringing Hong Kong band Chochukmo to Yuyintang this Saturday and I HIGHLY recommend this band. They have a sound that is so very different from anything around and the inability to place a band in any one genre is always a good thing in my mind. You’ll hear little pieces that remind of you something, Steely Dan, The Police, Phish. It’s all beautifully chaotic. But if you want something NEW that I can personally guarantee you have never heard before or you can spank me, come to Yuyintang Saturday and pay the way-worth-it 40rmb for the experience.
With their fabulous logo “All We Need Is Love & Music” backing them, I think we need to keep out ears out on Handshake Records. Thanks to Tony Zhu for bringing great sounds to our town. I plan to meet up with him on his way back to Shanghai this weekend and get some more scoops on this blow-my-mind label.
The band that opened up for Vidulgi OoYoO is not a Handshake Records band but they are definitely worth noting. I only caught the last few songs but I believe I got a good sense of their sound. Plastic Chocolate is a feel-good band that transported me back to a summer in 1983 sitting at the drive in watching the credits roll after all the other cars had gone, wishing it wasn’t over yet. The magical fingerings of LiDi 李迪 on guitar and the obvious fun that the boys have when they play made me want to jump up on stage and dance with them. It seems they have been playing around Shanghai for a few years and we even played on the same bill at a Zhejiang Dream Factory show, but for some reason that was the first time I heard them. Sorry ladies, if you missed the four cuties you’ll have to wait a bit because they are heading into the studio tomorrow to record an EP.
My favorite story of the evening is how Jong-Soek and his leading lady met. He saw her perform with a band at a club in Seoul one night and thought “Wow she is amazing, I would love to play with her” but sadly enough she was taken. A while later and somehow just at the right time (timing is everything) he was about to put out a shout for a new guitarist after he had just lost his, when he found an ad put out by Ji-Hye Ham saying, “Need band.” Ji-Hye Ham brings the softness and femininity into the band that really won me over, beautifully layering harmonies of vocals and guitars with Jong-Soek and bassist Song Zhehuan. I didn’t really get to talk much with Li Yongjun, Vidulgi OoYoO’s drummer, because we had a slight language barrier (my Korean is limited to “Ahn nyeong hah seh yo” and his English consisted of “Nice to meet you!”) but he was awfully happy to be in Shanghai, especially with such a good turnout that night. It was kind of sad to hear, as they spoke of their first ever China tour, mentioning that the Wuhan show brought a whopping ten bodies out of their homes for the evening. It seems the best night of the entire tour was the Yuyintang show because more folks showed up than any other venue on the tour, and only 100 people were there. But it was just the encouragement they needed to decide right then that they will be back, hopefully as early as this spring.
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