Ah, Yuyintang on a midsummer’s evening. Here’s who was in attendance: Me, Kungfuologist Andy Best, World-Famous DJ Photon Fuckin’ Torpedoes, Luwan Rock, some other people, and a few tourists who wandered in because Lisa Movius wrote about the place in Fodor’s Guide to China (not joking.) It was a ragtag, motley crue (does anyone know how to do umlauts on a Mac?). That’s how it goes in the summer in Shanghai, when the only people still around are the ones who aren’t teachers. Or the teachers who are too poor to go out of the country
Why were we there? To be truthful, to see Pairs and Shanghai’s favorite GG Allin-in-training, Xiao Zhong. He’s not there yet because he has not yet defecated on stage and thrown the results at the audience. Hell, I haven’t even seen him cut himself yet. He’s got a long way to go, but we’re all pulling for him.
Before Pairs got rocking, though, Sister Whale offered up her lovely, mellow, bewitching guitar and vocals (also keyboard at one point.) Sister Whale has come a long way since the first time I saw her, opening up for my band on the same stage. I think she gets my Most Improved Award, as she seems to have gained a lot of confidence. Her tunes went down easily.
Next up came Pairs. They are a duo between F on guitar and Xiao Zhong (Rhys) on drums, vocals, and hijinks. F is a steady, if unspectacular, player. I think her sound is very right, though, as in right there. Right where it needs to be. She also seems to get better every time I see her, which is good to see.
Rhys is the straw that stirs the drink, as they say, and not just because of onstage antics, thankfully. I love a good performer and he fits the bill, but there has to be something there musically, too, which is the case with Pairs. He puts a lot of effort into his staccato, incantatory drumming, summoning the spirits of obscure indie shamans.
Pairs always plays a short set and tonight was no different. Rhys got a bit cheeky during the anthem Yangpu Qu, flashed a few nip-slips and peace signs for the cameras, gave the mic fellatio, and got the hell off the stage with dignity (almost) intact. I don’t really know their repertoire too well, but I think they might have played a new song at the end.
One audience member wondered aloud during the set whether or not they need a bassist. I’m not sure about that, but I do hope they keep adding wrinkles to build up their ability to carry a full set to the end and to not rely too heavily on the shenanigans. They are hilarious, exciting, and everyone loves them, but let’s hope that is not the only thing drawing people in a couple months time. I’m not saying that’s the case now, but if you don’t continue to update the catalog, people have to find another reason to come see you. Or they just don’t come
That kind of finished up the show for me. The park was calling, and the chance to argue the merits of chillwave with Morgan, talk futbol with Andy, and listen to Adam from Luwan Rock and Rhys gab on about Australian stuff I know nothing about, won out. So I missed Ann (the band, not my high school sweetheart). Can’t tell you much about their post-rock stylings on this occasion. Sorry, girls, see you at the practice space.
I did, however, catch a bit of Baby #13, the show closers. They are a tight outfit who have added a rhythm guitarist to their previous lineup that included drums, bass, lead guitar, cello, and vocals. The singer does a nice job of staying within herself and within the confines of the songs. She flashed a little presence toward the end that was quite enjoyable.
Someone else wondered aloud during their set (OK, it was me), however, whether or not the rhythm guitar had rendered the cello a bit toothless. If you’re going to have a cello in the band you probably want to spotlight it a bit more than I saw last night. So they might want to re-think their arrangements a bit in the future. Pardonnez-moi, guys, just a suggestion.
Sorry I have no pictures for you. Adam from Luwan Rock was snapping some, and my friend Leslie videoed the entire Pairs set, so maybe those will show up soon.
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