It’s been awhile since I have written one of these live music reviews. It’s not that I haven’t been going to shows, but most of the shows I have been going to I have been playing in. We have writers who have been writing well about shows, too. But I have also been a bit more discerning in the shows that I attend. I’m not going to go to any old show from out-of-town that promoters need to charge 200 kuai to pay for, especially when there’s a lot of good, local music going on all around town.
Case in point: Last night X is Y and Maze played at 696 Livehouse out in Hongkou. It was my first time out there, but not my first time seeing X is Y. I saw them a little while back at LOgO, in a gig that they weren’t particularly happy about due to the conditions at there. Anyway, I was happy to see that 696 had a nice sound system, although not many people. 696 hasn’t built up much of a rep yet, but it is a good little venue. And I do mean little. They also exacerbated the problem by putting a bunch of tables in the way. If there is ever a bigger show there, those definitely need to go.
So, on to the music: When we arrived, there was a Chinese band going, pretty unremarkable. I didn’t find out their name. Yep, that’s what I’m here for.
Then came X is Y. They were interviewed in this space last week and I thought I would check them out again. They played a pretty tight set of their moody, complicated rock music, including a rousing rendition of my personal favorite, “Curse”. I thought it was interesting that they began the set with the last track of the album, a meandering, emotional song called “Father-Son”. It set an ominous tone for the set. They went through pretty much their whole album “LP” and then got off the stage to some fanfare from the 20 strong in attendance. That album, by the way, is still available for free download. I would also venture to say that their Douban page is still in effect. Check ‘em out.
Maze from Beijing were the headliners of this humble little show. They stand solidly in the post-rock genre that seems to be a bit in vogue around China these days. They were good musicians, but the set lacked punch. However, this was not due to the drummer, who was excellent, and unquestionably the leader of the group. It was fascinating to see a drummer so in control, being a drummer myself. He was more than holding it down and the band seemed to take their cues from him exclusively. Post-rock is a genre that doesn’t necessarily translate well live, though. It never seems to go anywhere but back and forth.
So it was a good night of music. I would encourage everyone to get out to Hongkou and check out 696 Livehouse. They have good local shows going on there and it’s not hard to find at all. It’s a five-minute stumble straight from the subway station at the stadium in a well-marked creative plaza. It’s not hard to find at all. You might also find some economically priced local music.
Photo by Shaun Park