Saturday night I went out to the Dream Factory for the benefit show “Dance for Haiti.” What a weird show! I thought it would be because the lineup was so eclectic, but I had no idea of the weirdness I was in store for. I showed up at about 10:30 or so. Maybe this was late, but, come on, this is Shanghai. Nothing gets started on time. So I missed Duck Fight Goose again. I have a curse with this band. I can only see their practices. It makes for an interesting view of the band. I have barely seen them play, but I have heard their practices many times. So basically I know the parts that they practice over and over, like three thousand times.
I walked in on Studio 188 and it was like walking into a room where your grandparents are having sex; it’s great they’re still doing it, but you really don’t want to witness. I even caught a version of “We Are the World,” which was like the worst grandma crotch shot you could ever envision.
And then the next band was Lions of Puxi, a terrific reggae band, really. It’s not just that they are the only reggae band in Shanghai anymore; it’s just that they are great. Gaulthier and Gilbert have other-worldly chemistry and presence up front, Vlad just perseveres within the groove, and Johnny holds it all down behind the kit. Damien Banzigou, Layabozi Interview Subject, was worked in on the bass and Layabozi interviewer Theo Croker embellished the sound to its fullest. They played a short, tight set, and left.
So that was the highlight. One of the promoters came through with a vanity project for a couple next songs, featuring Fabien on the drums, and then we were treated to Monroe Stahr. Except, “treated” is not the right word; it should read “subjected to”. I can’t put my finger on it with his band, but they turn me off. I’m not saying they are bad musicians, but it might have to be chalked up to juju. They need to be cleansed with herbs and smoke or something. I don’t think I am alone in this thought, either, because they almost completely cleared the floor for Weghur, the next band.
Weghur played with conviction and fortitude. Unfortunately, they had been undercut by the lineup order and they seemed despondent about it. They trudged through the first half of their set, up to a point where Hassan broke a string. Then, the incomparable Gaulthier came on for an impromptu jam of a French rap song and really brought the house (of about 30 people) down. After that Weghur continued, working all the angles for another half hour at least. Their energy for the second half of their set was better. The few people who stayed were rewarded for their persistence with a jam that bordered on transcendent.
Now is the time that I reiterate that this was a charity show. With all of the earthquakes going on, it was definitely timely. Big ups to Nate and Carl, the promoters. I hope the cause did well. And I’m also going to give them a back slap on the lineup, which had a lot of promise. They got handcuffed by a musician’s schedule on that night and that’s why they ended up with a wonky order. I’m sure that during a normal evening they would schedule accordingly. They should be commended for putting together such an eclectic show and pretty much packing it out for a while. Again, all for charity.
Three Chord Truth: props to you. Haiti (and Chile and Taiwan): Get well soon.