Concert in FuXing Park

07 Oct 2004

Yesterday I met up with some friends to go to a concert. Among them were Brad and Micah. We ate an early meal of sushi. The restaurant played Bryan Adams’ “Everything I Do I Do for You” on repeat the entire time we were there. I was served an interesting California roll:

CrAzY California roll

Is this normal for California rolls now?! I gotta say I feel there’s something wrong with mixing cantaloupe and wasabi….

Then we were on to the concert. It began at 7:15 pm. The headliner was Ladytron, and the Chinese bands Supermarket (超级市场) and the Flowers (花儿乐队) played as well. The weird thing was that the headliner, Ladytron, played second, and the Flowers played last. Brad observed that this was because the other two bands were pretty electronic-sounding; the Flowers didn’t really fit in. The Flowers played last so that fans of Ladytron could leave earlier.

Supermarket opened, and was plagued with some sound system trouble. First they had a guy on vocals singing in Chinese, then for the latter half they had a girl on vocals singing mostly English. They were OK, I guess, but pretty forgettable. I’m not a big fan of that electronic sound, but it was kinda cool to hear it coming from a Chinese band for the first time.

Ladytron came on next, and throughout their set seemed afraid to talk to the fans, even though the crowd was 30-40% foreign (read: white). One of the singers managed a shy ni hen gaoxing ma (“are you happy?”) and a few xie xies (thank yous), but not much more than that. The band relied on its music alone to work the crowd, and it worked to some degree. A few of their songs really imparted some energy.

Still, last night’s was not a crowd that any band would hope for. Before the show began I was playing a game trying to find what demographic was excluded. Pretty much only babies. There were old people, middle-aged people, whole families, little kids, young couples, older couples, loners, groups, and foreigners of all kinds. How can you possibly hope to get a good reaction out of a crowd like that? The Chinese were the majority, but a lot of them clearly had no idea what to expect from any of the bands. On top of that, although there was definitely a “crowd,” the turnout wasn’t especially high.

Micah and Brad liked Ladytron all right, I found them solidly so-so. As one of my good friends once noted, I’m a sucker for melodic music, and Ladytron was a little too much of a departure from that on a lot of their songs. “Noisy,” the old folks (not me!) would call it.

The Flowers were last. This was the band I had been looking forward to most, based on Brendan‘s recommendation. I hadn’t heard any of their music before, though. Looking at their logo on the big screen before they came out, I commented that it looked like a cross between the oldschool Atari logo and the Powerpuff Girls logo. After the band came out, I felt like they were a cross Between Green Day and the Powerpuff Girls.

Micah deemed the Flowers purely manufactured music, and I can certainly see his point, but I liked the band. The poppy punk style reminded me of my high school days. One descriptor that I can’t avoid when describing the band is cute. The way the lead singer engaged the crowd (no English, and no apologies) was just plan cute, from his jumping around and trying to get people waving their hands to his failed fart joke. One thing I have to give the Flowers is their effort at trying to get the crowd involved. The other bands (understandably) didn’t really even try, perhaps discouraged by the turnout.

The Flowers live

So I definitely enjoyed the Flowers most. I’m going to go out and buy a CD later. Chinese musical attempts like these need to be encouraged if they’re ever going to blossom.

UPDATE: Brad has posted his account of the concert along with some good links.

UPDATE 2: Micah’s review is up.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. UGHGH !! I wanted to see this show, but the concert poster I saw at ARCH restaurant had a big sign over it saying “SOLD OUT” … when I called the line for tickets I got no answer. But at 100 rmb a ticket, no wonder the turnout wasn’t good anyway. The promotors here are so inept!

  2. Is it only me? Every time I see Fuxing Park or Fuxing Lu, it makes me giggle.

  3. noname,

    I saw that same poster at Arch! I had just bought my ticket that day at another location. Kinetix Skate Shop on Xiangyang Road near Changle Road had the tickets for 70 rmb, and they didn’t sell out.

  4. i bought the ticket @ http://www.ticktick.com with 100yuan.
    T_T

  5. Ladytron (remixed well) RULE!!! Also a couple of their songs off of Seventeen are quite good. I have completely given up on all Chinese bands except the two rapper boyz from HZ.

  6. Construct Chris did some electro-clash remixes, this one includes Ladytron. If you can dig through his archives, I recommend just about all of the mixes he has done.

  7. it’s so cool here! ^^ i am a taiwanese student studying in austin, texas. hey y’all!!! haha… well, just passing by, though to say hi. ^^ maybe you should go visit taiwan also, it’s a cool place too.

  8. the previous comment is with a wrong URL, sowwie! >.

  9. I hope the materials you write for children are not “so-so”.

  10. Hey John,
    I just had a “California roll” in Shenzhen with the same cantaloupe, and also that shredded beef shit. An awful experience.
    Regarding Chinese rock, have you heard or seen Er Shou Mei Gui ? I saw them a couple years back in Beijing. Great rocknroll band from Dongbei that incorporates lots of traditional Chinese instruments. Check em out.
    Ryan
    (btw, we met long ago in Shaoxing. I’m back down south now.)

  11. Ryan,

    Yeah, I remember meeting you in Shaoxing, brief though it was. You know, Wayne is here in Shanghai now.

    I’m not too surprised that you can find similarly bizarre “California rolls” elsewhere in China. What I’m really wondering, though, is:

    Are there Californi rolls like this in California, or is it a Chinese “invention”? (Come on Californians, you can answer it! I have faith in you.)

  12. John- re: The Second-Hand Roses (二手玫瑰) — they’re worth checking out. A lot of their stuff falls kind of flat, but some of it is very good. Essentially, it’s a rock band, incorporating traditional Chinese instruments, fronted by a guy singing traditional 二人转-style lyrics, in a dress. I have a few mp3s up at http://www.bokane.org/mp3 . Also worth a look: The Cold-Blooded Animals (冷血动物).

  13. If the cold blooded animals stopped ripping shit off and adding Chinese lyrics people might listen more. I saw them play years ago in Beijing with noone watching and they had no juice whatsoever. Nirvana they want to be but are a far cry.

  14. until i left the philippines, i always thought california maki had fresh (yellow) mango on it, and not avocado.

    i think that’s still the “real” california maki – avocado as a substitute to tuna (they have similar taste/texture when dipped in soy sauce).

    cantaloupe sounds bearable, but along with apple and carrot? hmm.

  15. There maybe hope yet! ++ I got a hold of a radio tape from the radio in Europe and it had “Just visiting” by “Beijing Bass” on it. Shame really because we missed the Munich gig by 2 days.

    The way they have blended traditional Chinese instruments with electronics isn’t cheesy or experimental and the theremin and Er-hu solo in the middle puts your head in orbit. I don’t think they need to wear dresses to get everyone’s attention and they definitely aren’t ripping anyone off.

  16. Is Kinetix Skate shop an actual skateboarding shop which sells skate shoes? I’ve been looking all over beijing for a pair of vans/dc’s or something similar!!! sorry this isn’t related to the topic but I really don’t know where to go or who to ask!

    ps is there good rock out guitar music in beijing? i’m new and would love to go to some gigs!

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