Ah, ah, ah! Hey, hey, hey!

I went to a punk show at Live Bar on Thursday. I especially wanted to see the Japanese bands. (Japanese bands usually know their punk… moreso than me.) Some observations:

– There were five bands: three Chinese, two Japanese. One of the Chinese and one of the Japanese bands were all-girl bands. Another Chinese band was composed of three guys with a female vocalist. Girl punk invasion!

– The Chinese bands, when setting up, usually test the mic by saying “?” (“Hello?”) and “听得见吗?” (“can you hear me?”). Both Japanese bands said “ア, ア, ア! ヘ, ヘ, ヘ!” (“Ah, ah, ah! Hey, hey, hey!”) over and over. It sounds pretty funny.

– The music was all right.

– I wondered about the practicality of a Japanese band coming to China on tour, and a tiny little local bar like Live Bar at that. I asked one of the mohawked Japanese guys how it worked. He said they have to pay for their plane tickets, but the rest of the touring costs are covered.

– I confirmed that after five years in China I can still speak Japanese, but I am starting to suck at it. Yikes. I have to do something about that, or my major is going to become completely meaningless (and it wasn’t worth a whole lot to begin with!).

Two photos from the event, via Shanghai Streets (click photos for more):


John Pasden

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


  1. Sounds fun — I used to be fairly up on the punk scene in Beijing, but my time back in the States and my current workload have meant that I’m now sadly behind the times.

    Any plans to come up to Beijing soon? I’ll show you punk venues, cheap bars, and Mandarin the way Jesus spoke it.

  2. Everyone knows Jesus spoke Hakka, Brendan.

    Seriously, though, is there much regional variation in the China punk scene? For straight-up rock I like the Xi’an folks more than the Beijing crowd, but I’m not informed at all about punk anywhere.

  3. Brendan,

    Who knows… every time I try to make plans to visit Beijing, something screws it up. Too much going on. I would like to get up there, some(non-winter)time.


    I wouldn’t know much about regional variation of the China punk scene. I think maybe the whole Shanghai “hardcore” punk scene (read: angst-filled youth with radically dyed and colored hair, and metal studded jackets) showed up at that concert, which makes the scene about 8 people.

  4. “dyed and colored”, is there some type of contrast in using these two terms that I am not aware?

  5. JFS,

    Oops. That was meant to be “dyed and styled”. My bad.

  6. Fuck Beijing. It’s cold and dusty, and if Jesus spoke Mandarin like they do up there it’s no wonder nobody can agree on what He said.

    Shanghai has a couple of venues and dozens of bands — if they’d stop trying to emulate Beijing and just focus on being good, maybe we could develop something unique here.

  7. John: Nice pics. How did the bands sound? Which one was the best?

    Brendan: I wanna come to Beijing and check out the punk scene. Maybe you could give Beijing punk tours. Sadly, my mohawk years are behind me. Although I did have some blue hair last time I was in Hangzhou.

  8. Da Xiangchang Says: November 20, 2005 at 12:46 am

    Punk?! Isn’t that sooooo ’80s? Or even ’70s?!


    And I wouldn’t worry so much about losing your Japanese skills as long as your Chinese is improving. The Japanese hit their peak in the late ’80s and will never recover to that point again in the future. With your skills in English, Spanish, and Chinese, you’ve pretty much covered the important languages of the future. Or maybe pick up Arabic. You’ll need it to travel through the Europe of the future. 😉

  9. Doom,

    The bands sounded basically like generic punk. Two of the Chinese bands did a bunch of covers. Nothing stood out especially.

    I guess I liked the last band, the Savas (the guys with the craziest hair), the best. They had the most stage presence and were the most entertaining to watch.

  10. I’m in Shanghai next week and was hoping to find some evidence of an alternative music scene, but it doesn’t look too promising from what I read! I’ve heard Hang On The Box and Brain Failure as Beijing-based punk, but is there anything going on in Shanghai? Any tips for where to go?

  11. Jer,

    I would advise you to check out Shanghai Streets or Micah’s music scene articles on Shanghaiist.

  12. Ive seen the savas play here in Taiwan. I think theyre pretty good. Good energy overall. I have some pics of them on my flickr if you guys wanna check it out.

    Hey, Im going this weekend to Shanghai, any shows you know of?

Leave a Reply