My computer won’t boot up except in safe mode. Apparently it has something to do with “Secondary IDE channel no 80 conductor cable installed.” Anyway, I’m working on it, but in the meantime, no new posts.
UPDATE: I bought a new power source and new IDE cables and installed them. No change (but I’m not sorry I did it… those upgrades were due). Then I got to work on Brad’s suggestion. I decided to do it by disconnecting and reconnecting things one by one rather than disconnecting everything and reconnecting one by one. That could save me a lot of trouble. The problem turned out to be my first guess: the wireless network card, which had gotten bumped and become partially disconnected. Apparently the network card’s driver won’t let Windows boot up if the card is only partially connected. GRRRR, crappy drivers… Anyway, blog entries will resume shortly.
I while back I added a new blog to the CBL called Shanghai Streets. It’s a photoblog covering life in Shanghai. It has had some good shots. My favorite so far is probably these shopping girls, but I really like this building, and this picture of Taco Popo, a decent attempt at Mexican that I’ll always remember fondly. So there’s a photoblog to keep your eye on. You’ll also notice that zanhe.com (mentioned in a previous comment on Shanghainese) is using Shanghai Streets’ images (with permission).
Anyway, recently Shanghai Streets has expanded its scope to cover Shanghai’s local music scene. This is pretty great, if you ask me. People in Shanghai complain about a lack of a good local music scene, but I think the truth is that most people aren’t aware that they can regularly go see metal, hip hop, punk, and indie rock shows in Shanghai. I was only dimly aware myself until recently. Shanghai’s offerings might be sort of pathetic for as monstrous a city as it is, but Beijing does not have the monopoly on a Chinese local music scene.
Shanghai Streets: Music is a group music blog. The group members post reviews of local shows they have seen. Perhaps even more useful, though, is the calendar which lists all the upcoming underground shows. You won’t see all these in That’s Shanghai.
Micah recently brought a great site to my attention called SmartShanghai. It’s an awesome site, but it looks like it mostly caters to the rich expat clubbing niche. Shanghai Streets fulfills a different need. If you’re in Shanghai and you’re at all interested in the local band scene, be sure to check it out.
There are three shows coming up this Saturday alone. Too bad I’ll be moving into my new apartment all day. I’m definitely going to go see Cold Fairyland and the Verse on Monday.
In my last entry I wrote about Wednesday’s concert and I said that the band I liked the best was 花儿 (the Flowers). Since writing that post I have gone out and bought their latest CD and given it a good listen. What to say? Hmmm…
At the concert, Flowers was certainly the band with the most energy and enthusiasm. They have quite a few fast-paced songs. I haven’t heard their earlier stuff, but listening to this new CD, I think it would be a mistake to think of this band as “punk,” even if it’s only in the most poppy adolescent bubble gum way, like Sum-41 or MXPX. The music on the new CD, 我是你的罗密欧 (“I’m your Romeo”), could probably be best described as fast-paced pop, with some sappy ballads thrown in as well for that broader appeal (the Chinese are all about the ballad).
The article Brad linked to mentioned that the Flowers have toned their sound way down in order to make more money. I don’t suppose I can begrudge them that. This is a group of Chinese kids without much education who are making a living on their music (although it’s questionable how much of the music is really “theirs” now). That’s pretty impressive. In part, the music takes me back to high school, going to $4 punk shows put on by high school bands like Speed the Minnow. Speed the Minnow definitely rocked a little harder, though. (They also didn’t make any money or sell out, which is probably why the band no longer exists.)
Forgetting the whole ideal of “Chinese punk” for a second, I think that if the Flowers are simply a small part of a trend toward faster paced music, it’s progress of some kind. (No modern society’s music can stall in “ballad mode” forever, right? RIGHT?!?)
My favorite song on the CD is definitely “陪你去“. It’s probably the “hardest” of anything on the CD. The song is basically a fun little ghost story. The funny thing is, before looking at the lyrics I had thought the singer was saying “over and over again” but according to the lyric sheet he’s saying, “apparition apparition creep.” Nope, I can’t hear that at all.
So I think it’s safe to say I was a little disappointed by the CD, although in retrospect, this is probably exactly what I should have expected. What was most shocking was the photos decorating the CD. Allow me to give you a progression.
An older picture of the Flowers (during their “punker” days, I imagine):
The Flowers as we saw them at their latest show, more or less:
The Flowers as they appear on their latest CD (and these pictures aren’t the worst ones):
Do I even need to suggest where this frightening trend is going…??
(Note the pants on boy-o in the blue there. …shudder…)
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:
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.
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.
Is it my imagination, or is Sitemeter now blocked in China? That is just downright annoying. If it is now permanently blocked, I need to get it off all my templates, because it’s slowing my page load way down.
In other news, I recently shaved my head again (I do that from time to time) and I’m growing my beard again. So I look something like a convict. I look a lot like I do in this picture from a few years back. I’m too lazy to take a new one.
Brad, Carl, Jamie, and I recently made a trip to the barber shop supply section of town. Apparently that’s the only place to get clippers for shaving one’s head. We also picked up some of that temporary spray-on hair dye. I tried white hair out Thursday. I’m really not sure how the so-called “temporary hair dye” differed from spray paint. It had the little marble in it and everything. That’s what we get for 8rmb ($1) a can.
So I had a spray-painted head for most of Thursday. My hair was stiff like a wire brush. Brad tried it out too, but then aborted because his hair is too short and he realized he was just spray painting his head. As far as I know, Carl and Jamie completely wussed out. They skipped town rather than following through on their promise to be badass crusty spray-painted hair brothers on Friday.
From the Sitemeter site:
SM5 Server Status
Friday, May 7th
Dear Valued Customer:
Today the hard drive of the SM5 Site Meter server, where your account
is located, failed. When we attempted to restart the server, the hard
drive in it would not boot.
We have setup a new server and are currently working to recover the
files from the old server and will have it back up as soon as possible.
Thank you for your patience during this process.
We appreciate your business.
Well, crap. I guess that explains it, though. (I should really stop being so quick to suspect a blocking every time a site goes down temporarily…)
Happy New Year, everybody. It’s been a while since my last entry, I know. In the meantime a lot has happened (although really, not much).
I have completely moved into my new apartment in Shanghai, and it’s awesome. My ZUCC co-worker friends were all going to help me with the final move, but they all bailed on me at the last minute for lame reasons like “no money,” except for Greg. He was a great help, and strong as an ox, that lad. Alf tried to placate me by later showing up with a potted plant for me. What a charmer.
Anyway, I don’t hold grudges, so I’ll be happy to put any of them up should they feel like coming to visit me in Shanghai. Those guys are great, and I’ll really miss them. Sometimes it’s hard for me to explain even to myself why I would voluntarily leave such a great community of people.
I also met the notorious Brad (of BradF.com) recently. Very chill guy. Much more into music than I expected (if you read Chinese, make sure you check out his ideas for his new band!). Hopefully I’ll be hanging out with him again soon.
I finally bought a new hard drive yesterday. 80 GB of Seagate goodness. Works like a champ so far. I’ve actually found that I didn’t lose as much data as I thought I did, due to my inadvertently backing important documents up in the past for various reasons. That includes my book, to my extreme relief. My publisher has just recently informed me that they’ve finally made the official decision to publish it. Cool. Only took 3 months.
Hmmm, every paragraph is beginning with the word “I”. But not this one.
My ADSL internet access will be installed tomorrow, and then I can finally quit with this internet cafe hanky panky.
I paid a huge wad of cash for my apartment on Christmas Day. My new job doesn’t start until after Chinese New Year. I was getting paid very little all last semester because I was teaching very few clases to make time for my full-time Chinese studies. That all amounts to me being pooooor. My older sister Amy is coming for a visit next Wednesday. Fortunately she’s bringing funds. Everything’s gonna be cool, I’m sure.
Things are looking good. I have lots of ideas for Sinosplice in the months to come, but I’m gonna need that internet access first. Expect more pictures. My new surroundings have imparted new inspiration to me.
I’ll be in Australia for the next two weeks, so I won’t be updating for that time. Australia’s a big country, so I won’t try for more than a few places of interest in Queensland. For the time I’m in Brisbane, I’ll be staying with Ben, a friend and former ZUCC teacher. Wilson is meeting me at the Brisbane airport. He’s already been in Sydney for over a week.
In the meantime, you may want to check out some of the new blogs in the China Blog List. Brad F’s new blog kind of reminds me of mine. I especially like his “answers” entry.
When I get back to Hangzhou, I’ll be just teaching about 15 hours a week and hanging out, hopefully studying some Chinese in preparation for fulltime Chinese class come fall. Derrick will also be here in Hangzhou for about a month. I might be able to make it to Beijing this August, and possibly to the wedding in Kyoto of the oldest son of my Japanese homestay family. If I do that, it’ll be a boat ride from Shanghai to Osaka. Could be cool. At the end of August I’ll be busy helping the new additions to the ZUCC foreign teacher crew get settled. It’s gonna be a great new semester.
OK, I need to sleep. I leave Hangzhou for Pudong Airport at 7:30am…