Olafur Arnalds plays the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall on Wednesday
Greetings and salutations Shanghai citizens. As we knock on winter’s door and try to scrub the rest of that Minion body paint away, we dive into November with no regrets. Ok, maybe I regret taking my shirt off and dancing a little too hard to Cyndi Lauper’s hit Girls Just Wanna Have Fun on Saturday. Now as we browse the interweb looking at our more creative friends' Halloween costumes, it’s time to see what’s on the agenda this week.
Turns out we have one hell of a live music line-up in Shanghai this week, starting on Monday with JZ Club hosting SuperDog who are performing the entire seminal prog rock album In the Court of King Crimson. Wednesday is an incredible booking from Split Works in the form of multi-instrumentalist Olafur Arnalds at the Shanghai Symphony Hall. Thursday at Yuyintang is a Scandinavian triple shot with dream pop band Postiljonen playing alongside electronic producer Pandreas and folk musician Siv Jakobsen. Friday also at Yuyintang local punk rock outfit Dirty Fingers plays their Shanghai edition of a three–month, 40–plus show marathon tour. Then on Sunday the Red Town live house On Stage is hosting a historic metal show from the mysterious black metal band Zuriaake.
I don’t know about you but I’m dusting that jean jacket out of the closet and getting ready to rock. Let’s check out some tunes from this week’s incoming musicians.
Monday: King Crimson (Played by SuperDog)
In general I’m not a fan of cover bands, but King Crimson is one of my favorite groups, so when I heard about the jazz quartet SuperDog playing a version of In the Court of King Crimson I was all ears. SuperDog is an updated experiment in sound that combines the backbone of rock 'n' roll with a jazz influenced randomness that is sometimes is topped off with electronics. Founded by Florent Brique, their first major project comes in the form of this King Crimson cover interpretation. They have already played around China in towns like Wuhan and Guanghzou with Brique leading the pack on his trumpet. The band is filled out by a group of musicians who often play jazz festivals around the world including Guilaume Nuss on trombone, Fred Gardette on bass, and Christophe Telbian on drums. Oddly enough I don’t see any guitarist on the lineup, so that should make for an interesting version of this 1969 album
Check out SuperDog tonight at JZ club with a 50rmb cover fee. To get you motivated, take a pull of this original version of "21st Century Schizoid Man" performed by King Crimson.
King Crimson - "21st Century Schizoid Man"
Wednesday: Olafur Arnalds
Great news for Shanghai music lovers -- local concert promotion group Split Works have been re-commissioned by the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall to do another series of their eclectic show series "Contemporale". They kick this season off with Icelandic musician Olafur Arnalds, who will be performing a piano-based show that incorporates various styles of electronica. There is just something about Iceland that churns out amazing contemplative musicians like no were else in the world. My favorite thing about Olafur Arnalds is that the young prodigy got his start as a hardcore punk rock drummer. That style couldn’t be further away from his current musical works.
On top of his subdued ambient solo work, Arnalds has a side project band who go by the name Kiasmos and bang out a harder form of electronic music. That project has caused waves over the past year and is suitable for underground techno club play. It’s funny that Arnalds got his break from German metal band Heaven Shall Burn, who commissioned him to do introduction music on their album. Being so impressed with his work, the German metal gods convinced Arnalds to put together a full album of similar piano / strings focused music. Wednesday’s show starts out at a mere 80RMB, but seating is limited so you better jump on that quick. Here is a solo piece from Olafur Arnalds which I imagine will reflect his Wednesday show along with one of his songs from the electro project Kiasmos.
Olafur Arnalds - "Kadzionis"
Kiasmos – "Looped"
Thursday: Postiljonen, Pandreas and Siv Jakobsen
Scandinavian governments just get it, man. Not only is the Swedish consulate helping Scandinavian artists fund and book Asia tours in the name of cultural exchange, they also commissioned local Chinese musicians / producers to collaborate with them. Those supportive, loving Swedes even booked the new, high-quality Shanghai recording studio Music King in Xuhui to record the collaboration and have flown up Guangzhou beatmaker Pete Chen to lay down his funky instrumentals on those Scando bros (Pete Chen is also performing with Norwegian rapper Unge Ferrari at Dada on Wednesday). Music King will also start doubling as a live house with a capacity of around 150 people and are promising a quality sound experience like no other in Shanghai.
Here is a track from each artist playing Thursday show at Yuyintang. I’m going to go ahead and make this guy Sacco’s Date Night Gig of the Week. Shit is going to get romantic.
Postiljonen – "Wait"
Pandreas – "Flgespark"
Siv Jakobsen - "How We Used To Love (Martin Hviid Remix)"
Friday: Dirty Fingers
I love Dirty Fingers. Classic punk rock from three Chinese trouble makers backed up by a Brazilian drummer. Dirty Fingers is one of those bands you’d expect to be part of the ever expanding Beijing rock scene. In fact the town was abuzz of comments from their capital show last month at the infamous School Bar rock club. LiveBeijingMusic.com had glowing reviews of the show, calling it "Charged, relentless, and brimming with vitality, the Shanghai outfit were a breath of fresh air".
Dirty Fingers doesn’t just talk the talk, they get down to business playing literally over 40 shows in just a few month period. These guys are destined to get picked up by one of the main rock labels like Maybe Mars, Genjing, or D-Force Records. Although they look harmless, I’ve seen these kids tear up a mosh pit like a Tasmanian Devil on speed. Be prepared for a rowdy rock crowd at this Friday’s Yuyintang show.
Dirty Fingers – "Ska After Strong"
Finish your epic week of music with one of the most important metal shows to ever hit Shanghai, Zuriaake. The infamous Chinese atmospheric blackened metal band has remained one of the biggest mysteries in the Chinese scene for over 15 years. They have remained primarily a studio band and often get praised by the international metal community with positive reviews of their albums. I first became aware of Zuriaake just early this year when I was looking into a Metal Mystery that involved their label Pest 666. The band's work is nothing less than amazing and has appeal to not only metal fans but post–rock and shoegaze kids as well. While they are best known for their depressive appeal, the band often adds atmospheric elements and relies heavily on seasonal themes like autumn and winter. These nature-based metal albums really appeal to me, and production-wise the band is always on top of things, giving the best quality without sounding too polished.
Zuriaake released vinyl before any other bands in mainland China were doing so, and even their CDs today remain in high demand across the world’s metal community. It’s a combination of keyboard ambience with a guitar and vocal style that is directly influenced by Norwegian black metal that add to their international appeal. If you are in any way a fan of metal music then this Sunday On Stage show attendance is mandatory. Let’s check out a cut from the band's newest LP that just came out!
Zuriaake - "天庭"
In the words of King Crimson….
"The keeper of the city keys
Put shutters on the dreams
I wait outside the pilgrim's door
With insufficient schemes"