It’s been a banner year for music in Shanghai. What is it? 2012? Yeah man, we all killed it stone dead and machine gunned it’s riddled corpse into the ditch. That’s how hard we played this year.
Anyway, it’s over to you, men, women and the elderly of Shanghai’s music scene, to tell us what were your best moments of the year, the best live shows, the best DJ gank, the best drink deal horrendousness, best empty depressing music festivals. All of it. Give it up. We asked everyone. These are those who bothered to reply.
Big up to those who used this space to props the efforts of others. Big gay fail to all those who just bigged themselves up. But hey, we love you all, anyway. Over to you, Shanghai’s music wonks.
Zack Smith (Mahanadan; drummer for Friend or Foe; editor Layabozi, the blog covering the independent music scene in China):
My favorite gigs this year were the Boys Climbing Ropes farewell shows at Yuyintang, mainly because, after those, other bands were able to open up for out of town bands when they came to Shanghai. Jokes! No, really, they were a nice couple of nights for the scene because everybody got together (and I mean everybody) and paid tribute to friends on the way out. My band was able to play and cover one of our favorite BCR tracks. We made sure everyone knows what the temperature is IN SASKATOON.
Mache (Chief editor of Layabozi.com; she of wild hair and wilder temperament):
The Last Waltz of Boys Climbing Ropes, and The Fever Machine at Layabozi's fourth anniversary were my top favorites of 2012. I was part of the production of those two shows, so some people may say it’s not OK to choose them. But, regardless, those concerts were amazing and unforgettable.
Friendly Fires were awesome, too, though the sound was poor, as usual in Mao, but Friendly Fires did a great show. Also, Hedgehog had a great concert to release their album Sun Fun Gun.
Recently, Duck Fight Goose had an outstanding night at the concert of Psychic Ills and Chui Wan. And last week Heems, and specially Lakutis, at Booshkabash. Lakutis was impressive, it was too bad that there weren’t a lot of people there, but the show he did was BIG. Great music.
I think The Illumin8tors' rock opera deserves a special mention, too. They did a great job, the production was admirable, the music was sweet and the shows were fun.
Liam Gladman (DJ / producer and remixer; ¼ of Perfecto Playboys; musical director for Collective Concepts; proliferator of meaningless titulature):
On the rare occasions I got out in 2012 it would have to be to one of DJ Siesta’s Sweatshop events at The Shelter. Time machine in process and going back to my old school roots banging around from wall to wall until seven in the morning. On the other occasion I made it out, it was to Booka Shade at The Mixing Room. I seemed to make it back OK, so I would personally class that as a very good night.
Thomas Paninaro (DJ; Teutonic lifer whose dictionary does not contain the word “quit”):
I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many big-name concerts in Shanghai as I did in 2012. Maroon5, Roxette, Elton John, Jennifer Lopez – especially the latter was very impressive in terms of choreography, lights and sound. Keeping in mind that Elton John was just performing on the same stage the night before, kudos to the people who made it happen. I can only imagine, the task must have been colossal.
Still recalling years when the biggest star to visit our city was Kenny G, I really appreciate what’s on the plate now. We are finally on par with all those other cool cities, with the Dubais and the Hong Kongs and the Moscows of this planet. I just wish those concerts would last a bit longer with proper warm-up bands. And please ban those weird flashing plastic batons – oh wait, I actually like them.
Cool Bangladeshi indie bands and “the next big thing” underground minimal dubstep DJs from Reykjavik will be covered by other commentators on this page. DJ-wise this has been a rather sad year since my two favorite DJs, Dave Van Buuren and Roger Van Dyke, have left town without saying goodbye.
Elise Massoni (DJ; still the best reason to visit Bar Rouge):
My favorite night the year was definitely Justice at Bar Rouge. Not because I was the opening DJ, but because everything worked just perfectly. The sound system has been doubled, the size of the space increased with a part of the terrace covered, and obviously they played even better than I was expecting. From their hits, mostly remixed live, and their global set, I had so much fun that I felt like I was 16 years old again!
But I definitely have to write about the Juan Maclean, with his DJ set performance. He killed the dance floor at Shelter two months ago. I can't remember dancing so much in one night! It was a pure house mix kicked by oldies hits, and the atmosphere was unique.
Mentions: The Brandt Brauer Frick show at 390 and STD’s five-year anniversary at Arkham because I discovered Queen Sea Big Shark playing live, and Surkin & Strip Steve just broke the place.
Charlene Liu (Sometime Pride organizer; full-time engineer; prince among women):
There aren't that many female DJs in Shanghai so when I came across DJ Jacques's debut at the A Lot of Puxi all-girls party at 390, I was pleasantly surprised. DJ Jacques has a good mix of electronica and techno. She’s my kind of girl, I mean... in a musical sense. Some girls may not agree, but it was a nice change to overplayed commercial pop mixes. I hope to see more of her gigs in town. Oh, and did I mention how sexy she is?
Robin Blixt (DJ / producer; music director of Bar Rouge; owner of Shanghai DJ School):
There were a lot of DJs in Shanghai this year. Big. Small. Fat. Tall. DJs with boats. DJs with spaceships. And some who actually play music. I missed out on much while turning knobs myself but here goes, the shows:
Troy Pierce at Lola. This was during their anniversary weekend, I think: new sounds, fancier and dancier dance floor, sexy lights and excited party peeps. And minimal techno legend Troy Pierce on the decks taking us all on a musical journey getting lost far into the morning hours.
Afrojack at G+. I’m a big fan of his productions. That night the dirty dutch ambassador managed to turn G+ into a real festival experience. I had intense neck-pain the days after from head banging, similar to the days when I wore black everything, smelled funky and went crazy to Motörhead shows and other metal-stuff.
Justice at Bar Rouge, last, not least, but most recently. The Justice boys blasted off our roof at Bar Rouge with filthy electro in a doomsday manner. We rented their concert sound set-up for the show and… wow. I’m still trying to put my distorted inner body parts back into the right places due to all the bass. It was a war! What a night...
Michael Ohlsson (Boss guy of Antidote and Dada; abandoner of Shanghai; Beijing turncoat):
Boys Climbing Ropes’ last show at Yuyintang wins for me. It was the end of an era for the local music scene. It went on for two nights, and all the other bands played cover versions of BCR's songs.
For electronic music, Ceephax Acid's live set at VOID in the Shelter was insanely awesome, and The Bug's King Midas Sound along with B6 doing a "secret" set was sublime perfection.
My favorite nights I produced were with Caliph-8, we did five gigs in two cities and his sets were all completely different and fascinating. He'll definitely be back in 2013.
For local talents, I think Downstate deserves the Shanghai Grammy. His live sets and new productions just get better and better.
Ned Kelly (Managing goon That’s Shanghai; UK reprobate; single-handedly letting the side down for all of us):
Whatever night the above photo of my pal Laura (Ingalls, one half of the Acid Ponies) was taken. I’ll fess up and admit I wasn’t actually at this event, wherever and whenever it was. The photo just kind of surreptitiously fell into my lap, all the way from heaven probably.
The point is, I didn’t need to be there: just take one look at his face. It reminds me of what Jimi Hendrix said of the song Manic Depression, that it is “a story about a cat wishing he could make love to music, instead of the same old everyday woman." I think old Laura is fucking the turntable down there, I really do.
So that WAS the best night of the year, of this there can be no doubt. For Laura (for obvious reasons) and for me just knowing that it happened.
Laura Ingalls (Producer/DJ/sound tech geezer; loveable Frenchman; fucker of turntables, but primarily a Pony):
I spent the best part of 2012 with this little gem stuck in my head: “Hey, I just met you, this is crazy, here's my number, so call me maybe.”
Besides that, it was a great year, lots of international guests flying in, people finally finding out about Uffie, playing live sets to very responsive crowds, expanding the Pony family, stuffing my face with Strictly Cookies and giving up on the worse addiction of them all — canned Coca Cola that tastes like sugar syrup and aluminum.
Maybe 2012 will be remembered as the year when everybody else found out about house music, the dirty deep kind. I shall remember it as the year when Carly Jae Rancid or whatever the fuck her name is, raped my ears with Auto-tune.
Archie Hamilton (Tour promoter; Split Works head cheese; not into the whole brevity thing):
Gonna have to highlight a Split Works show again, sounds horrible I know, but one of our shows in particular melted my mind in 2012. Interestingly, I was dead cold sober, which would usually take a little from something like this. In any case, the show in question was the Devil Music Ensemble, way back on the last JUE weekend in March of this year.
I'd been working on this show for two years. Four Boston-based punk rockers had managed to get their hands on an original 1929 Chinese silent film, a "wuxia" classic by the name of the Red Heroine. They had composed a score for the 90-minute epic, and had approached me for JUE 2010. Sadly, we couldn't make it financially, but we set on trying to get funding, which eventually transpired through the Mid Atlantic Arts Funding body.
They played with a full live set up: an expansive drum kit and hundreds of instruments, including a pipa and an erdu. Sennheiser kindly came in and provided sound, and Art Labor came through with the Shanghai venue. It really was a massive team effort.
The guys arrived and not only did we have the JUE x DME shows, but they had also self-organized a crazy tour for the punk duo Berbere Superstar that two of them do together.
The Devil Music show happened towards the end of JUE - we were all super tired, and it was (to be honest) a really disappointing turnout (25 or so). We were all feeling a bit deflated until the Acid Pony boys stepped up with their musical score built uniquely for the Swedish horror film The Phantom Carriage. It was really an amazing thing - those guys are so creative.
Then the Devil boys stepped up. Seated behind a smorgasbord of instruments, the film started. It was a digital reproduction of the original and it was slightly offset, with all the flickering you'd expect from an old film. When the music kicked in, I got that euphoric shivering sensation. It was a truly special hour and a half, and incredible that in some ways the Americans are doing more to preserve Chinese culture than the Chinese themselves.
Honorable mentions: Smith Street Band at Live Bar, Inspector Cluzo at Yuyintang, Kode 9 dropping Xingfu Lu at the Sub Culture's 5th anniversary, Fence Collective in Kashgar, The Tree at the Wooozy Sessions, the Planets at the Wooozy Sessions.
Kat Velayo (Nightlife Editor, City Weekend; long-suffering celebrator of expat living):
My favorite event, almost by default, was the Pains of Being Pure at Heart show in February. It was the first show I'd been to after moving to Shanghai less than a month before. I was so starved for live music at that point that every little thing was amplified. It honestly felt like coming home.
Another thing worth mentioning, and I'm probably going to get poo thrown at me for saying this, is that it was great to see Skrillex come out like the big ol' rock star that he is. It's rare to see a big DJ really enjoy himself at the podium, and not wear that I'm-a-cool-DJ face. The energy in the crowd was stratospheric. And that same night I got to hear the Juan MacLean play a remix of Dreams by The Corrs. Whaaat? That was a good night.
John Jam Session (Singer and music producer; founder of John Jam Session Prod):
Beside my shows and crazy jams, my favorite event this year was the huge Fete de la Musique, 3rd Edition, not only because I'm the co-organizer and co-producer but also for the concept, which allows professional artists and beginners to perform on the same stages, and entry is free for everyone. This year during three days of music attracted more than 50,000 people to exhibitions, indoor and outdoor concerts including shows from the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, the 800 Show with Monkey Shine, the Plasticines and AM444,Tony Hall, the Acid Ponies, DJ Kodama and DJ Jacob Unverzagt at Shiva, Fever Machine at Daning and the official closing party, the Big Jam Session at MAO Livehouse.
Toshi Punk (Punk; Punk punk punk punk punk; musician with Beat Bandits, The Instigation, The Macaronians, probably more; former promoter for Trash A Go Go; punk; punk punk punk punk):
Thee Mighty Fevers at YYT on September 15. One of my favorite bands who blasted it. I mentioned them on this best events story last year. I brought them again this year and yeah, it was a fucking awesome crazy punk rock’n’roll night. They played really energetically and drove people crazy. One of the best modern garage / raw punk bands from Japan. They will release their LP on Deadbeat Records in US soon. It’s a massive 13 tracks. All of you should check it out.
Then there was Thee Oops at YYT on November 3. They are one of my favorite hardcore punk bands from Italy. Unfortunately, it was raining that day and there were not so many people at the show, but they played sooooo tight and powerful. It was like being hammered by their sound impulses. Super tight and sharp as a huge bear attacking you.
They played 25 songs, each less than a minute long, all in about 35 minutes and it was like a blast. It blew my mind totally away.
Heatwolves (Promoter of Love Bang and more; tea enthusiast; China traveler; flagrant corruptor of the English language; stand-up guy):
My best memory of 2012 was the Charmallow Party at tha Chocolate Castle. All my favorite snacks were there. The DJ (DJ Roy) come from Hollywood but he sucked cause he wouldn’t play Mercy. Say it not house tempo. I stole some rices and talking to many moels. Some is bitch but still pretty. I walked home in the rain with beautiful girl and street cat (SIAMeSe). Both is now live in my house.
I stole some rices and talking to many models
Shanghai Ultra (Promoter of VOID; football reporter for AFP; militant attack dog for all things underground):
There were so many exciting things going on musically in Shanghai, it's hard to single any one thing out. VOID kinda has this reputation for being extreme underground types who put horses heads in the beds of DJs who can't beat match. But we aren't that extreme… Chicken feet are easier to get hold of.
The truth is we just feed off the amazing buzz in this city, generated by the passion of so many promoters and players in the scene. I think Shanghai is totally spoiled for cool music in so many ways. Jane Siesta has been bringing the cream of DnB here for a very long time and flying the flag for the style tirelessly. Gaz and Gary at Shelter just celebrated five years of running the club — five years of putting on parties that just wouldn't have happened in Shanghai otherwise (2562 on a Thursday? One of my favorites this year). Tzu Sing has been a breath of fresh air for the underground scene, bringing passion and vision along with partner in crime VJ Olive Pixel. Will 2013 be the year of the VJ? It's a growing art in SH, have you seen what Tina Sprinkles and her crew do? The Ponies have had a great year, moving into live shows with proper gear and boxes, you can't see guys doing that just anywhere.
There's also guys dedicated to the art of the party itself, Magic Garden are long-standing. Heatwolves takes the time to keep up a pretty entertaining blog on the SH scene when he's not Lovebanging. In the same vein, R3 is taking STD to the next level with Arkham. Antidote are always in the mix one way or another. Ben Huang is back with Yellow.
Also don't forget Tom Hughes and Greg Charlton at Shanghai 247. We also saw local talent get international recognition with Void's MHP getting a release on a Detroit techno label.
That said, I have to follow my heart. This year VOID did two parties that were yin and yang. The bringer of yin happiness and light, Ceephax Acid, was surely one of the best parties seen in Shelter of any year, and the dark yang black techno war funk of Ancient Methods. Anyone who can get a Chinese girl to say: "Hey can you hold my drink for me, I wanna dance?" when industrial funky techno is thundering over the sound system really must have something special. Take your pick, either one of those were the highlight for me this year.
Tzu Sing (Promoter of Stockholm Syndrome; mercifully into the whole brevity thing):
Bands: Chui Wan and Psychic Ills.
Live Set: Ancient Methods. It was so hard and industrial and people loved it. A long-time hero for me, so I was in fan boy mode. Ceephax Acid Crew, Tom Downstate.
DJs: Objekt at Sub-Culture. The Bug and Daddy Freddy, also at Sub-Culture. Probably best night of the year for me. Music was on point, MC was amazing and the crowd totally lost it. Scratcha DVA and Sacco playing ’80s at dada
Dance: Hamacide danceathon all night at Hollow Point. Mosh pit at the Bug.
Xiao Zhong (Drummer for Pairs; shadowy recluse; despiser of the limelight; despiser of most things):
Easily the best show of the year was The Smith Street Band at Live Bar. Awesome vibe. The guys played awesome. I got to write their set list and made them play Fuck Me and Call Me Jim Lawrie. I fan boy'd out hard at the front, singing every word with some expat high school kids.
After that was Secret Knives at the shithole that is Lune. Despite Lune's best efforts, the show sounded great and people had a great time. Personally, at the time of that show I was real tired of the Shanghai world and always seeing the same faces, but this show had a special feel to it and made things exciting again for me.
Lastly, Kikuyu at Studio Timeless. It was a free afternoon show in the Studio Timeless garden with free beer, chopping board keyboard stand, vocal loops, karaoke amp and 800rmb worth of BBQ. Sez fanged it hard and heaps of good shit happened. It's these three shows that make me look back at 2012 as a real fun year.
Mattia Visconti (Promoter of Pervert, Flower Power, I Love 80s; founder MVP Shanghai; Let’s sexy!):
After being in Ibiza (Spain, not Jiangning Lu) at Ushuaïa where Luciano was playing, I think he’s the best DJ at the moment. You should go to check on YouTube how crazy it was. It's a kind of difficult to find something like this in Shanghai. So I need to switch on something completely different: I really enjoyed the JZ Festival at the Expo site — good quality music and many choices in term of style because it was not just about jazz music but you could also listen to DJs, blues, some hip-hop. Every 50 meters there was something different happening, including some international guests like the Incognito.
Conrank (DJ/producer and Co-CEO of Rankadank Records; CTRL Sound Studios; shut-up-wot-geezer-NO!):
Looking back, my favorite gig has to be Kode9 at the Shelter. I didn't get to catch him last year, and this year I only got the last hour, but it was intense... Full club and great vibe. Big-up Sub-Culture for bringing him though.
Reggie STD (DJ/promoter of STD events; natty dresser; tireless flag waver for cat Aids):
Can I be biassed and say STD’s Halloween / five-year anniversary party? It was just a fucking riot that eventually resulted in a new underground club opening in Shanghai. The costumes, the crowd, the DJs, the band, the venue, the air (or lack of), five years of S.T.D., all of it rolled up into one of the best nights I've ever had in Shanghai.
Other stuff: probably Mono at Mao. They are just on another level of quality. Most stuff that comes to Shanghai just doesn't compare.
DJ B.O (Shanghai's #2 DJ; honorary Mongol tribesman):
I defy anyone who stayed for the climax of The Last Waltz the final Boys Climbing Ropes show, to name any other event as the best of the year. It was epic and pure and bright. Boys Climbing Ropes had long been held as a Shanghai institution for all the right reasons: they were good, consistently, and magnanimous about it, too. I could point to many tiny joys throughout the year in Shanghai music, but this was just a tidal wave of big, juicy stuff. There was comedy (Stego?), surprises (Moon Tyrant), sadness (palpable from BCR tuning up to winding down), and joy (da big proposal). Hands down, move on.
DJ Spenny (Shanghai's No.1 DJ; M1NT resident; City Weekend columnist; one small step backwards for mankind):
My favorite event of the year was not a DJ show, or a clubbing night, but a spectacular performance by Kobe Bryant. And no, not on the basketball court. I don't normally like to dish out accolades to fellow players in the game, but I felt Kobe's picking up hot girls performance at Horizen a few months ago was just too noteworthy to be missed. Talk about killing it! After arriving at Horizen with a small entourage, he booked out the VIP, and began the show. The girls were literally falling over themselves to sit next to him, he talked to them two at time, until he'd decided which 10 (from the 50 who were waiting) were worthy of coming back to his hotel. A stellar performance, no doubt, and a real inspiration for my pick-up skills!
Tony Aparisi (DJ Teasy; Lola resident and music director; excellent dude):
Since I’m at Lola all the time, my favorite gig has to be there. We had many great DJs over this year but if I have to chose a night it would have to be Christian Prommer and DJ Hell. For a club our size it's pretty rare to host two DJs like this on the same night. The result was amazing, the place was packed and everyone had a blast. Christian Prommer’s set was full of his signature jazzy techno, and it was the perfect warm up for DJ Hell. I wasn't sure of what to expect from Hell and he didn't disappoint me at all. Perfect combination of house and techno from these days, mixed in with a few classics. A night to remember.
Tyler Bowa (Co-owner of Factory Five; drummer in Spill Your Guts):
Best Show #1: Lamb of God at Mao Livehouse, February 14. Beards, leather cuts and fucking heavy music. Lamb of God put on the hands-down best live show in Shanghai during 2012. Sure, it was a bit on the expensive side, but when a band is willing to bring their own gear, sound rig, lighting rig, backdrop LED screens and complete roadie team then you know it's going to be good. I have never seen (and probably never will again) so many Chinese fans being able to scream lyrics to any band, word for word. Mosh pits, stage dives and a metal / hardcore scene finally united under one room. I went in fully clothed and left in a pair of ripped pants with one shoe. Incredible.
Best Show #2: CDC & Architects at YYT, September 7. Thrash, mosh, smash, kill, stage dive, hardcore. This was the craziest show I have ever seen at Yuyintang in all the four years I've been hitting up shows there. The venue was packed, the moshpit went up the stairs, and all the bands played until they collapsed on the floor. I couldn't have asked for a better show anywhere in the world, and was lucky enough to have seen this one right here in Shanghai. Here's hoping for shows this good in 2013.
Nate Mallon (Cable Jockey; Booshkabaash bro, bro):
Two great singers, Cherry and Dana with Theo Croker's Afrosonic at JZ Festival. The band with so many great musicians — EJ Parker, Robert Turner, the Curtis Mayfield scat guitar riffs — was right and sounded tight.
Worst Show. Because I was a part of it, I can mention it, but Trex Mallon and the Poor Boy Sonnie G, could have been perhaps the worst show I ever saw in China. It was awful.
Jake Newby (Editor, Time Out Shanghai):
My favorite shows this year were the two Boys Climbing Ropes farewell gigs at Yuyintang. It was a great line-up with most of the city's best bands playing and, of course, BCR were on top form for both of their sets. It was sweaty, loud and emotional.
DJ Kodama (DJ / Promoter for Magic Garden; purveyor of psychedelicatessen, space kadet, keeper of the Goa trance flame):
My wedding night. Totally got some. Then there was Booka Shade at The Mixing Room. Didn't know much about them and wasn't expecting much from the venue, ended up being a wicked night: cool vibe, lots of dancing and great music. Even reminded me a little of Europe. Also discovered Tom Pooks who played before them, choonky choonage, liked that a lot.
Saw this two-man show called Party Horse at a Ducati Event at Bund 3, crazy MGMT elektro pop-rock stylings in outrageous outfits. Great fun. Then the Magic Garden 10 Year Anniversary with Shane Gobi (#plug). Shit was off the hook, and Shane has been my idol since for goddamn ever, so finally bringing him out was the highlight of my promoting/DJing career.
Mau Mau (DJ / Promoter for The Ice Cream Truck; ugly sweater aficionado):
Out of TICT’s events, Conrank and Sal blew me away with their Konsoul set on the beach. I’ve always had a soft spot for dance music that sampled Indian instruments, so to see it performed live and with so much passion was awesome.
Besides that, both my favorite performances of 2012 were in November. First was Kode9 – he’s come before, but it was the first opportunity I’ve had to catch him at the Shelter. The amount of different styles and tempos of bass music he wove into one set was incredible.
Two weeks later, Brandt Brauer Frick played a live set at 390. The German trio had amazing energy onstage and their strange bouncing techno had everyone in the room losing their shit. Big up to Sub-Culture and Ding Dong Disco for those nights.
The Uhhh (DJ / Creative Director for The Ice Cream Truck; chisel-jawed devastator of hearts):
So many big names came through this year, it’s tough to choose: J.Lo, Sir Elton, Sir Skrillex... Grammies man, Grammies.
My favorite act probably would’ve been the Hercules & Love Affair show that never happened. But a couple of memorable TICT nights were Round Table Knights and Doctor Dru, who both left Lola dripping... Our Halloween party with Savage Skulls was insane. The costumes keep getting more and more ridiculous each year. Awesome.
STD, Ding Dong, Love Bang all had stellar years.
Non music-related, the 420 stoner menu at Munchies that Marc Johnson put together was probably the coolest event for me this year... Unfortunately we had our own 420 celebration that night, so I couldn’t even make it. Shanghai definitely needs more of these events though, and hopefully will soon...
DJ Cavia (Scratch DJ; battle champ; former China DMC Champion; current otaku):
My pick of best DJ show this year goes to Qbert, the No.1 scratch DJ in the world, who played Maya on Huaihai Lu. He scratched for one-and-a-half-hours non-stop with hip-hop, trap, electro and dubstep. Mad skills. You can only tell if you were there. He was doing all the techniques that only he can do. Before the show, he was a little bit worried about if his new music would fit the Chinese crowd. But the fact is, people were crazy about it. Also, I'm really happy that a lot of Chinese kids came to see him.
And the best live show for me was The Bug & Daddy Freddy at Shelter. Really raw and violent. It was the most memorable night for me this year. Shout out to Sub-Culture who brought them here.
Ben Huang (China’s originator techno DJ; Yellow party promoter; unreasonably good dude):
The best show for me was the last Yellow with Thoma Cher and all the musicians that played with him, and the Brandt Brauer Frick live show at 390.
DJ Razor (Spacecadet at DingDongDisco; unreasonably good dude):
2012 was the year when the world was supposed to end, the year of the dragon, the year of the summer of love and it’s almost done. It was a very busy year for me and it's hard to be objective because most of the time I was working when the other shows were on, so here my picks from what I saw:
Best live show: Brandt Brauer Frick at 390.
Best import DJ: Daniel Wang at Lune.
Best Shanghai DJ: Santo Chino.
DJ Santo Chino (DDD DJ; food writer of gravitas and substance):
I liked Daniel Wang at Lune and Brandt Brauer Frick at 390 this year.
Wang was over the top camp. But it's hard not to smile and dance and feel gay when a petite Taiwanese American guy in suspenders is playing the air saxophone to his dollar-bin ’80s records, or doing The Wave. Fifteen minutes into his set, I saw Tzu Sing sexing up a speaker. The rest of the crowd was just as great.
Brandt Brauer Frick were pure energy. Adding a live drummer to two techno knob twiddlers is really more than the sum of its parts. The drummer just bashed it out and while everyone was following his lead. The twiddlers kept building the synths and the atmosphere. For three classical music nerds in formal dinnerware, they know how to make a party. Someone in Shanghai should be trying this. Who knows, maybe they are. I hope they are. Are they?
And a bit more biased: I've had some of my best nights playing or being at Craft this year. I don't know where you people come from, but damn the crowd can be awesome, open-minded and funky. Arjen doesn't get enough credit for the crowd he's built around his great taste in disco and house-isms at the place. I'd say it kind of transcends this all-or-nothing “underground” myth, which is a really encouraging step forward for Shanghai.
Gary Wang (DJ V-Nutz; Partner at the Shelter):
The show of the year for me was the Sound of the Police, Cut Chemist’s show at the Shelter. In an hour-long live show, Nigeria's Afrobeat, Ethiojazz, Brazillian beats and old school soul rhythms were all mixed in live using one turntable, one mixer and one foot pedal, Cut Chemist did an incredible live set with a very unique style and worked the crowd very well. I have seen his live set a couple of times before, but this was on a totally different level, not just his awesome collection of music but also that it was a completely vinyl set, so much style, culture, skills and knowledge were all in one live show, it felt so rich and satisfied.
Jane Siesta (Sweatshop promoter; Wonky Kong promoter; Phreak; bouncy fixture on the Shanghai nightlife scene):
The most memorable event I went to this year would have to be, hands down, Sub-Culture's Scratcha DVA party. Hyperdub skankin' the bass to the max. Was crazy good. Without sounding too full of myself, I'd like to chalk up my own birthday party Siesta Loca as something of a beautiful memory. Not only that my close friends and Phreaktion family were all under the roof, I brought over one of the DJs who played for me 13 years ago when he was only 19: DJ Kontra. Together we played our favorite DnB tunes circa 1999-2002, all on vinyl... I play mostly CDs these days and to play an all-vinyl set gave me immense pleasure.
Lastly, we just wrapped up this year with Caspa and Dynamite MC last weekend and it was hot and heavy! So good to see there's a dedicated bass scene in Shanghai and we can't wait for more next year.
William Childress (Architect by day, standup comic with Kung Fu Komedy by night; co-host of the Bottleopener Podcast):
In the early hours of November 11, a crowd gathered at BeeDee’s Music Bar on Dagu Lu to pay tribute to its former proprietor and patron saint of jam nights in Shanghai, Jeff Davis. Jeff had recently fallen extremely ill with ALS and was in the ICU ward of a hospital in San Francisco. As he watched live over Skype, dozens of musicians who had been aided by his patronage played until the morning sun peeked through the clouds. There was something palpable in the air – unlike anything I had ever experienced – as the bands sent their love and energy across the globe.
The most touching performance of the night was Tom Pang’s otherworldly throat singing, accompanied by his skilled hand on the mandolin. In a rare moment where it was not cliched to say so, there was not a dry eye in the house. But it wasn't all tears as people bonded over shared stories of how Jeff had touched their lives. I've never picked up a guitar, but Jeff provided a place for KFK's early open mics and for that I'll be eternally grateful. He helped us find a voice, as he'd done for so many others in Shanghai.
Jeff held on after that night, far longer than doctors told him he would, but finally succumbed to the disease and passed away just days ago. He's playing in the great gig in the sky now, and I know it's gotta be one damned fine show.
Charp (DJ and promoter of Holly Sh*t):
I choose Ivan Smagghe at the Shelter. It was one of the best DJ performances I have seen this year. This guy is a technical master. He’s got a huge musical selection and you could feel his experience. He kept me on the dance floor until the end of the night. Big up to DDD crew for this booking.
Then I want to mention Chris Carrier at Lola few months back. I have been following his production work for a few years already, but I had never had the chance to see him perform before, so I was exited to see him play and he made an impression. A really good performance. Thanks to Lola’s sound system; it really helps the vibe.
Dylan Byrne (Tattoo Artist Herder at Shanghai Tattoo):
This year I discovered the joys of finding my rut and sticking to it. I went to the same music nights again and again. Southern Belle Wednesday and Saturday nights for some bluegrass. I went to see Spill Your Guts (the best new band in Shanghai) in YYT a couple of times, JZ to see ChaCha sing once, too. Checked out some Uprooted Sunshine gigs. They've gotten amazing over the years. Other than that I tried my best to avoid all new things and scenes. But I did finally make the trip over to Japan for the Fuji Rock festival. I think we should all just do that from now on, no need to foster a local scene. Let's all just go to Fuji Rock instead.
Gaz Williams (DJ Drunk Monk; Shelter partner; Sub-Culture / Uprooted honcho):
Pretty hard to choose the best acts I saw in Shanghai this year. A lot of good artists came through, but I think I am going to go with The Bug and Daddy Freddy and Ceephax Acid Crew. The energy and intensity at The Bug was just incredible, it’s the first time I’ve seen a proper mosh pit break out at The Shelter. Ceephax was just mind-blowing. Full on, 100% analogue live acid set, definitely one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time.
Sacco (MP3 Monday columnist; Dream Catcher of Uptown Records, 390 Bar, Shanghai Studio and gay sauna Studio2006):
Best Live Show: Boys Climbing Ropes going away show. It had everything: Love (Morgan Short's wedding proposal). Loss (Yuyintang running out of all alcohol products). And Pain (when I tore my scrotum pissing in the bushes).
Best DJ Gig: hands down any of the Stockholm Syndrome parties, or basically anything from the Taiwanese pop star in training Tzu Sing. Also anything from the Discosmic Adventure dudes, they kill it.
Shin Honda (Senior manager of MAO Livehouse):
My favorite show was Lamb of God at MAO Livehouse. Very nice act. They played on Happy Valentine’s Day. It was a very nice gift to Shanghai. We love you Lamb of God.
Retro Kam (Press dude person at Muse):
Carl Cox on August 3 at M2. What a mind-blowing night. Carl's performance at M2 was nothing like before, an epic night that party animals will remember for a long time.
Far East Movement at Muse on November 1 and M2 on the November 6 were also great. The crowd went crazy for Far Ease Movement when they performed the hit single Like A G6. The live performance by this chart-topping Asian band had the whole club screaming for an encore.
Steven Lorenz (Intransikbeats and Sub-Culture DJ; deep dubstep and techno producer; promoter of Bassment at The Shelter):
My favourite event of 2012 in Shanghai was for sure a Sub-Culture at The Shelter. The Bug & Daddy Freddy was insane, Kode9 was just crazy and Pinch was just so nice.
Any time Kode9 and Pinch come to play at The Shelter I just love the atmosphere, all the Sub-Culture crew and the crowed usually expects some massive bangers.
When I hear them play, it’s just another level. Pinch and Kode9 sets are really progressive and impressive. They both know when to drop the right banger at the right time.
Those nights will be engraved into my memories for a long time. The people and the performances by the artists were just amazing.
Charlie Didjelirium (Motion-designer; Chameleon; bard; prophet?):
The Bug and Daddy Freddy came down to The Shelter and it was mind-blowing. Daddy Freddy has been an impressive musical figure for me for a long time and seeing him live only strengthened that impression. That man is mad. Genuinely, genially mad, and his show was both a physical and mental experience.
That said, I’m really looking forward to seeing the end of the world in Shanghai. I don't know which DJ or band has been booked but I'm quite certain it's gonna be an incredible show. We'll see the reaction on the SmSh forum if anyone lives to tell... *facepalm.*
Rob Jameson (Sometimes DJ / Promoter; Manager or some such thing at Maya):
Respect, five years is a long time and as always my favorite shows were at Shelter, every time. My favorite all-round performance was Ceephax Acid Crew whom the VOID crew brought. It was like watching Mr Bean play a live acid set – awesome. AM444’s launch of their new album was great and hearing Jay’s instrumentals and ChaCha’s voice live was mesmerizing.
Technically, last weekend I though Objekt’s techno set at Sub-Culture was very sound. His second hour in particular was impressive. Finally, I appreciated Natasha Diggs’ set and the very cool ’70s-’90s rare groove 45s she brought all the way from New York City. The Shelter, here’s to another five years.
Rob Wallace (Co-founder PX Productions; guitarist of Scary Magic):
Compared to the last two years, thinking back on 2012 does not bring back many memories of amazing foreign acts coming through Shanghai (sneaking into Skrillex wasn't really worth it). However, as a musician in this city there were a few nights I won't forget.
Death to Ponies’ first show at YYT was epic. Nichols, as the only one playing a stringed instrument, must make his bass double as a guitar and he does this with ease. The harrowing death screams Ivon produces while banging on the drums are hard to match as well. To see these two match up with Clem and Laura of Acid Pony Club and make some funky, insane acid rage jazz was very refreshing.
Out of all the shows though, one night really stands out as the most meaningful. Jeff Davis is a Californian dude who started the bar BeeDee's. His bar was a Mecca for some of the best musicians in the city and you could always count on quality talent to be there every Tuesday and Thursday night for the jam sessions. On November 10, over 100 people crammed into his former bar, played music, and Skyped Jeff from his hospital bed. Anyone there will tell you it was an extremely emotional evening as people from all over gathered to pay their respects to the man who had brought so many of them together. Thanks to Jeff's hard work, the music community in Shanghai is much stronger and it was moving to see the people come out and show their appreciation for what he had done.
Nichols (Bassist, Rainbow Danger Club, Death to Giants):
My favorite local show of 2012 was Boys Climbing Ropes’ Last Waltz. But I imagine a ton of people have already gone on about that, so I'll tell you about my second favorite show of the year, the Mongolian Arts and Culture Festival at Yuyintang. DJ B.O organized a great lineup and fronted his own money to bring traditional duo Guren from their native Mongolia as well as an incredible band from Inner Mongolia called Ajinai. My band Death to Giants had the honor of performing an improvised set with Guren, which included a horse-head fiddler and a throat singer. We played really well and the crowd was electric! After the show, all the performers and a good number of the audience were upstairs doing shots of Mongolian vodka. Everyone made new friends that night and it was one of the best times of my life.
Phew... Thanks for all those who took part. Apologies for all the important people who we forgot to ask. Feel free to lambast us in the comments section below.
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