The Agenda takes a sweeping look at the next month in Shanghai and selects the big events in the respective categories of dining, music, art, and more, more, more. Here’s your socio-culture calendar for the next month in Shanghai.
September. Still hot. Lots to do. Art stuff. Drama. Always lots of drama. Eat a hot dog. You know...
The first of a slew of huge live shows takes place later this month, when Maroon 5 play Mercedes-Benz Arena on September 25. That’s one of the biggest shows of the year, alongside Elton John, who plays the arena a month later. There’s more pop this month on September 22 when Sarah Connor plays the Yunfeng Theatre. She’s a big noise on the German chart scene and a TV host and stuff. But our pick is New Pants, who play MAO Livehouse on September 14.
New Pants have been around for more than 15 years and they’re celebrated as one of the most successful indie acts in China. They played Coachella in the States last year. They do synth-heavy indie rock with '80s influences. The performers and the shows have an art-school aesthetic: costumes, big projections. This show is something of a retrospective. They’re offering up 20 tracks from the length of their catalogue. Tickets are 150rmb in advance, 180rmb on the door, or there are a few VIP tickets for 380rmb, but they’ll all probably be gobbled up by cooler-than-you Chinese kids.
And also… Haven’t had much Japanese garage since Trash-A-Go-Go went south last year, so welcome back to the Frantic Fevers, who were known simply as The Fevers when they last played Shanghai in 2011. Formed in Kobe in 2010, The Fevers make three-chord garage punk that owes debts to The Ramones and the early New York punk sounds of the late '70s. Fast tempo, hints of surf rock, angry vocals, leather jackets and sunglasses. It’s simple, infectious, fun punk rock at about 250 BPM. Perfect live show fodder. At welcome back to the YYT mid-month with support from The Macaonians, Round Eye and DJ Snaff O'Hara. 50rmb. OK? All right!
Blue Lane Productions has gone all existential with its current offering, Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit, which opened on Friday over at south Bund's Strictly Designers space. Exploring the idea that Hell really is other people, three damned souls torment, bully and mock as they face up to an eternity together chez Satan. Director Michael Beets has gone all out on this one, creating back stories and films for each character – have a nose round the No Exit site before seeing the play, full details of which can be found right here.
And also… There's more drama to come, as the Tony-winning Someone Who'll Watch over Me takes over the Strictly Designers space from September 22. Written by Frank McGuiness, it focuses on three hostages held in Lebanon by unseen forces, their personal demons and, excruciating decline into insanity... It's powerful stuff, set to star regulars of the Shanghai stage Jim Bennett, Mustaq Missouri and Paul Johnson.
And also… China-wide festival of British culture UK Now continues apace, with award-winning troupe Rambert Dance Company pirouetting their way into the Shanghai Oriental Art Center on September 9. The group was founded way back in 1926, taking inspiration from Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Fast-forward to the Shanghai show, the program part pays homage to Nijinsky's iconic L'Après-Midi d'un Faune, including a new work commissioned ahead of the London Olympics. Fun fact: Rambert is the only UK-based contemporary dance company to tour with its own orchestra… Should be pretty special.
September celebrates the convergence of two time-honored American traditions: over-eating and over-competitiveness. We begin with Yongkang cyclist haven Handle Bar and its hotdog eating contest The Brawl in the Bun. See what they did there? It works like this: You've got 10 minutes to gobble down as many nitrate sticks as your fragile mortal frame can handle. Prizes are as yet to be determined. But who are we kidding? You're not wantonly abusing your body for prizes. You're doing it for immortality. Literally. All of that sodium nitrate will probably preserve you for posterity. That and charity, of course. All of the money raised that day will go to BEAN. It happens this Saturday (September 8). If you're interested in competing, you can click on our Wire post for all of the details you need.
The following Saturday (September 15), barbecue institution and practitioner of burger torture Bubba's hosts its Seventh Annual Chili Cook-Off. This year marks a turning point for the competition as it’s officially recognized as a "Super Regional Competition" by CASI. That's the Chili Appreciation Society International. And yes, that really exists, though it appears they put up their website back in 1996 and just ran with it. Anyway, that's apparently quite an endorsement in the rarefied world of competitive chili cooking as these guys oversee the world-famous Terlingua International Chili Championship. That's like the World Cup for chili makers. Bubba's Chili Cook-Off has finally arrived. Kudos to them.
If you and a crew of fellow chili aficionados are interested in competing, there are still spaces available. Owner Ken Walker tells us they'll even take entrants as late as the day before. If chili is nothing but a spectator sport to you, though, admission is 100rmb. This gets you live blue grass music, chili samples (while they last) and deals on beer and barbecue. For more details click here.
And also... Yongfu tapas bar and restaurant Bocado turned one year young over the weekend, and to celebrate they've got a nice little drinks deal going. Every night, from 5pm to close, beers, cocktails, wines (by the glass and by the bottle) and sangria pitchers are all two for the price of one. Head on over, get a nice buzz going and be sure to tell them happy birthday.
And also also... Eduardo Vargas has kicked off a weekly guest chef series at Azul. Every Sunday evening he's giving someone else free reign of his kitchen for dinner. To start, the task goes to Gabriel Fernandez, whose name you might recognize from her work at Mi Tierra and Maya. For the next seven weeks she'll be exploring the culinary landscape of Mexico, hitting up its various regional cuisines. We checked it out last night when she was showcasing the food of Puebla and walked out pretty satisfied; 250rmb gets you three share plates of starters, a couple of mains and a sampling of desserts. They also throw in a glass of Sangria, a bottle of Corona or a margarita laced with chili pepper. Not a bad way to end the weekend.
Things are ramping up again after the summer hiatus. This week there are two solid electronic shows with James Murphy at the MegaRave and Ancient Methods on Saturday, live at Shelter for VOID. Sacco covered both of those this morning in his MP3 Monday so we’ll cast our eyes further forward in time.
Next week, Ibiza has two excellent bookings: Zombie Nation on September 13 Umek two days later. Zombie Nation is another progeny of the German techno scene. He blew up in the early 2000s when he turned the theme music to the 1984 Commodore 64 game Lazy Jones into the dancefloor smasher Kernkraft 400. DJ Hell put it out on his International DeeJay Gigolo imprint and it charted around the world. It reached number 2 in the UK singles chart. Hear the track and you’ll be amazed. It’s a piece of spazzy rave with the word “Zombie” chanted over and over again. How did thing like this get to the top of the charts?
Zombie Nation has remained a cult / joke figure in European techno. He’s down with Tiga and Erol Alkan, Housemeister and Headman. This is billed as a DJ show, but he usually plays with a sampler and a sequencer and creates live mixes of his tracks during the set. That might happen, or it might not. That’s 100rmb, which includes a drink. Should be a solid, silly night of ravey electronica.
Two days later it’s Umek, the Slovanian DJ who defines that nation’s proud club heritage. Slovenia’s club scene punches above its weight, mainly because of this guy. He’s released dozens of EPs and even made his way to number 29 in that crappy DJ mag top 100 poll. Not bad for someone who plays and releases hard, serious, Detroit-influenced techno.
His productions sound a lot like Jeff Mills, which is no bad thing. His mixing is flawless and he sometimes goes at it on four decks. The Umek gig is a little more pricey: 250rmb on the door or 150rmb in advance. We’ll have to see how well his music goes down with the fizz-sippers and shutter-shades crew at Ibiza.
And also… URBN has palled up with Lola to create the Ecobeats Festival festival at the hotel. Ten DJs play throughout the day, then there are room and meal packages, so guests can have dinner at the hotel, hang out in the rooms and keep going all night. Sounds like a nice little break from the norm, and we know at least one other promoter who’s currently working on a similar idea.
The final details of Ecobeats are still dripping out, but DJs confirmed already include Psychocandy, Razor, Frank Costello, Teasy and Acid Ponies. Tickets start at 250rmb for entry and a drink, and run up to 4000rmb for the Penthouse suite, including lunch or dinner from Downstairs and drinks on arrival -- but that’s for four people, so even then not a bad deal. It happens Saturday, September 22. More info here. We’ll have ticket info when it’s released. Might want to jump on the room deals early, as URBN only has 26 of them.
And also, also… This is getting way too long, so just a quick mention of Max Tundra, who is coming to The Shelter on September 30 for a DJ show. He’s one of Warp Records’ artists and treads a neat line between electronics and indie. Another good booking from Mr Abe Deyo.
International style bible Vogue is teaming up with a slew of stores across the city for Shanghai's second ever Fashion's Night Out. Essentially it's a celebration of all things chic. Shops ranging from the funky and affordable right through to big-ticket designer brands will throw open their doors on Friday for an evening of style, shopping and fashion. Retailers inside Westgate Mall, Xintiandi Style, Hong Kong Plaza, Grand Gateway and Rockbund are offering various goodies, including limited edition necklaces at Helen Lee's newest Xintiandi boutique, 10% off at Raffles Privato, and free bubbly at Westgate Mall's Zara.
XinleLu.com Showroom is also jumping on the bandwagon, showcasing autumn arrivals from Mes Dames, Bubble Mood and Yana K. All of that will be set to music from a DJ, with cocktails and cupcakes courtesy of Lollipop Bakery, and free manicures for customers. It's free to get in. Ten hours of festivities kick off at noon.
And also… This month sees the welcome return of Design Art Fashion Fair – aka DAFF – on September 22 at south Bund's Wharf 1846. If May's edition of the biannual shindig was anything to go by, it should be pretty good, with a bunch of local and international brands already confirmed to set up shop in tents along the riverside promenade. That includes a fair few Shanghai-based independent designers like Snoozer Loser, retro furniture courtesy of Jonas Design, and cutesy sketches from Doodles & Bubbles. On top of all that, there'll be the usual fashion shows, DJs, foodie offerings and booze, late into the night. More on all of that right here.
SH Contemporary is back this weekend, bringing with it fine art from across the globe, openings aplenty and a ton of events in Shanghai. This year's showdown marks the second under Italian fair director Massimo Torrigiani, credited with bringing a more varied program than previous editions. That includes stuff like Hot Spots, a series of site-specific installations by artists from India, as well as the second installment of the Asia Pacific Photography Prize.
The main draw, though, is an exhibition of more than 100 top international galleries representing artists working across a full range of media. That's currently being pulled together over at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, and opens to the public for three days from September 7. Tickets cost a mere 50rmb, great value given the sheer range on offer. For more on that, check this.
And also… As ever, Shanghai's myriad galleries are jumping on the SH Contemporary bandwagon, both inside and outside the fair proper. Brace yourselves for a ton of art and free-flow booze as a bunch of shows open this week. Our picks? Learning from the Literati at OV, Qian Gang at Elisabeth de Brabant, and Geng Jianyi at Minsheng Art Museum, all opening this week. For a full rundown, check the art calendar here.
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Hassle free ticket purchasing and delivery for Shanghai's cultural and concert events:
Dec 9-Jan 11
at Shanghai Culture Square
at Bund Underground Warehouse
at Shanghai Grand Theatre
at The Pearl
at Jing'an Shangri-La
at Shanghai Oriental Art Center
at Shanghai Oriental Art Center
at M2 (Hong Kong Plaza)
at Shanghai Circus World
at Shanghai Grand Theatre
at The Pearl