[My Weekender] with Archie Hamilton
Mar 6, 2009
Archie Hamilton is The Man behind Split Works, a Shanghai-based national concert promoting agency. In addition to the Yue Festival (2007) and the Jue Festival (2009), and working with Chinese acts, Split Works has brought the following to the PRC: The Go-Team, Maximo Park, The Infadels, umm, South Rakkas Crew, Dandi Wind, uhmmm, Jens Lekman, Jose Gonzalez, among others... there's more I'm sure but I can't remember them right now... ah! Sonic Youth! How could I forget! They did that one too.
But not GWAR -- an oversight, let's hope, they rectify.
They're also handling the Young Knives (tonight) and the upcoming Battles concert later this month. Also check out their blog China Music Radar, for interesting Chinese band and industry-related blah, blah, blah. [Ed's note: We changed his British spelling to American because USA! USA!]
OK, so I'm writing this on Friday morning having not given the weekend a whole lot of thought. We have the Young Knives playing tonight and I am going to Canadian Music Week and SXSW next Monday, so I am chasing my tail, both literally and figuratively. This "weekender' will be brief
(a) because I don't have a very interesting life (except when hanging out with rockstars...!!)
(b) because all weekenders should be short, and if possible, a little bit interesting.
I don't do brunches, I don't have massages, I can't afford to eat at expensive restaurants, I have never been to Bar Rouge, so what can I talk about that will be of interest? Well, I've decided to invite you all into the world of a mildly stressed father obsessed with music. I will describe the weekend coming up as some of it will involve hanging out with rock stars, which is one of the perks of this largely lucre-less job.
We have sound check in about six hours and I have that much time to prepare an interview with the Knives. I have turned my hand to interviewing all the artists that we bring through town for future exposure to Chinese audiences. The key to getting the Chinese kids into this music is to give them lots and lots of material to read/ listen to/ absorb. Locally, the PAUSE:MUSIC crew have started doing their free monthly mixtapes -- all of this is so important in helping us to grow the scene here. Still haven't worked out how to move an hour with Jose Gonzalez or the South Rakkas boys into easy-to-digest Chinese language audio, but we'll get there.
So, interview at 6pm at the Dream Factory, where I will try not to ask them a question with the word "geek" in it. Then finding a good Chinese restaurant near the venue to take them to. I'm thinking hole-in-the-wall, but happy for suggestions.
The show is gonna be a good one -- we have Sonnet and Boys Climbing Ropes supporting which is exciting for us. Sonnet were the first support band that we booked, for our first show with Maximo Park back in 2006. I'd seen them once through a haze at the 5$ Shake party at the old Yuyintang, and they'd really impressed me with their Depeche Mode-y outfits and the singers laconic delivery. What I hadn't realized was that they didn't have a whole lot of material, so when I arrived at the venue with the band, Sonnet were throwing out a pretty horrible White Stripes cover. They went off the scene for a while soon after, but have come back with a vengeance, tighter, more material, and I am really excited to see them tonight. It's so important to support Shanghai's indigenous bands -- they are doing a great, if sometimes lonely job in a city not historically enamored with contemporary music. BCR next -- these guys and gals have really surprised me with how quickly they have become a tight, powerful, and all round pretty excellent unit. This is also the first time we haven't had a fully Chinese band supporting. There are some really great expat/ Chinese hybrid bands emerging, so we are also super excited about the progress there too.
After the show, it's PAUSE night with Shanghai's indie promoters all doing their thing in The Shelter. Man, it's just one big Shanghai music love-in.
If the band are still up for it, we might find our way to the ever reliable Charmant for a late night feast.
As tonight will be late, I will be faced with my usual Saturday morning dilemma. My little girl gets up at 6:30am every day, and makes no exceptions for the weekend/ her father's excesses. I don't get to hang out with her much during the week, so try and do Saturday and Sundays. Many is the weekend morning where you will see me with bloodshot eyes, crazy-man hair, and ringing ears, showing my little blond 18-month-old the line dancers and taichi experts at our favorite outdoor haunt, Zhongshan Park. She's now big enough for the bouncy castle. Before, I used to stand at the side and bounce her on it until I was shouted down by the bouncy castle police, replete with whistle and red arm band.
She sleeps at midday, and so I make up my five hours from the night before with an hour or two in bed. Afternoons are usually the time to catch up on email (exciting, I know). Man, how do people deal with the information overload? I realized last week that I am contactable in 12 different ways: phone, mobile phone, SMS, email, GTalk, MSN, Facebook Chat, Facebook Mail, Twitter, Twitter DM, Skype, and even snail mail (not often, I admit). At least some of the weekend is needed to catch up with all that shit. When is a lot too much?
On Saturday night, our beloved ayi stays over, so my incredibly tolerant and supportive wife (who also runs our business) get to go out cruising. I always try and see a bit more music -- favorite venues being the three stalwarts of the scene: Logo, Yuyintang, and The Shelter. The level of music has improved beyond recognition since I arrived in Shanghai. Where before, if there was even one reasonable thing to do in a weekend, we were lucky, now you have to choose between a lot of the world's most progressive artists every weekend, allied to some really great Chinese bands coming through.
For example this weekend there is our own Knives shows, Tiga at Bonbon (always had a soft spot for Tiga), and one of the most exciting new popular producers/ artists Deadmau5 in Muse tomorrow night. I'd like to see Beijing band Oliver in Logo and I really have to head to see Juan Atkins at the Shelter. I was a massive Detroit head back in the day. Fuck, that's a big, big weekend in the 'Hai.
Sunday. Well, Sunday is about sleep, the family and, if I'm lucky, my real obsession Liverpool FC, usually starring in a 0-0 draw on ESPN (Football, people -- the proper kind). I used to have to stay up until 3am to watch the late Sunday kickoff, but I recently purchased an HD recorder (TiVo like) so now I can record, sleep, and watch the next day.
And that's it. It was meant to be short. Sorry! It wasn't really that interesting either, but surprisingly fun to write. I've changed my mind about the Weekender. All hail Smartshanghai and the wonderful Weekender...
See you at the Young Knives people (for a final plug!!)