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[2017]: Best Shows

Scene kids sound off on the scene that was in 2017.
By Dec 23, 2017 Music


Take a knee, Shanghai. It's time for the annual barrage of year-end articles. In "2017", SmSh takes a look back at the terrible highlights and wondrous lowlights of city life for the year two-oh-one-seven. It can't get any worse! Can it?


As is our yearly thing, SmartShanghai carpet bombed the city with emails asking what peoples' favorite concerts were. This is what they had to say!


Dostav Dixit - Split Works Lifer


Pleasantly surprised by David Thomas Broughton at Basement6 in July. There were about 25-30 people at the show. Hoping that more people will come when / if he comes back to China. That guy sure deserves more attention. Thanks Ryan! (Sense Club in Wuhan) for doing that tour.

Fa Zi from Xi’an (formerly known as The Fuzz) put on a great show at YYT. Liu Peng and the crew are probably some of the hardest working guys in the Chinese scene.

Carsick Cars’ original line up at Concrete & Grass was special.

I'm bummed that I missed Die! Die! Die! at YYT in September.

A Place to Bury Strangers was an amazing show to round things off for 2017. Props to Jef (New Noise) for putting that on. Shit was intense.

Foster Parents’ record release show was a fun night too.


I didn't see anything extraordinarily bad but the worst thing was Soulseek getting blocked in China.


Fanmu — Split Works & Wooozy

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

I went to the A Place to Bury Strangers show recently. It was very rare for a band to bring their own lighting guy to the small venue like Yuyintang. But it turned out to be worthwhile. Six projectors and a few strobe lights made the stage look larger than it was supposed to be. And the sound was loud enough to make you believe that every show at YYT should be at that volume level to feel the power of the sound.

What about the worst?  Why?

I tried not to go to any bad show this year. But I have to say, for all the post-rock shows I've been to this year, there is almost nothing left in my memory.

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

Glad to see there are more connections and interactions between Shanghai and the rest of China.  Guangzhou-based indie label Qiii Snacks Records helped Foster Parents release their debut album. The new local label Sheng Jian Records works with a bunch of bands such as Default and Goodbye Honey Boy. Modern Sky and Maybe Mars both signed a few Shanghai bands and are taking them to another level.


DJ B.O. — Shanghai’s Number 2 DJ, On About Something


True story: the last time I wrote one of these ditties, I got castigated first for holding firm that that this very humble publication might not be the be-all / end-all of cultural coverage (for the second year in a row), and by inferring that nightlife groups might hold vague association with illicit materials. Subsequently, I wondered out-loud on-stage on multiple occasions why I couldn't cash in on certain bookings, or why recently one of the city’s publications told me to reciprocally “fuck” off.

The joke's on…?

The best-of for the year was defined not by some young #upstart, but by the people who have held it down for eons renewing their steady grinds of success. I'm talking: Abe Deyo's Spectacles of Sound shows slumming it with Seinfeld references in their nomenclature but not in the quality and quantity of interesting indie live music acts swung through Shanghai; Andy Best's feminist-punk outfit Ugly Girls and their nose-grind attitude towards simple but effective shows; and “third world bass” Popasuda's Skinny Brown spreading out his base to a bevy of venues.


Your band / brand's WeChat / Weixin group and it's fucking red packets / shitty stickers /GIF-ridden [non] articles of nothing.

Of course, if you don’t invite me to your social media soiree, I will be resentful and awkwardly shake your hand with begrudging fingers the next time I see you.


James Lealand — DJ, Everywhere

The best show I saw this year was Traxman at All. Gaz had tried to bring him out a few times and it'd failed each time for one reason or another. When I heard he was here I had to check him out and it turned out to be one of the best sets I’ve heard in my life let alone 2017. The guy is like a walking music encyclopedia and DJ rolled into one. His set pretty much encompassed everything from house, funk, techno, blues, hip hop, disco, rock etc… you name it, he played and the killer thing was the way each transition track to track, from one genre to the next made complete sense oh and his one minute mix of nothing but slow jam breakdowns was epic. Seriously had to have a sit down and a think about my life after that one haha.

My runners up would be Jazzy Jeff at Le Baron which was dope and Stephan Bodzin with his Moog-driven live set at Ultra Festival.

Honorable mentions to Popasuda and Sweatshop.

The worst thing about 2017? I heard plenty of mediocre sets this year but nothing that stood out as bad in any way that I can recall now. I think the biggest issue Shanghai has right now is that there is no killer venue at the moment, there are plenty of good / OK ones but the quality of bookings and shows overall has been up and down for me. There doesn’t seem to be that one place firing on all cylinders right now but we never know what 2018 will bring us.


Yvonne Chen — Founder of Say Yes

I’m sure Shanghai got so much more great stuff in 2017. Sadly, I missed a lot of them, but had fun from some festivals outside China instead, like Fuji Rock in Japan, Organik festival in Taiwan, Sonar in Hong Kong. 

The best live show definitely goes to Aphex Twin audio visual live at Fuji Rock. It was raining crazily during the whole performance, but totally below my mind. For other best in Shanghai that I missed I think I can vouch for Sonia Moonear and Par Grindvik at Elevator.

Something good that I caught: Samule Kerridge live ar ALL. Also the radio show for SHCR with Tommy Four Seven at ALL. It was more for listening, not for dancing or party whatever, but it went even better, the crowd listened and enjoyed that short one-hour radio show. We still can dance a bit tho, and it mainly makes me feel we were there just for music which is super!  

Worst? Maybe something that I forgot to mention last year. Anything with EDM / commercial trap, and all those new festivals trying to make more money in Shanghai, bringing those young local DJs who are more focused on waving their hands, jumping up and down, throwing some water around on stage and (trying to) look cool than just playing good music.

No more this shit for me, thanks!      


Erica Martin - Arts Editor, That’s Shanghai

Best shows: Cakes da Killa on the catwalk at ALL, Molly Nilsson being a feminist synthpop goddess at YYT, a glimpse at Beijing rock before my time at the Carsick Cars reunion at Concrete & Grass, and Tinariwen’s epic encore when they returned to the stage one by one.

Worst shows: misogynistic WeChat stickers in the music group chats.

Mayura Jain - Nepotism

Best:Wetware in Beijing was neat. I had a pretty out of body experience at Tim Hecker, standing in near pitch black watching smoke curl around us and synths rising to a fever pitch. On the other end of the spectrum, a surprise hit for me was Chee Shimizu at Elevator last month. I tend to live my life blissfully unaware of things to do, I have to get my gigs spoonfed to me. Shimizu had all of the clichés you'd expect from a good house / techno set: seamless, eclectic, unpredictable, and above all damn good to dance to.

Worst: They should fire whoever designed the Specters flyers.


Hollie Wilkinson — One half of The Hippo Tank and DJ DOPEY 

Faded Ghost Moon Mad EP release at ALL. It was a world class performance. Everything from the visuals to her costume was amazing, such incredible attention to detail. I cried. 

Howie Lee at Concrete & Grass. I was so excited to see him live for the first time and he completely exceeded my expectations. So intense, weird and wonderful. 

What about the worst?  Why?

I feel really bad saying this but I was really disappointed at DIIV’s performance at Concrete & Grass. The sound was terrible and I thought their performance was derivative and boring. 

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

I'm constantly excited and inspired by the music in Shanghai. It feels like there's a growing and thriving community of artists and promoters doing exciting things. The quality of music throughout different genres is really high. 


Sam Mau Mau — Elevator manager, DJ

Concrete and Grass, because the vibe was the best of any Chinese festival I've seen.

Faded Ghost’s release party at ALL, for feeling completely immersed in a strange universe.

MEDUSA’s anniversary party, because it was chaos.


Matthew Baren — Filmmaker, Founder, CINEMQ

Extravaganza ar The Pearl

Twelve of Shanghai's best drag performers and easily the most fun I've had at any music event this year, without a single drop of alcohol drunk. This wasn't just your usual lip synch session. Strip teases, pole dances and dominatrix play...plenty of sexual and gender confusion from what I think was a largely straight audience made it all the better. A lot of the performers have since left Shanghai...Miss Jade, Ennis FW, Erica… so looking back it was a pretty poignant show.


There have been a few… some lame ass club nights with DJs that should have been awesome but sucked balls, some lame ass film events that were the epitome of the gentrification of cinema. But you know what? It's hard putting together something fabulous, and hats off to anyone who tries. Merry Christmas.


Cavia - DJ

Andras at SMASH and Summer of Haze at Dada are my favorites this year, Andras has his unique ambient sound and really interesting mixing style. Summer of Haze’ set is raw and violent. 

Chemical Brothers’ set at Storm is also one of the best this year. 

What about the worst?  Why?

Some of the Chinese tracks are good to play in the club, rest of them are the worst to hear. 


Howell (not a monk, but still drunk) AKA Gaz of ALL

Musical highlights:

Being able to get away with the line-up at Wetware thanks to Douban's trust and insanity. It was by far the best line-up I've seen in China, probably Asia, for me. Too many acts to list.

The shift in the crowd, the collision of fashion and art with alternative music, and the over all energy in the scene has been something quite amazing this year. Events from Genome, Asian Dope Boys, and Wang Newone’s recently birthed 'Lure' have been fantastic. It feels there is definitely a unique style and feeling growing in Shanghai. It's also been great to see new DJs such as Ikke and HYMN enter the scene, we definitely need more of that in 2018.

The turn out and response at the release parties for local artists, such as Faded Ghost’s 'Moon Mad', Dirty K’s 'Exsciccation', Hyph11e’s 'Vanishing Cinema' and Tzusing’s '一瞬千撃', were also really inspiring and pretty much topped most of the big international bookings I've seen this year.

Musical lowlights:
I went to M1NT for the first time, it was shit.


Allan Marshall - DJ, Yeti Out

The best show for me personally this year was the Beijing stop of the Eddie C China tour. It was out first show at Dada Beijing and the crowd there is amazing. For Shanghai shows, Young Queenz at our 3rd Anniversary really blew me away. After loosing our venue 20 minutes before opening at Arkham due to circumstances out of our control. His set really lifted the mood, The vibe was intense it reminded me of hardcore shows I used to attend as a kid.

In terms of other shows, Optimo was the booking of the year for me. Dada continues to offer such a great variety of acts and these guys are standout for me. There is a reason they have been going 20 years strong. And a definite honorable mention to Compact Dicks at Mansion Five-Year Anniversary - "I Wanna Be Your Dog" .

What about the worst?  Why?

I wouldn't say this was the "worst" show of the year, but I was disappointed at the Chemical Brothers set at Storm. Having wanted to see them for a long time this set was a little underwhelming, music was way too deep for the crowd and the set didn’t really lift from there. Add to this the torrential rain that was going on and lack of any of their stand out hits being played.

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

2017 felt like Shanghai was settling back into itself after the disruption all of the closures had at the end of last year. But I think that it has come out the better for it. The scene has definitely reached a wider Chinese market which is really good, Also the 2nd and 3rd Tier Cities scenes continue to grow which is really inspiring.


Michael Ohlsson - DJ Ozone

Wetwave festival in Beijing — a new standard, lightyears ahead of any other festival, amazing line up and production quality.  Lots of people came up from Shanghai for it.

What about the worst?  Why?

Just about every mainstream trap DJ party.   

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

The big story in my mind is all the new alternative clubs opening around the country, in 2nd/3rd tier cities.  It all happened so fast, from "only in Beijing and Shanghai" to like 2 dozen cities in under a year.   We've actually been unable to get a few touring acts to the major cities, cause they already committed to gigs in places like Changsha or Xiamen or whatever.  Didn't expect it to grow that fast.


Tobias Patrick - DJ, Promoter, 12 Inches of Fun

The Best: 

Connecting with crews across Asia was the most satisfying thing for me in 2017. There are so many great DJs and diggers out there!  We had Mr. Ho from Hong Kong rocking out Dada in January. Mad party! 

Also Airbear from Korea who we brought to Shanghai and Beijing and who educated us about Korean rock and disco at Daily Vinyls’ record store. 

Jack J and Neo Image back-2-back at Elevator for the Beatween party were amazing, including the warm up set from Knopha

Okapi at Dada played a dope South African Kwaito set for 2.5 hours — had no idea that so much good house music from ‘90s South Africa exists.

Honorable mention for Lindberg DJing one-armed with a cast at Dada Beijing for 90 minutes. That was a great stunt!

The Worst: 

I'm sure there was — as always — no shortage of shit gigs and lame DJs around Shanghai in 2017. But as my daytime work has been so intense this year, I didn't go out as much as I should have. Hence the worst of 2017 for me was that I missed so many great gigs because I was too busy: Stingray and Rolando at All, Rainbow Disco Club at Elevator, Francis Inferno Orchestra at C's.

The closing of Smash was another disappointment for me.

Another low in 2017 was Santo Chino quitting DJing and selling his collection. Shanghai needs DJs with convictions as much as ever!


Lu Chen — “Yummy, Magic Forger, Culture Connoisseur, and Music Snob Who Doesn’t Play Instruments” 

Best of Strawberry: Trentemøller. It was simply epic. He is an amazing producer. Already great in headphones but even better live taking the energy notches higher. I couldn’t believe these god-like creatures were performing such an excitingly melancholic yet reviving set, here, in Shanghai. They pushed every bottom I want for a outdoor festival. That was a worldly moment.

Worst of Strawberry: Charlie XCX. She is my guilty pleasure. BUT WTF GURL?? Did you rehearse before the show? Live was a mess — just like the pajama she was wearing on stage. Sloppy singing, sloppy dancing. Here is to another artist whose live gig does not stand behind the records.

Best gig: HVOB. Godly music, godly people; they are emotional, feel bit shy but definitely not shy when it comes to unleashing the bass. A much more creative live performance then their originals, euphoric and powerful. Modern Sky Lab was a fantastic venue however please spend some money on your sound systems and interiors. It did not take on the deep bass of HVOB - walls and railings was vibrating too much noise. 

Although I also enjoyed Crystal Castle ‘cause their show was NASTEHH that I got so overwhelmed had to leave. I mean for the theatric act, her pouring water all over herself while tearing the stage apart with a vocal extreme similar to Alice…It is something.

Club-wise Medusa presents Nick Monaco in February at Elevator. I mean Medusa always is so gross but so awesome too. Plus Nick Monaco I mean yes please get your nasty body all over me. Great tasty tunes. 

Second fav club night was Nik Hilp Rinky Dink Rollerdisco set at Dragon Burn Decompression at The Mansion. Yes, bitches totally feel fabulous with the skates funk out to some old school disco — in a variety of culture. Vintage and exotic. Pink neon lights, soft LED glows and sequence, what more could I ask for. As always Dragon Burn folks never fails to be the eclectic dressed that I wonder if that’s a costume or just their regular outfit. The new Mansion has some nice sounds and thank god to the none slip floor so I didn’t break a leg (Or did I?). 

Shanghai gig scene seems low energy to me. Every show those few foreigners who dance and cheer, most of audience don’t even move — and the worst: WeChat moment documenting the whole show with their bright iPhones in the crowd. GTFO please.. Worst cheers, worst crowd, awkward endings. Like that MEW show at Bandai Namco — It’s my least fav venue, hate its layout and sounds so-so yet expensive. I thought the gig was magnificent but again maybe because I’ve already wet myself when I see these sweet Danish boys, let alone making love to my ears. Yet the show kinda ended in a flash???? Followed by a very civilized signing sesh. I thought it was anticlimactic. 


Josh G — prog folk troubadour, Galean

Best was a two way nostalgic tie between BCR’s reunion at Inferno. (I'm too cheap to go to Concrete Rabbit's Black Foot Festival) and Lao Ayi opening up for Cloud Nothings. I honestly thought the Ol' Aunties did better and played more of a range of music than the headliner. Cloud Nothings played the same songs on repeat for an hour. Great opening act and can't wait for their new album!

Worst was that same Cloud Nothings show. A second opening band was a surprise to see. Sorry lillll punk... but Masterliar was not ready to play for crowds yet. Or was the crowd not yet ready for Masterliar? Hmmm. Except that song where both members got real and sat down on the stage, it was a pretty sloppy set. Oh and all the laowai house rock bands at Harley's. I love that originality in your music. ‘80s inspired crap rock. Love it... and keep doing more laowai nights! Lolzzzz


Lu Jialing — Founder of Luuv Label, East Asia Shoegaze Festival and Guitarist of Forsaken Autumn

The best show was my label Luuv Label spared no cost and did three nationwide tours: Tempalay, Mono No Aware, and domica, although the bands don't have a super big fan base in China, they are all representing the new force of Japanese independent music. They had toured from the most southern part of China, Guangzhou, to the subzero and chilly Beijing, each band radiated its own unique musical charm. Plus all the members have different personalities so the tours were full of fun. I believe every show had brought unforgettable memories to their audience. 

Another great show for me was seeing Zazen Boys this summer, the humorous and macho Shutoku Mukai alongside his monstrous bandmates made the whole crowd scream and go crazy with their extreme speed, alternative but harmonious melody. I heard the bassist left the band recently, so it's kind of a relief for me to be able to catch, in my opinion, the best lineup of Zazen Boys.

For the worst show... because I had been managing bands in Japan for awhile and saw a lot of small gigs in Japan. So it's fair to say there's quite a big number of bands that are boring in every way. 

Because I've been living in Japan this year, I have been mostly listening to their local music. However, I would like to mention Chen Zhenchao's band The White Tulips and a new band called Kirin Trio, their new songs are all very good. And I really hope that everyone like these Xiamen guys! 


DeVant — Manager of hip hop label AMG

In my opinion, my favorite show of 2017 would be JZ Festival Shanghai for sure. Actually JZ never failed to please me, and they brought Kool & the Gang in this year, which was one of the most epic moments. You don't know how much funky fun I had that night. Dancing and shouting all the way.

The worst? Hmmm, I know one festival encountered the weather effect of same name. Yikes!

The other thing that worth mentioning would be the Rap of China. This is what I've been waiting for so long.


Jin Qian — Voice of Reason for, fan of evil shit

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

Mysticum at Roadburn, Car Bomb and the Devin Townsend Project at Euroblast

I tried to pick local shows for our roundup every year, but this time I have to make an exception. Because Mysticum was simply the best show I've ever been to in my life. The band is a pioneer of industrial black-metal, and they don't tour very often at all. So my anticipation was definitely building up months before the event. When I finally saw the black curtains on stage slowly lifted aside, and three silhouettes appeared to be standing on 3-meter-tall LED platforms, I realized immediately that it was the most majestic and evil shit I've ever seen. The white lasers, monochrome visual patterns, and high-speed drum machine were at full blast during the entire show. It was intense, seizure-inducing, also a bit over the top — animations of satanic symbols and marching armies were projected on all the screens, but in a way that metal fan would definitely love and was a perfect match for their music. Unfortunately for me, there wasn't any Mysticum beer left at the main stage after the band finished. 
To be able to see Car Bomb and the Devin Townsend Project was also a dream came true. One was like watching an action-packed movie like Mad Max: Fury Road. Heavy, punchy, with eccentric polyrhythmic guitar and drum works that get your adrenaline pumping but in the meantime, incredibly hard to headbang to; and the other was like an epic space opera (maybe Guardians of the Galaxy?), colorful, profound and with some improvised jokes about penis here and there. Also worth mentioning was both bands are awfully down to earth and gracious to their fans and the festival staff. Coincidently, I mentioned Devin Townsend in our last year's roundup as the "worst show". I was really happy that a year later he still recognized me. 

What about the worst?  Why?

Every show I went to this year was pretty awesome. If I have to pick one it would be Evian Christ at Wetware Festival in Beijing. I like Evian Christ for many years and this was the first time I got the chance to see him. But his set was a bit lacking in the dark and obscure textures that I was so fond of. I mean, I feel like I can hear this type of music played at any underground club. I also totally didn't expect to hear T.A.T.U's “Not Gonna Get Us” sampled by two artists on the same day (both Evian Christ and another artist whose name I forgot played the song). I guess my slight discomfort was due to the fact that I'm old enough that my most played music in high school is considered as cool now. There was also physical discomfort. And kind of ironic to say it side by side with my favorite show — the visual was too intense. There were maybe four strobes flashing at the same time all the way to the end, all super powerful and dazzling. As the whole venue was smoky and almost completely dark, you either had to close your eyes (which seems like a waste for such a setup) or look away from stage every few seconds. You can't really see Evian Christ, either. So you don't really know what was he doing there. I heard the team behind Wetware spent quite an effort to get these strobes as they were discontinued models and the artist insisted to use them otherwise he won't play. Kind of a shame that the idea went a bit too far, at least in my opinion. Still, I think Wetware had the best lineup among all the music festivals in China this year. Looking forward to a second edition.  

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

What I think worth mentioning is probably unworthy of attention to most of our readers here. But still, I think it's a pretty remarkable thing for a small community in China. 

I encountered a Dutch college student at Roadburn this year, who, to my surprise, knows about Nanchang label Pest Productions also the band Deep Mountains. I recommended him Zurriake who was under the same label and was just about to begin their first tour in Europe. Later that day, I saw Polish black metal outfit Batushka and was amazed by their resemblance with Zurriake. Sure, there are quite a few black metal acts dressed in capes with special themes, and perform on a carefully decorated stage with props for almost every song. But the similarity shared between a Chinese band formed in 1998 and a Polish band formed in 2015 was something I've never seen with my own eyes before. 

Earlier this month I had a phone interview with a music reporter who's working on a piece about Zuriaake for AFP; and just a few days ago, Roadburn announced Zurriake as part of the 2018's lineup and will play at the main venue 013, which makes Zurriake the first band ever being invited from China. Roadburn has long been regarded as a highly-respectful festival that celebrates top-notch musicianship in the heavy experimental genres. So this really means a lot to the band and every heavy music lovers in China who cares about artistic merit. Though I've done nothing for Zuriaake other than recommending them to my friends, I feel really proud of the band and those who work so hard for so many years in the black metal community in China. The access to information plays a significant role to get your creative works heard by others and vice versa, and even though it's getting more problematic and difficult for us to get that access, I'm really glad there are still a lot of people actively seeking and promoting good music from all over the world.   



Famous bands. 

Megadeth because we were only less than 200 people and as a big fan of them, it felt more like a private concert and Kiko Loureiro nailed it!

Rhapsody and for the first time even though I was born in Italy, I never had the chance to see them back home.

Local acts.

I would prefer to mention the bands that I really support and esteem the most as I have seen many of their shows especially the fact that I am 99% of the time drunk, I don’t really remember the specific night.

The Naraka — a band that should need more attention, their gigs are really fun to watch and a creative mixture of powerful, melodic vocal and music with visual kei make up

Second Son — they are relatively new but this guys are improving every time I see them! The frontman is probably one of the most charismatic singers in town… he ain`t no joke!

Hitobashira — they complete me! hahaha

Alpaca — Groove! Anger! Groove! and … Can you hear me M$%&R F#*ER”!

Revival — Indie rock band from Shanghai, don`t miss them!



Metallica was bad for me. Couldn’t expect so many simple mistakes in one gig and the lack of passion.

It’s just business now. Well most of the audience where k-pop fans…


The real worst show of the year is going to happen this 30th at Inferno Bar


Chris Milne — Singer, guitarist Pinball City, Round Eh

Best:  Number one with a bullet was Beijing’s Hugh Reed and the Electric Shadows at Yuyintang last spring.  The guy is really a rare breed of Scottish nut.  The Electric Shadows played “Waiting for My Man” type dirges while Reed spun his sordid tales- luridly illustrated by a procession of goofy masks and props. Favorite moment: when Mr. Reed, clad in tacky a red robe and disgustingly accurate Trump mask, produced a stuffed bunny from his sack of tricks and began swinging it, lasoo-style, round his head at worrying speed.  Savage!
Honorable mention:  Mike Watt and the Missing-men was really cool. Roundeye were kind enough to invite us to open up for them and the Wattster for a gig on a Thursday night in Wuxi in what turned out to be in a frigid and empty barn/club.  On the journey out, Watt hit me with a priceless barrage of trivia and Iggy Pop stories while the rest of the van slept or covered their ears.
Worst:  The continuing lack of attention to detail paid to playlists at pretty well all livehouses around town.  Want your customers to stick around for another beer after the show?  Put a little thought into how to keep them there. 


Dima — Singer, Spill Your Guts

Here are my the best and worst shows:

From all the shows Shanghai had in 2017 the one that really stood out for me was when Bolt69 from Russia and Struggle Session from Beijing came to Shanghai in the end of November — packed venue, kids going nuts over every band, intense after-party, destroyed Airbnb and painful ride to the train station next morning — great times!

I'd say it was not only the best show of 2017, but also the craziest show Harley's hosted ever!

Second best — Anvil for sure! Fast and heavy metal, solos shredded with a dildo, musicians having a great time on stage and in the crowd — fuck yea, I want more!

And now to the worst one —- local bands game was strong this year, leaving me no opportunities to talk shit haha So I'll mention another legend — Megadeth, 980rmb to see Dave being a complete dick to his fans? Good thing I didn't pay, checked them off on my list and never coming back. 

2017 in general was a good year for independent underground music in China, with some crazy awesome albums released from Shanghai and Beijing bands, DIY festivals finally getting attention they deserve, local bands touring more and more. Let's see what 2018 will bring us! 



Nik — Disco space traveler

Best - Funkineven at Concrete& Grass - sweat and hi-tech funk with none of those boring / over-bearing mainland Europe techno tracks invited.

Other highlights - Black metal band Zuriaake (葬尸湖) at Concrete & Grass — who knew?!!! I didn’t!!

Most of the times I heard Endy “Daily Vinyl” spin — ENDY THE EDUCATOR. The pre-party set from Chee Shimizu at Elevator on 25th November — because #jazzfusionisclubmusictoo. Intergalactic Gary for playing rare Finnish versions of italo anthems. April’s 12 Inches of Fun party. The one Discosmic in the summer. The warm up slot for Throwing Shade. Illsee’s weekly Co-sign night at All for that shower curtain and making Wednesday cool.


Lacy — Artist Management / Business Development at SHFT

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

Hands down best nights of 2017 were Excision and A$AP Nast (with guest appearances by A$AP Rocky and A$AP Mob) both @ Arkham. They were packed with so much love and good vibes, it was breathtaking.

What about the worst?  Why?

Didn’t have any unfortunately...

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

Hip hop made a break through in China this year which was big for everyone.
Shout out to ALL the artists and creatives doing their thing! Can’t wait to see how the industry booms even more next year.


Heatwolves, Selector & Cartoon Uncle at Love Bang

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

Too many good shows. h09909 at Concrete and Grass was so raw and powerful, and the singer did a backflip at the end. No encore. Also Sinjin Hawke & Zora Jones at ALL, Jubilee at Elevator, Nightwave at LeBaron, Hyph11e at ALL, DJ Muro at Elevator, and Bohan Pheonix at the C&G after-party. Also every last-song-of-the-night at Elevator followed by jianbing with homies. 

What about the worst? Why?
Any time a touring DJ watered-down their set for Shanghai. Also some boomboom club where the MC screamed "WE PARTY TILL WE DIE".  

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

Man this year was major, from the underground to the mainstream. Historic.

Patrick Mai - Smoker of the motors, Soundman Extaordinaire

Does the event have to be in Shanghai? Dude, League of Legends World Finals had a fucking DRAGON fly into the birds nest in Beijing during the opening ceremony do a flyby or the crowd and land on the stage using augmented reality. That was the coolest fucking thing I have ever seen in my life. Technically, the show was a broadcast, so Shanghai and the world saw it. Does it count??? Dude. A Fucking DRAGON. Oh yeah the chick singing is like, really hot too.

If you don't believe me, watch this.

Full opening ceremony here in case you are interested.

Abe Deyo — Promoter, hilarious

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

Kate Bush at the short lived Smash. Because it was scene heartthrobs Morgan Short and Sacco dancing in red dresses.

Ned Kelly — Something at That’s Shanghai, uncool dad

I am so boring these days I don’t remember going to a single gig.


Camden Hauge — Shanghai Social Supply, tons of other things

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

Too many pals are playing or curating great DJ sets so let's focus on live music - Tinariwen was sheer Saharan brilliance (the band member who appeared to be their hype man must be the happiest person in music); I also ended up at Japanese Breakfast on a whim and it was an unexpectedly awesome show.

What about the worst?  Why?

The Zhu show was like listening to a self-indulgent schizophrenic DJ with bizarrely-choreographed backup dancers in a sauna. So. Damn. Hot.

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

More showcases of smaller local bands please! Our latest Liveroom [monthly live music sessions] featured three awesome young bands — The Milky Way Dive, Absolute Purity, and Boogie Daddy — and they all killed it.


Auggie Cohlmia — Director, Alchemist Asia — info on their next show here

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

First one that comes to mind is easily JMSN at Yuyintang. It convinced me and everyone there that Sunday afternoon shows are the way to go. Everyone in there (the band and audience alike) were super energized and were at the show to hear the music. Actually having time to eat dinner after the show is pretty rad too.

Fazi (FKA The Fuzz) at YYT is easily another standout. New name, new jams, but they still know how to put on an epic show.

What about the worst?  Why?

Crystal Castles at QSW. Basically an elaborate karaoke set with rave lighting.

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

Have to give special props to Gaz and the crew at ALL. Shelter shutting down last year was a major let down, but they picked up the pieces and totally outdid themselves by creating a perfect venue that can host almost any type of act. Shelter is legendary, and ALL is pretty damn close.


Rachel Gouk — Managing Editor @ City Weekend 

Any show with Dirty Fingers on the bill will be a great show. Lead singer Xiao Tian is a man possessed when he goes on stage. He bounces around like he's just gotten jump started, eyes rolled into the back of his head, beer in hand sloshing about. And you can see that everyone else is just having fun—drummer Alex beating the shit of the house kit at Yuyintang until he's out of breath, with guitarist Xiao Hai and bassist Hai Ming bobbing along. It's a half-drunken mess of a performance that's absolutely gritty.
Them, and Round Eye. Hardest working band. Tours Europe and the US. Weird, loud, dancy. And they bring some awesome underground bands to town (Fleshtones, Steve Mackay, Mike Watt, The Boys...) That's my plug. Just try to dodge Chachy's guitar whenever he decides to fling that over the stage.

I'll skip worst show. There's plenty of shit shows out there. Live music in Shanghai has plateaued. Gone are the days of Rainbow Danger Club, Friend or Foe, Pairs, Death To Giants, Goushen… blah blah. There hasn't been anything new that's interesting. Just more emo bands with names like "My Heart Bleeds" or angsty hardcore shouty stuff. Here's to hoping for a ska band for 2018… or an RDC-era revival. 


Chachy - Round Eye


Mike Watt and the Missingmen

I know I know, I was directly involved with this coming here but man, that was the first time I'd ever seen the man play and good god did he work the room.  I usually hate using this term to describe someone as a lot of assholes who write or promote music think this term applies to an act by simple existing for a certain period of time without actually doing anything but when it comes to Watt, the man is simply this: legendary.  

Equally awesome: 

Tinariwen.  Phew!  


Anvil are a bunch of sweet dudes...but I dunno man.  


Jef Vreys — Promoter, New Noise

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

One of the best shows this year was Trentemoller at Shanghai Strawberry Festival. 
The band played only to 200 - 300 people at the second stage, so that was kinda awkward, but the show was super great.

Amazing sound and amazing lights. The Notwist at YugongYishan was also really great. Such a legendary band and killer musicians!

As for Chinese bands, I really like the new Re-TROS album and saw them playing in Paris opening for Depeche Mode and they really delivered. 

What about the worst?  Why?

Xie Tianxiao at Electronic Midi Festival — he re-worked his songs in an electronic version, but that just didn't sound right. 

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

2017 was definitely the year of Chinese HipHop, really hope this hype will get over soon. 


Cameron Wilson — techno agitator, VOID


Sweatshop with Randall at ALL, back in September. A set of sheer energy, funk and rawness which demonstrated DnB is still as relevant as ever. Randall showcased why the UK has an enduring ability to focus on the most soulful and important elements of music, the things which are most difficult to copy or replicate by watching a "How to make a track" tutorial on You Tube. What Jane has done with Sweatshop deserves massive praise — keeping it real for such a long time in the face of so many trends coming and going, is something that can only be done out of a pure and dedicated love for the music. Shanghai is lucky to have promoters like this.


I honestly didn't see anything I thought wasn't enjoyable. I've been around long enough to smell a bad party before I see one so I simply don't go to such events. Unfortunately in China for me that includes festivals. No disrespect intended to organizers, it's not easy in China for various reasons, and maybe I shouldn't judge them by the standards of European events... but they just aren't as much fun. Besides, China is moving up in the world, so it's cultural events should improve accordingly.  As an electronic music fan I'm not really into guitar music so I can't comment on how bands are at festivals. But any time I've been the DJ or electronic stage tends to be stuck in a corner like some kind of curiosity rather than something worth enjoying in its own right. There's usually little thought given to the running order of different acts, so you get someone playing high and energetic at the start and more down tempo later, and the DJ acts, if they are local, are booked based on relationship or guanxi rather than talent level. But what can I say, I didn't go to any this year, maybe next year I will go to some again and realise how wrong I was.


Tyler — Factory Five, drummer Spill Your Guts

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

Halloween Tribute Show at Yuyintang and Bolt 69/Struggle Session at Harley's. Both shows filled out the venues, had fun positive energy, and didn't break the bank. All the bands were great and it felt like a timewarp back to 2010 when heavy music in Shanghai was thriving and alive.

What about the worst?  Why?

Shanghai was filled with far too many bad shows this year, too many that it'd clog up this killer article. Uninteresting acts, overpriced tickets, what's going on here?

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

2017 was not a good year for the 'heavy' music scene in Shanghai. Very little touring bands made it to the city, most promoters skipped Shanghai dates when booking tours, and the bands that did play here charged far too much for tickets. Local bands can only do so much for their scene. Festivals featured little or next to no 'heavy' bands, such a shame. All of this aside, the popularity of heavy music on Chinese social media, in Wechat, and at the few shows that do exist continues to grow. My question to promoters and festival bookers - why are you hating on 'heavy' music?

Commmmoooon, everyone loves a good blast beat!


Daliah -- Champion of the edible and weird

obviously one of my parties. ;) while we were under construction i threw an under-contruction party on a rainy sunday evening. it had everything a party in my opinion needed. pretty cute art - 5 local & international artists showing bodies of works. the theme was queerness. it was dirty, it was messy, it was noisy, it was boozy. SHCR curated the music program & absolut give us 30 bottles of vodka.

the drag new comer party at lucca. although i can only listen to shitty edm music for 5 sec, it was such a cute event with quirky performances and adorable people. was just a creative and free vibe where people tried new things and you could feel that. also it was maybe the flirtest, most sexual evening i ever experienced in asexual shanghai..

What about the worst? Why?

about 1 month ago i started my fist kitty cat night. a wednesday night themed around female empowerment, powerrr gurls, girls that do, dare, love & make..... nobody showed up. i was so excited about it. i felt so horrible. i hired this lesbian dj and hoped she will bring her groupies and play some feminist music like planed. turned out she played really bad edm tunes and she had no fans. she was sweet and all but i completely miscalculated this event. definitely worst night this year... all other parties that suck i leave them straight away so cant be bothered to endure a shitty night. but if you organised it you have to suffer and make it through somehow..


Mache, Heart of Shanghai

What was the best (or two best, or three best) show you went to this year? Why?

Boys Climbing Ropes reunion for the Concrete and Grass Festival. BCR played as well as they used to, they still had their powerful chemistry very well alive. BCR is part of the history of rock in China, and one of my favorite bands.

Theo Croker came back to China a couple of times this year, on May he came with his band to play his latest album Escape Velocity, a great one. The gig at JZ was inspiring.

They have been touring the world for over two years playing at the best jazz festivals and venues, so you can imagine the quality of this gig.

Also top favorite moment was to go to the new All and breathe again. I also enjoyed a lot the Azoth gigs by Downstate at Dada with Damacha and Swimful these three guys playing together is candy for ears into bass wave beats. And 33, it's been great to listen to her solidifying her solo career, I dig her style,

What about the worst? Why?

The lack of interesting solid rock bands, I have still to check a couple of bands, but besides the three fundamentals of Shanghai at the moment (Round Eye, Dirty Fingers, and Lao Ayi) there's nothing else around that will transcend time... yet.

Also pretty "worst" was the closing of Cotton Club.

Any other things worth mentioning about Shanghai or Chinese music in 2017?

Yeah. The work done by Gaz to make All a fantastic club, and the great job he did with Wetware, hopefully in 2018 Wetware will be in Shanghai too.

The cool gigs that were... on Uptown Record Store.

Li Daiguo latest releases are fantastic, happy I caught him when he came last April.

Re-Tros who just toured Europe opening for Depeche Mode. The nice tour done by PK14 during the first half of the year.

The great job done by Chachy of Round Eye and the bands he brought to China (Minuteman was a gift to all punk lovers in China). Round Eye's latest album is solid, they are sounding best than ever and their summer tour in Europe sure is worth to mention.

And last the new release by my favorite monkeys, Dirty Fingers now signed on Maybe Mars, they' will have a fantastic 2018!


That’s it, kids! Same time next year, yeah? This “music” thing is really going places! Thanks to everyone who responded. See you in 2018!



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