Rock 'n' roll was the name of the game last weekend with plenty of gigs around town, including the return local showcase series "Centaurs" fronted by Duck Fight Goose band leader Han Han -- he's just keeping the dream alive of bringing together local Chinese musicians. I’ll be talking with Craig England of the band Round Eye later in this article about his own new rock show series called "Hesher Has Culture", which should add even more much needed motivation to Shanghai’s lazy local and laowai rocker scene. Of course, then there was the indefatigable DJ B.O., and his ever ongoing quest to put on tribute nights to the fallen rockers of yesteryear. This one was for Elvis' birthday, and saw a family fun-weekend of creative music, food, and entertainment to pay homage to The King. It actually went down solid. The Friday art show at Basement6 in the theme of teenage girls obsession with Elvis was creepy fun, along with the live gig at Inferno bar that hit hard, plus, in addition to those, the various brunches and cover performances -- all good times. Watch out for more tribute nights of recently deceased musicians from DJ B.O. I’m thinking Chuck Berry has to go any minute now. I bet he already has the flyer done up. Chuck's legacy might be a little more... um... let's say fraught with problematic episodes.
Over the weekend, there was even a mini music industry summit that happened under our very noses, which was a joint effort from Jiatong University and Melbourne University. The group talk brought together a bunch of Beijing and Shanghai scene heads, like Yang Haisong of P.K.14 and Maybe Mars record label, Josh Feola of Beijing music website and show series Pangbianr, F from the band Pairs, Alex from the band Little Monster, Archie Hamilton of Split Works, and other movers and shakers of China’s underground. All this was all put together by Nevin Domer of the Beijing vinyl label Gengjing Records and Maybe Mars, who plans to utilize more university funds for the documentation and progression of China’s underground scene. So look out for more of that project in the future, should you care about such matters. For now, lets get going with a preview the new Horde album. Horns up Shanghai.
Nearly three years in the making, The Horde’s latest and most likely final album Fahuazhen dropped over the weekend and it’s a well recorded document of the bands contribution to the Shanghai music scene over the years. During the time it took to make the album, the band went through divorce, bankruptcy, lawsuits, dreams shattered, criminal conviction, prison sentences, bridges burned, drinking to forget, depression, and insufferable laziness. When asked about a release show for Fahuazhen front man Ho-Tom the Conqueror said:
“Chances are very slim The Horde will ever play together again... at least in the configuration on this record. Franco's [mandolin, vocals] gone (although he's moving to Shenzhen in the fall), and George [harmonica, vocals] is probably moving back to London this year. We want to do a listening party. Something small for people who are fans of the band and want to come down and say hi. I'm trying to make posters and/or t-shirts for people to get as a memento if they want one.”
On the record you've got the defining elements of the band -- a marriage of bluegrass and folk / Americana that come from the bands leads: Fierce Franco’s mandolin accompanied with heartfelt crooners jams from Ho-Tom himself. Then you have the song "Space Wars" which is a complete departure from the rest of the album. Having heard these songs countless times over the past few years, it’s nice to see them documented forever in time on the cloud. Someday, I’ll take my grandchildren on my knee to tell them all the stories of Shanghai’s The Horde, each one more unbelievable then the last.
The Horde - "Valentina Zhou"
A huge punk show in the form of Canadian rockers Career Suicide is coming to Yuyintang this Wednesday, and I couldn’t be more stoked. Nearly going 15 years strong, the Toronto DIY enthusiasts having been using the band as a side project outlet for harder and faster material of guitarist Jonah Falco. You might know him from his main band Fucked Up, who have amassed quite the cross-over following from their own roots in Toronto hardcore. Career Suicide also included another Fucked Up member bassist Mike Haliechuk who left to start his own projects. It’s not easy to squeeze creativity out of the already dried out rock that is the '80s hardcore sound but Career Suicide are able to put together something unique while staying true to that classic style. If you ever were a skateboard riding kid who drew Black Flag logo’s on your Trapper Keeper then this is the show for you. Mind you, there are no opening bands so get to Yuyintang on time for this one and only show in China.
Career Suicide – "Cut and Run"
Hesher Has Culture
Photo Credit: Rachel Gouk
You have the love the direct names that guitarist and vocalist Craig Englund comes up with for this Shanghai projects. On top of his main band (offensively) titled Round Eye, you have a new show series called Hesher Has Culture, which equally name-checks the wild man’s Florida trashball roots. I asked him to give us a couple words about the new rock series, here ya go:
Craig Englund of Round Eye:
“Hesher Has Culture is a new banner I'm gonna start operating gigs under. After Rat On went down, no one picked up where Nate left off. It just came to a stand-still in terms of monthly rock and roll / punk / hard music shows. Everything in Shanghai aesthetically has gone further down the digital, shoe gaze, mopey rabbit hole and I figured, Ok someone's gotta do something about this. Originally, I asked Nathan permission to use the Rat On moniker but got denied so started thinking of other names and Gil turned me onto a common saying in Chinese 流氓太有文化 which roughly translates to "Hesher Has Culture". If the shoe fits...
Our first show was Gou Shen, Neverending Story, and Pinball City and it went fairly well. These gigs are meant to bring the old, new, and outside hands together. Network and get bands talking to each other. The second show was the Star Wars gig and that was pretty awesome and nicely attended and just good vibes all around. We had many sponsors and promoters come together to give away prizes, hip hop group Foundation who were new to the whole YYT thing so that was nice to break them in on that, old and new Shanghai punk bands along with new comers from outside of the area (Mars Kitten, fem punk band from Nantong). All in all, it was a blast and everyone (aside from a certain someone with this publication) had a great time. The shows at Inferno will always be free and the bands are paid a percentage of the bar. It's a similar process to Temple Bar in Beijing. More people come and get shit faced: more money for the bands. This works for everyone and it helps to establish Inferno as a live music option in the city for people who are simply curious about what goes on in Shanghai's underground.
This Friday at Inferno is Loudspeaker who are one of the longest running Shanghai punk bands 10+years, hardcore badasses Spill Your Guts, and Dirty Fingers who throw down Shanghai dirt punk being the youngest band on the bill goin' on year 3 years. The future holds importing acts like Mr. Clit and the Pink Cigarettes (US), Daikaiju (the best live surf show you will ever see), Fleshtones (NYC '77 punk), Mike Watt (legendary Minuteman), Sonic Vomit, Holy Shit!, and a ton of local shows when we can.”
Well there ya go, rock 'n' roll is alive again and it’s free this Friday. Save that 50rmb to pound a 6 pack of store beers at Lawson’s before checking out these find bands Spill Your Guts, Dirty Fingers, and Loudspeaker.
Spill Your Guts – Poisoned Minds
Dirty Fingers – Psycho Killer (Live at School Bar)
Loudspeaker - 格格不入
I wasn’t going to mention this Wednesday’s Pain Killer show because I was underwhelmed when first listening to the acts Finnish band Finntroll and Russian cosplay rockers Arkona. Don’t get me wrong, I love dressing up as Vikings or demons or what-have-you, and going out into the woods to play Norse Gods just as much as the next guy. However, I spent the day watching all three extended versions of Lord of the Rings and decided to give the two bands catalog a deeper listen. Turns out they do have some solid jams which I’m going to share with you now. Basically, if classic hardcore punk is not your thing then Wednesday go ahead and treat yourself to a little Live Action Roleplay metal in the form of Painkiller Fest.
ARKONA - Liki Bessmertnykh Bogov
FINNTROLL – Solsagan
Dream Spirit – Happy Line
Don’t be scared to break out the cosplay face paint and bring a Viking shield for this one kids. No shame in Arkona, Finntroll, or Dream Spirit’s game.