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2014: Best And Worst Music

Our annual list of SH's best live music and DJ shows, as picked by DJs, promoters, musicians and other people living that night life...
Last updated: 2015-11-09

Hey gang, it's time for another one of our annual circle jerks. As usual, we asked a bunch of promoters, DJs, and "industry people" which show they enjoyed the most in the 2-0-1-4. We asked them to spread love around town and not big up their own shit…

But some people don't read so good.

...Or check their email.

Also for the first time, we asked people to name the worst show, or biggest disappointment, because that's fun and useful too. This really was the biggest year for music in Shanghai, on almost every level. See you in the comments section, on with the show.

Tyler Bowa (Co-Owner of Factory Five & Drummer of all Shanghai heavy bands):

Best: Trash Talk at Arkham. Skate ramp in the middle of the floor, pent up hardcore kids and an open bar make for the best show of the year. It'll be hard to top front slip skateboard dives into a moshpit filled with broken glass.

Worst: MIDI Festival. Likely the worst overall lineup to hit any major festival in China, ever.

[Bootsy Collins at JZ Festival]

Cookie/Xiao Bing (Vinyl collector, radio personality, swap meet organizer, Shanghai's biggest Prince fan):

Best: "Best Show" goes to Bootsy Collins' live at JZ Festival. If you want me to list some name that can represent FUNK music, Boosty will always be the one. And "I'd Rather Be With You" is one of my favorite songs of all time. I really enjoyed the fantastic live music he made on stage. To me, this is one of the best music festival in SH!

Worst: This one should be Theophilus London at Arkham. I really like his music. But according to some equipment problem or maybe his personal problem (got drunk?), the show became a mess. I took a record and planned to get it signed by him, but that didn't happen. A little bit disappointed about that night. (But Joey Bada$$ was dope!)

Laura ingalls (Dead douche wanting to get more Chairman Maos):

Music has been a continuous source of disappointment, nobody has done anything new since Johnny Cash and Elvis, apart maybe from the Twisted Sisters. I don't even know why I go to gigs anymore, it's just a bunch of young twerp playing music with computers and electronic toys acting like they invented the cosmos. This is not 1948, you're not John Cage or Iannis Xenakis, go learn a real trade or a real instrument like the Banjo or the Slide Guitar. 

Also since when is "Black Metal" a cool thing? Metals are a shinny thing you ignorant, take it from intelligent people like 2 Chainz or Mr T, they know what i'm talking about...

Jin Qian (Chinese editor of SmartShanghai, Wechat minion, contributor for Playroom, Wooozy and

Best: Periphery at QSW. A lot of young bands don't live up to the hype, with Periphery as an exception. They totally smashed it that night. The vocalist has a killer voice, and it's also a great enjoyment to see some of the best guitarists in the current metal scene (three of them!) playing awesome riffs right in front of your eyes. 

Worst: Trash Talk at Arkham. The performance was good, but the crowd just wasn't right. A large part of the audience came to that show for free beer and Carsick Cars which is weird because neither of them is never-before-seen in Shanghai. And Arkham opened a VIP zone that night too, which occupied 1/4th of the space. Very, very hardcore indeed. I'd gladly give the promoter some money in exchange for a better environment/crowd. Also didn't expect the show would start on time, had to wait outside for 30 mins in order to get in. 

Dostav Dixit (That Split-Works guy):

Best: It's been a long year and there were a couple of shows which come to mind (can't pick one for the life of me). Liars at MAO. Man Forever // Kid Millions at YYT. Alpine Decline at YYT. Bill Callahan (SSO). These shows stood out from the rest because they were awesome.

Worst: Television. The show itself was good but it was kind of disappointing how only 200 people showed up. They should've done it at YYT instead of a festival. Oh well....

[An afternoon in Yangpu at Pairs' last show...]

Jeremy Guo (Chief Editor at

Best: Pairs' last show at Left Rock Music was the best show for me this year. I really like the idea of making use of several rehearsal rooms as different stages in a mini festival. When you just step in the basement, it is all quiet. But when you open the door of any rehearsal room, rock'n roll is there inside.

Worst: Television at Simple Life Festival. Their live performance was good as expected. But it was very weird to see a band like Television in such a relatively pop/mainstream music festival, and the audience turnout made me feel I was at MAO Livehouse. I wish I was.

DJ Kodama (NOT The Artist Formerly Known As DJ Kodama):

Best: Shalanaya Festival was a standout experience this year. Skinny Brown opened with a sitar performance, followed by a pure Indian raga set, very unique. DJ Roo's chillstep blew me away. Atoned Splendor's live set was pretty amazing too. Got kinda fuzzy around the edges after that... More in town, Theo-man's deep sounds never fail to inspire. Good choonage, happy days!"

Worst: [No response. Weak sauce.]

Mavis Lian (MAMASan's Mamasan, occasional event organizer, architect):

Best: Arises from my fuzzy memories all the wonderful parties of 2014 : DJ Skinny Brown’s legendary Popasuda nights are always great fun even when you are sober, Far East Lion’s live show always makes your blood boil, and the random band jamming night in LOgO that turns into an open-mic/karaoke battle was definitely some pretty special experience!But my final vote goes to Kyoto Jazz Massive in JZ Festival this year. Everyone was smiling and dancing, even including the toddlers. It was fantastic!

Worst: TOKIMONSTA at the Red Bull launch party in Arkham. I guess disappointment comes from high expectations. It wasn’t a bad show, in fact it was packed with drunk & wobbly people, largely thanks to the FREE party spirit. But as the newest and coolest DJ from a label as cutting edge as Brainfeeder, I feel that TOKIMONSTA played way too safe for her debut show in Shanghai. Oh, another huge disappointment is Strawberry Festival. AVOID.

Ivan Belcic (Frantic drummer and drawer; DIY T-shirt slinger with Twin Horizon):

Best: Deafheaven at Yuyintang, and Toe at Mao Livehouse. Two bands, both excellent in their own respective ways, and who both brought their A-game to Shanghai with robust, lengthy performances. No phoning it in for these guys. Also, Residence A at YYT. They've been my favorite Chinese band since I first saw them a couple years ago, and they just reminded me of why with a super-tight, super-energetic performance.

Worst: The influx of bro-rock and [insert]-core bands in Shanghai music right now. There's a lot of that going on.

[Aoki bro at Top 100 DJs Festival]

Jodi Rao (Mamasan for C-Space Digital Studio):

Best: There were a lot of good shows this year, a lot of exciting moments. But the most impressive one has to be Fatboy Slim's performance at the Top 100 DJ festival. It's my first time to see him play live, and it gave me exactly the same excitement I got when I first listened to "Live on Brighton Beach" and knowing that people can party like this. To me, a perfect DJ should be like him, a DJ who plays a wide broad of genres and can handle both underground and mainstream music as good.

Worst: Steve Aoki at the Top 100 DJ festival. The first time I saw him was five years ago in Atlanta, and he's doing almost exactly the same in Shanghai this time, or anywhere else in the world. No surprise or too much excitement in his music, Steve Aoki is a cheerleader more than a DJ or producer. Duh...!

DJ Cavia (官二代, Celebrity of 2015, your mom's fav doom metal DJ):

Best: Red Bull's Z-Trip Thre3style set was awesome, I still remember when he dropped the original "邓丽君" and everyone just turnt up immediately. But Mykki fucking Blanco is gonna be my No.1 pick! It's not 100% perfect but things are so raw and exciting you don't really care about the rest.

Worst: Lone at Arkham. Really good set but the volume was way too high, everything was distorted and I couldn't enjoy it at all. And since I really like Lone and the set was dope (really good selection) that makes it even more disappointing.

[Dopplereffekt at The Shelter]

Shanghai Ultra (Guardian of the underground, China's number one soccer blogger, 909-freaker):

Best: Without any doubt the best live show for me was Dopplereffekt at The Shelter's 7th birthday because it was the most thought-provoking show I have ever seen. It fundamentally challenged our pre-conceptions of both entertainment in general, and what one can expect to hear in an "underground" music venue.

Worst: Shanghai festival scene just continues to be mediocre for electronic music. STORM is ok if you like commercial music but it was set up to reflect a tables and bottle club experience which totally missed the point of a festival. For others like MIDI, lots of reasons for it, some are not anyone's fault, others, like lack of quality production and stage management, are. Things are moving in the right direction though and Shanghai gets more exciting each year overall.

Chris Russell (a.k.a. DJ Alta, Push & Pull co-bossman, writer):

Best: The Lit City Rave, and specifically J-Cush's set, at The Shelter for Sub-Culture was definitely the highlight of the year for me. The music, crowd and vibe were all completely on point. It's not always possible to get away with the kind of music J-Cush was playing, but people went with him every step of the way. Great installation by Kim Laughton too. Plus, the whole thing went on til nearly 7am - I've never seen that before at The Shelter. Then as a close second I'd say Mumdance's 909 set at The Shelter last month.

Worst: The Rainbow Disco Club night at Arkham with the Hessle Audio back-to-back set. Music was pretty dull, the crowd was flat, the sound wasn't great (which is pretty much always the case at Arkham in my experience) and having all three Hessle guys there was pretty redundant - there wasn't any sense of contrast or blending of style with the tracks they played. The only good point of the night was the room upstairs with TICT and AC Slater.

Johanna Hoopes (Dragon Media founder, former CityWeekend editor):

Best: Taylor Swift, baby. Chick crushed it and left thousands of ladies swooning. Yours truly included. Oh, another honorable mention, perhaps less hyped, is Caitlin Reilly and Nicky Son's weekly live acoustic folk set at Organic Kitchen. Serious vocals in a super chill setting is all I need after a long week (said like a true thirty-something).

Worst: The tragically epic Boogatti blowout at Arkham. It was brutal that they got so much bad press for a creative media stunt pulled when their incoming DJ bailed. These kids have so much talent and tons of potential. Give em five years and a few less recreational party favors and they'll be killing it. 

Samu (DJ at Hollywood, DIVA, M18, Monkey, Just On The Bund; that guy who makes those DJ mixes for Will's Gym):

Best: Best live show for me was definitely bringing Naughty By Nature to Shanghai this year. And it's not only because I personally played a major role in bringing Treach and DJ Kay Gee here, but because I felt like too many clubs just cared about either underground deep house or over-ground EDM artists. Where were the REAL purveyors of hip hop that were ready to throw down the big bucks to bring the LEGENDS of this sh#t to Shanghai this year? No one really did it and I'm proud to say your boy SAMU got it done in a big way! 

Worst: This year I did a lot of traveling to 2nd and 3rd tier cities so the level of garbage I've seen this year has been excessive. All I can say is some people in China are just not DJs/singers/artists and to please stop that nonsense immediately. Work on your craft before you decide to slap lasers on your bras and claim to be a performing artist. Shit is fucked up!!! 

Tom Mangione (Folk lord, he of Ho-Tom the Conqueror and The Horde):

Best: Unknown Mortal Orchestra. I'd never heard of them
and they blew me away. It's exactly what a great show should be.

Worst: Death to Giants: One Last Time. Only disappointing because it was their last show. They were a great band. I miss them.

Michelle Grant (DJ and a kind soul) ):

Best: Was really impressed by Cazzette at Storm; the music selection, the way they mix it, the energy of their set was amazing.

Worst: Was really disappointed with Dash Berlin (at Storm hehe). The set was too plain, like u were listening iTunes podcast, no energy, no tension at all.

[That Halloween jam at Yunyintang]

Rachel Gouk (Photographer, shameless WeChat media dinners pics uploader):

Best: The 2014 Annual Halloween Tribute at Yuyintang. Not only did the bands bring their all, excellent energy and effort, but the crowd was amazing too – really pumped and enjoying the show. 2013’s show was great and memorable, but 2014 stands out on its own as another successful Halloween tribute.

Worst: I wouldn’t presume to comment on “worst show”. My biggest disappointment is not seeing enough music blogging. Where’s our Live Shanghai Music? There’s some media coverage, personal blogs, social media...but I'd like to see more local - interviews, reviews of shows and albums, finding out new bands. Sacco does a pretty epic and consistent job with Music Monday. Shanghai247 was once pretty good but now gone to ticketing. I’m hoping Layabozi can step up to the plate.

T-Plus (Come Correct Co-bossman, guardian of The Shelter's microphone, rad drift car drivin' man):

Best: Z-Trip at the Shelter for Red Bull 3style was for sure the highlight of my year. The selection, style, interaction and mood was awesome. The Shelter was really a dream of a place that night. The low ceilings and jammed floor really made it a larger than life deal, and on nights like that The Shelter truly shines. Peanut Butter Wolf was also really good and in general I thought 2014 was a really good year for hip hop in Shanghai.

Worst: Pharcyde. It didn’t happen. End of story.

El'se (DJ; one of the coolest French people ever):

Best: Even though i'm not supposed to talk about the events I was involved in I have to say that playing after Dopplereffekt at Shelter for the 7 years anniversary was just overwhelming. I'll always remember how the people were super focused and quiet when they played. It was a really special moment for Shanghai.

Then my favorite DJs this year were definitely DJ BONE brought by V/O/I/D at Shelter, Derrick Carter at Lola and Aleqs Notal at Arkham who in my opinion played a better set than the headliner, French Fries, loved it.

The best live to ear and watch was Andreas Tilliander aka TM404, that was an impressive and proper live set with tons of cool gear!

Worst:Finally the biggest disappointment was Lone at Arkham, I'm a huge fan of his productions but the entire thing was a massive fail. His VJ did a horrible DJ set to warm things up, and the sound that night was particularly deafening. Freaking PAINFUL!

Will A (DJ with Minimalist/Rhythm Works, dude from the neighborhood):

Best: Hessle Audio at Arkham, Ben UFO on top of his game is to truly hear a talented proper DJ expressing an real passion. To top it off they played my mate from back homes track! Needless to say I lost my shit and the night carried on til the early hours with stomping Techno all night! Another mention needs to go to the guys who brought TM404 to Yuyintang he started out with mellow acid and worked it perfectly into a flurry of Techno madness all live! I also recently saw the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra play Scent of Dancing composed by He Xun Tian and it was absolutely breathtaking.

Worst: My own set at MIDI because I forgot my bloody needles for the Technics and id packed my bag full of banging new records.

[Derrick Carter showing kids how to play house]

Logan Hudak (City Moments' Bodyguard, Constant Redditor):

Best: Live - JZ Festival was a refreshing change from the countless DJ shows I have been at over the past year. Great crowd, great vibe, perfect weather and so much funk! On the DJ tip, Lola is always holding it down, but to see my homie Derrick Carter tear down the house was really fun. I love that fun, upbeat, jackin house stuff and there really isn't near enough of this in the city.

Worst: I thought that Storm Festival had so much promise, seeing the crazy stages they built and that fact that we went with a great crowd of people. But every single headlining act I heard was worse than they one the followed. It was incredible. Krewella were literally like nails on a chalk board to me, but then it just kept getting worse. I REALLY hope they can put some thought into their booking next year, what a disgrace.

[Le Justice at Strawberry Festival]

Tina Sprinkles (Redscale Studios Director & VJ):

Best: One of my favorite gigs this year was the last Pairs show, a perfect blend of warm beer, stinky rehearsal rooms and noise. The Lee Renaldo and Leah Singer performance at JUE this year was also a good one with special shout out to Xiban who were the real stars of that performance.

Worst: I wouldn't say its a disappointment as I didn't have high expectations from the start but one of the lamest Dj sets I've ever seen was "Justice" who played at Strawberry Festival earlier this year. I am still trying to understand what the hype is about, they suck.

Marc Ressang (EX-nightlife photographer, nature lover, video adventures dude):

Best: Bonaparte at Arkham - i went in with no expectations at all for a thursday night and was just blown away by the show they put on.

Worst: There were quite a few - but i can vividly recall how the dj stage at strawberry festival was a big mess.

Chris Jobs (VOID DJ, life engineer, dragon slayer):

Best: Best live show: Container at Stockholm Syndrome. His techno punk hit me hard and made me (and Shelter) dance crazy through his whole show. [Also,] DJ Bone (VOID): nothing beats this unpretentious, true to its soul and ultimately funky Detroit techno he played.

Worst: My own headline slot at the Shelter. Planned a lot, failed a lot.

[Rolling Stones laying it down at the Benz Arena]

Robb Pollard (CEO & Founder of Collective Concepts):

Best: Rolling Stones @ Mercedes Benz Arena. Huge respect to the team from AEG to get the worlds greatest band ever here. Amazing.

Worst: Cake throwing & the untalented Steve Aoki coming on after "Sir" Fatboy Slim at top 100 festival - not necessary the worst show by all means but certainly this guy is a huge buzz kill.

DJ B.O. (Promoter of all things rock and roll, freelance headphone model, writer):

Best: On some cold noodle Tuesday in a hollow club off a Shanghai street,Denise Mininfield absolutely destroyed me. A seasoned old school R&B singer from California, her sassy, raspy vocals and coast-line smile make her the most soul-refreshing performer in Shanghai. I promoted a few of her gigs, but whether my nasally drone introduces it or not, see her at any of her jazz club gigs for a guaranteed good time, no shame in the game.

Special shout-outs to XXYY, whose tightened sound, spirit, and infectious pop-punk enthusiasm made Super-Sperm Shank//British Mike/Big Mike the local act of the year (f your ballots), and the indomitable Rolling Stones in March: satisfaction, indeed. Finally, I'm calling my shots: local alt-psych rockers with Chinese characteristics Daydreamer are breaking out big next year.

Worst: I respectively decline to answer this question directly. However, the lack of a viable Shanghai-dedicated underground arts publication a la Shanghai 24/7 is the biggest scene disappointment, and as someone who covers/produces local -ness I feel I shoulder some blame. No disrespect to the Wolves at the door of SmartShanghai (which hasn't been as sharp as it currently stands for a long while), Jake Newby/Fake Boobies at Time Out, and others on their steady grind, but a mobilized, alternative voice is sorely lacking in the 'hai.

Englesia (Vocalist, STDj, Arcade DJ, 4am street food enthusiast):

2014 deserves a gold star. Shout-outs to: Arkham for Peaches, Joey Badass, and Benji B, Lola for John Talabot, and Soul Clap, Shelter for Mykki Blanco and L-Vis 1990, 390 for Baths and How To Dress Well, URVC for creating an important spot in China’s music community and the boys at China Social Club. Shanghai now has a dedicated weekly disco night with a name inspired by the best Latin band in history, and it's held in a cheap graffiti bar. Amen.

Best: Pictureplane @ Arkham by Love Bang x JUE Festival. Rarely does emoshtronic music get booked here. One of the most honest live sets that I've witnessed (no exaggeration, I felt changed afterwards). And Thris Tian's DJ set at Arkham: disco, grime, techno, deep house, etc. When it hit 3.30am, Boys Noize jogged over from M2 for some B2B (techno x r&b croons x rap x dub beats). I danced in 4-inch heels for 6 hours straight, fueled by nothing besides water... So you know it was groovin’.

Worst: I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I think it’s easy to guess; clue: think of a particularly underwhelming EDM spectacle. Despite this, I do commend that Canadian guy for his extraordinary guerrilla marketing.

Andy Curtain (Kung Fu Komedy Club founder, a "funny guy"):

Best: I hate to plug my own event but it's hard for me to get out to other gigs. Ari Shaffir doing a full 120min set to cap off his China tour and just crushing from front to back the whole way through was wildly impressive. I still hear people talking about it.

Worst: I took my fiance to see Bruno Mars (clearly needed some brownie points) and was some of the worst money I've spent. Half the songs were covers, the entertainment value was sub par, and his dancing was a weak attempt at copying MJ.

Thomas Paninaro (DJing in the Middle Kingdom since the late Ming Dynasty):

Best: Once again, I’ve been more impressed with concerts than with DJ shows this year.  White Lies at Mao Live House were awesome and so were The Rolling Stones. After having missed out on their previous Shanghai show back in 2006 I was happy to finally see them in the flesh. I strongly believe everyone should see them in concert at least once in their lifetime!

Worst:. I’m still a big fan of proper Trance music and this year some of the biggest names in the trade made it to our city. However,  quite often I found myself standing there, between the 20-bottles-per-head-tables in some club, or queuing for some fine slice of pizza at a festival, wondering what I was listening to. Trance music it wasn’t , instead it was a rather annoying thing called “EDM”. Every minute a new track but each resembled the previous one. As if the DJ would constantly press the forward/backward switch on his CDJ.

Well, maybe I’m just getting too old for the music of the short-attention-span-generation... I usually like my songs to last at least three minutes...

[Real local hip hop shit at the Iron Mic finals]

Archie Hamilton (Pen pusher and number cruncher at Split-Works/Wooozy/chinamusicradar):

Best: Wow, 2014 was a massive, massive upswing on anything we’ve had before. Shows every day of the week, multiple shows every weekend.  Festival overload.  It’s hard to choose.  For various reasons, one of my favorite nights across the year was the Iron Mic Finals in Shanghai.  full house, lots of good vibes and mutual support for something that’s been going for a long time with varied success. It seemed like a few things had clicked this year - big props to Dana for keeping it real all these years.

Honorable mentions to Storm for their production which was pretty next level and also JZ for their festival which I thought was a massive improvement on years past. Bootsy Collins was amazing there.  And also to Nova Heart who have really raised the bar for a Chinese band - I saw them 3 times in 2014.  

Worst: Television at Simple Life.  Legendary band that we tried to get over to China a few times but with no success.  Then to see then on a fully pop stage sandwiched between 2 pop bands playing to about 300 people in that massive Expo Park main stage arena sucked hard.  Then to hear from their manager that they only play for big bucks - well, you get what you deserve I suppose.

Oliva Xiong (DJ and promoter at The Shelter/Sub-Culture):

Best: The best show of 2014 to me is JZ Festival. I went there on the final day, think it was the best show I've seen this year. Main stage music was all funky, the vibe is just so relax. When you got good music, location and the weather, it's hard not to have a good time.

Worst: The biggest disappointment of 2014 is Night Slugs' L-Vis 1990 at The Shelter. Not sure was me or what, felt kinda lost when listening his set that night, maybe my expectation was too high. The bpm was hard to catch, and instead of playing his own music, he went for some odd house stuff. Himself on the other hand seemed really into it.

[No mud at MIDI Festival this year]

Patrick Mai (Audio engineer/The guy you SHOULD have called, but you didn't, and now your soundsystem sucks):

Best: MIDI Festival, as a whole. As music festivals were all the rage this year, this one was the one that felt real, in terms of vibe, acts, people, everything. It may not have been as high-budget as Storm or JZ, but it was a real festival. People get all caught-up in trying to recreate things from the west, but that's not MIDI. It deserves its props as a proper music festival, put on by Chinese people for Chinese people where the foreigners were the observers, not the other way around. 

Worst: Dash Berlin @ Storm. I know Trance is dead and pop remixes are in, but I could have played a better Trance set than that blindfolded with one hand taped to my crotch. I left halfway through his set, and I LIKE poppy shit. It wasn't a DJ set, it was a freakin self-advertisement that didn't go anywhere. Perhaps I expected too much.

Donn (A2 Live Soldier in the Storm trenches, a wicked DJ):

Best: What a way to give thanks to a bunch of awesome promoters & clubs - I would be biased to pick one,  so here's my list of BEST'S
Shir Khan (Bees Knees) @ Lola - Epic night of House, stripped down & "Exploited". Z-trip @ Shelter - having booked him in '07, this man's still got it! Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (Storm's After-party) @ Arkham - humbled by his unpredictable knowledge & skills. New York Transit Authority @ Shelter - surprisingly good! Special mention: Monthly Jackpot Nights with Mau Mau & Raz @ Dada. 

Worst: Disappointed..Matias Aguayo Live - Awesome artist and booking, playing to a handful @ Mao. 

Leo Chiodaroli (DJ at M18 and Hollywood, a friendly dude):

Best: I really enjoyed Cazzette at Storm Festival, the way they put together different music genres during their set was fun and kept the crowd's good vibe independent of each ones' musical preference. 

Worst: I can't really remember some event that made me disappointed, maybe I was luck to be surrounded by good friends and fun people or maybe I was quite drunk :D anyway, I think I just had good times this year. 

Thomas Bray (That Yeti-loving dude who lives in the basement; man about town):

Best: I really enjoyed Dubbel Dutch’s set at Sub-Culture earlier in November. He packed more flavors in his set than a pack of Skittles with dancehall, grime, jersey club and more…it was just banging club music and bought the sunshine into Shelter’s dark corners.

Worst: I’ve been to some shows this year where the sound set up was terrible and made me cringe. But I can’t knock the promoter as I’ve been there myself and it can be really frustrating. 
On a personal note, I played a corporate gig in Changsha earlier this year and was forced to play EDM tracks with the crowd throwing glow sticks at my face. It was a horrific nightmare but my rent got paid that month!

[Boneparte at Arkham]

Katy Roseland (Basement6 Mamasan, sad wizard, still living in basements, on her own format):

Mykki Blanco was a fucking alien sent down to liberate our shitty souls and kick off his Timbs thru Shelters sticky floor. I'm slightly biased off the tip of him pulling me on stage for a vogue off. Either way, no one doesn't give a fuck like her, or him or whatever. Bonaparte/boner party was my best use of glitter two times this year. There is a value to pure performance that only Bonaparte can shimmy to. I choose their true grit YYT jam over Arkham, you understand. When I was on my period a few times ago I thought Shabazz Palaces was a good idea. Their live set proved otherwise.

Misloop (Resident DJ at Monkey Lounge and Rankadank; comin' straight outta' Tianjin and not to be fucked with):

Best: There are loads amazing show of 2014, it's hard to say the best, if I really need to pick one, i'll definitely say Bootsy Collins at JZ Festival. Because "We want the funk, give up the funk, we need the funk, we gotta have that funk." Such a legend, I've never been more excited. 

Worst: Top 100 DJs festival. The worst (not one of). Except Giorgio Moroder. I can't hear the difference between all the other DJs. It's all the same. Every single set, every single track. And please, can someone kill Steve Aoki by his stupid cake.

[Gettin' down with the Rainbow Disco Club...]

Yvonne Chen (The second-hardest hustling promoter in Shanghai; Footprint's foot soldier; flyer wizard):

Best: Speaking of the best DJ event of 2014, I remember the RDC showcase brought something dope from their river-side festival in Tokyo: Nu-disco master Prins Thomas played a fabulous vinyl set and the entire Hessle Audio team- Ben UFO, Pangaea and Pearson Sound played B2B2B.

I can't skip Sub-Culture with Yosi Horikawa. This Japanese dude spent time and effort traveling the forests doing field recordings to accomplish something difficult to pull off in a club, a special blend of un-dance music was able to captivate a busy crowd, heard it changed someone's life, it changed mine as well. Also, the Yellow Special with 8 locals at The Shelter. People packed the dance floor and went nuts for the groovy tunes while jumping, shouting and whatever, great vibes indeed. I had a blast with many friends for my birthday celebration that night.

Worst: Lone. What he performed at Arkham was completely different from his Boiler Room live set that I've watched online, actually nothing like what Wooozy Offline promoted, “a A/V Live set" ?! Worse, it was way too loud. Fortunately, Jackie saved my ears with his solid set after (but many people already left before he started, felt sorry for him). 

Lynn (Manager at Mural; R.I.P. Open Bar):

Best: Redfoo at Mook. LMFAO is no more, but Redfoo still rocks as a one-man show. His first performance in Shanghai was very energetic. Apart from the duo's biggest hits, he also performed his (relatively) new singles. My favorite part was probably when he gave the crowd a real 'champagne shower'. Great entertainment in all. 

Worst: Twisted Machine at Arkham. Twisted Machine was part of the line-up at the House of Vans party. They are a great metal band, but the poor sound system at Arkham kind of ruined their performance. They sounded fuzzy and messy - it was torture to the ears! 

Drunk Monk (Sub-Culture bossman, Shelter manager, and a real barrel of sunshine):

Best: Outside of The Shelter, the best DJ set I saw was probably Lefto at Arkham. Amazing track selection, and the best intro to any DJ set i've heard all year

Worst: Worst show goes to Top Cat at Arkham. The sound of the mic was so bad I left after 3 songs. Im a big Top Cat fan so this was very disappointing

Conrank (Lord of the Brosteps, a.k.a. Count Trapula, and also sticking to his own forumla here):

Best show has to be Swindle at The Shelter for me... he absolutely killed it, even on a wednesday with a less than half packed club, was the most fun i have had in a while, also i need to include DJ Spinn at Shelter which is yet to come but i know its gonna be ILLLLLL. Biggest disappointment was that i wasn't at Arkham for Boogatti Records launch to get me some RMB and buy some chainZ and shit, Ranky needs some chaynZ yo!. #yolo

Nik Patel (a.k.a. DJ American Booze; keeping the spirit of 1977 alive):

Best: Dopplereffekt was for me the best booking, and an important one… simply to have that style of outer-soundshaping-very static musicians with serious intent - total listening experience … and then put them on at 1am on a Saturday at Shelter... it all felt very significant that all that happened and can happen more hopefully. But my actual favorite night was DJ Bone at VOID at Shelter back in May. He played my kind of techno... lots of funk and fun as opposed to dark and intense.

Worst: Me at 390....I have no idea what do there.

[CSS just not even trying at one of the year's worst performances]

Rhiannon Florence (Fearless nightlife photographer):

Best: My Favorite show of 2014 was Dan Deacon's performance at YYT. Unlike other DJs/Producers only busy with the "handwork" during the show, Dan introduces his audiences to his music. He knows how to work with the crowds. Squat down, Stand up, GROUP GAME. That's what it was. Everyone was mesmerized by his call. What's greater than seeing your audiences dance to your music with happy smiles? He is a real Mugician (Musician+Magician).

Worst: CSS's show at QSW was a disappointment. Jet lag? Lovefoxxx sang out through the concert. It was more like KTV to me, although their fans were very hyped but that didn't get them onto the same level. Way too SOFT. There are more and more Bands/DJs coming to China for shows nowadays, but Shanghai also needs more good quality/inspirational performances worthy of the title of Magic City.

Ned Kelly (Chief Editor at That's Shanghai so he's on his own format innit):

Tony Rotton at The Shelter was epic, and it is fair to say I was a shameless fanboy that night (as well as a wee bit intoxicated). We are friends on WeChat now though, which makes me happier than a pig in poo. I doff my hat to Conrank for Split for bringing him out. The Rolling Stones may be wrinkly, but they can still rock too. Another unforgettable night. No worst gig. Eff the effing haters!

Frank Costello (DJ; Co-owner & Director of Lola; sticking to the format of "big-upping your own shit"):

It’s been another great year for Lola with many big names from all over the world like Soul Clap, John Talabot, Derrick Carter, Tom Trago, Betoko, Audiojack, Silicon Soul, Ian Pooley, Axel Boman, Manik...just to name a few.

[Mykki Blanco destroying The Shelter

Erica Martin (Nightlife Editor at CityWeekend Shanghai):

Best: For me, it's a tie between Mykki Blanco and Dan Deacon. Mykki's vocals were so visceral, I can still feel them. And he has this charismatic magnetism. Everyone in the crowd was in love with him by the end. Especially the bros. Dan Deacon has such fascinating music that he could just play his set and ignore the crowd, and it would still be good. But instead he made a huge effort to rile everyone up, to keep the energy soaring. I left in euphoria. That combination of talent and lack of pretension is rare.

Worst: Nothing to say re: worst show. [So, I'll have a SOFT-serve ice cream please...]

Charp (Holly Sh*t bossman; sticking to the "keep it friendly" format; Lola's biggest fanboy):

For the second year in a row , I would say Ivan Smagghe at Shelter. This guys has his own style and knows how to drive a crowd. Big up to Yeti crew for bringing him back here. Derrick Carter at Lola: I never had the chance to see him perform before, so I was exited to see his play and he made such a good impression. A really good performance. Perfect mixing and superb house beat. This guys deserve his reputation of house master. Big up to Lola crew.

Mattia Visconti (Partner and founder of MVP, Goodfellas, Dvino and former partner of Mao and Hollywood; dapper gent):

Best: I really try to remember if I went to any big show here in Shanghai, but I was mostly abroad. I just went a regular Friday to Unico and Ben Huang was playing, I enjoyed his set, smooth classic house simple and good for the ears.

Worst: I can't say where I heard the worst music but I can only say it's a place on the bund, it's not Bar Rouge and it's not Cirque…  there are just few left ;-)

Mia (DJ, producer, and cat-lover):

Best: I didn't really goto a lot of shows besides work but the best live show I've seen this year was Mykki Blanco at Shelter, he or she was so dope n' shelter was sweat off the wall n set on fire! I was like damn! this shit is real nice~ n' my favorite DJ set was Lee Jones for Footprint's 3rd anniversary at Arkham, super nice techno from Berlin!! very dreamy set that put u in a nice trip!

Worst: My biggest disappointment was Sasha at M2, because he used to be so great with John Digweed back in early 2000 n' now I just see an artist lost he's passion, playing off the chart music, just here to make the money...  anyways I think the underground music scene definitely is getting better each year so keep up the good work guys!!!:)

DJ Caution (Come Correct Co-bossman, the good DJ at Love Bang, beat conductor, professional horseshoe pitcher):

Best: Z-Trip at the Shelter.  He’s somebody I look up to and respect and there are not many.  His mixes, skills and selection are always flawless.

Worst: None that I’ve been to. I choose wisely. Disappointment: The Pharcyde.  The show got cancelled :(

MC Jado (A real rasta trapped in a Shanghainese dude's body; half of Far East Lion; anime lover and occasional skateboarder):

Best: The Outlook Festival Launch Party in Shelter and Fête de la Musique last summer personally moved me! No doubt!

Worst: But Zebra Music Festival performances clearly disappointed me with a music selection suffering from a lack of cohesion.

CJ (Half of Kamikaze Kidz, Boogatti Records Co-Bossman, raining 100rmb bills down on the haters in the peanut gallery):

Best: Ms. Dynamite without a doubt!  It was her birthday and she had a great turn out, played all the classics and straight kilt' it!  Big ups to FOB and their first show in Shanghai, way to come in with a bang!

Worst: Phazz at Arkham.  One of our artists missed his flight and we didn't find out until right before the show.. A couple people were upset because Phazz was a no-show but we dumped 8,000RMB into the crowd.  People immediately forgot and went cray.  Arkham wasn't happy and blew things wayy out of proportion and ruined a good relationship but overall, it was a great show and a night the people will never forget. 

[Storm Festival...that was a divisive one..]

Luce (1LoveShanghai bossman, Shanghai's hardest-hustling-promoter, survived the Storm):

Best: What Up Its Luce屌丝 of 1LVSH, Best show of 2014 for me was the Tokimonsta show at Arkham on a Thursday brought to us by AD08 and the great ppl at Redbull. It was free and everyone was smiling, rolling their balls off on Vodka Redbulls from their showcase at Central Studio.

Worst: Mmm I think the biggest disappointment was Theophilus London's performance at Arkham, the way he kept trying to get the crowd to boo the sound guy when the sound actually didn't sound so bad made me feel uncomfortable and sad :(. BUT Joey Badass killllllllled it right after and I got to dance beside/smell that blond german/asian supermodel girl, Kai-lee? So it turned out to be another great night at Arkham, maybe one of the best?


Big thanks to everyone who participated, buckets of shame to those who just repped their own shit, and apologizes to anyone we forgot. As usual, drop your love/hate/other emotions in the comments.

And for more of our year-end content, check out:

2014: Best And Worst Shanghai Art
2014: China's Best Albums
2014: Shanghai's Favorite Eats And Drinks
2014: Best New Restaurants
2014: Best User Review Quotes
2014: Best Flyers
2014: Worst Flyers
2014: The F&B Memorial Reel