Welcome to 2015 Shanghai. We are just baby steps into the halfway point of the second decade of the third millennium. The question now is, do we just throw in the towel and say "fuck it, that was a good run; let’s burn her down", or continue down the path and see what’s around the bend? Society can get real mean, with another tragedy or un-justice in the headlines every day. Luckily society can also churn out some pretty solid distractions while we hurdle closer to that nuclear winter or worse yet, the next season of American Idol.
Myself, I’ve been cataloging and rating obscure 70s Krautrock and British progressive albums for the past month. Yeah, that’s what keeps me going. If the rock n' roll antics of Grobschnitt or Guru Freakout aren’t your bag then luckily Shanghai has something to offer nearly every type of rock head this week.
First up, those insatiable scallops at Hot Pot Music who just refuse to give up on pop punk are bringing in British boy band The Bottom Line on Tuesday at Yuyintang. Then Friday has not one but three choices. For the post punks of the world Danish legends Ice Age play Yuyintang, Britpop crooners Starsailor softly sing their way into your heart at the QSW, and metalcore turned alt-rock giants Avenged Sevenfold headline Muse's Mixing Room. Finally on Saturday, Mao Livehouse has Chinese metalcore band Chaos Mind doing an 8th anniversary show that I’m pretty sure will blow the doors off Friday’s import gig. Time to suck it up and get the rest of this millennium done.
The Bottom Line
Turns out the United Kingdom has been keeping a secret from me. A banging pop punk scene. Yes the spirit of Southern California is alive on the south coast of England where The Bottom Line is leading the charge of Hurley wearing, fun-loving teenagers. They're playing at Yuyintang on Tuesday.
These limey T&C surf kids have done their homework too. For the past five years, The Bottom Line have been sharpening their skills in the lighthearted punk trade and just last month released an full length album titled Covered in Punk, which they are touring in support of in China. The album's theme is covers of contemporary pop and rock songs like Taylor Swift’s "We Are Never Getting Back Together". At first I thought "could their be more obvious trolling for trending chum?" But then I remembered this is pop punk and there are no rules or social mores when it comes to self-promotion, or updating your early 2000’s fashion, or changing that tired three chord formula.
These kids do have the sound down solid though and recording engineer Kieren Alder did a spot on job of capturing those high pitched squeels on this straight to Bandcamp release. Truth be told my favorite track is a punked up version of the Friends TV show theme song. Also a highlight is the cover of Weezer’s "Beverly Hills". Who covers a 2005 Weezer song? The Bottom Line that’s who.
The Bottom Line – "We Are Never Getting Back Together"
First out of the gate for Friday’s trio of show choices is a post punk frappe named Ice Age at Yuyintang. The Copenhagen-based band has been hovering around 8.4, 8.5, and 8.6 with their last three Pitchfork reviewed albums. Originally founded in their teens these kids were touted by The Danish Daily as "teenage punks full of anger and anxiety". Since then they’ve calmed down a bit and are growing up on their own terms musically. Their most recent album Plowing Into the Field of Love has a looming presence of country guitar along with dark piano chords and fuzzed out background noise.
Not only have Ice Age’s music chops been increasingly getting more solid but front man Rønnenfelt’s lyrics are noticeably more complex showing his better understanding of the English tongue. I actually prefer broken English from Scandinavian punk bands but hey that’s just me. They are supported by the mega indie giant Matador Records which have released Ice Age’s past three albums. Check out this video for "Against the Moon" from their latest album which stars German actor Dan van Husen, known for his roles in Federico Fellini's Casanova, and Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre. Pretty haunting stuff.
Iceage – "Against the Moon"
Well hello there nice, easy, and non-threatening Brit pop band Starsailor. Where did your booking come from? To be honest I listened to Starsailor’s 2001 album Love is Here about 100 times in my 20s. Upon further reading of the show posting on other sites I noticed a few flags though. First off is learning that Starsailor opened up for U2, The Police, and Rolling Stones on recent tours. Those are the only three bands in the world I wish would fly exclusively via AirAsia together. Yes, I wish those bands would just end.
Then upon further reading, the show description states "They will continue to rock your soul with beautiful melody, and sentimental mood". Wait a damn minute. Is it possible I’m not as cool as I thought I always was? Maybe 20s something indie Sacco actually had horrible taste. Oh well, my suggestion still stands and if you are lucky enough to wrangle up a date for Friday night then skip everything else and drop some Pink Mao’s on Starsailor at the QSW. It’s a guaranteed ticket to makeout city, population you and my Ayi.
Starsailor – "Love Is Here"
Oh man what a moral dilemma this show puts me in. You see the past year I’ve come across about 400 mint Avenged Sevenfold vinyl records that "fell off the back of a boat" into my store for about 1 USD a piece. I’m guessing the surplus is due to Avenged Sevenfold fans being more the type to collect Urban Outfitters credit cards then vinyl. The record store owner part of me wants to talk up this show, put meat in the seat, and move some units. But alas I’m just a decent person and this band is just too horrible to try and push on anyone to spend 680RMB for some watered down crap American hard rock. Jesus they are popular though. Their last music video not only got 30 million hits but has it’s own iPhone game app.
Avenged Sevenfold had a respectable enough start playing metalcore to kids of the early 2000s. During these Hopeless Records days they had a chance of at least being a mediocre nu-metal band. But they sold their soul to Time Warner Records and went the way of being a commodity to sell energy drinks and eyeliner on an epic scale. The Avenged Sevenfold style transitioned into a general alt rock format safe for even your bleach blonde mom to blast in the mini-van. I guess this is arena rock for the millennials and there will always be a need a bland form of music. How else would we know what the decent stuff sounds like right?
And if you are a Sevenfold fan I mean no offense friend. Look out for me in the parking lot of Mercedes Benz arena selling fresh untouched vinyl and boot legged shirts. Wait are there parking lots in China? Alright I’ll be next to the churros stand. That's Friday at the Mixing Room.
Avenged Sevenfold – "Hail to the King"
Now this is what I’m talking about. Taking metalcore to the limits is Shanghainese band Chaos Mind, who are celebrating their eighth birthday Saturday at Mao Live House. Slaying riffs and taking names – it’s great to see Chaos Mind not giving up the dream. In just the past couple years they have played large festivals like Summer Sonic along with putting on countless shows for similar up and coming acts. Then there is the fact they are the go-to band chosen to play with touring acts like Black Dahlia Murder, Suicide Silence, and Terror just to name a few.
Frontman Sam Dust also keeps busy running Playful Warrior records which is one of Shanghai’s very few rock labels. Every time I see Chaos Mind the sound gets better and the circle pits gets bigger. Just look out if you see the crowd separating into two halves. In this situation you got yourself a wall death and if caught in the middle god help us all. See you Saturday at Mao, for 60RMB presale (compared to 680rmb for Avenged). This show is a bargain and should go down in history books of Chinese rock gigs.
Chaos Mind - "平行的世界"
Alright 2015. Let’s get ‘er done.