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[Music Monday]: New Shanghai Rock

Sacco wonders how many markets Shanghai really needs, and shares tunes from recent rock formations LIFE LINE, Parachutes on Fire, Shu Yin, Little Monster, Pinball City, and Future Gaze.
Nov 30, 2015 | 14:37 Mon
Over the weekend, I came across a couple new Shanghai bands while attending Doc Guthrie's Movember Man Market. Specifically, two: the expat outfits Parachutes on Fire and the ska-inspired three-man ukulele band PM 2.5 who played their first show. The experience got me all jazzed up to share some of the newest rock bands to hit our city streets in recent months. Before getting into dat rock, though, let’s take a minute to reflect on what’s going on in the local pop-up market scene. Last weekend SmartShanghai ran a small wire article titled 5 Weekend Markets That Probably Won't Suck, but there's many more pop-up markets even than that taking place regularly in the city. It's got me wondering how many more we even need and if we, the vendors (speaking as someone who regularly rents a booth out and tries to eke out a little extra business at these things) aren't just wasting our time and resources, taking part in so many of these pop-up markets all the time. Its like the same 20 of us, selling the same 20 things to the same 20 people...

I came across another one over the weekend which was't even listed on this website. M50's outdoor "Entrepreneur Ship Market" (love that title) was about 30 young Chinese vendors selling mostly handmade accessories and nic-nacs huddled together in the cold. Don’t get me wrong, I think community markets are great way to encourage kids into promoting DIY culture and in a larger sense, providing examples of how we can live without H&M and Walmart. But running a record store locally here for the past five years has lead me to participate in pop-up markets almost on a weekly basis and I have to wonder, is this bubble about to burst? Most of us don’t make enough market money to cover the table fees and transportation to the event. In turn, we just pray the guy who took an extra long look at that Billy Joel’s “Turnstiles” record will take a card and come into the shop someday to close the deal.

Are we kidding ourselves about why we pay 500rmb to 10,000rmb in table fees just to hang out with the same vendors and attendees every week? Market society is at some sort of tipping point and I’m not sure it’s good for anyone. Oh well, I’ve already become addicted to the weekly intake of Ruijin Cajun sausages, Pie Society mash, and the seemingly 200 or so baked goods vendors wares. On that note, come check out a new mint copy of Billy Joel’s “Glass Houses” vinyl featured in the Uptown Records booth at this weekend’s KTGA Winter Market running Saturday and Sunday. All I can promise is the most immersive, culturally important, non-GMO, experience of your life. For now, let’s get back to what you’re here for, new rock from Shanghai's newest rock bands.

Today, we've got LIFE LINE, who are so new they haven’t even played a show yet; Parachutes on Fire, who played their first show last weekend; the new solo project from former Undress for Success keyboardist Shu Yin; Pinball City; Future Gaze; and Little Monster. Some new-new stuff, some old-new stuff, some old faces playing new stuff -- this is the new-new-new sound of Shanghai.


Image Source: LIFE LINE Facebook

BOOM. Hot off the presses is a exciting new project that goes by the name LIFE LINE. The band includes Tyler of Spill Your Guts fame who is departing from his usual style of hardcore punk and metal into stoner rock terrain with this new outfit. LIFE LINE -- we're looking at straight-up stoner bro rock and while usually I prefer harder sludge in my morning tea, after listening to the debut EP a few times it really grew on me. They've still got some morbid content like the riff "Human occupation, self-annihilation, Extinction, our abomination (our abomination)" but the hardcore angst has been replaced with a more straight-rocking approach. LIFE LINE play their first show at Yuyintang on Saturday, December 12. I have a feeling the Bandcamp page doesn’t do justice to the live show.

LIFE LINE – "The Opener"

Parachutes on Fire

Image Source: The band

Parachutes on Fire is a new psych rock / folk / indie rock comprised of veteran members of Shanghai's music scene. That's right, it's a super band. Let me go ahead and introduce them one by one. From the picture above on the far left is bassist Fabian who used to wear those Thailand puffy pants all the time before trading them in for an upper management position in some French organization. He's been in several bands in Shanghai, including The Fever Machine and The Rogue Transmission -- two acts that managed to get a bunch of China tours and festival playing under their belts before disbanding a few years ago. Going down the line we have drummer Dave who let’s just say once had vices that are now habits. He's also spent a fair amount of time behind the drums on YYT's stage. Not to mention Logo, Inferno, and wherever else once might be able to play a show for legions of fans (friends and co-workers) in Shanghai. Sporting the creepy mustache in the middle you got acoustic guitarist Tom Mangione, a silver-tongued conqueror of hordes, or from hordes, or what have you. Then, rounding out the four-piece in the green shirt, is lead guitarist Adam who just had a baby this year, officially sanctifying this band Parachutes on Fire as "Dad Rock". Music-wise, it's longer, meandering jam rock, mixed in with a sharper folk rock edge, possibly the result of the two guitar players' own musical backgrounds, and the intersection thereof.

We are just at the brink of the vast expanse that is destined to be Parachutes on Fire and I can’t wait to see where this flight leads. Personally, I could use more of the drummer Dave talking about things that never were and never will be. He does do that a bit on a song or two. Check out the bands third show this Friday night at Fennel Lounge for a free gig.

Parachutes on Fire – "Tailspin"

Shu Yin

Image Source: Shu Yin Douban

Another new notable act on scene is a solo project from keyboardist Shu Yin formerly of the post-punk band Undress for Success. Before joining Undress for Success, Shu Yin’s style was a bit more straightforward electro, but a little bird told me her former bandmate Laurent will be helping with production on new material. Laurent is one of the most talented rock arrangers in Shanghai and I always look forward to what projects in works on. The video below is of an older song from Shu Yin however the video itself was just filmed recently as a small clip is filmed at my record store. Hey art school kids, I don’t remember giving permission for that. Nevertheless, I look forward to listening to her new solo stuff live and seeing what impact the past year of playing with Undress for Success has had on the new Shu Yin sound.

Shu Yin - "Leaving the City"

Pinball City

Image Source: Maximum Rocknroll; photo by Rachael Gouk

If you’re looking for a straight forward no frills garage rock / alt rock band then make sure to check out the group Pinball City. The band is a mixture of expats and locals churning out aggressive rock for the past year culminating in a 10” EP vinyl record being released this month. My favorite track on the EP goes by the name Drunken Boats and reminds me of the late 70’s pub rock scene that included bands like Peter and the Test Tube Babies. The rest of the songs are a little more polished. These guys have already become staples at local live houses such as Inferno, On Stage, and Yuyintang, and have recently teamed up with the label / promotion group kids from Pest Productions who are helping them hit the road playing around China.

Pinball City - "Drunken Boats"

Future Gaze

Image Source: Future Gaze Facebook

Future Gaze fall into that new band category of “most likely to make it” -- at least in the form of getting international attention and playing shows outside China. The electro rock group is fronted by vocalist Sharon from the band Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes are now defunct and have just released a a farewell vinyl 12” EP this month on Beijing’s Genjing Records (available at all Uptown locations). While back in America earlier this month, I saw that Tom Cruise & Katies Holmes record on the wall at over half of the 20+ record stores I visited. Future Gaze is a slightly more electronic project that is backed up by local producer Clement from Acid Pony Club and solid-like-a-robot drummer Daniel Nagels. Together the group lays down spaced out textured sounds that provided a good sound system can really get ya in that sweet spot.

Future Gaze - "Self Divided (Protection Mix)"


Finally, as a parting shot on bands I think you should check out are the duo who go by the name Little Monster. Even though I don’t have a streaming version of their songs head to their Douban Page and give a listen to the chaos that is destined to either destroy us or them.

Till next week, kids.


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