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[Music Monday]: PsyTrance Party Tonight

Sacco travels to Goa for a preview of this weekend's Shalanaya Festival.
Sep 21, 2015 | 13:33 Mon
Music Monday is a weekly SmartShanghai column, serving up songs from bands living and making music in China (or coming to China, or thinking about coming to China, or whatever). Copyright holders: if you would like your song removed, please contact us here, and we'll honor your request promptly.

Cover illustration by Android Jones

There are seasons and then there is Shanghai. Let’s face it, Autumn and Spring are the only livable slivers of humanity our metropolis allows. Luckily, besides the cool fall breeze, we have an endless amount of corporate-sponsored music events in September and October to remind us of our consumer potential. But even the saltiest of Shanghai's punters had to find some joy in this past weekend's gigs, festivals, and top shelf strolling weather.

It was a great weekend of music.

If you were one of the 800+ attendees of Friday’s Shelter re-opening I’m sure you’re thinking, "Yep, feels about just right". The ticket booth at the end of the hallway is a nice touch, and the sound seems stronger throughout. The new DJ booth is front and center, which might encourage more staring than dancing, but Friday still had her fair share of shaking that ass. Of course the boy's bathroom was destroyed by midnight, many of new items on the drink menu were not available, and Asahi bottles were still warm as your Ayi’s bosom. Let’s just all be thankful there are no new Le Baron style table fees or strange velvet rope policies at Shelter 2.0. What really makes Shelter such an important underground Shanghai landmark is the artist bookings, and luckily this season they are going all out.

Upwards and onwards, there are plenty more large festivals, live shows, famous DJs, and obscene pop stars gracing Shanghai’s stages nearly every day. But today we are going to talk about one of China's most dedicated and growing music scenes that we've never covered before in Music Monday. Yes, finally, SmartShanghai will pay homage to….


This weekend in Zhujiajiao, Shalanaya Festival brings us three days of Psytrance, Goa-Trance, and Tech House.

If you’re like me, you’ve unexpectedly walked into a local Shanghai bar and found wall to wall black light posters, tribal art designs, hanging fabrics, super cheap laser lights, and after a few seconds of disorientation it becomes clear -- you are at a Psytrance party.

Bless their overly-hydrated bodies for putting in such an effort. I almost feel guilty for never covering Psytrance events in the past because they are one of the most DIY, original, and community-driven music scenes in China. It's a bit hard to pin down a focal point or notable figure in the Psytrance scene, as the DJs and producers are not glorified like EDM's or given the street cred of the DJ Harveys of the world. There are literally over 50 DJs playing Shalanaya festival...

I can’t count how many times young Chinese aspiring DJs have come into my record store looking for a Psytrance vinyl session. While we do have a few random records, building a decent vinyl Psytrance collection is hard because the genre has really embraced digital formats. For me, one of the most appealing and endearing aspects of Psytrance is that focus is on the communal experience and less on standing around watching a DJ hit play on his laptop.

For a detailed history of Goa and Psytrance check out this solid article from Zhen Paintal that was published last August.

China has two main Psytrance crews that over the years have graduated from small club events to regular mini festivals.

First, there is Goa Productions out of Beijing who are a super active crew that have been peddling their crunchy vibes across the Middle Kingdom for over eight years. While based in Beijing, they often travel down to Shanghai and various cities like Kunming, always packing the clubs.

Then in Shanghai we have the kids that used to run the defunct Shiva lounge who throw the Shalanaya Festival. While not as active as their Beijing neighbors, they have a long history in spreading good vibes in Shanghai. This weekend brings their most ambitious project yet with pop up shops, camping, BBQ, and just so many DJS.

It doesn’t matter if you are an ex '90s raver, Bikram Yoga enthusiast, or just a curious bystander with an open ear, this weekend’s Shalanaya festival in Zhujiajiao is bound to change your life. Let’s get you started by going over some of the classic Psytrance bangers that will have you buying that home dreadlock kit from Hot Topic in no time.

Bizaree Contact – "Out Of Your Love"

Sesto Sento - "Mysterious Ways"

Indra – "Come to India"

Biokinetix – "Sextime"

Eskimo - "Party Pooper"

Infected Mushroom - "I Wish (Infected Remix)"

One of Us. One of Us. One of Us. One of Us. One of Us. One of Us. One of Us. One of Us.


This column is written by DJ Sacco, who runs Uptown Records, Shanghai's dedicated vinyl shop. Ironically, they don't sell Mp3s or dabble in anything digital, instead they have 7" and 12", EPs and LPs from rock to electronic, rare pressings, DJ equipment and band merchandise. Find them in an old bomb shelter at 115 Pingwu Lu.


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