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[Shanghai Weekender]: Our Top Picks in Live Music, Clubbing, Arts & Stage

Where to party and what to do during the Qingming Holidays.
2024-04-04 12:00:00


‘A Bunch of Noise’ Festival takes over System this Qingming Holiday. A wildly ambitious and sprawling gathering of the noise, experimental, and avant-garde scene’s most prolific, boundary-pushing, and off-kilter acts - from both China and around the world - the festival unfolds over the course of the holiday with over 40 acts converging upon the space. Day one will feature various workshops from artists of all ilk, while day two and three the real magic begins - an onslaught of acts from Europe, Southeast Asia, and East Asia

Here is a special treat to sweep in for the holiday. Local underground talent is bringing the all-vinyl all-night vibe out to a brand-new venue this Friday. I’ve personally heard half of the listed DJs play and they range from funky fresh, electronic dance, to bossa nova and minimal house. A debut event show at a terrace-offering venue. I’ll see you all there.

Akanbi, avant-garde self-proclaimed “mayor of enjoyment” is a rave enthusiast with a love for the groovy. That’s a lot in one sentence. Other intriguing descriptions get thrown around when describing his music style such as rough and smooth, urgent and emotional, mind-bending and liberating. Well, if that doesn’t get you interested how much more is there. Oh, he is known to drop amapiano, reggae, minimal, afrobeat, and techno.

Here is another treat for you on Thursday. Reggae Dub plate master Fabasstone flies in from France to lay that dancehall vibe down at System. A personal favorite genre myself, playing such down right bad bad bad (means good) reggae at a venue like System has been a lacking element in the Shanghai scene since Dada closed and so I’m all for it.

Space Panda and the Edition Hotel host German house DJ Ben Rau: German and Ghanaian DNA, house music phenom Ben Rau is blessed with the best of both cultures. Ben Rau's infectious rhythmic grooves and emotive melodies mix together to form a rich, deep and hypnotic formula that speaks to your very soul... Ben Rau is taking over the biggest clubs and festivals all over the world by storm. With such a strong foundation, an unerring passion for his craft and so much support, Ben Rau's drum will carry on beating for many years to come.

Pangaea, AKA Kevin McAuley, has been at the cutting-edge of electronic music as a producer and DJ for a decade and a half. He's maintained a magnetic output that derives its energies from a synthesis of the familiar and the futuristic, with his 2023 album on Hessle Audio, Changing Channels, only the latest example.

Popasuda presents the legendary Tropical Bass/Global House producer Daniel Haaksman at Celia. Coming from Berlin, Daniel Haaksman founded the record label Man Recording, solely focused on the production and sourcing of global dance music, with much of his sounds coming from Africa and Brazil. He's been credited by the likes of Diplo as being the first to brings the sounds of Rio De Janeiro's favelas to the streets of Europe, pioneering the Baile Bass movement. His sets span House Music, Electro Clash, Kuduro, GQOM, Baile Funk, and more, with a distinctly cultural sounds. Don't miss the rare opportunity to catch Daniel Haaksman, at an intimate venue, before he embarks on his wider Asia tour.

Live Music

As is tradition - Qingming Festival gets its musical accompaniment via death metal, cold wave, and more tar black sounds - with an assortment of bands and acts looking to sonically sweep some tombstones so you can rest assured for the rest of the holiday. And Modernsky Lab has quite the spread - with acts like Urizen Society, known for fusing black metal and symphonic metal, joining brooding cold wave outfit UNTERWASSER, death metal band Blood of Life, rap metal cohorts ASTP and BlackMobula, plus hard techno connoisseur Hei Mu - throwing down celebrating the only way they know how - mosh pits galore.

New York death metal pioneers SUFFOCATION - whose blast beats have influenced generations of metal acts - make their way to China. The band - ‘uncompromisingly brutal, artistically gutsy, and aurally heavy as ever’ - unleashed their ninth full-length album, Hymns from the Apocrypha last autumn - once again capturing their deft balance between brutal and technical sounds while giving listeners a pummeling good time. And they’ve picked a stellar opening act - Tianjin brutal death metal titans The Dark Prison Massacre, whose body slam theatrics will leave you gasping. 

The pioneering black metal band from the mountainous regions of Taian, Shandong, and Deep Mountains is back! Though the past decade has softened some of the band’s more jaded cliffs, the band’s hardened heart is still very much bleeding out between red-hot guitar licks and gurgling screams. Shrouded in a fog of philosophical dread, they’re one of the metal scenes most evocative forces.

Since their debut album, “First Enchantment”, released in 2002, Triosence has been praised by the music press all around the world. The band carries a fresh and unique style from a combination of Jazz, Fusion, Folk and World Music. The trio has been acclaimed as “the piano trio that changed our impression of the ‘stiff German jazz’. Triosence has performed all over the world, with tours in Germany, the United States, Brazil, Japan, The Netherlands and many more. On April 5, the German jazz trio will bring their music to China for the first time at Jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai stage, they also prepared the Chinese song "Spring Breeze" for the Chinese audience.

“Seisiún 上海” is the city’s monthly Irish Traditional Music night happening this Friday, April 5th, for fans of Ireland’s famous musical sessions! There’ll be drink deals, live music, and of course Guinness! They partnered up with Irish Chamber member Butler & White with Guinness, at the Tavern in Tianzifang, and Black Velvet Band, a two-piece featuring Rory O’Neill (Cork, Ireland) and Richard Morris (Coventry, UK), a spin off from Shanghai’s long-standing Irish band Doctor Midnight. They switch between mandolin, guitar and accordion while singing stories of alcohol and romance from the Emerald Isle. Join us on the first Friday of every month for the craic agus ceol! Free entry, booking advisable!


Alvaro Cardenas, a saxophonist who was born in Colombia and specializes in Latin and classical jazz, will present a night of hot Latin music on April 6 featuring Shirley Maria. Get ready for Latin jazz at Lincoln Center Shanghai. 2 shows available.

'Hè /Harmony' and 'The Rite of Spring' are a creative contemporary dance created by Dr. Miranda Chin, the first-generation modern dance choreographer in Hong Kong, and the Miranda Chin Dance Troupe she founded. The first half of the work is 'Harmony', with the background of the ink painting style of the famous graphic designer Kan Tai-keung, quoting the concept of traditional Chinese medicine meridians, and using the natural images of mountains, waterfalls, pine and cypress, and rivers as dance postures, combining traditional Chinese elements. The second half is 'The Rite of Spring', which is based on the ancient sacrificial rituals and is accompanied by the Western movement of Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring'. In the work, the dancers use the oriental implications in Tai Chi, pushing hands, and free fighting to express the 'origin of martial arts and dance'. At the end of the show, Miranda Chin will also guide the audience to do Tai Chi dance together.

The Orchestra of the Royal Opera of Versailles, together with the French powerful countertenors, make its first visit to the Shanghai Oriental Art Center on April 7, performing their signature pieces: Baroque opera arias and Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera of Versailles holds an average of 100 performances per year, and is particularly good at performing Baroque and Romantic period music. The conductor of this concert is Stefan Plewniak, and countertenors Paul-Antoine Bénos-Djian, Théo Imart, and famous violinist Zhang Zhang are also invited.

This chamber music concert features renowned German pianist and conductor Ralf Gothoni at the Shangyin Opera House. Gothoni is skilled in piano, chamber music, conducting, and composition. His unique style and understanding of music have earned him high prestige. The concert will include Dumky and Forellenquintett by Schubert. Gothoni has teached chamber music in various cities. The performance is scheduled for 7:30pm on April 7, with ticket prices ranging from 180 to 580rmb. The duration of the concert is approximately 90 minutes without intermission.

The ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra is one of the world's premier orchestras. On April 9 in Shanghai, the orchestra will present a series of music pieces from famous movies such as Schindler's List, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Known for its exceptional and bold programming, the Vienna RSO is joined by the renowned conductor, pianist, and organist Wayne Marshall, who is hailed as the "voice" of Gershwin's music.

Vitaly Pisarenko is the First Prize winner of the 8th International Franz Liszt Piano Competition. The New York Times praised him as an “...Immensely gifted pianist with prodigious technique, myriad shadings and scrupulous accuracy". This time, Vitaly Pisarenko's performance will span the Romantic period and the 20th century, from Chopin's Polish dances filled with romantic emotions to Schumann's romantic emotional world depicted on the piano keys, to Prokofiev's suite filled with dramatic and experimental style, and ending with Ravel's strong sense of rhythm, leading the audience on a musical journey with creative styles of different musical eras.