It was a busy weekend for Shanghai music. On Friday I went out to see The Horde at 390 Live for the release of their EP Consider Yourselves Conquered. I love these guys and what they’re doing. Their music is like Americana folk–you know, harmonica, guitar, percussion, mandolin. That kind of stuff. But what I like so much is that a lot of their lyrics are very urban-centric (Shanghai-centric if you live here) and reflect this strange Chinese influence, which is something you don’t get much in Western-style folk. It’s a nice dichotomy.
The band’s made up of Ho-Tom the Conqueror (vox and guitar), Fierce Franco (vox and mandolin and also a Colorado native, hey-yo), George the Goliath (occasional vox and harmonica) and Johnny 2.0 (cajon). Obviously, these guys are excellent performers. They’re professional but haven’t lost that feeling that they’re just a group of musicians hanging and jamming. Plus, I loved how they set up their EP release. So usually the releases go like this: you book a venue, you get a couple of bands to open and then the releasing band plays last. But brilliantly The Horde was all like, “Pfff. Opening bands?” Instead they just played three separate sets during the night. So no matter what time you got there, you got all the songs, plus a lot more, plus some socializing time.
It was pretty crowded which is always nice to see when a local group’s releasing something, but here’s something funny about 390 Livehouse: the stage is basically set at the same level as the audience, with no barrier. For most shows it’s really cool, because it’s a smaller venue and it feels intimate because you’re right there next to the band. But then, of course, sometimes you get these shows when half the audience is made up of people who not only know the band but also know each other, and everyone’s drinking and in a good mood, and you’ll get the occasional “crawl up”–you know, that one dude who’s friends with everyone in the band and mid-song thinks he’s gonna just get on up there and shake everyone’s hand. It’s sweet in a way, because everyone is just really good friends and he genuinely just wants to say congrats to his buddies, but it’s mid-song, dude. Wait till they take a break.
Anyway, it was a great night, good music, an an excellent EP. I’m really looking forward to what their full-length release is going to be. Their EP is available at their BandCamp page at a name-your-own-price scheme. My fav off of their EP is probably “The North,” but have a listen below and decide for yourself.
Oh my god, I almost forgot the best part of the night. So maybe in their second set, I see George who’s normally on the harmonica rumaging around for something on stage and then I’m like, “Wait, no. Could it possibly be…? No! Wait! It is!”
Yeah, he played the melodica. I’m telling you people, this is the hot new instrument.
(Disclaimer: this is not a picture of George from The Horde playing the melodica. George is way better looking and has less crazy eyes. This is merely the best picture of someone playing the melodica ever.)