I’ll get to the balls in just a moment.
Last night was a “Made in Shanghai” night at Yuyintang, meaning they had four Shanghai bands on, three of which I’d never heard live before so I was there, obviously.
I totally missed the first band The Lanterns because, uh, I just can’t make it places by nine on a Saturday. Pity, because the Lanterns are supposed to be alright. They got together in 2001 or so and split up in 2005, but then reunited in 2010 and have played sporadically since then. They sound okay enough on their Douban page — sort of poppy, unoffensive, melodic rock; lots of keyboard. I still want to see them live at some point.
/Lilith/ was playing when I arrived. They started in 2010 and they’re what you would call a Visual Kei band. It’s basically an image that originally came from Japanese musicians where you sort of dress to impress. Flamboyant outfits, really styled hair, likely androgynous. And yeah, Lilith was all of those. But they actually sounded quite good, so they weren’t just all looks. Their sound is a pretty heavy metal/rock, but I don’t listen to a lot of metal, let alone Chinese metal, so I can’t even tell you if their songs were originals or covers. They were quite polished though, and have an EP coming out in May, so uh, yeah, there’s that.
The best part of Lilith is that you could tell there were a few metal-heads in the audience who had come to see them and were really enjoying it, but they’d also brought along their very confused-looking girlfriends who were all thinking, “This is not what we signed up for.”
Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of Lilith (I know, a visual kei band and no pictures!) but my excuse is that I was holding a beer and you can not take pictures and hold a beer at the same time. FACT. Also, I’d come by myself so had no friend to hold said beer for me, and last time I asked a stranger to hold my beer for me at YYT he drank from it. I know! I’m not risking that again. Beer is too precious to be treated so lightly. So, no pictures.
Next up was Duck Fight Goose, the band I’d really come to see. They’re probably my favorite band on the Shanghai circuit right now. I love what they do with traditional rock instruments mixed with electronic influences and instruments, which so many bands do, but none do as well as Duck Fight Goose. Their EP Sports from 2011 is fantastic. It’s hard to put them in a category because they go so easily from electronica to traditional rock songs and all sorts of stuff in between, so let’s just say…experimental rock. As if that narrows it down. But last night was so tragic as they only played one song. It took them longer to set up than to perform. I feel like they were on the bill just to get people in the door, maybe? And then just to try out this new track live.
Duck Fight Goose‘s one song was pretty great, anyway. Han-Han looped his vocals over and over and over again so it was like a chorus of one man. Pretty cool. I don’t know who was drumming with them last night and if he’s the new drummer or just a temp, and I forgot to go find the guy after the show and find out because I got distracted by the last act.
So, now the balls. The last band up was Round Eye, a newish band here in Shanghai that actually just released a record last week, and I’d heard pretty good things about that show. Plus, they have two saxophonists in the band. TWO. That’s unusual and I like unusual things. They were a little gimmicky — like, the funny glasses with the one eye and the crazy hair and then the guitarist and bassist decided to take of their pants and do the gig in their underwear and I was sort of like, “meh.” I’m not much for gimmicks. Plus, the guitarist had on a really poorly-fitted pair of underwear and I thought, “Great. Now I have to look at balls the entire show,” but it ends up my ball concern was somewhat misplaced.
So, Round Eye‘s playing; they’re not bad. A punk/rock sound. Energetic. But then the guitarist just took off his underwear and decided to do the show with his junk hanging out. Now, in principle, I’m not opposed to penis on stage. But I guess I think that when you’re on stage, playing music, and you have to take off your pants to get people to look at you, maybe there’s something lacking in the music bit of your performance. And while it’s always fun to see penis initially, it gets old pretty fast. And that on top of all the other gimmicks: the spitting beer at the audience (which I’m against simply because it wastes beer. What kind of animal wastes beer?!), the pretending to pee in a bottle and then fling that at the audience, the glasses, the dick…eh. While I thought they started off sounding pretty good, I just got a bit tired of it all. I don’t know. I’m not writing them off yet; they certainly have time to develop. And there were, like, four dudes right up front who really, really enjoyed it, so there’s that.
However, two really awesome things happened though when the guitarist got his dick out. First, the two saxophonists COULD NOT stop looking. They simply could not believe that his penis was right there, on stage, sharing the front line with them. They kept glancing over with a look that said, “Yep. There’s a penis. So, okay. Yeah. Penis. Peeeeeenissssss.” Hahahaaaa.
The second thing is that as soon as some of the Chinese girls in the audience saw the penis, they shoved their way right to the front, fairly unabashedly, phones out. I mean, why pass up a prime opportunity to see some foreign penis? Awesome.
So, not the best night at YYT, but you know, it’s cool to see some unusual stuff on stage once in a while.
I’m talking about the saxophones, obviously.