Friday, October 08, 2004

Comments, Links

Both John and Brad posted reviews of the concert at 复兴公园 (Fuxing Park) that we went to on Wednesday night. Three different people, three different opinions it seems, so time to air mine.

As one of the commenters to John's post said, the promotion for this concert was second-rate. Tickets were on sale at a skate shop, but as far as I could tell the only way to find this out was to see the post on the Shanghai Expat forums and call this character named KING, who then shadily directed me to the skate shop, where I waited around for 10 minutes while somebody came with the key to the drawer with the tickets in it. The venue was snazzily made up with posters, lamppost hangings and T-shirts for the staff and VIPs. It made me wish they had spent some of that money on posters around town, bigger ads in local papers, or flyers passed out at Shanghai universities and music shops.

The first band to come out was Shanghai band 超级市场, Supermarket. They had a keyboardist, a drummer, and a guitarist/vocalist, but they leaned heavily on their man-behind-the-Powerbook, and thus had virtually no stage presence. I like the concept of using instruments to complement a mostly digital soundtrack, but the live show was very lacking. Also, they have a ways to go making their music interesting or dance-able: most of their songs were repetitive and unfocused, with musical influences ranging all over from Jamiroquai to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A large part of the time, I wasn't quite sure which way they were going. Half-way through their set, they brought out a female vocalist who actually bounced around, projected a decent voice, and perked up the crowd's interest. But this only lasted a few songs, by the time which I was ready to move on to...

The headliners, Ladytron. I have to admit, they disappointed a little. Like some people have said, they seemed afraid of the crowd, relying on their music and light/visual show to entertain. Also, the nature of their live performance blended a lot of songs into each other, making them mono-textural and hard to distinguish. The highlight of their show came about halfway through when a crescendoing finale to one of their songs went to a volume so high that it almost burst my eardrums—a good thing—and set a large part of the reticent crowd dancing. But they really didn't take advantage of this break-through to whip the crowd into anything more exciting, and by the time the show ended, I was left wondering where the fun had gone.

At this point, I found myself thinking that I was actually more impressed by the inter-set DJ than any of the bands.

Finally, like John, I had heard Brendan—who has Kaiser's ear—mention 花儿 so I was excited to hear them. A week or so ago, I visited the Wall shop with Asa and we previewed one of Hua'er's CDs. By the sound of it, they were an MXPX-ish punk rock band. Turns out, their show reminded me more of a Korean gayo boy band than any punk band I'd ever seen. True, they had more energy and did a much better job interacting the crowd than the previous bands had done, and their performance was entertaining enough to keep me around past the 11pm metro closing time. But, whether it is the case or not, the fact that their instruments were largely stage props to a pre-recorded soundtrack left me wondering whether they had really penned the music at all, or were just hand-picked for their peppy smiles and spiky purple hair.

Overall, it was nice to say that I've seen Ladytron in concert, but by the end of the concert, I was no longer bemoaning the lack of a merchandise booth. None of the bands really left me asking for more.

The Shanghai Expat website has more reactions.

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