Monday, May 22, 2006


Where do you stand in the 021 Bar/Shanghai Underground Rock controversy? I've been out of the scene for a while so I wasn't there for the height of the drama, but by reviewing the thread I link to above you can get the general idea: a run-down bar in the Yangpu district run by some "rock immigrants" from Xiamen, has the support of local favorites San Huang Ji, over-enthusiastically and haphazardly organizes concerts, sometimes announcing bands who later deny that they had been contracted to play.

I've been there once, a couple months ago on a failed mission to get a cartilage piercing for Jodi (too dirty was the verdict). San Huang Ji was practicing at the time. The guy who helped us was friendly, showing off his belly-button piercing, but clearly drunk and in no condition to do a sensitive piercing.

My take is, the place is grungy but it seems ideal for a rock bar to me. I wouldn't blame them for the low quality of concerts: I mean, the Shuffle Bar showed up at the beginning of the slump too (actually even closer to the point than the 021 bar). I think the Shanghai kids are just too, ahem, prissy to go to a place like that. I agree with toulang618 when he says:


"I've read a lot of your posts, and what you guys are looking for is basically part-time rockers, guys who work on the side to support their rock habit; that's why Shanghai will never be like Beijing, never have that intensity, because Shanghainese are incapable of being devoted 100% to the music."

We can't let 021 Bar off the hook for being grunge, though. Making up concerts and posting the as real is just lame and hurts the indie rock scene. As usual, no real-world problem is black and white, and this is the black spot in this spat.

Still, I think Shanghai needs a range of venues, from polished (Shuffle, Tang Hui) to quality roots (Yuyintang) to down-and-dirty come-one-come-all type middle-of-nowhere places like 021 Bar, in order to promote an all-around, sustainable development of the rock scene. The number of venues for quality indie music is shooting up in Shanghai, soooo much better than it was a couple of years ago when I rolled, er stumbled, into town. I mean, finally I can stop dropping by Xintiandi to pick up Ark brochures, hooray!


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