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2008 Jul 16 Review: Snapline at Mao Livehosue


Snapline, Linga, Lucky Monkey, PB 33
RMB 40-50.
9pm. MAO Livehouse (6402 5080)

The Stone Boat and D-22 are the latest high profile causalities of the pre-Olympic tightening of rules related to public, and especially outdoor, performances (although we've just heard news from the Haidian club, that if all goes to plan, they'll be turning the speakers back on next weekend). Fortunately, music fans affected by the recent downturn in the number of live offerings in Beijing can still take solace in Mao Livehouse. Last Saturday it was packed for the expansive bill of The K, Snapline, PB33, Linga, and The Scoff.

Openers The K have been gaining momentum recently, though their take on ska doesn't offer much besides a danceable beat. Liberal use of organ adds a touch of originality and catchiness to their sound, but sits uneasily with their music. Similar to The K, pop punk band PB33 have a ways to go before they own stage, seeing as most of the audience saw fit to head to the bar during their set.

In fact, it was Snapline, incongruously playing second, who gave the performance of the night. Drum-machine driven and poised between catchy synthpop and icy punk, Snapline skip posturing and head straight for intensity. Introverted bassist Levis and guitarist Li Qing purposefully avoided any contact with the audience, tracing precise lines on their instruments instead, while frontman Chen Xi twisted and sang to their music, a smile always on the edge of his lips. Since releasing their debut album Party is Over, Pornostar last year, Snapline have continued to write new material, as evidenced to electrifying effect towards the end of their set, when Levis switched over to synthesizer to emit pulsating tones, over which Li Qing spread thick, distorted arcs and Chen Xi used as a backdrop for spoken story telling.

After that excellent performance, the remaining bands had a hard task ahead of them, but actually compared well. The unfortunately named Linga’s surf tinged rock was catchy and technically sound, but let down by gruff shouted vocals. Perhaps dropping their obsession with male power would allow the band's strengths to be emphasized. Though the closing act, The Scoff, began their life playing twitchy rock not far from Linga, they have since progressed into a more dark psychedelic sound produced by the rhythm section forming a driving shuffle to back wandering guitar solos and frontman Leo's creepy intonations.

Through an eclectic bill, Mao Livehouse managed to remind the audience of the best and worst of the Beijing music scene. For every band recreating the music of Western groups ad infinitum, there’s another group taking old sounds to new places, or creating a new style almost from scratch. Hopefully bands like The Scoff and Snapline won't be too hard to catch in coming months.

Upcoming Shows:

Snapline will be taking a bit of a break over the Olympics (apparently lead singer Chen Xi will be busy serving as an Olympic volunteer at the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball stadium), although there are plans for an acoustic show on Aug 23,but details are still sketchy. The Linga will be playing at D-22 on Jul 26 (hopefully) and at Mao on Jul 27. For those who want to take a look at Snapline performing live, take a look at the video below that was recorded in May last year at D-22.

Links and Sources
Mao Livehouse
Snapline's MySpace page
Youtube: Snapline performing in 2007
Rock in China Wiki: Snapline
Rock in China Wiki: Party is over, Pornstar

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March 12

RMB 400-600.
8pm. The Star Live (6425 5677)

The night started out for me similar to the four previous times I have seen Incubus, by having a few drinks and getting pumped up. I am an experienced Incubus rocker from back in the states and I was looking forward to the distortion and rocking of past days, but today we saw the other, soft side, of Incubus that is only usually seen for one song at a concert.

The concert was held at Star Live and was dominated by a foreign crowd. Upon walking into the venue there were only two people on stage, not five. Just lead singer Brandon Boyd and guitarist Mike Einziger with an acoustic guitar. The show was very quiet, partly due to that it was an all-acoustic concert and because maybe 10% of the less then 500 person audience knew the words. Incubus still quietly rocked out many of their numerous hits though, like “Wish You Were Here,” “Nice to Know You,” “Anna Molly,” “The Warmth,” “Pardon Me,” and “Aqueous Transmission” to name a few. After playing “Drive” Brandon recalled that this was the first time they have played the song acoustic since recording it. Instead of Mike doing his usual solo for the song, Brandon whistled the solo, which was a nice touch.

Sep 26-27
RMB 700, advance RMB 550.
8pm, 11pm (after party). Yugong Yishan (6404 2711)

With their first ever shows in China, Air also happened to be a very fitting, along with the equally placid Benson and Jarreau, choice of first foreign act to perform in the post-Olympics, post-Bjork era: relaxing, intimate and ever uncontroversial.

Last night Avril Lavigne became the first performer to give the Wukesong Stadium a work out as a live music venue and, according to reports in today’s Beijing papers, the Olympic Basketball venue saw quite a show. Lavigne kicked off the performance, the last of her six-city tour of China, with her popular “Girlfriend” and the audiences responded by rushing forward to the VIP area in front of the main stage. Three songs in to the 70-minute performance, things became a little chaotic with barriers in front of the stage being bent out of shape by crazed fans. The stage lighting was turned off and the concert was forced to pause for eight minutes as staff standing on the stage asked the crowd to return to their seats. After fans had returned to the stands, the Canadian punk-pop princess continued on with the show. Reports suggest that the crowd control problems stemmed from more than just excitable fans but were also exacerbated by the poor lay out of the venue. The crowd simply filled the large amount of empty space at the center of the stadium and little security had been set up to prevent them from doing so. You can take a look at a video of the chaotic scenes here.


Nov 14
New Pants Album Release Party

RMB 80.
9pm. Yugong Yishan (6404 2711)

New Pants, Old Hat
The New Pants CD release party started off unassuming enough - Yugong Yishan was packed, but for some reason the very front of the club had ample room for seating right in front of the projection screen. A new film by New Pants’ singer Peng Lei was being shown. The opening shots featured the keyboardist Pang Kuan prancing around the streets of Beijing with various gorgeous models. Funny. Through a series of seemingly random sequences, a very amusing and poignant story coalesced, poking fun at fashion trends, culture clash, male insecurity, young love, Japanese infomercials, Chinese idiosyncrasies and even the movie Titanic. The basic plot was about a poor pottery artist and his work, his down-and-out girlfriend and their romantic troubles. The funniest part was probably when “the American businessman” came to appraise the pottery (which, by the way, was a chamber pot intended for a wedding present). Any foreigner would appreciate and relate to the hilarious obsequiousness of the potter and his friends towards the American. I think the Chinese people in the audience appreciated the joke even more when the American bought the pot for seven million dollars.

Wax Tailor
RMB 110, RMB 80 (advance).
9pm. Yugong Yishan (6404 2711)

James Pants
RMB 70.
10pm. White Rabbit (133 2112 3678)

Two very different DJs were in town this past weekend, both equally eclectic, starting off with Wax Tailor at Yugong Yishan on Friday evening. Accompanying him was a cellist (which pretty much automatically guarantees him points in the “cool” factor), as well as a kick-ass flutist who worked up quite a sweat with her hootin’ and tootin’ (think Miri Ben-Ari on winds). Wax's style was somewhere in-between hip-hop and trip-hop, and his sound likened to DJ Shadow and Portishead; indeed, singer Charlotte Savary had a haunting voice that carried the same echoing quality of Beth Gibbons.