Orchestra of Spheres
Music Monday is a weekly SmartBeijing column, serving up fresh audio/video streams from bands living and making music in China (or coming to China, or thinking about coming to China, or whatever).
Enter the octahedron... Pre-gaming the October holiday break with a sampler of eight worthwhile gigs to enjoy, assuming you're sticking around Beijing. Hardcore, post-punk, post-rock, gugong ghosting, Kazakh steppe tunes, and more...
Kick off the break early, why not, by catching New Zealand's Orchestra of Spheres and their "ancient future funk" on Tuesday, September 29 at School Bar. We've been fielding a lot of Kiwi talent lately, eh?
"Born out of Wellington's Frederick Street Sound and Light Exploration Society in 2009, the Spheres have developed a cult-like following in New Zealand. Playing house parties, dance parties, DIY shows and opera houses, the Spheres have built a reputation for musically and visually ecstatic live shows."
Fun stuff. Here's what it sounds like:
Orchestra of Spheres' Beijing gigs are organized by Kristen Ng, the one-women enterprise behind great Chengdu-based music and culture blog Kiwese looking specifically at culture clashes between China and New Zealand. Kristen's been posted up in Beijing for the last week plus, documenting the grimier nooks and crannies of the Beijing underground.
Catch the Spheres on Tuesday, September 29 at School Bar, where they'll be joined by up-and-coming grunge unit Baxian Fandian. They're also playing at Temple the following night if you need an encore.
And now, some Swedish post-rock. On Wednesday, September 30, Chengdu promoters New Noise are back in Beijing with their latest crop of blonde-haired, blue-eyed post-rockers: Gothenburg ambient electronic act DNKL. Says New Noise: "The band has been featured on some of the most influential music websites around and played at some of Europe’s biggest festivals including Way Out West and Roskilde, winning over a legion of fans around the world with their mesmer-izing dark electronic pop."
Sounds like your standard New Noise post-rock booking. They've really established a high level of quality for this particular genre of music, which has a massive following in Beijing and throughout China. Here's a sample of DNKL's sound:
100rmb ticket, with an opening set of guitar-based ambient electronics from me:mo. More
For something a bit grimier, messier, more abstract and more central to the heart of Beijing: pop by Old What Bar on Wednesday, September 30 to celebrate their 13th anniversary. 13 years! In Beijing Venue Time that's cracking a thousand. Especially in light of all the recent closures we've suffered, might be a good time to give thanks for what we have. I haven't been to Old What in quite a while myself but its presence is reassuring. And I can't think of a better place to celebrate China's National Day than just across the road from Zhongnanhai.
Roll through on Wednesday for an evening full of gugong ghosting with Alpine Decline (all modular set), Soulspeak + Charm free jazz/beat improv, thruoutin + Michele Rose Seippel audio/visuals, and Lonely Leary, one of the best new indie bands to emerge in Beijing in 2015.
Here's the full stream of INK, Alpine Decline's all-modular-synth outing from earlier in the year, in case you missed it:
30rmb, 9pm start. More
Moving down the map: on Friday, October 2, Yugong Yishan will host Taiwan's Murky Crows for a stop on their album release tour. This gig is the first big offline push for Ruby Eyes, yet another new player to enter the Chinese indie label game. Ruby Eyes was founded by Wang Haifeng, a former member of the Maybe Mars managerial staff, and currently represents Mr. Graceless from Beijing, South Acid Mimi Dance Team from Kunming, and the Crows from Taipei.
Formed in 2010, Murky Crows went through a number of member switchups before arriving at the current seven-person lineup — "in a way resembling the famous Seven Sages in the Bamboo Forest in ancient China, as the new community of seven urban sages," says the press release. Sure? Musically the band's quite eclectic, mixing vocal harmony, post-punk, post-rock, and some traditional elements into a stage act brimming with theatrical costumery. Here's a taste:
Local support on the night from Snapline, whose guitarist Li Qing works publicity and production for Ruby Eyes. 80rmb at the door, 9pm start. More
UPDATE: Sick Of It All won't be making it to Beijing this time due to visa problems. Fuck. Hong Kong's King Lychee will still be making the trip up to headline.
Then it's Clobbering Time on Saturday, October 3, when Mao Livehouse hosts Queens, New York hardcore legends SICK OF IT ALL. Co-organized by UniteAsia.org and China Hardcore (CNHC), this will be the NYHC veterans' Beijing debut, kicking off the China portion of their comprehensive Asia 2015 tour.
At Mao, they're joined by Hong Kong HC heavyweights King Lychee, plus Beijing electro-punks SUBS, ska veterans Ouch, and metalcore icons Unregenerate Blood. Here's a video of SOIA frontman Lou Koller lending his vocal abilities to a music video by King Lychee, whose singer, Riz Farooqi, was the main organizer for the band's Asia tour:
And here's a little background on SOIA via Noisey: "In the here-today, gone-tomorrow world of hardcore punk, Sick Of It All stand alone. They are in their third decade of touring and recording, and have released 10 solid full-length records with barely a change in personnel. With the release of 1994’s 'Scratch the Surface' they took NYHC worldwide, and have seldom stopped to take a breath ever since. They are the closest the hardcore scene has to a household name. In short, they are legends."
Personal addendum there: SOIA's bassist, Craig Setari, has the sickest band CV ever.
OK, so that's SOIA + King Lychee + SUBS + Ouch + Unregenerate Blood on Sat, Oct 3 at Mao. Stacked bill. Grip your 180rmb pre-sale ticket right here. Otherwise it's 220rmb at the door. 8pm start. More
Mao looks pretty damn good the following day, too, when rock promoters The Virgins present an all-day, indoor festival to move you further down the October holiday break. Really rammed ticket of old and new talent on this one, from Beijing and beyond, including live sets from Click#15 (funk/r&b/hip-hop/electronic), Power Powder (blues rock), Never Before (stoner metal/sludge/doom), The Flyx (old-school punk), GT Bitches (proto-punk), The Hippies (hard rock/hair metal/sleazy), Car Car Cars (blues/garage/grunge), Toss (grunge), Jajatone (grunge), and Baxian Fandian (grunge).
That's really a lot of rock for your 120rmb ticket, and a representative sample of some of the busiest bands on the 2015 underground rock'n'roll circuit. Here's Jinan's Green Tea Bitches, who stole the show at this year's Punk-It-Spring Festival, covering a Stooges classic to an enthusiastic response:
This show kicks off at 5pm, get in early to maximize bang for your buck. More
Finally, just before the end of the break: on Tuesday, October 6, DDC hosts "folklore-ethnographic ensemble" Turan, a group made up of students from the Kazakh National Conservatory. Ancient sounds in modern times. The five-person group, featuring some of Kazakhstan's most internationally accomplished performers, will play on such traditional instruments as sybyzgy, shankobyz, sazsyrnai, sherter, zhetigen, shynkyldek, dombyra, kylkobyz, narkobyz, dangyra, all grounded with Kazakh-style throat singing.
Yeah, never heard of any of those either, but I suppose that's the appeal for this kind of music. Traditional tunes from a part of the world that's inscrutable to most. Fire up your VPN for a sample of Ensemble Turan performing "Қазақ елi". And get a load of their steppe gear — not joking around:
Something truly different. Full info here.
Orchestra of Spheres = TUE Sep 29 @ School + WED Sep 30 @ Temple
New Noise pres. DNKL = WED Sep 30 @ Yugong Yishan
Old What 13th Anniversary = WED Sep 30
Murky Crows + Snapline = FRI Oct 2 @ Yugong Yishan
Sick Of It All w/ King Lychee = SAT Oct 3 @ Mao
The Virgins 'Never-Fading Sound' Festival = SUN Oct 4 @ Mao
Ensemble Turan (Traditional Kazakh) = TUE Oct 6 @ DDC