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[Music Thursday]: Back and Gone
Clearing out the holiday cobwebs, here's a smorgasbord of live music offerings on for the next few days, from Chengdu pysch to Shanghai punk, from cilia to sheng, from Sweden to Senegal. Gone and back again...
By Oct 7, 2015 Music

Proximity Butterfly

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).


Welcome back! I skipped town for the break and seems I didn't miss much besides vintage AQI levels and Megadeth's set coming to an "abrupt end" after one hour. That's a looong abruption! Glad I dodged that bullet honestly.

Now we're back, for a short little work week before we're gone again into the weekend ether. Clearing out the holiday cobwebs, here's a smorgasbord of live music offerings on for the next few days, from Chengdu pysch to Shanghai punk, from cilia to sheng, from Sweden to Senegal. Gone and back again...


Let's start at Mao Livehouse. New rumors have been flying about Mao closing, based on a WeChat bulletin the venue sent out on Tuesday announcing that they'll soon be removing their iconic rusted-iron front gate. That led some to speculate this is a veiled closure notice, but according to a member of the staff I contacted there's nothing more to the message than the actual content of the post: their gate is going to be ripped out soon, so get in there for a photo if you want to remember this Gulou Rock'n'roll landmark in years to come.

Actually, rumors about Mao's imminent closure have been circulating for the better part of a year, and based on certain reliable backroom rumblings it does indeed seem that some major changes are afoot for Mao Beijing. But my source says they have their lease at least through the end of the year. Maybe pop in tonight, as Cold Neo continues their Outdoor Party series spotlighting new up-and-comers within the Beijing rock scene. Tonight's post-holiday edition features stripped-down grunge-punk duo Motorbike Girls, yaogun youth unit Skin Bad, rap/rock/funk fusionists Funky Monkey, and solo folker Xiao Dao. 60rmb, 9pm start. More


Moving on to Friday, which poses some hard choices for discerning live music fans. On the multi-media, maximal rock opera side of things: Chengdu psychedelic post-rockers Proximity Butterfly drop in to Yugong Yishan on Friday night on the strength of their latest long-player, Medusae. Expect a full-on conceptual live performance piece: "Not only will it be a psychedelic performance, but also a real-time score for a silent movie, and a stream-of-consciousness brought out by the convergence between light and sound."

Proximity Butterfly has been grinding it out in Chengdu — now a hotspot for emerging Chinese rock talent — for over a decade, and Medusae is their seventh studio album. On Friday they'll play in front of a big-screen presentation of an abstract film the band's frontman, Joshua Love, filmed after the album was completed. Enjoy the score for now here:

Proximity Butterfly is joined at Yugong by psych-prog troupe The Harridans. 80rmb at the door, 9:30pm start. More


More of a mixed card at School Bar on Friday as Jonathan Alpart, host of CRI yaogun-focused web series The Sound Stage, bids adieu to Beijing with a going-away blowout. Stacked bill on that one, reflecting Alpart's eclectic tastes in documenting Beijing and beyond over the last several years in what has been the only sustained, State-sponsored media consideration of China's burgeoning rock'n'roll underground. Live sets from Gate to Otherside, Hard Candy Revolution, Jajatao (formerly Jajatone), Dark Mermaid (Xinjiang folk duo featuring JuratT.T.), Guangzhou-based rapper WOOTACC, and everlasting indie-punk group Hang on the Box. Really an incredible bang for your buck with the door ticket sitting at 60rmb.

Here's Wootacc's debut LP, Maiden Voyage, released last year on excellent Zhejiang-based hip hop label Groove Bunny:

Say farewell to Jonathan and the Sound Stage on Friday night at School Bar.


For a more intimate, experimental, all around windier Friday evening: pop into Meridian Space for a unique duo performance called The Cilia and the Sheng. The Cilia is a digital flute controller invented by composer, performer, instrument builder, multiple flautist, and longtime Beijing resident Bruce Gremo. Kind of hard to explain here; fire up your VPN and see the Cilia in action in this YouTube of Gremo performing on a Cilia prototype back in 2008:

For Friday's performance, Gremo will team up with world-class sheng player Hu Jianbing for a program of acoustic and electronic improvisations, broken into two interactions: "First, between the Cilia and the sheng (笙 - a traditional Chinese wind instrument); and second, acoustic interactions including the sheng, mutliple flutes, and some pitch-tracking computer interaction."

Truly a Beijing-specific music encounter. 50rmb ticket, 8pm start. More


Onto your punk rock fix: on Saturday night, Shanghai's Dirty Fingers drop in to their home away from home, School Bar, as part of a 32-city tour behind the release of their debut album, Monkey King. They warn: "Dirty Fingers are the the rising bastard lords of punk in China, the destroyers of the peace that has established in yaogun these days, the builders of the new chaos in your mind. You might be worried to let them in (you should!) but no matter your strength, as the wind can't be destroy, Dirty Fingers can't be stopped. The bastard monkeys will rule you."

Awesome. Here's the title track off Monkey King:

Local support at School on Saturday comes from Quickshot, Final Impact, and Bedstars. Expect drunkenness. 50rmb, 9:30pm start. More


Finally, some intercontinental music, coming out of Sweden via Senegal. On Saturday, Post Mountain hosts folk fusion duo Sousou and Maher Cissoko for their Beijing debut: "Both Sousou and Maher grew up in families of musicians and it was the interest for the West African kora (a harp lute) that brought them together. An important guide line for the troubadour culture which the kora is part of is the preservation of that the musical heritage through its musicians’ continuously finding new ways. In the interpretation of Sousou&Maher Cissoko it means a magnificent kora playing and a soulful singing combined with a rhythmic energy and influences from among others reggae, mbalax, folk, soul and pop."

The musicians themselves add that their music shouldn't be seen as a "meeting between Senegalese folk music and Swedish folk music," but rather a unique form representing one fractal angle of the "global world now where everything is connected." Here's a taste:

That's Saturday, October 10 at Post Mountain. 180rmb at the door, 8:30pm start.


Cold Neo: Outside Party = THU Oct 8 @ Mao Live

Proximity Butterfly 'Medusae' Tour = FRI Oct 9 @ Yugong Yishan

The Cilia and the Sheng = FRI Oct 9 @ Meridian

The Sound Stage Final Showcase = FRI Oct 9 @ School

Dirty Fingers Album Release = SAT Oct 10 @ School

Sousou & Maher Cissoko = SAT Oct 10 @ Post Mountain


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