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).
This week we're going to rein it in a bit. Shoot the spotlight on (mostly) one guy, who's been toiling in the Beijing music underground for like 15 years or something. One Jean Sébastian Héry, aka Zhang Si'an, aka Djang San, aka that French dude you saw randomly noodling around on guitar / keyboard / zhongruan at Temple last [insert weeknight here]. In my storied career of interviewing salty expat musicians in Beijing, I've delved into the singular world of Señor Zhang twice already: click through to see where he was at with it in June 2011 and March 2013. And here's the next biennial update:
First major 2015 dispatch from the Djang San camp comes this Friday, Jan 23 at Temple in the form of a release party for his band's (Djang San Band, not his other band, The Amazing Insurance Salesmen, and hey, whatever happened to that band?) debut-ish album, Live in Beijing. In his writeup for the event, Djang is refreshingly straightforward about what it means to "release" a new album in the Bandcamp age. He told our Events submission form: "Come enjoy incredible music from Djang San + Band as they celebrate the distribution of their first recording, Live in Beijing, on digital platforms in Taiwan, America, and Europe."
(Side note: scroll through the maestro's Bandcamp page and you'll quickly get an idea of why it's so hard to write about his music. The guy's hard to keep up with. I think he wrote a new album in the time it took to write this parenthetical aside.)
Anyway, here's Live in Beijing:
The main differentiator of Djang San + Band from Djang San sans band and Djang San under other aliases is his concept of "zhongruan re-invention rock", wherein he shreds on the traditional Chinese 24-fret axe like it was a regular old rock'n'roll guitar. He's installed some pickups on the thing so that he can run it through the obligatory pedal board, and hey, he can really play. Temple is Djang San's primary stomping ground / experimental lab, so expect he + band to be in fine form on Friday night. More info on that gig in the listing.
But that's not all. Djang San's pulling a double header this weekend, following up Friday's release gig with an all-day rager at DDC on Saturday, bringing his long-running Beijing Underground blog into the offline world with a full day of live music. Download it with your ears!
The idea with this new Beijing Underground Showcase, which evidently will be a serial affair, is to... showcase the Beijing underground. Djang San style. Round one packs a stacked, diverse lineup, including WHAI (prog psych electronic rock, feat. Liu Miao of 2 Kolegas (RIP)), Tulegur (Mongolian folk), Djang San + band (naturally), Luvplastik (hotly tipped bass + drums rock duo of Dans Lenk and Taylor), The Honky Tonk Demons (with Randy of Randy Abel Stable and Kirk from Hutong Yellow Weasels), Little Punk (insouciant folk), Ravi and the Shadows (theatrical performance mixing experimental music and ancient Chinese shadow puppetry), Orange Mescaline (new electro-jazz fusion with Peter Stone and Marco Brundelre).
Really all over the map. Here's a random selection from the lineup, the latest dispatch from Little Punk. Kind of an under-the-radar single from late last year, released on flexi because LOL vinyl collector nerds:
So, yeah. Djang San, telling us what's up under ground. 70rmb, runs from 4pm til late. Worth adding here that DDC has become the go-to spot for these all-day Web Dude Offline rock'n'roll meetups (see also: Fake Fuzz Fest, Purple Toad Festival). Good vibes, that place. And there's usually some Rager Pies or whole roasted lambs or such to soak up the booze and allow you to responsibly day drink your way toward oblivion (after party @ Temple). Seems like the choice for Saturday. Full info here.
"And I feel just like [Jameson's] son" -Lou Reed
One more live gig recommendation for ya. This one has nothing to do with Zhang Si'an, but it does concern a long-term European China hand whose Chinese handle is far better known than his Christian name. This Friday, blown-out sounds collective Psychoney celebrates the return of prodigal son / Fast Son / Jam-e-son-lovin' Richard Deorian, née Dong Mohan. Dude's behind a long list of notable fringe Beijing music projects, most notoriously Lowbow and Cloud Choir. Interviewed him on this very site a few years back, refresh yourself here.
Mr. Dong's been back on his home turf in Ireland for the better part of a year, teaching Mandarin to the fine lads and lasses on the other tip of the continent. He's also been as Bandcamp-prolific as ever, most recently adopting the moniker Fast Son for his solo recording experiments. Here's the latest Fast Son outburst, Attack Plan Alpha!:
So, Richard's back, not sure for how long. He snuck in a solo set at Old What over the weekend, and he'll turn up on Friday night at XP with one of his other many side-side projects, Paper Tiger Jamboree. That's him + Birdstriking drummer Wang Xinjiu, last time I checked. Here's a live PTJ cut from some Zoomin' Night back in the D-22 days:
Birdstriking will anchor Friday's bill, with support sets from The Eat and Gate to Otherside. Solid.
Djang San + band "Live in Beijing" release = FRI Jan 23 @ Temple
Psychoney Night with Richard Deorian = FRI Jan 23 @ XP
Beijing Underground Showcase = SAT Jan 24 @ DDC (4pm start)