Kinda strange seeing a brand new live music venue. Most of the concerts I end up going to are in Gulou, and as such I'm used to hanging out in places that have withstood a few decades of puke, bad intentions, and sonic warfare. Mao Livehouse, School, Hot Cat Club -- hard to imagine those places were ever new. That's the charm though. I like that. Here's what "brand spankin' new" looks like. Here's Beijing record label ModernSky's new concert venue-slash-club space-slash-practice room-slash-recording room-slash-incubator-slash-conference room-slash-drink lounge-slash-statement of intent for live music in China. The ModernSky Lab.
It's three basic things in one. This is the live music stage.
A medium-size venue, what you've got here is the standard concrete box, ideal for several hundred kids sweating and screaming for their favorite Modern Sky pop stars. I think it's about the same size as Mao Livehouse Beijing, if you flattened out the area in the back of that venue into one hall space. Feels like it would get adequately packed out for say, a raucous New Pants or Pet Conspiracy show, but small enough so that the label's up-and-coming acts can work on their stage craft, test out new material and build up a following. Hey, that's shrewd.
And when you throw in the idea that the label plans to replicate these spaces all over China, hey, that's really shrewd. It's a platform that interjects the label into a given city's daily music culture, serving their bigger bands as well as their younger talent, and at the same time funnels them all towards their key products: the massive Strawberry and Modern Sky Festivals which are already up and running (for the most part) all over China.
If The Feola was writing this article, right here's where he'd go on a rant about "monopolies", but he recused himself from this one so we'll just move right along to discussing the bar area. You can make up your own mind on the ModernSky juggernaut and their positive or negative impact on music in this country.
The is the bar. It's orange. There's space for both people to buy and sell alcohol. None of the alcohol was there when we went but the manager -- a very great and talented Beijing DJ called X.L.F. -- gave us an ice cold bottle of Tuborg. I think they're a one-time or current sponsor for the music stuff. Whatever. Looks like they're mainly concentrating on the music elements of this equation, and the bar will just be a normal live house bar serving the standard stuff.
I hear the kids are into that electronic music these days...
So, the main live stage area is in a soundproofed room, and the bar joins it to this other area, which is the club portion of this mix. Pretty standard dance club layout -- a DJ stage at the front, playing to a rectangular space that fits a couple hundred bodies. It's carpeted for some reason, which indicates maybe a loungier direction. At any rate, hey you've got your rock 'n' roll on the one side and your electronic music on this side. Seems to cover the bases on everything the kids are making and listening to these days.
This Saturday, ModernSky Lab is hosting in the wonderful DJ Pei and her Computer Love party to kick off their club-like activities for the summer 2-oh-1-5. She's hosting in Parisian Nu Disco purveyor DJ La Chambre du Mary Jane. No cover. It's young, it's hip, it's been a while since a new club opened in Beijing that is directly serving this city's young and fashionable music consuming demographic. You know who I mean.
I gotta say, anyone willing to book talent into this city that's had a new release in the last five fucking years is alright by me. *Cough, cough*
So there you have it. ModernSky Lab. This could be the face of live music all over China in the next five years or so.
Or not. Who knows.
Speaking to just Beijing, with rumors swirling of the impending doom of two of the key live music venues in this city -- Mao Livehouse and XP -- we're just happy to see anyone still pouring money into local music at this point, even if they end up being the only game in town.
ModernSky Lab is in Building D or Galaxy Soho. That's the left breast when you're standing at the main entrance, looking at both breasts of the Galaxy SOHO. The room number is 5-108 on the B1 level. Computer Love is this Saturday at ModernSky Lab, with DJ Pei, Zhiqi (Shadowplay) and special guest La Chambre du Mary Jane. It's freeeeeee. Starts 11pm.