Friday, September 11, 2009

Worst. Band. Ever.

Of the multitude of pleasant surprises of living in Beijing, nothing was quite more unexpected than the existence of a fairly rocking music scene. Living in the South for a year, I had completely dismissed Chinese music as being utter crap. It seems that close to 100% of the population here listens exclusively to Mandopop (the cheesiest, most syrupy-sweet, gagging pop music you can imagine).

What blew my mind is that even the most bad-ass thugs you would see on the streets, would come blasting the most bubblegum Celine Dion-esque pop music. Rock music seemed to have missed the entire country.

Coming to Beijing, I found out that not only was rock music beginning to take hold in big cities here, but that Beijing was actually the heart of it. I would have assumed Shanghai to be the center for new rock music, but alas, this is not the case.

In the past 6 months, we have been host to Battles, Jose Gonzales, Ratatat, Yann Tiersen, Dragonforce, The Handsome Furs, an international electronic music festival featuring DJ's from all over the world, and many, many more. (Even washed up pop-punk bands such as MxPx and No Use for a Name stopped by in the past 6 months!)

As it turns out, the heart of the local home-brewed Beijing bands happens to be located just a few blocks away from my apartment, at a club called D-22. Dubbed by some as the CBGB's of China, D-22 features local rock bands 6 nights a week.

I try to make it a habit to stop by once every couple of weeks or so, checking out everything from jazz to deathmetal, punk and alternative to screamo. The quality runs the gamut, per usual the local scene. Sometimes you'll find absolutely fantastic bands, and sometimes you'll get typical, garageband crap.

However, nothing compared in outright crapulatude as the concert I witnessed last week. It was 'experimental' night at the club, which evidently meant 'noise...with trippy delay and phaser effects!'

The first band stepped up to the plate, and for 30 minutes did nothing but make horrid, horrid noise. A melody (or heck, even a rhythm) was nowhere to be found. During the final song, the guitarist put his guitar down and picked up the mic, and proceeded to scream - but not in a hardcore/metal controlled way, more in a 'I'm really mad at my little sister for taking one of my toys' way.

Once they finished, the next band hopped on stage. In a similar fashion, they went on to torture our ears - nay, souls - for another 40 minutes. The band consisted of a keyboardist and guitarist, and I must applaud them for at least playing 'notes', if not playing a melody. However, these notes were completely hit at random, with no regard to whether or not it could be construed as pleasant by anyone's standards.

The experience was not unlike a tribute to their 2-year old brother who at times would pick up the guitar and smack it with his hands, entertained to no end at the noises that emanated from the device.

...and yet, it continued.

...and yet I still feel I should not be one to judge. I used to be in a ska band.


Eva said...

holy.... this was my first insight into what goes on in D-22. I thought bands like this were a figment of one's imagination. MY EARS!

Simon Lesser said...

Oh, they exist! (I was probably in a few of them.) But really, you should come with us one night. It's usually pretty rockin'.