Sunday, January 15, 2006

Rock Around the Clock Concert

Half of Shanghai's bands came together this past weekend for one...decidedly minor event. Shanghai Streets is an excellent resource on the Shanghai music scene, but you can't help but notice that it only lists about 20 bands total, in a city of 20 million people - you do the math. By contrast, the Foopee Bay Area Concert Calendar listed more than 100 rock bands playing on that same date, not getting into the various other styles of concerts you find in the Yay Area.

Much as I love music, it pains me to say I just can't get into the Shanghai scene. Between the small size and the popularity of punk & metal, I imagine the music scene would be more appropriate to a small Midwestern town, one without a college. Regardless, I still hold the hope of being pleasantly surprised, so I decided to make the Rock Around the Clock concert, which went on for most of the PM.

The location was pretty cool. It was maybe a twenty minute walk Northeast from the extremely crowded Bund area, but the area still seemed distinctly under-developed for Shanghai. I'm sure that will be change in the next few years, though. This waterfront building was getting knocked down, expect a skyscraper to come up soon.

I walked past the place the first time, without catching any concert going on. It took place in a big warehouse called DDM Warehouse, the upper floors are used to house art and the occasional mega-concert. It's a huge building and a really cool space, it reminded me of the warehouse parties I enjoyed so much in Oakland and San Francisco. There were a few vaguely artsy looking things scattered about on the walls, and a completely nonsensical projected video that seemed to have something pretentious about it - I felt right back at home!

But only a small part of the space was utilized for the concert. Truth be told, maybe it was too small, the area was packed with people.

The bands? Well, I wouldn't call them incompetent, but I wouldn't call them particularly creative, either. To me it felt like some high-school talent competition. They could keep time and didn't miss the notes, but the songs were nothing and the sound was impossibly generic.

This band, Loudspeaker, does the metal/rock thing. Most amusing to me, was the band's singer was just terrible, in contrast to the other members of the group who were competent on their instruments - the drummer was actually pretty good. So, the sound guy turned the mic's volume way down, by the end I don't even think it was being amplified.

I don't want to come off too negative - the $5 entrance fee got admission to a cool space, a Tsingtao beer, a raffle for some pretty nice prizes, and a lot of bands. And even the worst music is fun on some level. At the same time I couldn't help but be amused at how thoroughly the scene is being documented, irrespective of the quality of the scene. In San Francisco every hipster thinks they're a great artist, in Shanghai maybe every hipster thinks they're a great photographer. People with quite nice digital SLRs roamed around, snapping away at everything they saw, and when bands first came on stage it felt like half the crowd was holding a camera, a video-recorder, or at least a camera phone. Obviously I was one of this number - when I got bored with the music, it was something to do! I don't know how bored you have to be before you start taking photographs of other photographers, though.

1 comment:

Yee Ling Tang said...

I'm having a show this year at DDM warehouse,
good to see this pictures.