Tuesday, December 19, 2006


I've been absent for too long, not having a home computer to post blogs off of. Getting a new computer in Shanghai isn't as easy as I had hoped. It's part of living under a Communist system - high-end electronics all get slapped with a hefty luxury tax, making computers cost far more than the invisible hand in the US charges, despite the products having actually been manufactured here in the People's Republic.

Anyway a short post on a subject close to my heart: weird underground music!

In this case, it was Nana at 4Live. 4Live has an interesting history: Tang Hui's co-owner used to own the eminent music bar, Tang Hui, which moved to a new location and went upscale. Then Tang Hui's former co-owner opened a new bar, and dedicated it to being the same general sort of bar the Tang Hui had been before it moved. If it all sounds a little pointless, it's a general outlook on the nightlife of Shanghai, where what little does exists changes with a great regularity!

Anyway, getting on with the music: It was trip-hop. If you're not familiar with the sub-genre, imagine music that is about as trendy as possible. The above picture even shows Apple iBooks on stage, my god. Nana featured a torch singer going along with simple computer-generated beats and melodies, and the look was like something out of Twin Peaks or My Bloody Valentine's Loveless album.

I go to concerts for those instances where I am unexpectedly shocked by the beauty of it all, and momentarily consider following the band like the Grateful Dead. Nana didn't quite have it. The electronic backing was too generic.

Her voice was relatively beautiful but the melodies didn't at all let it play out - and furthermore, some of the songs felt half-thought out, going on aimlessly for just a minute or two, before stopping.

If you're curious to hear the music, check out the band's Myspace page. There's a music video made with the computer game Sims 2 that's pretty cool.

The club itself is a top spot. I chose to walk from the nearest subway, it's about 15 minutes past mostly empty streets. The final location is surprising, it's in a small strip of souped-up bars and restaurants, feeling like a miniature Xintiandi - the recognized ritzy-tourist center to Shanghai. The insides hold a couple hundred people, with an open-floor bar downstairs, and an upstairs with the little nooks and tables that allowed private parties to gather - including a top-down look at the next band, New Pants, also from Beijing. They were punk-pop, or something, and my god did they suck.


Anonymous said...

4 Live used to be Fabrique, and was never "Tanghui"... The original Tanghui was on Xingfu lu, and is now called Logo bar. True, though, that the former Tanghui owner is now running 4 Live.

I politely disagree, however, with your feelings on New Pants. They ROCK! No one has done an electro version of the Ramones better than they do!!

Jeff Rutsch said...

Thanks for letting me know about the mistake. While I stand by my opinion of New Pants, I'm over-opinionated on music, and what I say can be freely ignored.

Sexy Beijing interviews one of the guys in her program. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZzHmtPfZEs