Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Lament for 4Live; Pixeltoy in Shanghai

I never wrote a proper blog update about 4Live, a live music club that was easily Shanghai's best in the time I've been here. I'm speaking in the past tense, because it closed last month. This will have to do, an update on one of the better bands I saw in the club, Pixeltoy.

The Shanghai music scene being what it is, every semi-decent band is visiting from Beijing. However, Pixeltoy varied it up a bit by being a semi-decent band visiting from Hong Kong! It's a two person band that lists Cornelius as a big influence, and their best music has the sound of a happier, poppier Cornelius, even if the videos don't quite match up to his:

How did it sound? Not quite as good as their Youtube videos, I'm afraid. Maybe it was the heavily-produced nature of the music: done live, I thought they didn't have quite the energy. Plus there's not many musicians who can look cool, when staring at an Apple laptop for most of the show. Here's their live rendition of the same song. Not horrible, but not the best version possible, either.

And while I'm at it, I've seen more Velvet Underground Covers in the last 6 months than I would have imagined possible. Unfortunately, they're often the low point of the show, as was the case with their version of "Candy Says":

But here's a recording of one of the best ones I saw, by the generally awesome Carsick Cars (of Beijing - I'll have to talk about them some time), doing a Shoegazer-ish, heavily distorted cover of "Sunday Morning."

As a quick final word on 4Live: what a shame! From what I understand there were a lot of reasons behind it closing: problems getting people going to concerts to also spring in for drinks (especially Chinese concert-goers, who it seemed never ever drank), problems getting anybody to come in when there wasn't a band, the generally moribund Shanghai music scene and the difficult economics of getting visiting bands in, and the high rent. Even without the music, it was a fun place, dark with lots of red lights, pretty big, all in all just like a music club should be. And of course I'll miss the pseudo-propaganda painting upstairs:

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