Rock in Beijing

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I picked up a copy of Beijing’s version of Creative Loafing, The Beijinger, and found a long list of music venues. I went this route since my Lonely Planet led me to places that had evidently been shut down for some time.

The Mao Live House was billed as “the capital’s premier live music venue” and it just happened to have a rock showcase that night. So, I headed down to the DongCheng district and found the Live House on a street that was lined with small shops, restaurants and street vendors.

The Live House is named after Chairman Mao and I think the name is a nod to Beijing’s gradual forgetting of the infamous figure. On the wall behind the stage hangs a large red flag that has an image only of Mao’s hair — Mao’s face is missing from the picture, as it were. The venue was medium-sized and had a Visulite feel — a standing area in front of the stage and raised bar-stools in the back. Before getting into the music hall, you pass through a bar area and a hallway that has a foosball table and a bunch of friendly Chinese hipsters guzzling down bottles of Tsing-Tao.

The rock showcase included five bands which worked out great for me since I got to see several bands in one night. The bands got better as the night went on and I think it’ll take a blog or two to review the bands that played later in the night. They definitely deserve their own reviews.

The first band was a bit of a mess and I gathered that its regular bass-player was ill and that they were having someone sit in. However, I recorded a clip of their last and best number, “Fuck.” You’ll hear them yelling the title in the chorus.

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I learned that live music shows in the capital end quite early. They tend to begin around 9 or 10 p.m. and end at midnight (this means that in a showcase, each band only gets about 30 minutes to perform).

I met a couple of young Belgians in the crowd who had lived for sometime in Beijing and they said the government requires live music venues to end their shows at midnight since they are concerned about people staying out too late and getting rowdy. This is odd since most of the dance clubs stay open until the sun comes up. Evidently live music is a bit more contentious!

Check back next week for more on the other bands.

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