Posted by Pete DeMola on 15. Aug 2009
Although it's impossible to create a "best of" anything list, the five artists below have consistently proven themselves as the city's most dependable and invigorating live acts.
5. Pet Conspiracy
The international quintet's frenetic live antics, including, but not limited to, instrument switching, conga lines, stage diving, piggyback riding, impromptu renditions of folk songs and erotic Cabaret interplay between duel vocalists Yunyun and Helen Feng (Did we mention that time when they rebuilt an entire fucking stage?) conducted over slick and tasty electro pop place this crew firmly in a league of their own. Unfortunately, that league is also packed with legions of moneyed white yuppie douchebags who are attracted to their shows like insects to a bug zapper. Hmm...
Next (Beijing) show: Sat, Oct 3 at Yugong Yishan
4. Guai Li
Regularly cited as favorites by an impressive list of their peers in this city's art and music community, this female-fronted quintet continues to tear holes through Beijing with their visceral live performances and stellar musicianship. Their signature sound of angular guitars flecked with noise and feedback paired with off-key vocals, quirky time signatures, abrupt breakdowns and children's toys somehow manages to sound machinelike, surreal and disorienting at the same time. A true musician's band, and my personal favorite.
Next show: Fri, Sept 4 at MAO Live House; Sat, Sept 12 in Tianjin (Nic Club)
After a tossed water bottle narrowly missed vocalist Spike Li during a performance at D-22 in May, he stopped the show and calmly punched the unapologetic culprit in the face several times in quick succession as his band slowly reignited their blistering riffage behind him. These street punks, although having moved in a more grandiose sonic direction with their 2007 LP Bastards of the Nation, are still kings of the scene: Expect loyal crowds at their shows, circle pits and sheer fury. But don't write them off as aggro-thugs: Midway through a gig in June, they switched from electric to acoustic, showcasing some serious songwriting chops-as well as their sensitive sides.
Next show: Mon, Aug 21 at Summer Pilot
Although the nights when band founders Bian Yuan and Liu Hao would get morbidly-intoxicated before tearing through their patented brand of sloppy, punk-inflected hard rock are behind them, the 8-year-old quintet is no less dangerous. With the reentry of guitarist Yang Yang back into the fold, they've never sounded better. A quintessential show involves wave after wave of swaggering sing along anthems in the vein of Johnny Thunders and Stiv Bators, gallons of sweat, body heat and beer sprinkling down from D-22's second floor balcony.
Next show: Sat, Sept 12 at MAO Live House
1. Suffocated (窒息)
Hot, brotherly and relentless are the hallmarks of a gig by these thrash metal veterans. With a loyal fan base that they've been assembling since their formation in 1996, performances by this quartet are manly displays of folks united in synchronized horn throwing, head banging and that "arm-shoulder thing" unique to the Chinese metal scene. (Metalheads should know exactly what I'm talking about.) I've never seen fan dedication like this for any live act in China, and since the crowd always kicks as much ass as the band's brutal and mesmerizing grooves, it not only makes for a holistic experience, but places Suffocated at the pole position as the most consistently-niu bi draw in the underground music scene.
Next show: No scheduled performances
What do you think? Agree? Furiously disagree? Feel free to tell us your favorite live Beijing bands below.
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