Young, Loud and Snotty

Posted by Pete DeMola on 5. Jul 2010

BEIJING, JULY 5 -- "My girlfriend dumped me today because she thinks that I am a bad guy," said Zhao Kai as we sat on the stoop at D-22 and exhaled cigarette smoke into the stagnant, thick air.

"She thinks that I want to have sex with as many girls as possible," he mused. "I am a male animal."

"Who isn't?" I replied. "Aren't we all?"

He shrugged, got up and went back inside.

Zhao sings and plays rhythm guitar for a local band called Bedstars.

They are young and refreshing, churning out a brand of rock and roll that is more emotive than guarded; more focused on giant riffs and raw power than technical competence and subtlety.

It's a sloppy, sexy and wild-eyed permutation that channels the "Live Fast, Die Young" ethos of early-Rolling Stones, punk rock forerunners the Dead Boys and Johnny Thunders and Joyside, the highly-influential local band known as much for their Dionysus-worshiping lifestyle as their sound that started off as raw, three-chord punk and blossomed into mature rock and roll before their dissolution in late-2009.

"They don't play rock and roll -- they live rock and roll," Zhao said of the latter, one of his biggest influences alongside Stiv Bators and Johnny Thunders, the dead frontmen of the the Dead Boys and the Heartbreakers, respectively.

"I like the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Yardbirds," said lead guitarist Lie Bo.

"They suck," said Zhao.

"We cannot be the second Joyside, so we will be the first Bedstars," added bassist Wang Chao.

Zhao first saw them at the 2003 MIDI Music Festival at Haidian Park, entering the festival grounds to find the band ripping into a cover of the Dead Boys' "All This and More."

"It was beautiful," he reminisced. "All the other bands were just playing: they were rock and rolling."

Bedstars are good at rock and rolling, too, even when they are playing to an empty room, like the gig tonight that went head-to-head with the Germany/Argentina World Cup showdown and the mass summertime student exodus.

"I was so high, I didn't care," said Wang. "This is our thing -- not the audience's thing."

The four of them sped through their thing -- a handful of smoldering originals bookended by the Stooges' "Search and Destroy" and New York Dolls' "Jet Boy" -- with no less energy as if they were, say, playing the Palladium.

With legions of groupies waiting in the wings.

Wang pulled down his tight red trousers, shook his bare ass at no one in particular and later, lubricated by a round of tequila shots, spit beer all over the singer/guitarist of Residence A as he led his band through a set of atmospheric and supercharged garage rock.

While Bedstars -- their drummer, until the end of this month, is Zhan Li -- have been around since last summer, they didn't start gigging hard until earlier this year.

"We had nothing to do and didn't want to stay indoors and jerk off all day," said Zhao, "so we started playing music."

"It's a sad and lonely way to live," he said. "Our music is about ourselves, only ourselves. And about absence and darkness."

A life without sex is very dark, he explained.

"I have to jerk off three times just before I leave the house in the morning," he mused. "And even then I have a hard-on when I walk down the street."

"Who doesn't?" I said. "Don't we all?"

Image: Zhan Li, Lie Bo, Zhao Kai and Wang Chao, taken with a camera phone on Sat, July 3.

Bedstars will perform on Fri, July 9 and Sat, July 17 at D-22.

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