Emilie Simon / This Will Destroy You / Low

Emilie Simon

Emilie Simon – QSW Culture Center, March 19

I first heard Emilie Simon almost a decade ago from a lovely French-Chinese girl I met at a rock festival in Shanghai. I had the chance to watch a gig of hers back home some years after, but it didn’t get enough press, and I found out only the day after the event. I think she performed here last year, but it was one of those gigs I’ve inexplicably missed (like, oh, Behemoth, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, DJ Shadow), and greatly regretted not going.

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Biking In and Around Shanghai

The break to the nine-month blogging hiatus is going to be about what has become a regular, semi-daily routine for me: biking.

My first bike here was an Oyama folding bike, which I bought on my first year. The justification in getting one boiled down to why-not, because-I-can, and this-is-China-bikes-are-everywhere. I chose a folding bike mainly because of my apartment situation (fourth floor, no elevator). Yes, I can park the thing somewhere else relatively safe, but it will surely stick out all black and shiny, among its rusty, dilapidated cohorts. Several years and apartments later, I decided to not have anything to do with it -and biking- after an accident. Yes, it didn’t really go far, and the most excitement I had with it was going around, scouting photo opportunities during Chinese New Year festivities, and riding the Huangpu River ferry from Pudong to a stop around The Bund.

I swore off bikes for a time, until when I had to use one to ride a bike trail with a group around Yangshuo (read about it here) late June, last year. Riding almost non-stop for 6 hours had me crawling for my bed -since I could not stand on two feet- at the hostel right after, but the realization that I had enough stamina to go through this means one thing for the solo-traveller self: I may not have the knees or footing to trek mountains, but maybe, just maybe, I’m a competent-enough biker.

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Longhua Temple (2015)

One can call it a photo-pilgrimage of some sort (I went there 2013), but I didn’t manage to visit the Longhua Temple, Shanghai’s largest Buddhist temple, for last year’s Chinese Lunar New Year’s day. The queue was massive, and I wasn’t really what you would call early for the occasion. This year, however, I decided to head on over as my sleep-deprived self -due to a social gathering the night before- aboard the earliest metro trip possible.

Longhua Temple

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Swans was not a band I would brag about knowing before I’ve seen them. There was a mention of the band online somewhere, and my curiosity wasn’t triggered. They had a reputation for being loud and immense-sounding, and that they still live up to that reputation in their current performances as well. So, news came up they had a gig here in Shanghai. Snatched a ticket since it was the usual price the organizers would charge for other foreign acts anyway.


We were provided 3M earplugs before entering the venue. Neat.

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The 2014 Music List

Not much music of interest that came out the earlier half of 2014 has maintained a position on my list (except for my top pick), but, once I sat down with the goal of knowing what I may have been missing out on, which I did around the last quarter, I discovered remarkable stuff I am sure will stay in memory for a significant amount of time. As expected, the list is dominated by Japanese acts.

5. Suiyobi no Campanella – Watashi wo Onigashima ni Tsurete tte


FEATURED VIDEO: Suiyobi no Campanella – インカ

At most times, the accompanying dance music of Suiyobi no Campanella will be sweeping, wide-scaped, contemplative, much like what we’ve heard of from acts like Lamb, but then a voice comes in that raps, does spoken word, and the same voice would attempt to sing, the sort of singing that needs some getting used to. The tone reeks of the tongue-in-cheek, the carefree, and once you’ve seen the music videos (here, here, here), the live performances, you’d witness the frontwoman, KOUMAI, just goof off, with the music tethering her before she gets off-rail. Suiyobi no Campanella came out with their fifth album late 2014, and having also had the chance to listen to their earlier material, it is apparent that if taken separately, the elements that comprise the signature sound of the group would be imperfect, indistinct from what influenced it, but taken as a whole, it just becomes mesmerizing. Easily, the most hypnotic artist/record I listened to last year.

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