Being Chinese-illiterate, the promise of a 2-day beach rock concert of Shanghai and Beijing bands does sound interesting, but there’s always that hesitation, not knowing what to expect, and if the language barrier can easily be broken by just good music. See, I haven’t been to a local rock gig before, so I had reasonably low expectations. Would the Shanghai rock/metal/punk kids be any different from those in Manila? Would the Shanghai-bands-suck-Beijing-bands-are-better stigma ring true?
Upon boarding the free shuttle ride to the Shanghai SanJa Harbor Water Paradise, my co-passengers look no different from any other bus I’ve rode on, minus old people, plus the oversized bags-with-tents. No mohawks, no studded faces, and a collective clean, rock-tinged fashion sense. There’s that comforting feeling of safety not usually related to a rock concert, and there’s that unsettling emotion that things might just get too boring.
The reviews of the venue, a so-called beach, were alarmingly bleak, so I was surprised it didn’t look like the kind of dump I imagined it to be, but no, I still won’t soak skin in those waters. And, I was all smiles seeing the stage setup: no intimidating boundaries means band-photos will be much easier to take.
Booked hotel room (Single for RMB180), slept a few hours, had a no-rice -Filipinos love their fan- dinner, and settled along with approximately 200 people watching the concert. First band I caught was Sonnet, who were gutsy enought to cover White Stripes’ Blue Orchid. Verdict? They have been touted as one of Shanghai’s must-see bands, justifiably so. Their originals did surpass whatever they did to Jack White’s song, though.
And then ensued the oi oi oi punk-fest, where I believe the Beijing-based bands upped the ante drastically. There was a barrage of punk anthem covers –DISCLAIMER: unashamedly, I have been influenced by heavy metal more than punk, thus I sport no mighty authority in this genre- and other songs that merited sing-along’s with the crowd. Most notable were Life for Drinking, a skinhead quintet, who were radically punk sans radical punk fashion.
Squeeze Ferris Wheel into that punk line-up. With the right marketing, they’d easily be Shanghai’s answer to the current bands now feeding off the remnants of a forgotten shoegazer-era; yes, bands like Coldplay. Unjustified comparison, I know, but sincerely, they’re worthy of any mainstream radio rock airplay, and even an enter-music-channel-name music video to boot.
Insert Sepultura-like heavy metal, brought to us by Unregenerate Blood. The single mosh pit -yes, crowd was too thin- morphed into a headbanging troop, like so:
Bookending the bands was post-rock influenced 21g, which was my own personal headliner, and a good 50 percent of the audience’s signal to head off to their tents. None of my fellow concert photographers -my loose term for them-with-the-big-cameras-braving-the-stage-premises- were left, and I decided to arm my unit with the fast 50mm lens, sice I had full reign at this time. Hence:
Capping the first day was DJ Emcore at around 2AM, which was also the same time I decided I was too spent to bother. Too bad, I was curious how the less-than-10 people in front of the stage can produce glow sticks and have some semblance of a dance party.