The peak season of Shanghai’s music festivals is over, and though I did go to one, none of the photos I took are worth posting. Two gigs just recently happened though: one with Wye Oak, an NPR music and critic favorite, and This Will Destroy You, a name all too familiar from when I was still heavily into post-rock more than half a decade ago.
These gigs were all held at very unfamiliar terrain. Wye Oak boasts as being the only Merge Records (same home of Camera Obscura!, and of course, Superchunk!) band to have played in a gay bar (390 Shanghai) in China. Seriously though, I haven’t seen a live show this compelling in a long time. This may not be the sort of music I’d immerse myself in these days, but everything about the band felt like I should’ve paid much, much more than the 70RMB admission. I don’t know about the folk-tinged music label they seem to be associated to, but this was easily precious and honest indie rock. Shades of dream pop, yes, and some of the pop hooks remind me of 90s outfit Bettie Serveert.
Two more photos of the gig can be found on this photoset.
This Will Destroy You played at On Stage, around Red Town. This was a far cry from my usual haunts, but a welcome one, since I didn’t have to suffer from the almost-standard smoky atmosphere.
I may have a few stray mp3s of the band somewhere in my hard drive from a few years back, but if my memory serves me right, yes, they are one of the major bands from the American post-rock scene, not too far behind from favorites like Explosions in the Sky.
The venue was packed, and unlike Wye Oak’s mostly expat crowd, this one had more of the local fans, which just proves that post-rock is still popular for this type of audience. The show blurb drew in comparisons to Mogwai and Mono (who’ve played over here as well), but I do think TWDY stuck to the more standard sound of the scene, which was a personally satisfying fact. I’ve seen more than a handful of post-rock acts, and it is wildly refreshing to see this music played this way: original and genuine, like tree-ripened fruit. Sweet and emotional music most of the time, and brutal like gods stomping feet the next.
A few more photos from this gig from this photoset.