Lately Chengdu has spawned a lot of places for DJs to play – clubs, bars, restaurants, pool parties… but where have all the city’s live music venues gone?
There’s a NU SPACE that has opened in Chengdu… Kiwese is stoked to be part of it.
The impact from last year’s closure of long-running venues and hippie hang outs Hemp House 麻糖 and Lan Town 蓝堂 has been compacted by the eviction of Morning Bar 早上好 on Minzhu Lu a few months ago. Mini Live haven’t put on a gig in like, six months? The noise from the little Little Bar 小酒馆 on Fang Qing Jie has finally pissed off the neighbours to the point of no return and now the bar can only house folk/acoustic sessions – much like Macchu Picchu.
Reggae acts, dub MCs and jams continue to be a fixture down at Jah Bar, while Steam Hostel 蒸汽旅馆, Submarine Bar 潜水艇 and Gu Bar keep the free jam train rolling, but there seems to be a deficit of venues for acts that cannot fill the big boots of the 800+ capacity Little Bar Space 小酒馆空间.
Just up from the Wide and Narrow Alleys 宽窄巷子 on the peaceful residential street of Kuixinglou 奎星楼街, NU SPACE has opened out the back of MiNTOWN 明堂, the place behind October’s NUART Festival which Orchestra of Spheres headlined last year.
The stage is low and the space is narrow – there’s no boundary between the performer and the audience. Capacity is small, around 250-300 people. The sound system is epic, plus the space has been soundproofed, so there’s no chance of offending the neighbours…
We’ve got Ale and IPA on tap from Chengdu Beer, the crew who recently crowdfunded the rebuilding of their brewery after it burnt down last year.
Here are some snaps of our gigs so far…
Pascal Pinon (Iceland) w/ Wu Zhuoling 6 May 2016
The lovely Jofri of Pascal Pinon brought over her fellow Scandinavian Kari a.k.a. Farao on her recent South West China tour with Martial Artists Management, run by the inimitable DJ/promoter/entrepreneur Ni Bing. Having played the main stage at Chunyou and toured around the south-western province of Kunming, the girls returned from a spicy encounter in Chongqing to bring Chengdu a full and intimate set of songs new and old.
It was Jofri’s third time in China – the first time was with her sister and co-founder of Pascal Pinon several years ago on a tour also organised by Ni Bing, promoted as cutesy folk-pop twins from Iceland. Since then, Jofri has developed her own songwriting and music making technique away from the original Pascal Pinon prototype, presenting a more lo-fi, early twenties version of previous material. Armed with a Fender Telecaster and a cheap thrift store keyboard, Jofri and Kari performed a set of songs old and new to an adoring crowd at our very first NU SPACE show.
We were sure to bombard the pair with a night session at the Poly Centre and a spicy hot pot ordeal at 青年火锅 before they left back to Europe. Stay tuned for future China tours from Jofri’s electronic band Samaris and Kari’s band Farao!
Check out these little videos we filmed on a mellow afternoon down at East Lake Park…
草动没有排队 No Party for Caodong (Taiwan) 14 May 2016
So I had no idea these guys were such a big deal. I mean, their latest video 山海 has over 800,000 views on YouTube, but I was still overwhelmed by the response in Chengdu. The 200 tickets we put on Zaomengshe sold out at 150RMB a pop. Fans turned up at 3pm with special Caodong street signs, some had come as far as Shenzhen for the show. Young and old queued for hours in the rain for a chance at a door sale, even when there was no guarantee. It felt like One Direction had arrived in town.
Our second ever show saw indie rock band No Party for Caodong play to a seriously packed NU SPACE, as we tested the capacity to it’s very limits. Lol, safety first… The fans knew all their lyrics, bantered with them from the crowd, shouted proclamations of love for the drummer. I’d never seen fans like that in Chengdu – the sort of just-post-high school age demographic of fangirls who need selfies and autographs with their favourite band.
Pretty buzzy experience for me – emphasised by the fact I was super hungover, had about three hours sleep and walked into a glass door.
The band love a good piss up and the guitarist proved her beer sculling ability afterwards at a shaokao joint which was far too spicy for their Taiwanese palates. Solid people with good humour. They’re also surprised by how their music has taken off so wildly. I got the feeling they don’t want to be in the limelight like they are, pop doesn’t suit them, but when you’ve got hundreds of fans turning out to see you, how could you possibly be gutted?
罗友生 Luo Yousheng (Chengdu) 20 May 2016
Chengdu’s most humble and soft-spoken rockstar Luo Yousheng presented his solo project to a crowd of friends, family and fans on the Friday night before Aus-atmen. Presented by 早上好, who are involved in the production and technical side of things NU SPACE, this was a special night for the long-established musician, producer and sound engineer to perform solo following his band set at Chunyou. See the interview I filmed with him at his studio across the road from my house to find out more:
彤鑫李 (Xinjiang) 28 May 2016
Mellow guitar and red wine smooth vocals from 彤鑫李 on his tour of China. With a loop pedal and various guitar effects, he seamlessly produced an series of layers and textures beneath his vocals. This was a seated affair with a small crowd. Nice stuff.
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