In Review: Subterranea 2k19

Back in July, Kiwese hosted “Subterranea 2k19” at 13Lounge, uniting musicians, artists and filmmakers from China and Aotearoa. Havoc Studio filmed a glimpse into the festivities.

Angry Navel @ Subterranea 2k19, 13Lounge

13Lounge is a refreshing anomaly. Just north of the raucous EDM clubs and student bars of the 339 TV Tower, it lies stashed away in an unassuming building on Meng Zhui Wan Jie, an old street lined with gaudy KTV neons and greasy late night eateries. Home to five cats and half a dozen artists, the space is furnished with sofas, rugs and records, a quirky web of rooms centered around a softly lit lounge with a robust PA system and a wooden cocktail bar.

Run by artists Ayi, Zudong and friends, who moved to Chengdu last year to seek a new start away from the stifling costs of Beijing, the space opened in May as a bar, shop and private studio space. They run events sporadically throughout the month, everything from indie films to butoh jams, mime performance, noise, hip-hop and psychill DJ sets, to “tofu night” (as simple as it sounds, cooking tofu in the kitchen). As the east coast franchises extend their empires to Chengdu – with Yue Space opening in Fanmu last year and MAO Livehouse set to open in the East Music Park next month – 13Lounge brings a warmth and personality to the scene that has been sorely missed since the demolition of Morning Bar.

thruoutin @ 13Lounge, May 2019.

I first visited back in May to see thruoutin, who had been invited from Beijing to play a live set. There’s a certain type of intimacy about the space that draws you in and holds you there. The artist performed sitting on the floor with visuals running through a vintage television screen, the audience sat on cushions, or on armchairs cuddled up to the wall. The bar served strong, tasty cocktails and cheap, generous handles of beer. The sound and vibe was warm and welcoming. As soon as I entered the room, I knew WOMB and Strange Stains had to play there. Then the line up got bigger and bigger, the project more and more ambitious. And so Subterranea was born. A quiet screening bedroom for films, a main room for live music. Electronic sets, a band, a DJ, visuals… I biked over to Yulin and told Havoc about it, and he was keen to shoot it.

Havoc Studio have released this gem as part of their new series documenting the lesser known pockets of the Chengdu live music scene. With the slogan “Filmed With Love,” Havoc Tang and his crew of merry camerapeople are one of the most sought after crews in the city, regularly collaborating with Morning 早上好 and Another Language (另一种语言), as well as gigs for Boiler Room China and Caotai Music. These new videos represent a return to the roots. Filmed how they want, cut how they want, this is their own perspective – quick cutaways of audience glares down the lens play an inside joke for live music camerapeople worldwide.

Partly in reaction to prohibitive new regulations, mostly as a celebration of underground spaces and the attitudes which inhabit them, Subterranea felt like a big house party, a night to remember…

The night opened with a screening by Beijing-based director Xie Xiaoshan, a short film of a disturbing nature, which no one was mentally prepared for… KAISHANDAO served a portion of bassy beats to change the mood, then recently formed musical duo KUN + NING masterfully blended acoustic and electric sounds into a textural, elevating zen experience. Next up, synth wave outfit ANGRY NAVEL(愤怒的肚脐儿) stormed the airwaves with a fresh new set of upbeat, sizzling electronica. Next up, my babies WOMB drew the crowd in for their second Chengdu show, with Laura Duffy on the visuals. Everything felt closer. I love these shows the most, where there’s no distance between the performer and the audience, the sound rising around us as one. When STRANGE STAINS took the stage in dazzling red, the crowd erupted into dance mode. The PA was cranked so loud that it shook the glass downstairs and the police came… DJ LUCA wrapped the night, throwing down everything from 80s Cantonese bangers, electro, house and synth pop, concluding the night with an exercise in dancefloor mayhem.

Big thanks to 13Lounge for hosting and to Havoc Studio for documenting it. Endless love to all the artists for participating. xo

Subterranea 2k19
9 July 2019
@ 13Lounge, Chengdu

Strange Stains
Angry Navel
坤宁樂 Kun + Ning

With screenings by:
Christopher s
Laura Duffy
粉色药丸《Pink Pill》by director Xiaoshan Xie.