Tag Archives: NUTS Livehouse

Self-organised, self-aware, self-destructive, this is XI’ER.

朋友们好

早在五月,我收到朋友一笑的微信说她带着“喜儿”在成都和重庆演出的想法。“喜儿”是三位女巫般的姑娘的合成器电子乐队南方酸性咪咪的朋克根源乐队。

What up fam

Back in May, I got a message from my friend Yixiao about coming to play in Chengdu and Chongqing with XI’ER, the predecessor punk band to electronic witch-synth trio South Acid MiMi.

When I first met Yixiao, Shishi and Weilin in 2015, I’d already been indoctrinated into the cult of South Acid Mimi, having experienced their intoxicated psychedelic dance masquerade at Kunming dive bar earlier that year. As one of the weirdest shows I’d seen so far in China, I was ecstatic when they agreed to play support for the mothership of acid freakery, Orchestra of Spheres during their China Tour.

我在2015年认识一笑、施施和魏琳,那年1月在昆明如痴如醉地体验了一次她们的迷幻化妆舞会,可以说已经成为了南方酸性咪咪的狂热追捧分子。那是我在中国看过最怪异的演出之一,当她们表示乐意为星迹乐团(Orchestra of Spheres)的中国巡演昆明站做嘉宾的时候,我简直欣喜若狂。

在昆明见到她们,一下就知道这群人是个狠角色。花臂姑娘们带大家去了她们在昆明市区的据点:一个亮黄色的工作室,布满了复古家具、玩偶和古怪的装饰品,墙上贴满了Bowie和Sonic Youth海报,纸伞倒挂在天花板上,一个Microbrute合成器放在一个老式电话的旁边。大家一起喝梅子酒、抽烟、畅谈,她们的可爱、大方和才华让她们显得与外面的世界—媚俗和卡哇伊、硬边和软芯、成瘾和烦躁的青春期、并置和过剩的…那么的不同。

Upon meeting them in Kunming, it was immediately clear they were super badass. Arms covered with tattoos, they led us to their hangout in downtown Kunming – a bright yellow studio full of retro furniture, glitter, toy figurines and kooky decorations. Bowie and Sonic Youth adorned the walls. Paper umbrellas hung upside down from the ceiling. A MicroBrute synth sat next to a vintage telephone.

Meizijiu, cigarettes and conversation flowed freely. Incredibly lovely, generous and talented, everything about them was so different to the world outside – a bizarre amalgam of kitsch and kawaii, hard-edge and soft core, addiction and adolescence, juxtaposition and excess…

喜儿是她们的雏形。最早十年前的一个昆明酒吧open mic的晚上,16岁的吉他手施施遇到了喝酒跟喝水一样、醉了后会像karen O一样尖叫的魏琳和留着波浪长发 、穿着高跟鞋打鼓的大美女杨杨。三个人合租了一个排练室——“里面有粉红色的灯和塑料珠帘 、毛绒玩具 、自制的话筒架。” 喜儿开始写自己的歌,在本地的各种酒吧音乐节演出。后来,施施和同学一笑从艺术实验学校的高二退学了,杨杨去了大理,魏琳回了怒江,“喜儿”暂时分散了。

XI’ER is where it all started. Flashback ten years ago to an open mic night in Kunming: 16-year-old guitarist Shishi met Weilin, a girl who could sink liquor and scream like Karen O and Yang Yang, a long haired hottie who played the drums in high heels. They rented a practice space and kitted it out with pink lights, plastic beads, plush toys and homemade microphone racks, soon scoring gigs at local bars and music festivals. Shishi and Yixiao eventually dropped out of high school, Yang Yang moved to Dali, Weilin went back to Nujiang, and Xi’er was disbanded.

再后来,她们又凑一起组成了“南方酸性咪咪”,这个迷幻电子舞曲三人乐队被Vice和i-D报道了。她们用神秘混响的和声、电脑、键盘和合成器创作了几首独特的电子歌曲并且在豆瓣上发布,接着开始在几大城市演出,包括一些大型音乐节和地下演出派对。咪咪备受期待的首张专辑已经完成了录音,正在后期混音阶段 。该专辑将在北京独立厂牌Ruby Eyes 。(site.douban.com/southacidmimi/

Later, they went on to form South Acid Mimi, a psychedelic electronic dance trio who have since been covered by VICE and i-D. Using a reverb soaked vocal harmonies, a laptop and keyboards, the band uploaded a bunch of tracks to Douban and have since performed in most major cities across the country, including large music festivals and underground parties. South Acid Mimi are in the mixing stage of releasing their highly anticipated debut record with Beijing based label Ruby Eyes.

Back in 2015, with nothing else better to do, they reformed the band XI’ER. With the original bassist in Shanghai, Xiaohei has joined as the only male band member, despite not knowing how to play bass. Since Weilin moved to Beijing, Yixiao took up lead vocals.

2015年,闲来无事的几位重新演绎了“喜儿”。因为原来的贝斯手搬到上海去,小黑作为贝斯手加入了乐队,不会弹贝斯的他成为了乐队的唯一的男孩。“他是个喜欢音乐的魔术师,”说施施,“却不会弹贝斯哈哈哈,但他已经在学了” 魏林搬去北京后,一笑担任了主场。

XI’ER aren’t interested in punk clichés or traditional understandings of the genre. Their music sounds as likely to take queues from The Stooges as it is from rockabilly or synth pop. Much like South Acid Mimi, XI’ER experiment by fusing influences from punk and electronica – synth noise emerges alongside oddball guitar riffs and pounding drum lines, while the vocals are full of grit and attitude, equal parts aggression and sensuality.

“喜儿”对朋克的陈腔滥调或者传统意义上的风格不大感兴趣。更多像是“南方酸性咪咪”,“喜儿”融合了朋克和电子元素,正如The Stooges 有着rockabilly或者 synth pop的影响:合成器噪音和古怪的吉他riff出现在一起,人声都喊出来的,充满勇气和精神,同时又有着些许的暴力和感官的满足。

Always moving to their own beat, XI’ER tear down conventions and mix them into a highly potent cocktail – the kind your friend makes for you that has waaaay too much rum in it. Always down to party, XI’ER have been busy touring the southern provinces and are set to bring the ruckus to Chengdu and Chongqing this weekend.

他们总是跟着自己的节拍,“喜儿” 经常破坏惯例,像是把它调成一种烈性鸡尾酒—那种朋友给你加了太多朗姆酒的。不错过任何派对的“喜儿”一直忙着在南方巡演,这个周末,他们准备好了把属于自己的喧嚣带给成都和重庆。

你说哪里比成都的耍宫殿和酒鬼中心蒸汽旅舍更适合这场陶醉的演出,我已经闻到了宿醉的气息。。。

What better location for this intoxicating anti-soiree than Chengdu’s high temple of indulgence and general shit-facery, Steam Hostel.

…I can feel the hangover already.

XI’ER play at STEAM HOSTEL on 2017.8.6
Tickets: 50RMB (40adv www.showstart.com/event/30919)
Support: Kaishandao

Favourite Gigs 2016

Construction and redevelopment has seen Chengdu’s cultural landscape (read: the places we go to drink alcohol and listen to music) change dramatically. But as old places close and new ones emerge, great shows from bands, performers, DJs and collectives continue to entertain and inspire.

Along with the loss of Bowie, Prince and George Michael, we lost many of our local stars this year. Morning Bar 早上好 on Minzhu Lu was demolished and construction of the new Music Conservatory concert hall began, Machu Picchu I closed after over a decade of business in the backstreets of Yulin and Soul Kitchen shut up shop just as renovations were completed. But it’s not all doom and gloom, laobans have gone on to open 2.0 versions of their former bars.

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The fall of Minzhu Lu. Video: Unknown WeChat source.

Not ones to be phased by forced demolition, the Zaoshanghao crew came back in style with the incredibly epic Morning House in Flower Town, taking over the old Xiwo swimming pool bar and fitting it out with an outdoor-stage, hot pot and rehearsal spaces. The Dojo crew took over Soul Kitchen in the Soho Building and established Berlin Haus, bringing much needed day vibes, strong coffee and workspaces to the inner city. Yulin also saw the opening of Yabany 牙半厘, a smoky little bar fit out with retro neons, cult film screenings and despite lack of any backline, the occasional jam night.

Perhaps the venue making the biggest waves this year has got to be NU SPACE. Freshly renovated at the back of Mintown, NU SPACE is kitted out with a minimalist, concrete design, banging sound system and some of the most diverse billing in the city.

When I first came to Chengdu as a backpacking language student in 2013,  I was greeted with jungle fireworks and Drum N Bass and Rammstein blasting from a shopping trolley in the magazine aisle of 7Eleven. Friends took me to Morning Bar, Lantown, Hemp House and Xiwo, vibrant venues tattooed with psychedelic murals and scented with herbal inspiration. Now, more than three years later, none of those venues exist anymore, but the shows certainly go on.

“…when the world outside is scary, boring, ugly, and hateful, what do you do? You either drown in it or you drown it out.”

– Brian Chippendale for The Creative Independent

Music is the gateway, it elevates us above the mundanity of everyday life. We choose to participate in it and represent who we are. Live music is the beating heart of a community, where the performer and audience meet like minded spirits, enter a space of their own creation, and be free.

Without further ado, here are my favourite shows of 2016 in chronological order.

Chinese Football

Little Bar, Chengdu

8 January 2016

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“NI HAI PAAAAAAA – WO HAI PAAAAA!!”

Man, how good are Chinese Football?! These Wuhan emo kids came through Chengdu on their album release tour way back in January, playing to a sea of woollen cardigans and thick framed glasses. No support act, didn’t need it. Super 爽 guitars, vocal melodies and FEELS. Chinese Football also probably have the strongest merch game in the country. Subsequently invited them to play NUART Festival in October which was also highly dope (see below).

Check out their album on Bandcamp.

Mike Shannon

.TAG, Chengdu

19 March 2016

It was a packed house for Berlin-based Canadian producer Mike Shannon and .TAG’s 2nd birthday. A six-hour long set of fresh, cutting house and techno, masterful hypnotism of the dance floor and the delivery of positive vibes. The excellent support slot was Beijing bro Yang Bing, who kept things popping till Sunday lunchtime. Much rave!

Chunyou 春游

Morning House, Chengdu

22 April 2016

Chunyou is like Christmas for music fans. With the introduction of an electronic stage, rental tents courtesy of Steam Hostel and a new abundance of sofas, this year’s Chunyou at Morning House saw many punters stay on site for a memorable weekend of debauchery. Memorable moments include:

  • Hiperson on the main stage live with new bassist Ming Ming for the first time in Chengdu.
  • Someone setting off a fucking FLARE in the middle of the Stolen mosh pit.
  • CDC inviting all the white people up to dance on the stage and all the white people being really excited.
  • Playing guitar with atmen at the electronic stage on Day 1.
  • DIO was sick.
  • Pascal Pinon putting a spell over the main stage
  • HELEN TING IN THE DJ ROOM ON SUNDAY MORNING. Rolling out of my shitty tent after passing out for two hours and stumbling into the DJ hut with no pants on to find this insane Hong Kong lady with an afro, coloured shades and enormous Aladdin pants absolutely slaying the decks with a mix of afrobeat, soul and funk, a dedicated crowd of ravers grooving strong, mystically attaining sunglasses as the sun came up. Fuck how good was Helen Ting?!
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atmen live. Image: 仙人张
Aus-atmen Festival

Dongli Juyuan, 三圣乡, Chengdu

21-22 May 2016

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Rain rain rain. More rain. Stage closures, mud, the gear getting soaked, the police shut down… As dysfunctional as Aus-atmen ended up being, it was a testament to DIY culture, a love of electronic music and thinking big. It was also completely unforgettable. Check out the review here.

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16:30 – 18:00   Hao (Chengdu, CN)
18:00 – 19:30   May (Chengdu, CN)
19:30 – 21:00   Bchir (Rabat, MA)
21:00 – 22:30   Ewan (Chengdu, CN)
22:30 – 00:00   Xiaolong (Chengdu, CN)
00:00 – 02:00   Mike Ravelli (Amsterdam, NL)
02:00 – 04:00   Su (Chengdu, CN)
04:00 – 06:00   Xiang (Chengdu, CN)
06:00 – 07:30   Chamberlain (Beijing, CN)
07:30 – 09:00    Hiroshi (Hiroshima, JP)
09:00 – ??????    CA1XR (Chengdu, CN)
??????  – ??????    Su

Hiperson + Lonely Leary

NU SPACE, Chengdu

10 June 2016
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Chen Sijiang of Hiperson. Video: LittleNew

This was the first show I put on at NU SPACE and is also my favourite poster of the year, a  collage we made of clippings from an old flipbook featuring a flying decapitated head. We posted it around the city on cheap A4 print outs.

Hiperson Lonely Leary poster

Lonely Leary have two speeds: fast or faster. Bass heavy rhythms drove the blitzing pace like a schizophrenic roller coaster. There was no looking back for Hiperson, who played a killer set of new material, confident and self-assured. May have shed a tear.

NU SPACE had just opened and we were working a lot of shit out… the lighting really wasn’t great, but these two bands together in concert for a home crowd was in my eyes a real triumph.

Yue Xuan: Entrance and Exports Remix Project
feat. Cvalda + VJ PLGRM

NU SPACE, Chengdu

24 June 2016

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Beijing-based pianist Yue Xuan 岳璇 came to Chengdu as part of her Remix tour to perform with Cvalda, one of the producers who remixed a track from In & Out (2015) that formed the Entrance & Exports remix album. Comprised of three sections; contemporary piano, electronic collaboration and drum n bass, this was a unique and creatively curated live show from one of China’s biggest talents.

Also a composer for film, Yue Xuan’s concert was suitably accompanied by incredibly beautiful visual pieces by PLGRM on the big screen for us in this intimate performance. Oh, and we got to see Cvalda in “formal dress” as she laid down some serious bass.

Neverland

Fairy Mountain, Wulong, Chongqing

8-9 July 2016

NUTS Livehouse and Morning 早上好 have done it again, Neverland 2016 was bigger, better and more well organised than ever – no deadly mud slide between stages, and a quarantining of the psy-trance stage to it’s own little hill commune in the forest. The addition of more food stalls was a welcome relief (shout out Baker Street for giving us the last pasta scrapings on Day 2), a big improvement from the food options available in 2015.

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Wild animals, beautiful landscapes, hand built teepees and jamming instruments providing pleasing environments for those on acid and co., while the downside was an influx of loud, obnoxious tourists who killed the vibe from about 9pm – 2am both nights with yelling, beer showers and general fuckwittery at the Main Stage.

Metope and Yang Bing were highlights on Day 1, as Dusk Till Dawn proved their namesake. We were treated to the best of Shanghai, with MIIIA and MHP making appearances on the second night. Raving on a mountain in the early morning as the morning mist slowly glides in from the hills – YES. Go Neverland!

Punk Fest CDC

Morning House, Chengdu

6 August 2016
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One of the many stage dives at Punk Fest. Image: YRL

How many punk bands are there in Chengdu?

According to Punk Fest CDC, actually quite a few.

It was an absolute scorcher in Flower Town and hoards of people turned up for a good time, enticed by the free entry ticket price. A ferocious mosh pit fuelled by copious amounts of beer, Morning House was buzzing for a day and night of recurrent stage diving and comic pool throws. Stink Mouth threw a bunch of condoms into the crowd. Good times.

The Others Way Festival

Galatos, Auckland

2 September 2016
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Nick Johnson from Cut Off Your Hands. GIF: Kiwese

BOY am I happy about Cut Off Your Hands coming back this year. Their performance at The Others Way was a total throwback to 2008’s You & I and even Takes Slowly Over from their first EP, finishing up with Nick Johnson jumping on guitar for their new tune Hate Somebody. Brilliant band, incredibly energy and everyone was going ape shit like it was 2006.

The Others Way coordinated all the venues on K Road into a night packed full of back to back shows and it was impeccably well organized. I also caught great performances from Nadia Reid, Fazerdaze, Purple Pilgrims, Mermaidens, Shocking Pinks and the inimitably chaotic King Loser.

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JC Satàn

NU SPACE, Chengdu

17 September 2016
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Image: Kiwese

Powerful women rocking out, YEAH. Paula and Ali totally rock. French imports JC Satàn were an unexpected delight. Bathed in red light, the band jumped and lurched and grooved their way through an set of throttling, kerosine coated garage punk somewhere between The Ramones, Thee Oh Sees and Queens of the Stone Age. A two-metre tall keyboardist thrashed about like a barely caged giraffe while guitarist Arthur kicked and shook like an electrified rock and roll Bruce Lee.

The bassist and guitarist lost their guitars in transit (ouch), but took kindly to borrowed instruments which I was surprised to find intact after the show, not pummelled into a fine dust. A mighty gig that brought out all the head bangers, stoners and more than a few devils horns. Rock is not dead, thank god.

NUART Festival

Kuixinglou Jie, Chengdu

1-3 October 2016
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Image: John Yingling

Three days of sunshine, four stages, hundreds of market stalls and thousands of punters – 2016 was the first year I’ve been on board at NUART Festival and man, what a trip. Chengdu community vibes and street culture combined with some of the most innovative alternative acts in the country. A cohesion of genres, with a smorgasbord on the Main Stage, experimental/electronic music in NU SPACE, a DJ stage and a vinyl record zone run by Marco Duits himself.

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I feel this festival brings the community together, young and old, the livehouses and the clubs. Absolutely amazing and completely exhausting. Too many highlights to mention! Marco closing the festival with an Always on the Run 7″ by Lenny Kravitz was pretty amazing though.

This year’s line-up:

WHAI, Chinese Football, ChaCha + DJ Aivilox, Wednesday’s Trip, South Acid MiMi Dance Team, CDC, Sulumi, Biggaton + Blood Dunza (JA), Hu Yang, iimmune, Taiga, Charlie Tango (FR), Starcardigan (RU), Wanmei Daoli, Fake Swing, Jahwahzoo, Sound and Fury, Zhang Xiaobing and Friends, U M U / Microsoft Voices (NZ), Faded Ghost, 3000, Xiang, Su, Kaiser and May, Lao G, Just Charlie, Jovian and Marco Duits.

mr sterile Assembly

Support: Die! Chiwawa!Die!

Loft345, Guangzhou

15 October 2016

mr-sterile_guangzhou

This year Kiwese was pleased to tour with mr sterile Assembly across Guangzhou, Guiyang, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan and Beijing. While each show was unique, Guangzhou was my favourite.

Hauling gear up four flights of stairs paid off as Loft345 came alive with dancing and general limb flailing. Despite a bass amp meltdown, Chrissie ripped through a set of chest pummeling tunes through a tiny guitar amp with no overdrive, while mr sterile, having upgraded from the drum-less venue in Shanghai, happily smashed away on his melange of cymbals while yelling out pagefuls of lyrics to those bafflingly brilliant time signatures.

The night was a success thanks to our hosts QiiiSnacks Records and Die! Chiwawa!Die! – an inimitable Guangzhou  hardcore noise/screamo/chiptune band which frontwoman Jinbo bouncing up and down like a possessed Pokémon while guitarist Howie and the other screamo vocalist thrashing across the ground as if it were being tilted and shaken by an omnipotent overlord.

Sabu Toyozumi + Li Jianhong

NU SPACE, Chengdu

26 October 2016

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In a tour named 耳舍 (lit: ear tongue), acclaimed experimental guitarist Li Jianhong 李剣鴻 and legendary Japanese free jazz drummer Sabu Toyozumi treated us to a two hour display of skill, stamina and imagination.

Toyozumi, now in his seventies, was like a playful kid in a sandpit, pushing the house kit through its paces – smacking, dismantling and scraping it together, even whipping the snare with his sock at one point. Li Jianhong deftly cast out a palette of colours with his effects board, the scrape of his guitar and slamming of wah pedals sounded as if he were fishing for frequencies in an ocean of sound – calm, patient and free. A journey through tone and timbre that constantly reached into new territory, furthered by local multi-instrumentalist and improv king Kun jumping on violin for the last segment of the show.

Afterwards, the promoter said Sabu only played for 30 minutes in Chongqing, which made us feel even luckier to be treated to such an epic long set. Sabu was also super happy to chat with fans afterwards and sign CDs. Super swell guy! Stay tuned for his NZ tour with the Sound and Light Exploration Society next year.

Michael Rother

Support: Chui Wan

Little Bar Space, Chengdu

31 October 2016

michael-rother

VICE have brought quite a few touring acts to Chengdu this year (Ratatat, Tonstartssbandht) but Krautrock king Michael Rother from Neu!, Harmonia and Kraftwerk with Beijing psych/no-wave band Chui Wan took the cake. Little Bar Space is a cavernous monstrosity when half empty and even Rother himself politely commented on the small crowd in between songs.

Chui Wan is like LSD for the ears. Michael Rother and band were uplifting, melodic and joyful. Lovely, though with that number of people (100-150 ish), I couldn’t help but think how great and intimate it could have been at NU SPACE…

Eagulls

Support: Sinkers

NU SPACE, Chengdu

18 November 2016

eagulls3

When Eagulls took the stage my heart stopped.

Was it our newly minted fog machine that cloaked them in a turquoise haze of gothic mystery? Was it frontman George Mitchell’s post-punk nonchalance and lyrical wordsmithing? Was it the bass line from Skipping that echoes the refrain from How Soon is Now? Was it that I’d witnessed their metamorphosis into an immensely professional, polished and powerful live act directly after Tsingdao cans, rollies and toilet banter?

Sisu (Acoustic)

Berlin Haus, Chengdu

22 November 2016

This was a really special show for me because:

a) we threw it together last minute

b) it was Sisu’s first time ever playing an acoustic show

c) it was the first ever Berlin Haus show.

Shout out to the chick huffing a qiqiu (balloon) at the back lol. Classic Tuesday night Soho.

Octopoulpe, Le Crabe, Digou, Klaus Legal

NU SPACE, Chengdu

13 December 2016

gigs_trump

Two aliens slithered on stage and blasted into a set of garbled bass/vocals hardcore before Donald Trump emerged bearing hot dogs and hamburgers then was skinned alive and left for dead. The show went on until Trump was revived by the sound of Chinese pop and destroyed by a glowing orb where he and the aliens were forced to evacuate by dragging themselves along the floor out the door, leaving Earth forever.

The All Seeing Hand, Womb, Unsanitary Napkin

Meow, Wellington

23 December 2016

gigs_ash

Wellington disciples of the A.S.H order convened upon Meow to praise their latest auditory offering Sand to Glass with support from Unsanitary Napkin, Womb and artist Georgette Brown. A feast for the eyes and ears! The All Seeing Hand are in a class of their own, the shamans of sound, the Triptych of Trippy – stay tuned for their China wanderings in 2017.


Commended:

  • Caspian @ Little Bar Space, Chengdu
  • Noise Temple @ .TAG
  • Audible Area:SunWei + 16ways @ NU SPACE, Chengdu
  • Dizzy Love + Wednesday’s Trip @ NU SPACE, Chengdu
  • DJ Sodeyama @ Here We Go, Chengdu
  • Street Party Rain Out: Marco Duits @ Hakka Bar, Chengdu
  • U Brown + Blood Dunza @ Jah Bar, Chengdu
  • Tobias @ Here We Go, Chengdu
  • All the Yang Bing raves @ .TAG in the first half of 2016

What will 2017 bring?

I’d like to see shows make there way out into the public, in found locations or reconverted spaces. DJ Marco Duits is someone who constantly leads the way with this in his ‘Street Party’ concept, though even these shows are becoming few and far between. No one wants to get in trouble, or worse, have their gear confiscated, but how can we branch out into different spaces and create something new for ourselves? I look forward to the new year of new shows and new adventures.


Full disclosure: I work at NU SPACE so saw a lot of shows there and missed those at other venues.

This year, Kiwese was lucky to be invited to Going Global Music Conference and The Others Way Festival in Auckland – many thanks to Dylan, Kath at the Independent New Zealand Music Commission for the opportunity!

Header image by John Yingling @theworldunderground

mr sterile Assembly China Tour 2016

Brace yourselves – in the second ever Kiwese tour, Wellington outsider punk duo mr sterile Assembly are making their way to China to freak some people out and devour various vegetarian fry-ups. 

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Last month I found myself waiting for some friends outside Baobab Cafe. Despite a two year absence from Wellington, everything was overwhelmingly familiar – the tangy scent of South Indian curries in the breeze, rows of faceless mannikins posing in op-shop windows and bright yellow public buses trundling past with a mechanical groan. Lofty signs for QUICK AND EASY PERSONAL LOANS remained latched to the sides of cheap bakeries. Not much had changed in Newtown, an inner-city suburb dotted with ethnic restaurants and a growing number of hipster hangouts.

After work traffic kept me waiting by the side of the road. Conversation floated by among those clasping fish n’ chips or Keep Cup lattes to their puffer-jacketed chests. A cold wind blew as gutters were scoured for cigarette butts and spare change by the chapped hands of the less fortunate.

The income gap in New Zealand has continued gape wide open in the two years since I’ve been gone. A suit scrolls through his iPhone while a homeless man rolls a used durry. This is the reality of urban Aotearoa – no glossy tourism pamphlets, no rare and endangered birds, no hobbits or wizards.

There is, however, a pair of performance punk musicians whose music speaks to the experiences of the poor, marginalised and ignored members of our society, who believe in telling stories that belong to the current cultural conversation, who believe “indifference is the death of the heart.” They are mr sterile Assembly, dubbed as one of the most unusual live acts in New Zealand, a band who have reached out to Kiwese seeking a way through China.

At a little past half five, my ride arrives.

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Three years since the last break, not a single day off since
Paradise is busy by the bay
In orbit of the corner store, seven days a week
Seven through to seven every day

Upper flat, inner city, such a long, long way from home
Double cleaner’s wages pay the rent
In a tiny condensed world, make do in a single room
Quiet touch only, beside the daughter’s bed

Living third world in a first world city

Employer brands the loyalty, keeps the manners nice
The old bloke at the front desk, bites down the bitterness
Stress value first impression, try to smile with missing teeth
Fight for slight promotion and pass the urine test

Living third world in a first world

A state house by the motorway, a tiny condensed space
How many can camp down, into a single double bed
Fever likes the company, attracted by rheumatic heart
Win the prize of penicillin, or a surgeon on your chest

Loud hear them
Lucky them
Who were there
And who got out
Don’t hear them
Other them
Who are there
Who can’t get out

– ‘Othering Heights’ from It’s All Over
by mr sterile Assembly

A car pulls up in the middle of the road and a man with the most fantastic moustache in the South Pacific gestures for me to hop in. It’s the ringmaster Kieran, the drumming and singing mr sterile himself, with the other half of the Assembly, bassist and vocalist Chrissie, behind the wheel. Car troubles aside, we are soon cruising around the South Coast as the sun sets behind the hills, tinted orange and pink.

We soon arrive at their Happy Valley home – mr sterile gets to work on reheating a veggie curry for tea and Chrissie fires up the brazier. Their kids have all grown up and moved out, leaving the cat to prowl around the cozy living room stacked with a staggering array of books, CDs, records, cassettes and paintings. A drum kit and bass amp sit next to the sofa. It is a home full of music and information.

I’d received an email from mr sterile Assembly several months prior, who had seen the Orchestra of Spheres Rockumentary on YouTube and were themselves long intrigued by the possibility of touring China. A few more emails, a Skype and a serendipitous trip back to New Zealand for Going Global, I was now sitting in their living room hearing tales of Levin bogan basement gigs, the touring circuit in Indonesia and the travels of DIY punk duo Sabot.

It is with much pleasure that I announce the mr sterile Assembly China Tour 2016, kicking off this Friday in Shanghai.

MR STERILE BIO:

The mr sterile Assembly is a bass and drum duo of explosive proportions from Aotearoa New Zealand. With one foot in the world of punk, and the other dancing between noise, math rock, free-form squall, they are not easy to box, and are quite happy about that. Known as much for their wordsmithing as for their impressive live performance, sterile’s fierce delivery has been described as “oppressive and delightful both at the same time.” Organ Magazine, UK.

After 15 years, five albums, and several excursions to Central Europe and South East Asia, Sterile are looking forward to this 20 date tour across 2 continents.

The band will be traveling with their latest album, It’s All Over released through the band’s label skirted Records. International distribution is through Portland based Metal Postcards. Take a listen on Bandcamp to “A jolt of pure creative spirit married to social commentary, and damn good fun!” NZ Musician.

KIWESE PROUDLY PRESENTS: 
MR STERILE ASSEMBLY CHINA TOUR 2016

10.14 (FRI)
Shanghai @ Space-631
NOIShanghai LXXIV X Space-631 Vol.8
Support: Torturing Nurse, 反方向的钟(上海) 白梦薇(上海))
20RMB Door

10.15 (SAT)
Guangzhou @ Loft 345
In Collab With: QiiiSnacks Records
Support: Die!ChiwawaDie!
50/60RMB

10.16 (SUN)
Guiyang @ 劲Power Livehouse
Support: 走失的小马
50/60RMB

10.19 (WED)
Chengdu @ NU SPACE
Support: Don Trash
Visuals: PLGRM
Tickets: zaomengshe.com/c/494912
50/60RMB

10.20 (THU)
Chongqing @ Nuts Livehouse
In Collab With: 珊瑚坝
Support: You Come Twice
50/60RMB

10.21 (FRI)
Wuhan @ Coastline
In Collab With: Imaginary Person
Support: Panic Worm
50/60RMB

10.22 (SAT)
Beijing @ Red Gate Gallery
In Collab With: Dan Beban
TBC

10.22 (SAT)
Beijing @ Caravan
In Collab With: AWEH
Support: Death Narcissist and DJ Fido
Free

10.23 (SUN) 4pm
Beijing @ fruityspace
In Collab With: Sound and Exploration Society
Support: Dead Corner, DINGCHENCHEN
50RMB

mrsterile_explode

mr sterile Assembly是来自新西兰惠灵顿富有爆发性的贝斯和鼓二人乐队。他们一只脚踏在朋克世界,另一只脚则在噪音,数字摇滚,自由即兴的世界中起舞,他们难以被人贴上某种风格的标签,而他们则很满意这种状态。mr sterile Assembly因其伶俐的歌词和神奇的现场出名,他们激烈的演出风格被描述成一种“压迫感和愉快同时存在”的体验。
乐队经过了十五年,在发行了五张专辑,好几个在欧洲和东南亚的巡演之后,mr sterile Assembly非常期待今年的跨两大洲二十个站的巡演。他们要把最近的在自己的skirted records厂牌发行的专辑《It’s All Over》带上。而这张专辑的国际发行则是美国波特兰Metal Postcards厂牌负责。在Bandcamp可以听一下他们的音乐,被NZ Musician网站形容为“纯粹的创新精神与社会评论的联婚,好玩死了!”

“我们的音乐讲故事,这些觉得应该属于在当今发生的文化中的故事,不要被忘记的故事,应该成为当代文化沟通的一部分。”
– mr sterile

http://www.mrsterileassembly.com
http://www.site.douban/mrsterile
http://www.mrsterileassembly.bandcamp.com


Kiwese will be joining the tour from Guangzhou, will try and post updates on the road, see you there!

What Did You Expect? Die! Die! Die! Return to China in 2016

Die! Die! Die! 来!来!来!Hold the press, New Zealand noise-rock / post-punk trio Die! Die! Die! are returning to China for the first time in five years for a ten date tour!

It’s a sweltering Thursday afternoon here in Chengdu and I am still nursing a strained neck induced by overly aggressive head banging at the first annual Punkfest CDC 成都朋克音乐节 at Morning House 早上好 last weekend. Speaking of overly aggressive head banging and sweatiness…

DDD_chinataiwan_poster CN

Die! Die! Die! are such a great band. Their live show is an almost cathartic experience, the relentless thrashing and collision of flying bodies, the unpredictability of vocalist/guitarist Andrew Wilson as to when he will careen off stage. Just thinking about Michael Prain’s drum intro to A.T.T.I.T.U.D. makes me feel like sporadically pogoing into people.

The band first toured China back in 2011 with Tom from This Town Touring, paving the way into the unknown for other NZ acts to follow. This time, with London-import Rory Attwell (Test Icicles) on bass duties, the band will be brought over by Beijing-based punk tour overlord Nevin Domer from Genjing Records and Maybe Mars for ten dates across Taipei, Hong Kong and the Mainland.

With the new high speed rail from Guiyang to Chengdu making things possible, the Die! Die! Die! train is storming west to play Guiyang, Chengdu and Chongqing, plus the main southern and eastern centres! YEAH!!

DIE! DIE! DIE! CHINA TOUR 2016

09/07 (WED)
Revolver, Taipei
Support: Slack Tide, Wayne’s So Sad
NT500 (presale and student price) / NT600 (at door)

09/08 (THU)
Focal Fair, Hong Kong

Support: SECTS, The Bollands
150 HKD

09/09 (FRI)
B10, Shenzhen

Support: Atta Girl
60/80RMB

09/10 (SAT)
Loft 345, Guangzhou

Support: TBC
40/60RMB

09/11 (SUN)
Power Livehouse, Guiyang

Support: MiChe
50/70RMB

09/13 (TUE)
NU SPACE, Chengdu 

Support: Stink Mouth
60/80RMB

09/14 (WED)
NUTS
Livehouse, Chongqing
Support: The Wallflowers
60/80RMB

09/15 (THU)
VOX Wuhan
Support: Birdstriking, AV Okubo
60/80RMB

09/16 (FRI)
Yugong Yishan, Beijing
Support: Birdstriking
80/100RMB

09/17 (SAT) 
Concrete and Grass Festival, Shanghai

DDD_1
欢迎到中国来!Andrew Wilson (guitar, vocals), Rory Attwell (bass), Michael Prain (drums)

Orchestra of Spheres in China: EP. 3 CHONGQING

In the bleary eyed haze of 4am in the morning, I stumbled home from the after party at Morning Bar 早上好 and began mashing about on my phone trying to decipher a Chinese van booking app. Several hours later, a comedically large house moving van appeared, and we were ready to go. Chongqing, here we come!

With a lot of laughs and a bit of KFC, the OOS x Lady Lazer Light x Kiwese China tour bullet trained it’s way to the sprawling, hilly municipality of Chongqing, home to 30 million people, the most populated centre in China.

NUTS Livehouse Chongqing is one of the most professional venues I’ve been to in China. These guys have their shit down pat, from the lights to the sound to the promotion to the vibe. The venue itself is located in Deyi Fashion Mall, a bizarre building in Jiaochangkou full of different levels, sections, awnings and shops.

The crowd was electric, with more than 100 people turning up on a weeknight. Although there was no warm-up band arranged, the Spheres magically mutated into a mysterious New Zealand hip hop act called The Niubis™. Never before has Chongqing been so educated about multinational milk corporations, the uterus or breakfast condiments.

Chongqing, we’ll definitely be back!

Kiwese Presents… Orchestra of Spheres China Tour 2015

Wellington’s favourite intergalactic dance freaks Orchestra of Spheres are coming for a nine-date tour of China. Aotearoa’s Queen of buzzy visuals Lady Lazer Light is coming, too.

This is not a drill!  I repeat, THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!

trippy

/ˈtrɪpɪ/

adjective -pier, -piest

(informal) suggestive of or resembling the effect produced by hallucinogenic drug

Poster by Hannah Salmon.
Poster by Hannah Salmon.
Orchestra of Spheres are one of the most exciting and unpredictable live acts in New Zealand. With DIY homemade instruments and wide-ranging worldwide influences, the group have spellbound and tripped out audiences from Wainuiomata to Reykjavík, and developed an international cult-like following. 
Like celestial sponges, they draw on influences far and wide: the hypnotic beats of Angolan kuduro, the chimes of gamelan music, free jazz and dance music. Their sound has been described as psychedelic disco and ancient future funk and the band have been compared to artists as diverse as Fela Kuti, Sun Ra, Can and Drexiciya.

Orchestra of Spheres are coming to tour China for the first time, with very special guest Lady Lazer Light. They only come out this way once every 2,000,000 years, so don’t miss out your chance to see them live!

Kiwese proudly presents...
ORCHESTRA OF SPHERES w/ LADY LAZER LIGHT

29 Sept – Beijing, School, w/ Baxian Fandian
30 Sept – Beijing, Temple 坛酒吧
3 Oct – Chengdu, Shao Cheng Fest 少城有明堂艺术节
4 Oct – Chongqing, Nuts 坚果 Livehouse
5 Oct – Kunming, MAO Livehouse, w/ South Acid MiMi Dance Team
7 Oct – Dali, Jielu Music Space 结庐音乐空间
9 Oct – Shenzhen, OCT-LOFT Jazz Fest 国际爵士音乐节
10 Oct – Guangzhou, 191 Space, w/ Full Label
11 Oct – Wuhan, VOX Hankou 汉口

More support acts TBA.

“Part Sun Ra otherworldliness, part Sublime Frequencies and part ESG… Orchestra of Spheres blew us away…” – Dan Snaith, Caribou

“Orchestra of Spheres must be the most out-of-this-world band in music today… sounds like they came from another planet, where nonstop dance and remarkable melodies are the norm” – Brian Shimkovitz, Awesome Tapes from Africa

“Futuristic and unsettlingly primal” – Uncut

http://www.orchestraofspheres.com

A Myopic Travel Guide to Chongqing

With countless flights of endless stairs to tone those thighs and hot pot so spicy it will empty your bowels; those looking to lose weight might find a trip to Chongqing 重庆 is just the ticket.

Kiwese spent a few days in the south west mega city of Chongqing to see what’s up in a municipality population of almost 30 million people.

My first impressions of Chongqing were that it was eerie as hell. There is a spookiness about abandoned, decaying buildings in the night. The sheer amount of concrete debris and general trash that lay throughout the city was astonishing.

I guess it is worth noting that there are probably oceans of debris lying around every big city in China, concealed by walls of photoshopped blue skies and glamorous high rises, but the hilly topography of Chongqing means that you can view it from above.

Commentators from travel guides to political analysts to bloggers and international students will often say China is a land of great juxtaposition. Perhaps nowhere else can this contrast between new and old, decay and sparkle, be seen more acutely than Chongqing.

IMG_5450IMG_5452IMG_5470Meanwhile… up the road:

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Transport

Chongqing is a short two hour high speed train journey from Chengdu. From Chongqing, you can get buses and trains to loads of different places in Guizhou, Sichuan and further afield.

If you arrive by train at 12am, expect to be shuffling forward in a taxi queue for the next hour or so.
If you arrive by train at 12am, expect to be shuffling about in a taxi queue for the next hour or so.

The subway system in the city is well-planned, easy to use and just downright impressive. Chongqing subway ticket machines willingly accept wrinkled notes, unlike the unforgiving machines in Beijing, who will spit out any cash short of a crisp, clean bank note like a rude child sticking its tongue out. Humph!

Accommodation

1) TINA’S HOSTEL: If navigating your way through trash and human excrement is your kind of thing, look no further than Tina’s!

IMG_5536

Tina’s is nestled away in an old, decaying building off Zhong Xing Road, about five minutes from the nearest subway station.

The dorm rooms are among some of the cheapest in town, albeit cold and musty. On the other hand, the staff are nice, they sell cheap beer and Tina’s unpopularity means the Wifi speed is second to none. Good on ya, Tina.

2) YANGTZE RIVER INTERNATIONAL YOUTH HOSTEL: Like finding a needle in a haystack, or a poo among rubble, Yangtze River was difficult to find amidst Chongqing’s winding streets and hidden staircases covered in debris.

En route
En route.

While not the most ideal location, you can climb one of the narrow staircase streets, eat a bowl of noodles at a 45 degree angle and watch freight workers carrying gigantic loads across their shoulders up and down stairs three times the length of the Dixon Street steps.

Yangtze River Hostel provides a comfortable common area, a rickety fooz ball table and Chongqing Beer. The bunks are a bit tough and the nearby train line is a bit noisy, but the staff are super helpful and non-condescending when you speak Chinese.

3) GREEN FOREST HOSTEL: This is your best bet. Nice rooms, nice staff, nice location. Also known as Wa She 瓦舍. Offers a range of Chinese and Western food, taste factor somewhat lacking and subject to availability.

Walk Around and See Stuff

CIQIKOU 磁器口: Using Chongqing’s excellent subway system, one can visit this old porcelain trading hub on the Jialing River. We spent several hours wandering through the lanes and stairs of this old part of town, which while being a popular spot for tourists, has largely managed to avoid the cheesy ‘ancient town’ treatment of so many historic areas in China, see: Lijiang, Yangshuo etc. Cute coffee shops and tea houses are tucked into the laneways, while the main street caters to all sorts of street food hankerings.

IMG_7281 IMG_7335

IMG_7289 IMG_7279

There are many different areas to explore and get lost in. Across the river was a small village, where half the buildings were set for the 拆 and the other half were still inhabited by locals.

Women burning paper for their ancestors at the foot of colourful idols in the rock. Down at the river, women scrub their clothes and ducks waddle off a fishing boat over a wooden plank. Freshly killed pork skewered on a metal rod and slung over the shoulder, sold door to door. Sausages overhang the road, bai cai straddles the window. Abandoned wrecks of old homes dissolve into ferns and leaves.

IMG_7327IMG_7315

Like many parts of Chongqing, the port area was undergoing large scale construction. Bulldozers and cranes clear land for development metres from where an elderly woman was tending to some crops. Buildings which looked as if they would collapse with a breath of wind have been marked off and left to rot.

IMG_7329

Eat

1) I can’t remember what this fish is called, but you should eat it.

IMG_5477

2) 小面 xiǎo miàn /  little noodles. Nice, cheap breakfast or snack. And everyone else seems to be eating them, so why not.

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3) 火锅 huǒ guō / hot pot. Hold onto your butts, Chongqing hotpot is renowned for being the spiciest in China! We got one with a broth in the middle to douse the flames. Feat. lotus, potato, various tofu, stomach and brain.

IMG_5526

Drink and Dance Excessively

坚果 NUTS LIVEHOUSE: Established in 2007, NUTS is one of the oldest livehouses in the city. While NUTS is located in the lower part of a big fashion mall surrounded by the classic tacky bar zone of every big Chinese city, the music and atmosphere is notably different taste from its neighbouring counterparts.

Offers a range of decent beers on tap as well as lethally priced 10RMB tequila shots. Pool table and good vibes dance floor.

IMG_5482

Public Campaigns

1) Don’t go swimming in the river. Graphic.

IMG_73072) Be a civilised traveller.

IMG_5529Fashion

1) New life mantra: Well, THE QUEEN AINT.

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2) Padded pyjama two piece. This is a hot fashion statement in Chongqing across a range of ages, men and women. No image, but yeah, padded pyjama two piece. Day or nightwear.

Favourite quotes from Chongqing

Chongqing local: “I heard that the air in New Zealand is so clean that when you blow your nose it comes out clear!!”

Chongqing local: “We call Beyonce “菜场B” on the internet, cos her clothes are like the grandmas at the vegetable market.”

Woo, Chongqing! Special thanks to Mat for being a pal and coming along.

Food for Dogs.
Food for Dogs.