Windows Underground: A New Bastion for the Rock Scene in Shanghai

Last night Mency and I met my friend Mo Jin, who is back in town for the weekend, and together headed over to the new Windows Underground.  We arrived at 11 pm in the middle of the Secondhand Roses (ershou meigui) concert.  This Beijing-based band delivers a powerful mix of northern-style folk rock enhanced with traditional Chinese instruments.  The male lead singer has a campy singing and operatic performance style, and is known to dress up in women’s costumes.  They looked like regular rockers last night though, and like my friend Dan Shapiro (Handlebar Dan, though he shaved his whiskers for the summer) said, these guys don’t need a gimmick—they’re solid.

The new Windows Underground, located on 698 Nanjing Road near Wujiang Road, is a big step up from the temporary location of the new rock venue, Windows Tembo, whereSUBS played last month.  It’s down in the basement and has a large open space, perfect for watching a live band, though the management has cluttered the space with unnecessarily large tables and a pool table.  My advice is, lose the pool table and turn off the sports TV broadcasts on the flatscreens above the bar, at least when the bands are playing.  Respect the bands.  Don’t provide unnecessary distractions.

I have great hopes for the new Windows Underground.  If any place can carry the rock scene forward in this town, it’s this club, since it offers cheap drinks at suitable prices for the students who sustain this type of scene.  One reason 4Live never got anywhere was that it charged nightclub prices for drinks, which meant that it never attracted the right demographic.

After the band finished, a DJ took over and pumped some great music into the club, and people started dancing.  Everyone was getting wasted, including several of my NYU students who’d shown up for the band, as well as our lovely admin officer Lisa, who was dancing like a maniac.  Mo Jin ordered a couple rounds of kamikazes and before we knew it, my wife and I were working on our old swing dance steps—I’m glad Jimbo wasn’t there to see us, or he’d be laughing his ass off at how much we’d forgotten since we took lessons with him back in 2005.