Jack, Helen, Jody, and Christine
Recovering from a fairly big night. The highlight of which was watching two of my oldest buddies in Shanghai practically get into a fistfight over nothing in particular.
I pretty much avoided drinking all week, except for a couple of Jagers at the Boo with Jud on Thurs night. But last night Jack organized a dinner party for our NYU colleague Christine Choi, who teaches doco filmmaking. I brought Mency and Jud along. We met at Wara Wara, a Japanese restaurant on Donghu Lu with tabehodai nomihodai (all you can eat and drink) for 168 RMB. Christine brought along two friends, Helen, a V capitalist, and Jody Long, a Broadway and TV actress who lives in LA. They made a film together called Long Story Short, about Jody's thespian family. Her mother's Japanese and her dad's Australian Chinese and both were vaudevillians.
As soon as Christine arrived, she was gushing about how her film had won the audience award at a festival in LA. We launched into the sushi and the sake, showing no mercy, and pretty soon we were all happily nattering away about all sorts of things, mostly having to do with film or TV. At one point, Jody, Helen and Mency were having a 3-way convo about whether or not the film Lust and Caution was misogynistic. Jud and I agreed that it was a totally boring film (even though I haven’t seen it yet). Meanwhile, Jud and I were “pitching” our rock film to Christine. She kept asking “where’s the story?” When I told her about Kang Mao and the SUBS she perked up and wanted to know everything about the band and the city of Wuhan where they came from. It was a good exercise all right and I hope I can get more feedback from her before she heads back to NYC.
Jud (mouth full of sushi) myself and Mency
All of a sudden, Christine, Helen, and Jody took off, leaving us to foot the bill. At that point, something strange happened. I got up to hit the head, and when I returned to the table, Jud and Jack were having an altercation. They were both heavy into the sake, and kept ordering more bottles. I wanted to get over to Windows Underground to see the rock bands, and prodded them to settle the bill and move on. Neither was interested. They both just wanted to sit there and battle with each other over sake.
Somehow I managed to get the boys out of the restaurant and into a taxi without any violence and we headed over to Windows Underground. We got there in time to see Dan Shapiro’s band Rogue Transmission. I’d first met Dan last summer while filming the Rock It! Concert in Shanghai’s Dino Park. He and I were the only white boys to stay for the entire three-day event. Since then I’d bumped into him on occasion at rock concerts in Shanghai and Beijing, but I’d never seen his own band. He’d been emailing and texting me trying to get me out to see the band for a while, but until last night I somehow didn’t get it together to see his band. So I promised myself this would be the night. Dan was up on stage when we arrived, belting a tune into the microphone, backed by his band of white boys. For the next song he strapped on his electric guitar. I captured a clip on my G9 of him singing and soloing. Fast paced hard rock with a strong blues backbone.
Dan Shapiro rocking out with his band The Rogue Transmission
After Dan’s band finished their set, Boys Climbing Ropes was on. Another local Shanghai-based band. More white boys, but accompanied by a small Chinese girl on backup vocals. To be honest I wasn’t paying too much attention to this band, but they seemed all right. Bian Yuan, lead singer of Joyside, was walking around the club, and I was anticipating a good set from this Beijing band. Bian Yuan has been the subject of a doco film, Wasted Orient. You get a pretty good idea of the wastrel lives of this band. Michael, Mency’s former colleague from Archie’s company, told me how many groupies used to line up to meet Bian Yuan, but that wasn’t happening much last night as far as I could tell. Shanghai’s rock scene, tiny as it is, is a different crowd to Beijing. Much higher ratio of foreigners to Chinese. Not many girls (though there were a few last night). Not as much reverence. Again, the club was showing sports events on its flatscreens, and quite a few people were more involved in the pool matches than in watching the bands onstage.
Singer Bian Yuan and his Beijing band Joyside
Finally Joyside took the stage. I captured part of their performance of Russian Roulette, an homage to Lords of the New Church which they trot out in every performance I’ve seen or filmed of this band. Here’s the original.
Here’s Joyside. You can compare the two. Some resemblance between Bian Yuan and Stiv Bators. Physical and musical. Unfortunately Bian Yuan’s voice is drowned out by the instruments—a typical problem with the in Chinese rock clubs. And bassist seems to be playing in the wrong key at points. But the crowd didn’t seem to notice and was happily moshing and pogoing away.
After a few Joyside songs we called it a night. We arrived home around 2 am. Of course we were woken up sometime between 7 and 8 by Sarah jumping and bouncing all over the bed and slapping us to get up. Which is why nightlife isn’t a great idea if you have young children.