“Kubilai Khan Go-Go Vol. 2”: Banana Monkey, The Molemen, QiuNiu 囚牛 (LOFAS 2020.09.18)
Popped over to LOFAS last Friday for the second edition of the Kubilai Khan Go-Go series (organized by party starters Toujam and Mongolian art platform Artger) – a smorgasbord of music, food treats, and good times. Contrary to my frustrations the week before as to gigs starting way too early for my sensibilities here in Shanghai, this bad boy didn’t get started till 10, putting my whole internal gig going clock into disarray.
Live music hijinks were kicked off by QiuNiu-a band led by Bai Hua, a native of China’s northernmost province, Heilongjiang, who utilize their rich backgrounds (including that of the Manchu ethnicity) to craft their sound. Solid tunes, genuine emotions, and robust musicality-it may have taken a while for them to grow on me but grow on me they did.
You’d have to be pretty cold-blooded to not enjoy the multi-tentacled ska reggae troupe The Molemen-who sometimes cram five different styles into one song. It’s gleefully all over the place, passing the spotlight to just about every in the band at some point, and earnestly (tongue firmly in cheek) singing about the most mundane things (my top pick-cat adoption). Can’t knock them-fun as all hell.
I totally get the cult behind Banana Monkey now-the veteran old school garage rockers who have been around, on and off, since 2005. Pure, unadulterated rock and roll that’s combustible, wildly fun, and relentless. Melodies that hit with infectious precision and frenzied vitality, they seem to encapsulate a sadly fading rock and roll spirit that’s hard to find from a lot of bands working in the same vein of music. Whereas most bands of this ilk might try to keep it safe and come off as cute (or worst-a boy band in disguise) there’s something reckless, lewd and alluring about Banana Monkey. A treat indeed.