Gig Recap: Citrus Music Festival (2020.11.01)

Citrus Music Festival 柑橘音乐节」: WildTales 荒事, Poetry in Shorts 短裤里的诗歌, Salty Air 咸空气, Lonely Leary 孤独的利里 , springiscoming 虎啸春, WaChi 蛙池 (ModernSky Lab 2020.11.01)

Not sure whose idea it was to set up a seven-hour concert on a Sunday after the tsunami that was Halloween – but it did the trick. A bit of a struggle, not only for myself but even for some of the musicians on stage – the evening felt like a marathon. But damn do I have to give White Cat Laundry and company credit where credit is due — they put together a damn good lineup. The sublabel of Modern Sky brought together a fine platter of the indie scene’s most sought after acts – bands from across China that have been making some serious headway these past couple years.

Things kicked off with Changsha’s Wild Tales – who bring an almost electro-opera take to their prog rock theatrics. It’s a big sound that’s pulled off with some serious gusto – two drummers! – and while it’s certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – I dug the hell out of it and it’s originality. 

Shanghai’s Poetry in Shorts were next – slowing down the pace (and sweating out the previous evening’s excesses) and giving their blues-trodden rock and roll a truly rugged sensibility. As tight as their songs are, there’s still a vague impromptu jazz-riffing streak that threatens to spill out of their arrangements – something that fits the band perfectly.

Managed to catch the tail-end of Salty Air’s set. The Shenzhen post rock outfit may not be rewriting the rules but was indeed a nice sound palette cleanser to bring audiences into the second half of the night. 

Lonely Leary continues to kick all kinds of ass – literally shaking the (usually sterile) Shanghai audience into a frenzy. There’s not much else I can say about these cats – they’re having a mammoth year and seem to only be getting better. And whoever decided to display their lyrics across the LED screen – brilliant – as it does truly showcase how wonderfully dense their songwriting is (and forces audiences into a KTV-like singalong situation).

Another band that was a force to be reckoned with – Beijing’s springiscoming – the young indie rock band that’s been stirring up a storm with audiences across China. And it’s easy to see why – a heavy mix cathartic post rock, downtrodden grunge, and rustic indie rock – it’s the kind of music that goes for the jugular every track – with little room to breathe. Evocative and utterly alive, it’s the kind of music that’s made for the stadium. They’re leaving nothing on the floor and it’ll be great to see why they go from here. 

Closing out the night was Dongguan’s WaChi. My third bout with the band this year, it’s remarkable how tight and accessible their music is. It’s quite deft in its melodic pull and with just enough edge to keep them earlobes engaged. It’s almost off-putting how easy they make it look on stage. Very curious to see how they capitalize on their newfound success. 


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