Gig Recap: City Flanker, Agoraphobia, Summer Vapour (2020.09.12)

“便利店庇护所”: City Flanker, Agoraphobia 广场恐惧症, SummerVapour (ModernSky Lab 2020.09.12)

Popped over to Modern Sky – a venue whose location over in Hongkou is just close enough to make you not want to pull your hair out (it only becomes an issue after each gig where Shanghai’s traffic strangely cranks up to ‘fuck my life’ levels of annoyance) – last Saturday to check in with some familiar faces and soak in a bit of dream pop, emo rock, and indie pop tunes – perhaps not the most bustling evening of music but one that contained more than a few surprises.

Sadly missed out on Hangzhou’s Chocolate Factory – the band I was perhaps most excited to see – due to my inability to grasp Shanghai’s early start times (the days of holding off till 10 to start a gig are long gone) and again, getting my ass to Hongkou. In time though for Summer Vapour – the sweet-voiced, indie pop swingers who infuse their some with a twist of jangly surf rock and a hefty amount of sugar-coated Britpop. It veers close to being too quaint at times, but they sure know how to write a catchy tune.

It’s been several years since I’ve run into City Flanker, the Shaoxing-bred dream pop outfit whose deliriously retro-futuristic sound is drenched in waves of synths, diving beats, and a ‘neon-lit sense of atmosphere would be right at home prom night circa 1986’. They’ve aged well – and have a firm handle on how to approach their sound – finding just the right amount of dissonance in the vocals to truly capture the dazed bittersweet emotions lurking underneath the shoegaze haze. The band smartly incorporates live drums into their set now too – which really helps lift off the band’s more propulsive synth pop tracks that simmer with an afterglow of wistful nostalgia and joyous yearning.

I was equally impressed by Agoraphobia, a band from Beijing I’ve always been rooting for since I first caught them in late 2016. And holy shit, have them grown leaps and bounds since then. Employing a combustible noise rock sound that’s scrappy, tender, and volatile all at once – there’s an earnest youthful fervor to their sound that’s immediately endearing. With strong shades of emo rock and indie pop, they have their way around a melody finding ways to embed genuine emotion whilst elevating them with some nimble and thrilling guitar hooks. Something tells me these three are going to have a hell of a year ahead of them.

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