Hazy Summer Nights – an annual showcase aimed at shining a spotlight on the new generation of bands across China return last weekend and what a treat. It’s not often you get a chance to see so many bands you’ve been dying to catch in the flesh for just about ever (and sometimes even unsuccessfully trying to coarse them into coming up to Beijing on your weak ass dime) so I’m not gonna lie – I fanboyed out a little. But let’s keep this in order:
The evening kicked off with Beijing’s own Then, Islands, whose instrumental rock, balanced with moments of ambiance and calm, was the perfect way to ease into the night and confirmed that yes, it was going to be a packed house.
My first fanboy moment came with Xiamen (now Shanghai)’s Peach Illusion, whose debut EP last year was one of my absolute favorites. Fueled by bubbly youthful energy, that yes, was even a bit shy considering the occasion, shot off one addictive fizzy soda pop. And they even brought in a prop lipstick red telephone which is always a plus in my book.
The true highlight (and sleeper hit in many ways) was Guangzhou’s Hoo! – a mischievous abrasively fun and delightful indie rock outfit that’s brimming with shades of city pop and raggedy alternative rock. They whipped the crowd into a frenzy and had me giddy. Very curious to hear what they’ll sound like on record (they’re in good hands with Merrie Records).
Second fanboy moment came with Wuhan’s Lonely Cookies, who despite catching on their home turf back in 2017, still distilled a sense of discovery when catching them again. Just hypnotic indie pop done right – with a keen sense of melody, spunk, and rock and roll oomph.
While Loft Beach was definitely not in my wheelhouse — too many poppy-haired young men trying to sound to adorable (ie. Britpop), it was clear they were striking a chord with the young audience, who loved every moment of it.
Double that for Daydream Secrets, who perhaps got the biggest reaction from the crowd. Sidebar – I broke my flip-flops earlier in the evening which let to me prancing about (in true hobo fashion) barefoot for the whole evening – great for snaking around people, bad for mosh-ready dancing fans stomping all over my feet. The Chengdu band, while still working in the realm of Britpop, where nevertheless heaps of robust high-octane fun.
All in all, a wonderful evening and chance to see how China’s rising metropolitans are shaping the music scene.