Gig Recap: HuanChao, Lu Chen, Yu Ren, Li Jianhong x Wen Zhiyong x Deng Boyu (2021.12.17)

HuanChao 还潮, Lu Chen 陆晨与, Yu Ren 与人, Li Jianhong 李剑鸿 x Wen Zhiyong 文智涌 x Deng Boyu 邓博宇 – Modernsky Lab 2021.12.17

The Fu Hui conference/showcase kicked off last weekend at Modernsky Lab rounding one some of the underground scenes finest – acts both old and new – who have made waves with audiences. Far from your typical roundup of bands that are ‘selling’ at the moment (a trend that is starting to be redundant and telegraphed) I appreciated the organizers for digging in deep, particularly on that first night, which focused on esteemed bands and artists who may not have the mainstream appeal so much of the indie scenes had capitalized on, but have earned the respect and reverence of many nevertheless. Or in some cases, have tiptoed around some of the obstacles put in front of acts who hold their ground. However you wanna paint it, it was a great night – a fine introduction to some new sounds. 

The evening kicked off with the Ningbo-dialect singing HuanChao – low-key, poetic urban folk with a dream pop soul lurking deep within. Not exactly my cup of tea, and not sure how much the Ningboese dialect adds to the whole, but it was good to see a band that puts their soul into their lyrics. 

The same could be said for Lu Chen. The former singer of Top Floor Circus (whose big reunion gig was cancelled unsurprisingly last minute a few weeks back) still has a way with words, and his deep bellowing voice really was something to behold. Musically, it plays it a bit too safe and dry – a bit too blues for my taste – but again, Lu Chen’s power in their words – a theme that carried on, albeit with much more aplomb in the next act. 

Where have you been all my life Yu Ren? A pointed, cunning and delightful comedy rock troupe that’s been around for two decades (good luck finding their music on streaming sites) the crowd lite up during their set – with some patrons unable to even handle their giddiness and receiving the scorn of security. A cock-eyed blend of Quyi and campus rock, there’s something subversive about how the band packs so much into their tracks – embodying their roles and attacking each song with mischievous precision. Most of all though, it simply rocks – plastering a shit-eating grin on my face from moment one. 

It’s been too long since I’ve been the comforting throes of noise guitar demigod Li Jianhong – a cosmic journey each and every time. But to have drummer Deng Boyu and trumpeter/sound artist Wen Zhiyong on hand was the (double) cherry on top. A beautiful improvisational symphony of musical dissonance – as high-pitched guitar shockwaves clashed and merged with droning trumpet and sax (Wen Zhiyong utilized what I believed to be a digital vape-sized sax) and pummeling yet graceful free jazz drums. Describing it is pretty useless but I was nevertheless enraptured for the entirety of the almost hour-long performance.  

Props to Fu Hui for providing perhaps 2021’s last great gig. 

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