Gig Recap: Shanghai 2021 Battle of the Bands (2021.10.07)

Shanghai 2021 Battle of the Bands – YuYinTang Park 育音堂音乐公园 2021.10.07

2nd Annual Battle of the Bands Leaves Loose Booty on Top

Another successful RayDio-Zed (Zaydio? ReDd?) production featured ALL THE BANDS. Let’s go!

– Philip Hsu, Contributing Writer

all photos courtesy of andika nugraha

In the span of just one year, Yuyintang Park has blossomed into a space on par with its Kaixuan Road progenitor, owing in no small part to a steady drumbeat of RayDio-Zed events showcasing Shanghai’s hottest new and mainstay live acts. So while wandering about the vegetation of Shanghai and lounging underneath my air conditioning unit bereft of clothing during National Week was fun, I knew when it was time to return…to the Tang.

The number of bands featured in tonight’s MUSICAL SMACKDOWN was so colossal that WeChat would have to support scientific notation for us to count them all. Competition was so intense that, in true Hunger Games style, some bands didn’t even make it to the show in the first place. But the picture was a pretty one: 15 minute sets, 5 minute solos for each band – and only one would emerge victorious. 

After two scoops of ice cream and some eel-infested noodles from across the street, I caught opener Banjax ending their set with a Tenacious D song reminding us to be our kinder, gentler selves when the mood suits. 

In addition to confirming that tonight’s bands were indeed bringing their “A” game to this party, Banjax also hits different with pink zombie unicorn t-shirts, a gift choice sure to please even the most demanding Taiwanese mother-in-law.

Full Throttle lived up to their namesake with driving rhythms and vocals that made you think that wherever next-level was, we are now well past that point. I would describe their sound as hearty, but I would prefer to live to see my next birthday. Instead, I will remark on how this ever-dynamic duo have now augmented their act with a talented bassist, and continue to hold up one of the most iconic and robust pillars of the Shanghai scene. Full Throttle? Full Send. 

Speaking of edgy art, Snuff Disco have already made a name for themselves in the C’s dungeon and many a Kaos night-morning. Tonight they brought their signature atmospheric emotion and rich tunes to a lit (figuratively and literally) stage that demonstrates the group’s depth and slice’n’dice execution. During the 5 minute solo, lead singer and multi-talented Rachel proceeded to paint a tasteful nude, oil on canvas.* Many in the audience were convinced that Snuff Disco would win the title this year from their musical performance alone, but the judges had other bands to choose from, and the night was still young. 

Flip House, who ended up winning Zed’s Choice (TM), continued developing their Chinese Blink-182 act. The Midwestern Marvels opened with two Mandarin gut-wrenchers and followed up with polished, fast-maturing sound, all proving that the band and act are really coming together. No quarter was given – an epic drum solo three years in the making floored the audience – and it was becoming clear that nobody was backing down from a title fight now.

Ballsy is the word to describe Burley Quay (伯利港乐队), an Oasis cover band which may or may not have known that tonight’s contestants were being judged partly on originality. They went up and annihilated their set anyway, placing high in the final rankings. All of their songs sound like Oasis, which is a good thing in this context, and when Wonderwall came on, the crowd went wild. Still not sure from whence all the young Chinese gentlemen with fancy Manchester accents herald from, but if this is a portent of more Penicillin types appearing on the scene, I’m not asking questions. As a pure Brit-pop sound, and possibly much more, Burley Quay is now on the map. 

Having only seen Chimera Cult on, well, every poster in town, seeing them live was vindication of their continued popularity and power. While my non-scented candles are still languishing in a U-Haul storage unit in central North Carolina, Chimera Cult needs no props from Bed Bath to generate a heat and depth that only comes with devotion to their craft: It’s Beyond. A rad guitar solo by a man with a great deal of hair only solidified Chimera Cult’s status as an OG of the Shanghai music scene. Rock on. 

The Receiver hit the stage as this year’s Dark Horse candidate, snagging an eventual second place in the contest with poise. Receiver doesn’t over-promise, which allows them to over-deliver, maintaining a mood and sound throughout their performance that draws the audience in without giving us an easy way out. Brooding intensity by all pieces buoyed by vocals with personality and deep vibes revealed something new on the scene. Shanghai take note: This is not a Siren Song you want to miss, even though the group did end up missing their own award ceremony like badasses. 

Speaking of which, the last act of the night was Loose Booty, a group that should need no introduction by this point in 2021. But just in case you had already retreated to your doomsday bunker in January and somehow also neglected to maintain access to the Internet, Loose Booty can be described as a rear end lacking discipline. One may also interpret them as buttocks gone amok. In the final analysis, this ten-piece funk band of free posteriors will have you twisting and shouting until the WALLS start to SHAKE and the roof does not catch fire from pyrotechnics. 

We got a brass section. We got Soul crooners. We got hunky guitarists in fur-feather vests. We got keyboard, bass, drums and shirtless slam poetry. We got gold jumpsuits; we got silver jumpsuits. And we. Got. A. Winner. Succeeding last year’s champion, Carbon, Loose Booty is your 2021 Battle of the Bands and Band of The Year (BotY) Winner, and will go on to pack the Roar Media studios in a free recording session, in addition to going home with all that sweet hongbao moolah.  Good night, Good Night!

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