Gig Recap: Shanghai Qiutian, Berlin Psych Nurses, Last Goodbye, Kenja Time (Beijing 2021.09.21)

Shanghai Qiutian, Berlin Psych Nurses 柏林护士, Last Goodbye, Kenja Time 空加太 – Omni Space 2021.09.21

LiveChinaMusic heads back to Beijing (where it all began) with contributing writer Athole McLauchlan! 

4 bands celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival style at a sold-out and supercharged Omni Space!

Last Goodbye is first on stage in a sold-out Vol 2 of INDIE制宜. They have an effortless calm and poise about them. They waste no time launching into ‘Memory’, a plaintive pop masterpiece banked by surging twin guitars. Lead guitarist Niu Niu sings, ‘I don’t know where to go, I don’t know who to love.’ Lost love, broken hearts and forlorn tales are common themes of Last Goodbye’s lyrics. On ‘How We Ended’ Niu Niu sings, ‘I sold my soul to you, why did you leave?’ The confessional, moody lyricism is cleverly sculpted and guided by circling riffs and ringing guitar parts reminiscent of early versions of bands like U2, The Church and Echo and the Bunnymen.

On 最後的告別, the tempo slows right down, and the ballad is piloted by a central guitar part of a pulled strings that tugs at the heart of Niu Niu pleading cry of ‘Oh, come on, come on, come on.’ It’s a precious thing of melancholy beauty.

The best track of the set is ‘Fall’, another bleary-eyed, dreamlike narrative of a girl in a blue dress and blue hair. It is shepherded by a classic lazy fuzz-tone guitar riff, which runs and runs until a drunken and anarchic solo guitar rampages all over it, ending the blue-haired dream.

There is a huge swell of anticipation in the audience as Shanghai Qiutian start setting up on stage. They are currently touring two versions of themselves. Piano Sessions is a paired down acoustic version aimed at small intimate venues, whereas tonight is the full band. And tonight, they are aiming for the heavens. Opening track 我家的规定 is the calm before the storm. It’s not long before ‘Barcelona at 5am’ has the crowd in ecstasy. Lead guitarist Enaut is an insatiable and seductive snake charmer, careering in a dizzying fashion across the stage, playing each note and chord as if his very life depended on it. I can’t focus my camera on him long enough to get a decent picture. Eventually, I give up, lean back and breathe in this truly magnificent live event. Florian on drums is no less energetic, fixed to his seat but with an expression of sheer joy written large across every beat and syncopated rhythm. By ‘Song 2’ the crowd have been whisked up to a frenzy of excitement. The electricity on stage is manifest. Honestly, they are more Beastie Boys than math rock! 今晚来 showcases their eclecticism brilliantly, saturated with a profusion of ideas and harmonies that Steely Dan would be proud of. The crowd are euphoric under their sonic gaze. During the penultimate track, ‘Always A Place’ lead guitarist Enaut can’t ignore the magnetic attraction any longer and launches himself into the heart of the crowd. Then Florian rips up his drum kit and joins the love-in. The audience forms an appreciative whirlpool of broad smiles and dancing around the pair as they all sing the chorus refrain, ‘always a place to go’ like an exultant anthem.

During the final number, ‘What If You Can’t Talk’ Enaut is back into the crowd again. He can’t help himself. The Omni Space is bursting with crazy love. The band take a bow. It must be the end of the night. There’s no way any band wants to follow that!

Kenja Time bravely follow the musical KO of Shanghai Qiutian. The Maybe Mars three-piece have just released their impressive debut album, Impossible At Night. With no attempt at histrionics or pitch invasions, they serve up the instrumental track, ‘The End’ as an appetiser, and the crowd is good to go once again. Guitarist 袋鼠 is a tall, gangly chap who eschews the slacker charm of Thurston Moore, hiding behind a laconic fringe, belting out spiky guitar parts and anguished vocals. The single, ‘Single Container’ is blistering live, a stabbing thrust of alternative rock. It’s not wholly representative of the rest of their set, which is funk post-punk in the tradition of Gang of Four. Plucky Talking Head bass lines scramble brilliantly over shredded numbers like ‘In The Light’ and the tortured genius of ‘Mr Democracy’.

阿拉伍of Berlin Psycho Nurses has all the sex, pomp and swagger of the ultimate frontman. The band stand tall and wide on stage like they are already selling out stadiums worldwide. Berlin Psycho Nurses also have the crowd in feverish excitement from the off. Their sound is a blustering, renegade discharge of visceral rock n’ roll, with lyrics to match. Gargantuan belters like, ‘Here Comes The Gangster’ and ‘Green Eyes’ shake and rinse down the venue with supersonic guitar riffs and maximum sing-a-long lyrics. ‘Blade of Anchor’ shows their sensitive side, and a crushed candy guitar melody entwines with a wistful vocal part that utilises the famous ‘Tears In Rain’ monologue from the movie, Blade Runner. Yes, Berlin Psycho Nurses are no rock Replicants. They too have a soul!

There is an erratic unpredictability to the band that makes them utterly beguiling. ‘The Snake Will Go Out Of The Hole’ is the perfect example of this. The lyrics are so abstract in English that they are almost nonsensical. But this is a compliment. The track dances and bounds through a mesmerising swirl of ideas from brash synth to dream pop to blues riffing. Then finally explodes in a textured wall of sound. The golden snake comes out of the hole and it’s all over.

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