Gig Recap: WuTiaoRen, Ajinai (Yue Space 2018.04.12)

As many of you heard, Sound of the Xity – China’s International Music Industry Conference & Showcases – had to pull the plug this past weekend when authorities decided that the folks behind the event (including Modern Sky) couldn’t organize a large-scale ‘festival’ without the proper paperwork. How and why this happened (again) is nauseating on all sides of the issue – from the rumor spreading cynics, to the organizers’ and authorities’ seemingly cat and mouse antics, and Beijing’s reluctance to get their shit together (or at least provide a guideline to get our shit together).

But enough of that nonsense – at least I finally got to see WuTiaoRen for the first time before the other shoe dropped. And damn – they are something else. The Guangzhou-based outfit who hail from Haifeng, Guangdong with a knack for urbane story-telling and unhinged folk rock antics, surpassed my expectations, turning the genre inside out and infusing it with psychedelic playfulness, rugged almost unhinged charm, and yes, a twisted yet very much honest sense of humor.  It’s loud, frantic, sexy (not just the accents), with enough grit and poetic guise to satisfy any music fan.

The evening also provided me a chance to check out Ajinai again, the Inner Mongolian trope known for its contemporary take on the well-worn throat-singing genre. Since I’ve seen them last they’ve taken the rustic rhythms of yesteryears and have injected them with even more including some electronica. Surprisingly it worked wonders and the band sounds tighter than ever – assured and loving it. So while my Sound of the Xity tour ended all too soon, it was good to get a taste while it lasted. Let’s hope they just decide to throw a actual festival instead next year (or better yet, stick to private showcases or venues that have their piwens in order).

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