Yadae 著名 – ModernSky Lab 2021.07.03
周六晚上，著名乐队Yadae （鸭打鹅）在Modern Sky Lab 大舞台上展示了酝酿已久的新Atmospheric Funk风格。摇滚的磨练及电音的试炼，造就了多变的节奏及丰富的视觉效果。Yadae 轻盈的韵律不显轻浮，深层的乐风不显沉重，但是音乐多度的变化与流动性，偶尔让本次演出失去了一点动力。- Philip Hsu, Contributing Writer
Saturday night, Modern Sky Lab hosted Yadae (鸭打鹅) in a festival of sound and color which showcased the breadth of the band’s musical styles and the venue’s visual capabilities. Yadae core members Han Han and Wu Shanmin have been mainstays of China’s independent music scene for more than a decade, having moved from indie rock to electronic and becoming renowned producers in their own right. Showcasing their latest album Becoming, Yadae presents a unique spectrum and a night filled with deeply impressive songs and musical exploration. However, it fell a bit short in establishing the driving energy and pacing which would push this particular live show through as a compelling performance act.
First, a couple words about the venue and Modern Sky for context: Essentially China’s most well-known independent music label, Modern Sky represents artists in China and all around the world, having achieved commercial and critical success in recent years. Though China’s independent music scene has existed for decades – and Modern Sky was present for much of them – the industry’s big “mainstream” break occurred a few years ago with the Chinese reality TV series “Summer of the Bands” （乐队的夏天）where old stalwarts and new challengers alike graced the country’s largest stage on prime-time Chinese public television, in battle royale American Idol-style elimination rounds of who can rock out the best.
The Modern Sky Lab is located in a swanky and architecturally stunning mall in one of Shanghai’s many new development areas, and forms part of Modern Sky’s strategy to keep the excitement of its recent gains going. Posters of events and festivals line the concrete walls and the metal tiered viewing levels balance the packed but nicely not overcrowded general viewing areas in a mid-sized venue which does not lose intimacy or depth and delivers just the right amount of sound. The stage itself is somewhat disproportionately large relative to the venue, which ends up becoming an issue for this particular performance.
The performance began on as intriguing a note as any, with the presentation of foreign or fictional language scripts in sync over dark backgrounds with music and segued into signature songs which were matched by a dazzling array of colors. For tonight’s show, the band had enlisted backup vocalists, funk and jazz influences and keyboard to complement an existing electronic and two-guitar set, with main vocals carried by Wu Shanmin and Han Han supporting.
Syncopated rhythms matched electronic influences, creating sound unique in its ability to generate lightness without frivolity. From easy listening with soul and warmth to what is would be more correctly considered atmospheric rock-funk, the music matched the well-crafted visual effects and design: Early crowd favorites were a virtual jellyfish “under the sea” themed song and bizarre hamster faces matched with green robots. When the band moved into 自觉 (“Self-Aware”) and 上海的雨 (“Rain in Shanghai”) the crowd cheered and Yadae started pushing into more familiar math and indie rock territory which brought back memories of yesteryear and established a darker but fuller tone.
Electronic is fun, though at times seemed not as fully integrated with this performance as could be heard in the band’s studio recordings. Yadae, Wu and Han Han’s work has expanded considerably from a musical perspective: The mid-2010s saw the duo enter Shanghai club territory, as the ghetto-gangster rap and Usher crooning in smokey Muse and Mint hazes gave way to electronica bangers and laser lighting shows. Yet in this particular performance, this musical shift caused at times a break in the mood, pacing, flow of what is ordinarily deeper atmospheric rock from this artist, which Yadae (formerly Duck Fight Goose) is most known for. The audience was able to pick up the atmosphere and “join the dream” when presented with older, more familiar work – which is totally natural, but which begs the question as to what the other part is all about. Quite to this point, Han Han sings, in very good English and with direct command of songwriting in the language:
“Never try to find your answers in dreams / the world is made up of your eyes and ears”
All of Yadae’s songs are objectively good, reveal ingenuity in craft and sound, and demonstrate a willingness to enter new territory under influence of a pentatonic musical scale and funky syncopation. Themes are clear and draw attention – such as the well-rounded song, Horse – and the artists move into theatrical and mood music at times also. In the context of a live performance, however, the variety of influences and directions and requirements for making each particular song successful reveals a bit of a contradiction which can only be resolved with energy pushing through the entire show, or at least certain advance planning as to how the energies or acoustic modes between songs could flow into one another logically. This did not happen on Saturday to the effect it probably could or should have, given the amount of talent which was being featured and the quality of the venue it was being showcased at.
With funk, the rhythm feel and pace will only work in a live performance if people are moving their bodies on and around the stage more. If piano dictates rhythm, how then do drum and bass find their place in a song? If duality is the concept being explored in 新生 (“Rebirth”), how then do you describe “other-ness?” A band needs to play together to develop and define the answers to these questions, to find and then determine integration between disparate works which all demand attention, but have only the duration of one entire live show to be given that express meaning which its audience and its players can glean – which is why most people go to live performances in the first place.
What is atmosphere, what is dream, what is sound and color? These are abstract topics which Yadae grapples with in their work like no other band, and are finding answers when few others are being proposed. This much was clear from their performance Saturday – For these creative achievements, and for creating a space where a community can form and coalesce to enjoy thoughtful and innovative music, the band and Modern Sky are to be commended. Yet Yadae’s work cannot be considered have reached its final form, rather still exploring the link between what was, what is, what could, and what will be.