On The Scene: Mao Livehouse 12-09-2012


I didn’t last long – less than forty hours after stepping back onto China soil and I was already itching to get some live music in me. I guess that’s what forty days of cover bands, Indian jams, and shit house and psychtrance will do to ya – thou, I have to give it to the cover bands – some serious passion there (except a post on some my encounters with them soon enough). It was time for something raw and real, and after a quick listen to their douban page, Zhaoze was the clear winner for my return to live Beijing music, and I was out the door heading to Mao Livehouse.

I don’t want to blab to much, as Ruby over at BeijingDaze wrote a fantastic review of the show which pretty much hits all the notes I’ll hit, though with more finesse and knowledge, so I’ll keep it brief (relatively)


I arrived pretty late, and I had to double check with the ticket guy that in fact Glow Curve was playing, as it didn’t sound anything remotely like Glow Curve – hell, pretty much all of their songs had vocals accompanying them, with even electronic backing. And gotta admit, I dug it a hell lot more than their previous stuff –

As I tend to feel for a lot of post rock, adding vocals simply gives the music a lot of personality, and well simply put, makes all the songs not blend and bleed into till you can’t tell them apart. It seems the group has a greater grasp at what they’re going for, and it’ll be great to see where they run with it in the future.


But of course the stars of the night were Zhaoze and they did not disappoint. Two hours of sprawling epicness barely begins to touch the surface of what I saw last Wednesday night.

And that was only the opener mind you – if that’s not to your liking, then there’s no way you would be able to last their feature song of the night – “1911” – which is also the name and the only song on their latest album (broken up into four movements because I’m guessing an one song album ain’t exactly the biggest sell these days). No way I was going to record the whole thing (which a true warrior was doing to my right – thou with a tripod) – but I did manage to record the middle two acts, which blasphemy I know, but hell if you wanna really take in the whole thing, go to their douban page or bandcamp. Anywho, here’s twenty minutes of “1911” – enjoy.

It’s a meaty piece of work, full of temp changes, cascading moments of brilliance, slower moments which allow you to keep your breathe, and some serious genius from our main man on the guqin – with hands like that you know must work some magic with the ladies. On first listen, I’ll admit it was a bit hard to digest – it’s not often I sit through songs that last over ten minutes yet alone forty minutes – you really have to reformat your brain to take on an endeavor like this – closer to seeing a classical music concert or an opera – especially when half the time your jaw is kinda just hanging there in awe at watching Zhaoze manhandle a Chinese instrument which on the surface has a very feminine feel and look. But I took it in and came out on the other end – a bit dazed, exhausted, and emotionally drained. I think that’s the sign of a good band. Right?
And if that wasn’t, Zhaoze broke into some of their older material, to the excitement of the crowd, in case anyone wasn’t already shitting themselves at the sheer spectacle of it all.

I was already sold by this point. Though 1911 works a lot better on repeated listens , Zhaoze are a juggernaut of a band – and you’d be stupid not to catch them next time they’re around.

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