In 2002, an American economics professor decided to open a club in the far-flung district of Beijing with one goal in mind: reignite China’s music scene with sophisticated bands exemplifying strong songwriting, musicianship—all the while trying to avoid easy categorization.
What Michael Pettis didn’t know is that D-22, the famed club, and his later creations—Forbidden City’s XP club and his very own record label, Maybe Mars—would not only reignite but redefine China’s underground music scene. And two of the bands he fostered, Chinese staples Carsick Cars and Chui Wan, will be playing alongside shoegazin’ LA-to-Shanghai transplants Alpine Decline in a special show dedicated to the growing underground Chinese music scene at the Edison Theatre in DTLB.
Presented by Imprint Culture Lab, the October 15 show running from 4PM to 11PM will host some of the finest to come out of China’s post-Tiananmen Square rock scene—that is, the generation that has become vastly influenced by Western music thanks to the internet. The result? A “primal sort of energy,” as described by Zhang Shouwang of Carsick Cars, that exploded into bands reflecting a Chinese-specific take on American and British groups ranging from Sonic Youth (with whom Carsick Cars toured with) to Television, The Fall to Talking Heads.
Even more, it’s not just the post-punk sound of Carsick Cars that is exploding. The dark, electro-disco’n’guitar sounds of Nova Heart (the first Chinese band to play Glastonbury). The lo-fi sound of Dear Eloise. The folk—Chinese folk, that is—of Second Hand Rose.
It’s rock, in all its forms—and it creating what Pettis once called one of China’s strongest cultural assets.
“I’ve been a fan of Chinese punk rock and had friends at Maybe Mars ever since the label sent an earlier lineup of Carsick Cars, PK 14, and AV Okubo to the U.S. in 2009,” said organizer Martin Wong of Imprint. “So when they were planning this fall’s tour, I jumped on the idea of having them make a stop at the Edison for Imprint. Long Beach has a tradition of cool music—from Led Zeppelin at the Arena to Fender’s Ballroom and SST to VIP Records… And it’s also the International City, right? A perfect fit. In keeping with Imprint’s tradition of connecting dots and shedding light on subcultures, we are also hosting a panel about Beijing’s underground music scene.”
In addition to the concert, there will be an afternoon panel discussion about DIY culture, punk rock, and the growing underground scene in Beijing. In other words: a great chance to meet and mix with members of the bands and key contributors to the flourishing scene.
Tickets are $14-$20 (genuinely a steal) and can be found here. The Underground Bands of China will be held at Edison Theatre, located at 213 E. Broadway in DTLB, on October 15 from 4PM to 11PM.