China Chalet Is the Coolest Chinese Restaurant in Fidi to Have a Party

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It was a coworker’s birthday party this weekend, and they decided to have it at a Chinese restaurant. Didn’t know why one would book a Chinese restaurant as a place to have a party, but also, why not? The Chinese banquet-type restaurant is built for weddings and other celebrations, so if you have enough friends (they did), then it’s the perfect venue to organize a party to your heart’s desire (it was an extremely awesome party).

The location is in Financial District, a very empty neighborhood on Saturdays, like any Central Business District.

I asked a few questions to the people working there, when the restaurant opened (forgot what they said… maybe the 50s?), whether one could go to a random party on any given weekend (yes, check the Instagram location), whether it’s a family business (nope).

I could also refer to all these articles saying how cool it is to have a party in a place that seems uncool. You can imagine that yourself.

China Chalet in NY FiDi
China Chalet in NY FiDi

I have no context as to why a Chinese restaurant could be a venue for a party for people who aren’t there for a Chinese context and/or food. But it’s a great to refresh your image and be part of the mainstream conversation, a little bit like what Pearl River Mart did with its mezzanine gallery at their TriBeCa location on Broadway.

Qingyuan 清遠: Niuyuzui music festival (2 of 2)

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On the second day of our mini-trip to Qingyuan (see part one), we took a taxi to the natural park of Niuyuzui, a scenic location 30 minutes from Qingyuan City to attend the 2010 Niuyuzui music festival on July 18th, 2010.

Niuyuzui Music Festival in Guangdong 牛鱼嘴音乐节
2010 Niuyuzui Music Festival in Guangdong 牛鱼嘴音乐节

WangWen at Niuyuzui
WangWen 惘闻 (Dalian)

It was a hot day
It was a hot day in South China…

Zhaoze at Niuyuzui
Zhaoze 沼澤 (Guangzhou)

Ourself Beside Me at Niuyuzui 2010
Ourself Beside Me (Beijing) (This is Yangfan, lead singer of OBM)

IMGP7429
People attending the Niuyuzui festival

The previous night, we stayed in the city because of the heavy rain, and did not see many of the bands scheduled to play. The good thing is that all the bigger acts of Saturday, which included WangWen, Hedgehog, and American band Caspian, were all squeezed in on Sunday night! At RMB80 (CAD12) for the day pass, we had at least 6-7 major bands on the Chinese indie scene!

It rained the night before, so it was just a slightly fresher summer day in South China. People didn’t really start showing up until the late afternoon, after two post-rock bands, along girl-fronted Ourself Beside Me played. Go Chic from Taiwan literally lit up the place, but that was already after I stood up previously for two entire sets, especially for Ourself Beside Me, who I saw in Beijing in 2008. They were missing a band member, and had a new one (a guy) on keyboards.

Toddler drinking Pepsi
Toddler drinking Pepsi

Go Chic at Niuyuzui
Go Chic (Taipei)

Niuyuzui Music Festival in Guangdong 牛鱼嘴音乐节
Night falling on festival-goers

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Caspian at Niuyuzui 2010
Caspian (USA)

Niuyuzui: La fille du fan club de Caspian avait son iPad au show
Caspian fan club girl flashing her iPad

Caspian had their local fan club at the festival. They wore red t-shirts emblazoned with the band’s name, and even carried an iPad with an app that displays banner announcements… And now I wonder when the day will come when we get digital displays malleable enough to be built in your clothing, say.

Hedgehog at Niuyuzui 2010

Hedgehog at Niuyuzui 2010
Hedgehog (Beijing)

Hedgehog at Niuyuzui 2010

Balloon!

I had to catch a bus, so left Niuyuzui at around 9:30PM. It was a Sunday night, and I had to work early the next morning, and about 4 hours (which turned into 5 because of traffic in GZ) separated us from Hong Kong.

The last band was Hedgehog, a indie rock “noisepop” trio that I had been listening to a lot in the past few months. They played right after Caspian (post-rock), and was another band that definitely woke the crowd up, as you could see in the pictures here above (and there was a mosh pit too). Their tiny drummer girl was hitting away, while her two band mates stood coolly while the crowd did most of the moving.

We left, and our friends stayed behind for the bands that they wanted to see, Pet Conspiracy. Unfortunately, I was told that they played about three songs and had to leave (the organizers had to squeeze in all of Saturday’s bands). There was Brain Failure and the Subs too, but one of them cancelled, and I forgot which it was.

The last part of the evening was Carsick Cars, perhaps the biggest name in Chinese rock right now. But they played at 1:30AM, two hours and a half after they were normally scheduled for… My friend said that they were a bit underwhelming, as the crowd was then dead tired at this point. But they did sing their hit Zhongnanhai

Harbour Records compilation: Listen to the People

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My favourite (perhaps because it’s one of the only ones that I know) independent label in Hong Kong, Harbour Records, released a compilation for public consumption. It’s available as a free download here:

http://harbourrecords.com/downloads.html

Alternatively (especially people in North America), I made a copy of the archive on my webspace with title encodings and mp3 id3 tags corrected to UTF-8. It’s also a RAR, which preserves file names in Chinese, if you absolutely want to read the title names in characters:
http://home.sus.mcgill.ca/~csam/files/Harbour-Records_Listen-to-the-People.rar

Of the artists featured on it, I recognize False Alarm, SuperDay, Jing Wong, Hard Candy, and 林阿P, which we assume is the 阿P of My Little Airport (MLA is not among them).

Track list under the cut.

Continue reading “Harbour Records compilation: Listen to the People”

My 2010 Spring Scream in Kenting: Two festivals, ninety kms in bike, one beach rave party

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kenting beach on sunday morning, after two music festivals, 45km of  bike and a monster beach rave party
Two festival bracelets


Spring Scream festival on Saturday

I’m now sitting at Eluanbi, at the original Spring Scream, writing an entry on my phone that I’ll be posting later when I get wifi.

It’s already Sunday. I arrived here in Taiwan on Wednesday afternoon in Kaohsiung, and got to Kenting before sunset. On Thursday, I spent my day visiting the town of Hengchun, the populated area next to the Kenting National Park. It’s an old town with city walls as tourist attraction.

Hengchun 恆春, Taiwan 台湾
Hengchun 恆春

viet in hengchun
Vietnamese food in Hengchun, Taiwan

When Kenting changes into a party town, Hengchun remains a good alternative for affordable lodging and local/cheap eating. South 300m from the old city wall’s west gate, you can find a delicious viet place opened by a local man and his Vietnamese wife. The noodles broth is bone broth and absolutely without MSG. The spring rolls were very fresh, with minced taro in them.

On Friday, my friend Doug joined me and we went on the first bike trip to the Eluanbi lighthouse. Instead of a music festival, we found an empty field where the main stage of Spring Scream 春呐 used to be, and groups of tourists (including from the Mainland) who were obviously not there to listen to rock music.

After visiting the Eluanbi (goose neck) park, something else I did not do two years back, we discovered that the festival had been downsized. Already it did not provide printed fliers, and posters in Kenting proper were rare, but the Main stage for big-name acts like Faith Yang 楊乃文 in 2008 is no longer there. Instead, only the back of the Eluanbi park is used for Spring Scream, still with the six small stages and one DJ table.

And plus, even if advertised as a four-day event, there was reportedly (from people we met randomly yesterday) only performances on Friday evening. According to the schedule, Monday is just one stage.

7-eleven in hengchun, halfway to maobitou
7-Eleven on our way to Maobitou for Spring Wave

On Saturday, because of an all-fest pass, we came to Eluanbi, but only for less than two short hours. The adventure yesterday was to be Spring Wave 春浪, a commercial, big-name festival at the Maobitou (cat head). There is no comparison with Spring Scream. While SS is a fringe event, that returns this year to its roots of promoting small bands, Spring Wave is made and conceived by the people who brought you Mandopop. One is youth-oriented, attracts expats, and the other is family-oriented, is almost exclusively Chinese (from HK and Mainland too).

Even the sort of food stalls is telling: SS has hamburger, pulled pork stands manned by non-Taiwanese, along local ones, while SV offers a complement of typical Taiwan street food like fried okonomiyaki-style pancakes, five-spice fried chicken and sugar cane juice.

cheer chen at maobitou spring wave


Cheer Chen at Spring Wave in Maobitou

Instead of smaller bands and crowds not often more than 50 per stage, SV is one single stage with audience of well over 1000. While I spent the evening making snarky comments on Mandopop until getting tired of myself, I also enjoyed firsthand the personalities of pop stars we usually only hear in songs. JJ Lin is a womanizing crooner, Cheer Chen is Cheer Chen, Tanya Chua is kinda Singaporean, and the dude from Sodagreen is quirky and kind of gay, really. (full disclosure: i’m a big fan of Cheer, so I came for her, and to take a video of Sodagreen b/c my friend Mary is a big fan.)


Sodagreen covers Eason Chan at Spring Wave

The bike ride itself is an adventure of 14 km up and down hill from Kenting (and the same distance back), through the sleepy village of Daguang, unlit roads near the seaside, and behind the Hengchun nuclear power plant.


Beach party in Kenting, with fireworks

Saturday night, upon our return in Kenting town at 2:30am, we headed to the Caesar’s Hotel beach party. Maybe 500-1000 people crowding a beach, under techno music, probably drugs, raging fireworks exploding like next to you, a 3/4 moon illuminating the crowd and lots of sand in your shoes.

I didn’t participate, but walked across, enjoying the walk and my carton of good Taiwan milk, drunk from the bike ride.

Slept about 3 hours in a tent on the beach and back up for more adventures, which today take me back (thank God) to the Eluanbi Spring Scream.

spring scream's central seafront stage, featuring taiwan's band  "braces"


Orange Doll 橘娃娃, a small Kaohsiung band that I saw in 2008, performing at this year’s Spring Scream

Bands seen include:
– JOKER
– Mary Bites Kerry
– City Cat 城市猫
– won won 旺旺
– anniedora 安妮朵拉
– EFTC
– Caramel 焦糖
– Orange Doll 橘娃娃
– BRACES 牙套
– new hong kong hair city 新香港髮都
– OliBand
– Vialka
– Little Fat Pig 小肥猪
– 88 Guavas

明天去墾丁!Tomorrow I’m going to Kenting! Je vais à Kenting demain !

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Kenting during Spring Scream

I’m flying to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and heading to Kenting tomorrow, ahead of Spring Scream and other activities in this national park and resort town at the southernmost tip. This will be the second time there and I already feel very anxious at the prospect of adventure!

Every year, thousands of mostly young Taiwanese descend on the provincial town to party. But this is a special year as the Chinese holiday of Ching Ming (public holiday in HK, Taiwan) coincides with Easter, resulting in a 5-day long weekend instead of the usual 3-day one.

Spring Scream is my main attraction to Kenting, but other festivals have taken greater space in the festivals/parties landscape in recent years. Spring Wave is perhaps the most serious “competitor” despite the fact that they are very different events. Spring Wave is a single big main stage populated with very big names of Mandarin music, of all-Chinese (including the Mainland) household names like Sodagreen, Mayday, Tanya Chua and Cheer Chen. Spring Scream usually has well-known names on the front stage, like Deserts Chang and Faith Yang in 2008, but they are mostly a chance for smaller amateur acts to get stage experience in SS’ other 7-8 stages.

On another note, I won’t be doing any live coverage like I did for Bande a part in 2008, but will be blogging like I can… on my cellphone this time (like now).

Please take the chance to subscribe to my twitter at commeleschinois.

Cheers!

音乐大同 – Yinyue Datong: new music show on RCV

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Cinq FM 102,3

My friends have a new music show on Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM in Montreal or anytime on the Web). It’s in Chinese, with Sabina doing the Mandarin parts, and Simon doing the Cantonese ones. The music? It’s mostly in English and French (this is Montreal after all) from all over the world, presented by two musically erudite hosts.

On the first show, they talked about the collaboration between Cocteau Twins and Faye Wong. Wong was very influenced by the Cocteau Twins’ music, especially in her Cantonese album Random Thoughts (1994), heavily featured in Chungking Express (重慶森林).
[audio:http://media.montreal1023.net/full/2010/%e6%98%af%e6%97%a5%e7%b2%be%e9%81%b8201001262230.mp3]

The second show focused on the theme of death, or actually recently deceased Montreal artists, Lhasa de Sela and Kate McGarrigle (also known as the mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright).
[audio:http://media.montreal1023.net/full/2010/%e6%98%af%e6%97%a5%e7%b2%be%e9%81%b8201002022230.mp3]

音乐大同 Yinyue Datong (Music community) airs live on Radio Centre-Ville (102.3FM) from Montreal every Tuesday night at 10:30PM.

Mes amis à Montréal ont une nouvelle émission de radio! C’est sur les ondes de Radio Centre-Ville (102,3FM à Montréal, ou sur le Web en tout temps) et ça parlera de musique et de culture… en chinois. Mais attention! La langue de l’émission est peut-être en chinois (Sabina s’occupe de la partie en Mandarin, tandis que Simon s’occupe de la partie en cantonais), mais la musique viendra d’un peu partout et sera en anglais ou français en majorité.

Comme on est pas dans un film de Wong Kar-wai, les animateurs ne se conversent pas en langues différentes pendant le show, et ce sont en fait des demi-heures aux saveurs sensiblement différentes.

De quels sujets traite-t-on? Pendant la première émission, on a par exemple parlé de la collaboration entre les Cocteau Twins et Faye Wong.
[audio:http://media.montreal1023.net/full/2010/%e6%98%af%e6%97%a5%e7%b2%be%e9%81%b8201001262230.mp3]

On a enchaîné pour la seconde émission avec un Spécial Morbide, avec des artistes nouvellement morts (pour commémorer la Lhasa de Sela et Kate McGarrigle).
[audio:http://media.montreal1023.net/full/2010/%e6%98%af%e6%97%a5%e7%b2%be%e9%81%b8201002022230.mp3]

音乐大同 Yinyue Datong (Communité musicale) est transmis en direct sur les ondes de Radio Centre-Ville 102,3FM à Montréal tous les mardis à 22h30.

AMK history – 20th anniversary boxset

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AMK history

Adam Met Karl, also better known as AMK, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. For the occasion, the Hong Kong indie band is releasing a boxset with 6 CDs containing all their works, plus a video DVD of their concerts. Prices or locations to buy this collection object have not been released yet, but you can go check out their Facebook page for more infos…

www.facebook.com/pages/AMK-history/172360648787/

AMK is an influential band for Hong Kong’s scene today. While it retired for more than a decade, a few years ago, Harbour Records released a cover album named In the name of AMK with many well-known Hong Kong bands.

Because AMK’s albums are nowhere to be found second-hand, I am particularly looking forward to this boxset’s release…

Rebecca Pan – My Dream My Way My Indie Music

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Rebecca Pan - My Dream, My Way, My Indie Music

Rebecca Pan - My Dream, My Way, My Indie Music

Pour les Québécois parmi mon lectorat, imaginez Ginette Reno reprises par les artistes indie (et plus) les plus connus au Québec. Rebecca Pan (潘迪華), c’est une chanteuse née en 1931 à Shanghai qui a débuté sa carrière musicale dans les années 50 à Hong Kong. Si le nom vous dit (peut-être) quelque chose, c’est parce qu’elle a joué un petit rôle dans In the Mood for Love (celui de Mrs. Suen, une des madames shanghainaises) et que son tube Bengawan Solo (une chanson traditionnelle indonésienne) est dans la bande musicale du film.

Cet album est un peu ce que ça serait à Hong Kong, avec en plus des chansons en duo avec l’artiste originale…

***

Basically, to translate, I got this new tribute album to Rebecca Pan (潘迪華), who is a famous Chinese singer starting from the 50s. She might be known in the West for her appearance in In the Mood for Love, and a song in this film’s soundtrack.

Aside from covers, there are also original songs and duets. The artists who contributed to the album are all well-known names of the Hong Kong “indie” and sometimes mainstream scenes. That’s PixelToy, My Little Airport, the pancakes, at17, Eason Chan, Chet Lam and GaYumYan.

Beats From The East

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beats from tha east

There’s a new Asian music radio show on the air in Montreal, hosted by DJ Mister Vee, aka Mike Vo, on Concordia’s Student Radio CJLO. Beats From The East started as a podcast and the music selection is centred around urban styles, with names such as Jin, Lee Hom, Jay Chou, Da Mouth, Jasmine Trias, Lyrics Born, Notorious MSG.

Beats From The East runs every Saturday night from 11pm to 12am.