Chuiwan, Acoelomate Goat, and Birdstriking @ D22, 26 August 2010

By , 2010年 8月 29日

I feel like I’ve been going to D22 a lot. While the familiar sights and sounds of the club and the social world that unfolds each night on the front stoop are indeed comforting, it occasionally feels limiting to return to the same venue to see the same bands over and over. There’s no denying that the music is consistently great and the scene imbued with an energizing openness, but there must be some other force at work that compels us back time and time again. Thursday night’s show, consisting of Chui Wan, Acoelomate Goat, and Birdstriking, helped shed some light on that magnetic condition that keeps us hanging on.

Chui Wan’s set began with a fairly alienating vibe — the discordant, eerie opening song was reflected in a physical detachment between each member of the band. Though they were all jamming out pretty hard and in excellent composition, each jammed alone. As Chui Wan continued, however, the band grew more animated, the sound more upbeat and unified. Indeed, I do believe I witnessed a few furtive moments of eye contact between bandmates as they played on.

I’ve only seen Chui Wan play once before and their set at D22 seemed almost identical to the one I heard a few weeks ago at Raying Temple. It’s a very solid set that builds with a not un-dramatic (though never showy) assurance over the course of four songs, but I’d like to see them play a longer set to see just how the momentum builds.

Acoelomate Goat is billed as neo-psych, but it’s clear that this trio is dedicated to cultivating themselves as a Consummate Rock Band. Guitar wailing, heavy drumming, a little bit of wah-wah, and a whole lot of bobbing back and forth produced a feeling not too often experienced in Beijing. It was a little house show, a little garage band, a bit of grandiose rock star grinding through songs that each lasted for upwards of five minutes. The crowd was sold, though, and earnest foot tapping rung out throughout the land.

Finally, Birdstriking went nuts and Lo, It Was Good. I’ve never seen Birdstriking so confident — He Fan and the gang were sweating profusely and appeared to be having a blast. They kept the core solid, the contours fluid, and the beats coming steady, fast, and sharp. The set was energized and energizing and I marveled at how a place like D22 allows bands and audience members to, in effect, grow up together.

I’ve seen Birdstriking a handful of times and have usually found myself pickin’ up what they’re layin’ down, but it’s remarkable to witness a band grow and mature in this way. Frequenting a club like D22 in a city like Beijing with a comparatively small music scene and such collaboration among its musicians allows even a mere spectator such as myself to really understand the musical trajectory of a band like Birdstriking. It’s the closeness of the scene that will, in all likelihood, allow me to one day see Chui Wan’s longer set, their next move.

In Beijing, we can see where bands are coming from but, more importantly, we can often see where they’re going. Maybe a small scene can be a little claustrophobic (as soon as Birdstriking finished their set, Carsick Car’s “You Can Listen You Can Talk” came blasting through the club speakers—a bit much?), but it also allows an intimacy and familiarity between musicians and audience members that makes it that much more exciting to see what might happen next and, yes, keeps us coming back for more.

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