Syringe, 小快手 and Bedstars @ D-22, 31 March 2011

By , 2011年 4月 8日

I devote a lot of space on this site to Zoomin’ Night, a tag which loosely describes a set of bands and musicians who gather every Tuesday at D-22 to experiment with rock, noise, electronic and synth music. But there are other scenes that take over the club and make it their own from time to time. Every Wednesday D-22 tends to be packed with university students, mostly one-offs there to support their friends’ bands. Whenever Beijing punk standards like Discord, Demerit, or 烧酒军团 roll through, they bring their own crew to drink, mosh, stagedive and sing along. Lately I’ve been getting into another group of friends/bands with a similar sense of shared energy and collaboration — a “scene” if I can avoid the negative implications of that word.

The Syringe at D-22 (photo by Liu Ying)

The Syringe first caught my attention when a friend who had played a few shows with them before described them as sounding like Social Distortion. One thing that unites all these bands, in my mind, is the fact that they bleed punk insouciance in their attitude and mannerisms while their music veers away from the stereotypical sound that characterizes the Beijing punk scene. The Syringe is raw protopunk intended for illicit consumption. Check their douban page for their music and a description of the band name (hint: it involves shooting mescaline).


小快手 at D-22 (photos by Liu Ying)

小快手 (Xiao Kuai Shou, or “Little Fast Hand“) goes for more of a Television/Voidoids sound, foregoing pounding rhythms for more subtle guitar/drum combinations and deadpan vocals. They’re more understated than The Syringe, which doesn’t stop their friends from exploding any time a melodic phrase gives way to a suitably shredding chorus. Check their songs here:

Bedstars guitar smash (photo by Liu Ying)

Last for the night was Bedstars, the perfect band to whip everyone into fever pitch and keep them there long enough to wake up hungover. Their set started with an (in)auspicious malfunction. Either their guitars weren’t working, the amps weren’t turned on, or they just wanted to lead with acutely staged chaos. Whatever the case, their first song turned out to be a bass/drums duo with both guitarists smashing their instruments to bits and borrowing loaners from their friends.

Bedstars live at D-22 (video by Liu Ying)

Now, I’m kind of on the fence when it comes to smashing guitars. I can really go either way. On a big stage, in front of a massive crowd, I think this kind of antic comes off as a calculated, distant and impotent maneuver, some kind of socially accepted/expected channeling of “rock and roll angst.” When done in a tiny club, drunk, amongst mostly friends and psyched as hell to play: INTO IT. Bedstars continued to rip on borrowed guitars, mixing Sid Vicious swagger with competent, blues-inflected guitar work and — most crucially — the roiling crowd energy that makes the difference between a show and an experience.

Li Fan of Rustic drums for Bedstars, and Rustic’s frontman Lucifer was front and center in the action. I love seeing this kind of overlap between band members, not to mention members of prominent Beijing bands going to shows they aren’t playing and re-assuming the role of enthusiastic fan. Keep an eye on this scene. Lots of good bands, and the kind of community environment that is essential for sustaining a music culture.

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