Last weekend was full of great music and time with great friends, old and new. A perfect way to wrap up spring break in China.
Phil and I pretty much camped out at the local Chengdu music haunt, (new) Little Bar or 小酒馆 (芳沁店) seeing shows on Friday and Saturday night. This Chengdu “mainstay” for live and loud music is nearby to our apartment in the up and coming Yulin neighborhood. The bar is small, with a small stage, ancient sound system and a bathroom that you have to walk right past the stage to get to. It also is in a neighborhood with strict noise ordinances so even the biggest shows start at 8pm and have to be done by 11pm.
Other than its many downfalls, we’re just happy Little Bar is around and bringing us rock, punk, metal and folk from all over China and, sometimes, around the world.
Friday night we (very luckily) were able to see Queen Sea Big Shark who played to a sold-out audience (a first for us to experience in Little Bar). This four-member band which formed in 2005 has an eclectic sound that plays with dance, pop, electro and stage spectacle are wowing stages across China and abroad.
Their seemingly funny name is derived from an sign spotted in Beijing’s Queensea Lake. The lead singer Fu Han recounts, “One day we walked around Queensea Lake in Beijing, we saw a sign that read ‘This is mine, don’t even touch it, I’m queen sea big shark,’ then we thought, ‘Wow! That’s cool. Let’s take it“
The second band of the weekend is a favorite of Phil and me, Hanggai. This Mongolian/Chinese folk group that specializes in authentic Mongolian folk songs including throat singing, morin khuur (a horsehair fiddle) and the tobshuur (two-stringed lute).
The band’s self-titled albums “Hanggai” and “Introducing Hanggai” are both on regular rotation here in Utopia and seeing the live just made our love for the down home Mongolian country music even stronger.
The term “Hanggai” itself is a word in Mongolian referring to the sprawling grasslands, mountains, blue skies of the musician’s home, a home which traditions, especially musical ones, are disappearing quickly. It is admirable that they make a folk tradition accessible to music lovers who have not yet experienced Central Asian music and it seems that the lead singer, Ilchi has an uphill battle against time and increasingly assimilation of Chinese cultures, but they play in a place like Little Bar, so sign us up!