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Live Review: Death Cab For Cutie @ Shanghai, China’s Yunfeng Theatre (03/09)

Band: Death Cab For Cutie
Location: Shanghai, China’s Yunfeng Theatre
Date: March 9, 2012

“Hello, we’re Death Cab For Cutie from Seattle,” Ben Gibbard timidly introduced his band after playing the concluding notes to “A Lack of Color”. But just as abruptly as the band began their set at Yunfeng Theatre, Ben’s introduction was suddenly overwhelmed by a wave of cheers from the adoring crowd that was seeing them play for the first time.  Earlier this month, Death Cab played their first ever show in China and for a city so hungry for international acts, Death Cab’s inclusion into the JUE Festival was a perfect way to follow-up Shanghai’s recent visits from Mogwai and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. And while the crowd wasn’t entirely that energetic throughout most of the show – perhaps influenced by the nontraditional rock venue, a smallish theatre that limited excessive jumping and dancing – it was clear that they were definitely into the show and the music being played.

From that point on, it was obvious that the band had settled into a comfort zone of sorts, launching into their more well-known tracks like “You Are a Tourist” and even a solo performance of “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” that had the crowd singing and swaying along. Although the tracklist was heavy with songs from 2003’s Transatlanticism (a total of six songs!), the band rounded out the evening by including songs from Narrow Stairs, We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, and The Photo Album.

Accompanied by waves of flashing lights, Ben even took a turn on an extra set of drums for an extended, heavily instrumental rendition of “We Looked Like Giants” where the band launched into a five-minute jam session. For the rest of the night, Ben alternated between playing the keyboard and the guitar, but of course, he was at his best behind the microphone, with the acoustics of the theatre and the diligence of the sound crew making his voice sound even better than on record. Those who weren’t awestruck by Ben’s stage presence and his vocal skills happily sang along, giving the theatre an extremely warm and intimate atmosphere that really complemented the music being played.

After going through 21 songs in just under two hours, Ben graciously thanked the adoring crowd and the band headed off surrounded by cheers from the packed theatre that just wasn’t ready to leave yet.

A Lack of Color
I Will Possess Your Heart
Crooked Teeth
We Laugh Indoors
Doors Unlocked and Open
Long Division
Grapevine Fires
Codes and Keys
Different Names For The Same Thing
I Will Follow You Into The Dark
Title and Registration
You Are a Tourist
The New Year
Company Calls
Company Calls Epilogue
Soul Meets Body
We Looked Like Giants
The Sound of Settling

Underneath The Sycamore
A Movie Script Ending

Listen: Whitebread – “Dead People Laughing (Live)”

Shanghai post-rockers Whitebread make their original debut with a live rendition of their new song “Dead People Laughing”. Heavily influenced by the styles of Mogwai and My Bloody Valentine, “Dead People Laughing” is anchored by a simple mournful guitar riff that leads into moments of crunchy distortion and heavy bass and guitar instrumentation. You can listen to the eight minute live recording below.

Live Review: Mogwai @ Shanghai, China’s MAO Livehouse (11/28)

Bands: Mogwai, Wang Wen
Location: Shanghai, China’s MAO Livehouse
Date: November 28, 2011

Opening for a band you’ve revered for years and based your own music on must be one of the hardest things in the world. The other night, Chinese post rock band Wang Wen was put up to this very task when they solemnly took the stage as support for Glaswegian five-piece Mogwai, who were making their very first appearance in Shanghai.

And for the most part, they held their own, warming up the crowd for the main act. Aside from being surprised by the occasional, shrieking outbursts of the Shanghai concertgoers, Wang Wen found themselves enjoying the attention of a good-natured crowd hungry for some solid instrumental music. As they worked through their tremolo-heavy set, however, it became clear that people were aching to see Mogwai take their turn and the Chinese band good-naturedly wrapped things up, leaving the crew to set up and the venue to buzz excitedly about what was to come.

With a flash of lights and a blast of smoke, Stuart Braithwaite announced his band’s triumphant appearance with a few thank-you’s and waves. With that, Mogwai launched directly into Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will‘s opening track “White Noise”. Complemented by the hazy, smoke-filled venue’s dazzling light show, Mogwai’s music hit hard, sending the crowd into uproar.

Throughout the entire set, they played a lot of old fan-favorite songs that weren’t on the new album such as “Mogwai Fear Satan”, “Auto Rock”, and “Glasgow Mega-Snake”. Each transition was masterfully planned out and it ultimately became remarkable to see Mogwai seamlessly switch from a mellow tone to one that might appear at a metal concert. The build-ups of each song were probably the most impressive aspects of the show, something the band has been heralded for in the past. And from seemingly out of nowhere, Mogwai in unison would shock the crowd with a massive drop, blasting a chord or riff at maximum volume.

Perhaps the weirdest part of the night was the end of the final twenty-minute-long encore. Pumped by the adoration of the crowd, Braithwaite began a relentless wave of, well, sound. With around five different distortion pedals laid in front of him, Braithwaite would press each one in order to intensify the escalation of the song. As he fiddled with the pedals and his amp, he refused to end, building up layer after layer of fuzzy, heart-thumping noise. Ten minutes and a few broken strings later, he finally decided enough was enough and walked off the stage with the sound still going, leaving the crowd dumbfounded but thoroughly impressed by the craftiness of the guitar legend.

All photos by Kevin Ma

01. White Noise
02. Ithica 27 – 9
03. How To Be a Werewolf
04. I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead
05. Mexican Grand Prix
06. Helicon 1
07. Auto Rock
08. You’re Lionel Richie
09. Friend of the Night
10. Hunted By A Freak
11. Mogwai Fear Satan
12. Batcat

01. My Father, My King

MiaoMix Monday #2 [Post-Rock]

Last week’s MiaoMix was full of electro party songs, so this time I made a more chill mix to listen to. This week, I put together a post-rock playlist. For people who are not familiar with the genre, post-rock is similar to rock but it ignores the typical song structure that rock music has. Most post-rock songs rely on quiet arpeggios and simple chord progressions which build up to powerful crescendos. Most songs are also instrumental, so this music is great for studying. Listen to the playlist below. (Some songs are really long. Sorry.)

miaou – “Intro”
Sigur Rós – “Hoppípolla”
The Calm Blue Sea – “We Happy Few”
múm – “Green Grass of Tunnel”
This Will Destroy You – “Quiet”
Mogwai – “Auto Rock”
pg.lost – “Yes I Am”
Explosions in the Sky – “So Long, Lonesome”

Mogwai Album Art Revealed

Above is the new album cover for Mogwai‘s upcoming album Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. The album will be the band’s seventh and will be released on 14th February 2011 on Rock Action Records in the UK and on Sub Pop Records in the US.

New Mogwai

Mogwai‘s newest record will be called Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will on February 15, 2010 via Sub Pop Records.

Mogwai Signs to Sub Pop

Post-rock band Mogwai will leave Matador Records and will release their 2011 album with iconic rock label Sub Pop.