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September 30, 2011

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3 gigs make it a tough choice for music fans

GOOD music is a precarious thing, weaving together elements of harmony, melody and rhythm in mysterious amounts that come together to satisfy the ears. It can range from a wrenching, cacophonous explosion to a still, harmonious whisper.

Tonight there are three shows that wrap around Shanghai from the former French concession to Pudong - featuring a spastic punk duo, a sonic scavenger and haughty rock kings coming back for their throne.

Pairs' album release

9pm, Yuyintang (851 Kaixuan Rd), 20 yuan

The band Pairs is no strangers to this column, nor really any space that sniffs in the direction of the Shanghai music scene.

Like punk band The Minutemen, Pairs' songs seem like they have been patched together threadbare. Like post-punk rock band Public Image Ltd, their music seems to come less out of the mouth of singer/drummer Xiao Zhong than from his brain, spewing deep-seated anxiety like Zeus rearing Athena from his forehead.

This show commemorates the release of their new album, "Summer Sweat."

DJ Shadow

10pm, The Mixing Room (1200 Expo Ave, Pudong), 300 yuan at the door

DJ Shadow defies description to the point of being easy to categorize: the elite "except-for" artist. As in: I don't like reggae, except for Bob Marley; I don't like books, except for Harry Potter; or I don't care for DJs, except for DJ Shadow.

His music is mostly built on the samples records, providing a historic basis and also a sonic one in hip-hop. However, whereas most DJs are craftsmen mixing shades of blue and yellow, DJ Shadow is a definite artisan, blending those disparate elements until they are green.

Banana Monkey

9pm, Shanhai (477 Aomen Rd), 30 yuan

"A legend" is how Han Han of popular Shanghai rock band Duck Fight Goose describes Misuzu, guitarist of Banana Monkey. After splitting ways with the band, Misuzu will be reuniting with these neo-garage rockers for their first show since March of 2009.

The show is the wild card of the night. The band, described by Misuzu as "a bunch of crazy guys," features lead singer Bono (and no, not the lead singer of U2), who since the band broke up became the proprietor of booming clothing brand Where What Who.

Since Banana Monkey broke up, the Shanghai music scene they helped form has now done a lot of building in their absence. It will be interesting to see if the audience rallies around Banana Monkey again in the new environment.


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