The story appears on

Page B2

June 9, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Jokes aside, Pairs give a painless performance

THE tears of a clown: an entertainer who masks his self-loathing with an outward stance of radiance. Shanghai band Pairs are a variation on this archetype, with a windfall of jokes between and during songs.

What makes them interesting, though, is that from the first ringing note of their music to the last cymbal crash, their inner discord is being ripped open for everyone to see.

Made up of Aussie Xiao Zhong on drums and vocals alongside local guitarist F, the band has recently been making a name for themselves around China. They played last year's Modern Sky Festival in Beijing, and followed up a gig in Wuhan this past Saturday, with an appearance tomorrow night at local club Beedees alongside Yantiao, Death to Giants and GuiJian.

They're critical favorites, and it's because of their coupling of a lack of pretension with an audacious sound that connects with stark, existential sincerity. The drums are all hardcore punk stylings which propel the music forward.

The guitar holds things down, and could leave dinosaurs all black and gooey with the thick, tarry sound F stirs from it. Bass? No base. You're left to fall to the bottom, while Xiao Zhong's screeched lyrics offer travelogues such as "I want to die in the ocean."

Unlikely, snatches of melody emerge, usually from Xiao Zhong's adroit drumming, making the music slightly more digestible if not exactly welcoming to the average pop fan.

If you took the band's word for it though, no one would ever care to listen to them in the first place. Because the humor the band members create is usually in the form of barbs directed at themselves, the jesting not only creates a more jovial mood for the audience, it also deflates the expectation associated with an avant-garde act like Pairs: that they will be solemnly serious.

Take for example the note on the back of their 7-inch vinyl release on Metal Postcard Records earlier this year: "This filth was recorded at Yuyintang, Shanghai, 2010." Its unlikeliness and frivolity render it amusing, but beyond that it also is a playful wink that lowers the pretension and connects them with audience.

The record is short, as is their self-titled digital EP (16 minutes, 54 seconds), which can be downloaded for free at

For any more of an extended period, say a full-length album or show, the band need something to segment, to bring context to their screed so it doesn't get lost in its own muck. Perhaps some jokes.

Date: June 10, 10pm

Entry fee: Voluntary donation

Venue: Beedees, 433 Dagu Rd


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend