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July 14, 2011

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Logo regains spot for bare-bones music

AS any horror fan can attest to, bringing back the dead can be precarious. Time takes its toll on all, and what once was can never be again.

This principle applies to music venues just as much as it does to Frankenstein's Monster. Resurrecting the legendary Woodstock Music Festival of 1969 in 1999 proved disastrous when concert goers rioted, tarnishing the legacy of the original miraculous if muddy event with the fiery riots and rape of the sequel.

And though music venue and dive bar Logo (sometimes stylized in print as "LOgO") invoked spirited passion, there were never any doubts that a riot was off the table. Though things were quite horror-inspired when it originally closed its doors around Halloween of last year: a real monster mash.

Logo represented ground zero of the communal music experience: a bare bones stage maybe a foot off the ground that was filled with the most haphazard of musical equipment, including an infamous drum kit whose wobbly nature made drummers skip a beat in their chest if no place else. Still, no matter the complaints, everyone used it.

And that applied to the billed act for the night or not. It was not uncommon for people to just jump on the tiny stage and join in with scheduled performers, singing along with a cover song, dancing to the shaky beat, or banging on the drums.

Ironically, what kept things from falling into complete bedlam was the ragged nature of the place: the graffiti-covered walls, the blurred TV screens, the beer stench. With its utter lack of accoutrement, it meant the focus was always on the music, and thus attracting those who came for nothing else.

So some cried foul when it was announced in May that Logo would be opening again in Shanghai, albeit at a different location. It seemed to mean that Logo could be repositioning itself as an avatar of music appreciation rather than a place where it can actually be appreciated, much like a Rolling Stones band T-shirt represents enjoying sleazy old rock music even if the wearer has never actually heard the band.

After a soft opening of a few weeks, nuevo Logo as I prefer to call it (107 Sinan Road, near Taikang Road) has now had a chance to find its feet. And nostalgia for the old place aside, it has reclaimed its spot for unadorned music appreciation in Shanghai. The stage is small, but any number of things can spring from it.

Recent shows have been packed, with the June performance of local band Friend or Foe reverberating long after the band left the stage.

The drum set though is still causing people problems, and the guitar amplifier has had to be hustled back and forth from another venue because it's on the fritz.

Some things broken aren't meant to be fixed.


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