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August 11, 2011

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Sometimes it's hard to defend local scene

TRICKY'S performance last week at Mao Livehouse was haphazard, confounding and sometimes boring, but it wasn't cringe worthy.

No, the only time I had an adverse physical reaction at that show was while I was talking to an otherwise kind audience member and interviewee.

While he rolled and flopped vague responses as to why he likes Tricky off his tongue, I interrupted to ask what he thought of Shanghai's local talent.

After looking past me momentarily as if to see if there were any such talent off to my side, there wasn't, he reassuringly told me there really wasn't any to speak of, that Shanghai doesn't really have any quality local shows.

As someone involved in the music scene beyond just commenting on it, I was moved beyond any simple discrepancy into said physical reaction. Sure, that's to be expected. More pointedly, what's my evidence for such a response? Http:// - that's what.

That's a link to the event flier page of Shanghai 24/7. All the posters for upcoming music events are on display, from sharp looking indie rock groups to James Blunt. Scrolling downward on its three pages is a cascade of styles and designs from those done with craftsmanship to those reminiscent of something from a preschool arts and crafts hour. For the blessed charm of the latter, see any advertising the Love Bang series of parties, produced by DJ/"good effort" in art class recipient, Heat Wolves.

Kidding aside, his posters reveal the easy going nature and sheer fun of his events, which is important. In fact, most of the 30 or so posters reveal something, making them peepholes to the worlds they represent.

That being the case, Shanghai has scores of acts of different styles, hopefully at least one of which would appeal to someone with any sort of popular music interest.

But is it enough? Is Shanghai's music community providing enough "content" - to use that sterile phrase, for its general audience?

Many times the answer is no. When looking at the amount of venues listed: Yuyintang, Lune, Logo, Dada, The Mixing Room, et al, it is clear that even if some of the venues aren't open daily/nightly, the amount of poster-worthy shows they offer is a slight percentage of their potential.

Sure, this might be due to lazy organizing or unfamiliarity with, but it is further evidenced by going out at night and seeing a lonely bartender checking his phone at 11pm, aka prime time.

Sights like that are bound to leave potential audiences cold. Imagining a less frequent and diehard audience entering such an environment is sure to be discouraging.

As much as admiring all the cool posters, Shanghai won't be reaching its potential until there are a lot more of them. At that point, I'd have stronger ground to stand on when defending the local scene.


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