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April 21, 2011

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Mongolian rockers on their way

IT can't be said that nightlife in Shanghai is ever boring. And as proof, on one weekend next month, two very different bands will be heating up the dance floors of two of the city's best live music venues.

On Friday 13 at the new Mao Livehouse, Chinese folk music group Hanggai will present what is best described as Mongolian grasslands folk meets Beijing punk. Then Japanese punk band The Fevers will bring their explosion of noise to the stage of Yuyingtang on Saturday 14.

Hanggai from the steppes of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region by way of Beijing is a crossover band that blends world music with good old rock'n'roll. The band is comprised of members from Beijing, Inner Mongolia (which covers a vast portion of China's north), Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province.

"As anyone who has seen one of their live performances, including their JUE festival appearance at Mao Livehouse, knows very well Hanggai put on a spectacularly glorious, rowdy and transcendent live show, complete with throat singing, mouth harping, foot stomping and beer swilling," says Abby Lavin, JUE's project manager.

"We have participated in many music festivals, and it provides good opportunities to communicate, learn and enjoy the culture, not merely music," says Yi Liqi, Hanggai's vocalist and band leader, better known as Ilchi.

Formed in 2004 when Ilchi and former bandmate Xu Jingcheng re-discovered the beauty of traditional Mongolian music, the band has now grown to seven players.

"Hanggai's sound is based in traditional Mongolian music, a world that is rich in material, because each part of Mongolian areas has its own musical traditions," says Ilchi.

Selecting folk tunes that offer a unique sound or emotion, the band works together to craft songs that retain their traditional base while offering a more modern sound. Traditional instruments such as the horsehead fiddle, the mouth harp and the sanxian (three-stringed Chinese lute) fit comfortably side by side with more modern instruments such as electric guitar, electric bass and a Western drum kit.

Last September saw the release of Hanggai's second album, "He Who Travels Far," which was produced by Ken Stringfellow, an American musician and producer who has worked with the likes of R.E.M. and Neil Young and features the legendary guitar stylings of Tom Waits' frequent collaborator, Marc Ribot.

Critics are pretty much obsessed with the album, which has earned four-star commendations from world music authorities including Earthbeat and World Connection.

The following evening, as part of the monthly Trash A Go-Go night, Yuyingtang will welcome a show by The Fevers. This Japanese four-piece formed in 2009 cite 1970s punk and 1990s garage-punk as their main influences.

With all the kinetic force of a sideway glance, The Fevers live and die on the pulse of a punk bass bounce.

Local band The Instigation will support.

? Hanggai

Date: May 13, 8pm

Venue: Mao Livehouse, 308 Chongqing Rd S.

Tickets: 60 yuan (presale), 80 yuan (at door)

Tel: 5404-4708

? The Fevers

Date: May 14, 10pm

Venue: Yuyintang, 851 Kaixuan Rd (by Yan'an Rd W.)

Tickets: 40 yuan (30 yuan for students)


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