I must admit I’m not a big dresser upper. Costumes are for kids aren’t they? Despite being a massively boring old misery guts there is no amount of fake blood and pointy witch hats that can dissuade me from attending the Halloween party at Live Maohouse this evening. I need to get out of the apartment and a gig will be just the tonic. As I enter the venue the rapper with the big personality Peter Fish evidently has the audience in the palm of his hand. I get snapping away on my camera as the set begins to draw to a close. Despite not getting to see much of what has transpired (sorry Peter – things to do and people to see), I am left with the firm impression the set went very well judging by the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction.
Time to get a beer. I’m ashamed to state this is my first visit to a Mao Livehouse though I’ve been aware of the chain for a long time and happily watched its progress – it’s just brilliant seeing more and more great live venues popping up across China. At the bar it’s pleasing to see a draft IPA and something else similar on offer. Beer options in China have definitely improved since I first moved here. I would happily indulge in a strong ale but as I have to be up early I settle for sipping on a bottle of Corona whilst awaiting the next act.
The next band to enter the spooky fray are AV大久保. They blow my socks off. I knew nothing of this group before I saw them this evening but I have to assert they’re one of the best bands I’ve seen live during my five years in China. Obviously very well rehearsed and completely at ease on a big stage in front of a sizable audience, this is a really tight unit with real presence. Quirky too with the lead singer appearing in a dressing gown.
There’s something a little bit Madchester about the vibe – perhaps partly a function of the singer occasionally noodling away on a keyboard with a distinctive organ sound. The bassist owns the stage and is a very talented player to go with it, the drummer maintains a pace which implies he’s in possession of an athlete’s level of fitness whilst the guitarist exudes a consistent air of nonchalance throughout the entire set whilst filling in the musical gaps. Top marks and a real spectacle too, thanks to the awesome stage lighting.
Finally we have Junks. As someone who has witnessed their gigs in smaller venues such as Lineout and Loopy I am curious to see how they do in a venue of this size. Following the previous act I am doubly curious. Not an easy band to follow. Particularly given the explosiveness of the rhythm section, which is not easy to compete with regarding the set up Junks have, more electronic in their presentation, with pre-programmed beats. In addition you get the impression much of the audience are unfamiliar with Junks and are at Mao Livehouse chiefly for the aforementioned group that precedes them.
Well, they pass the test with flying colors. This was never going to a be a situation that would phase singer and band visionary David Kay who has rich experience of playing big gigs as a result of past projects, with his current group too of course already a seasoned festival act. Notwithstanding, it’s never easy to follow a quality act, whether you’re grass roots or a Glastonbury headliner, and Junks immediately impress with their confident stagecraft and a determination they will not let this moment pass them by. And of course it always helps if you have songs. Junks have plenty, whether it’s wowing the audience with their own catchy ditties such as ‘Samantha’ and ‘Rich Girls’ or unique interpretations of classics such as ‘Smells Like (Chinese) Teen Spirit’ and ‘Hong Kong Garden’. Also of note tonight are new tunes ‘Mirror, Mirror’ and ‘Pleasure Sailin’ which see a guitar added to the mix. Top notch set and a fitting way to round off a quality night. I hope to be back at Mao Livehouse before too long.