One of the few Chinese bands known outside of China is Rebuilding the Rights of Statues (called ReTROS for short, and occasionally known by their Chinese name, 重塑雕像的权利 ). Their first EP was on Tag Team records, which has distribution in the US, and they even played SXSW in 2007, and have a page in the All Music Guide.
I’ve seen them before, but when I found out they have a new CD, I had to go see them again.
They were playing at Yugong Yishan (愚公移山), which is pretty convenient for me. I rode my bike again.
The opening band was The Offset: Spectacles – or something like that, involving one or more gratuitous punctuation marks.
They’re originally from Hong Kong, but have relocated to Beijing because the music scene here is more suitable to their style.
I’d say they fit right in with this scene. For one thing, they’re a trio with a female member.
They use neither a drummer nor a drum machine, relying on the guitars and keyboard to keep the rhythms going. The use of violin and a very distorted combo organ gives their music some variety, but on the whole I would not rank them near the top of the capital’s bands. They are noisy and deliberately noncommercial, both of which are also Beijing standards.
ReTROS, on the other hand, are near the top.
They are intense, unique, and artistic, and in spite of a complete lack of typical stage presence, are really entertaining. Hua Dong (华东 ) rarely faces the audience when singing or playing guitar, but he is so into the performance that he gets away with it.
Liu Min (刘敏 ) also doesn’t face the crowd. They seemlessly integrated recorded guitar, bass, and rhythm parts into the show, allowing them to play melodica, or concentrate on singing.
They played pretty much everything on their first EP as well as the whole new album, and while their studio work is very good, they are so intense and energetic live that even the memory of it makes listening to the CDs a little bit of a letdown.
After they finished, I bought the new release, which is on Modern Sky, the premier “indie” label in China – I’m not sure what kind of distribution that gives them outside the country. I also picked up another recent Modern Sky CD that they had at the table – Casino Demon’s Teenager.