The mentioning of Punk music, immidietely paints a false picture in my head. Pink hair reaching for the sky, leather jackets with hella lot of pins and DIY patches with band names and logos. Loud music bursting eardrums and speakers. The people are rude, dirty and drinking or smoking at all times.
You see, this is not what Punk is in 2016. I don’t know if it ever even was, anywhere. The crowd was everything but a gathering of dirty people competing for tallest hair. Infact I spotted plenty of good outfits there. Girls were into a cute “I live on the country side” kind of vibe, or more modern all-over prints. Shannon who opened the stage, usually dresses in a mix between the two. Among the the guys, different shades of a dark greyish blue seemed to be the go-to.
However, some of these people could just as easily have been life size cut outs from modern fashion magazines. True story. Looking around there, was not at all what I had expected. I did not feel as misplaced as I had imagined I would.
Realizing while writing that I don’t know what Punk is. My thoughts of the evening are not nerdy ones about who was inspired by what artist from what time, and why. Instead I noticed the presence very objectively. And as a person, I hope there is no need to be afraid to admit that I simply don’t know. That I arrived with the wrong impression, and that I am still deluded in some areas. All of us, must have the right to have false ideas of cultures, subcultures, specific people, even races and nationalities; without being chased out of the city. The only way for all of us to understand each other, is if we can admit we don’t.
So I’ll go on.
The music was not an angry mixture of noise and curses, but beautiful riffs and harmony. Holy shit you guys, it is good! Mind.blow.
Maybe I ought to do some reading before the next punk event I attend. Find myself a “Punk for dummies”. Or just the right person to use as an information dispenser, and just throw it out there… “What the hell is Punk?!”
Is it so that, for it to be called punk it requires the 16th or 32nd note on drums? Is there a rule like that? Oldie Baby’s “Teenager in Love” started off kind of folky, and later (for my untrained ear) turned into sped up. And this is punk, or is it not? If it is, what makes it that? Is Punk another word for SKA on speed?
Shannon Lethbridge opened the stage with her experimental music with her sweet sounds of the ukelele, a wee bit of harmonica, looping outcries, celebrating womens day and sharing an instrumental song written for her cat. “Rooftop” is my favorite song, because it’s the simplest of joys to hang out with our favorite person on a rooftop, but the evening will never be forgotten.
Shannon is awesome. Awesome in its true meaning; something igniting the Aw. She makes everybody enter their own heads for a while, and hang out there. Thinking the thoughts we have forbid ourselves to think for a long time. Those of us spending most days avoiding exactly that with our best effort; appreciate her very much. Because she makes it feel ok. Her music is the comfort, and also the hand rail to lure you in. Just close your eyes and let her lead you there. Afterwards, you’ll feel a little lighter. That’s her gift to you.
Shannon is an absolutely stunning girl from the UK with long wavy hair, always sporting a short tops with pants belonging to the 70s. The wintercold has not ruined that for her, instead she just added a hat and a big all over pattern coat. What’s peculiar about her, is how her voice changes. She can sing the low notes, the very long and high notes, but when she talks; her voice is almost childlike. But I think it is deliberately applied, maybe the only sign of her being nervous? When her mind is focused, her face is content and relaxed — but serious. After the song, she flashes this brilliant smile and her voice changes. It’s so sweet. She is genuine, I can feel it.
Oldie Baby was next; a duo with Nathan Borofka on vocals n’ electric guitar and Willie (I’m sure he has a surname too) on drums. There is something very cinematic about Willie’s presence, but I can’t explain it. His look is so SKA traditional, that it makes him a character from a movie nobody has made. The shaved head and the black shirt with the collar. When Willie was playing, the drummer from the next band came up to watch him. Judging from how excited he looked; Willie is more impressive than I can understand. Nathan has ever since he arrived, been a passionate musician pouring out energy and authenticity on stage. Together, they are perfect. Their Halleljuah cover is dope as hell! I’ll link a recording as soon as I get my hands on it.
Here’s an interview I did with Nathan way back when I was promoting for 4 Corners.
RHONDA. HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS!
Clip I found on youtube, filmed at School Bar last year.
When they got on stage I was hanging out in the back, getting to know a few new people and smoking cigarettes. I was not paying attention to what was happening on stage. 2 songs in it was time to back to my chair and that’s when I realized; I have only slept 3 hours last night. Fuck I am tires. And if peanut butter jelly time doesn’t count for dinner, my body should start eating itself right about now.
Sidestory: Like you all ought to know, Thursdays are Open Mic Nights at 4 Corners. Tavey has been hosting for a long time now, and he is purdy tired of it. Luckiliy, I have found a new guy! And I invited him, Jukka Ahonen, to 4C this week to check it out. Naturally, the evening turned into late Tequila shots, beers at Temple and a minor after party somewhere in Sanlitun. Back home at 6:30 and woke up to a fresh cup of coffee at 9. My dear husband, this wise man recommended I get up now but nap later. A great plan that went to shit. Instead I arrived at Hot Cat with fake energy, born from excitement. Running on fumes, as they say.
Fortunately, I was just there to check out Jukka’s band “Bastards of Imperialism”, not to shoot for a client. Last night he accompanied Taveys acoustic guitar and song so beautifully with his electric, that I got curious about this Punkband he ia in. I brought my camera ofc, like I do everywhere.
Back to Rhonda: When I bring her, my camera, to a live show; I like camping by the stage. Not the closest possible seat, but the second. However tired, I still want the best seat to run up and get the shots if the moment is served.
So there I sat, dead tired, pulling up the back of another chair in front of me and rested my head for a bit. Closed my eyes. That’s when it started. It’s like I was tripping. Rhonda did something for me the others didn’t. No words for it but I felt so good. So relaxed. Looked after in a strange way. Almost comforted in some spiritual way. It was beautiful really, even though it wasn’t necessarily meant to be. It was the best thing in a long time. I felt high. The music is heavy and hard, but melodic and balanced. Fucking incredible.
What is Hot Cat?
It’s a venue for all kinds of musical events, comedy nights, occasional markets supporting the local artists and just you know, all sorts of events to bring all sorts of people together.
The space itself is really dope. Almost a perfect L shape. Enter from Fang Jia Hutong, and walk straight up, quite literally up because there is an incline to the bar, through the chill lounge with art displayed in cabinets to the left, couches and tables to the right. Nice and dark there! Supr chill. I fucking hate those places with lights everywhere. The bar is neatly placed in the corner of the L facing the entrance, and to the left of it is where it all goes down. There is a good conversation piece by the bar as well, a well stocked beer fridge you scout and open yourself.
Girls don’t have to stand there for long before a gentleman or random pervert offers you a recommendation.
The left wall running up to the stage is lined with low sofas and low tables. Separating all that comfort from the dance floor, is done by a row of chairs. Sit or sleep in them, both works! I pulled one out to face the stage, another one to rest my feet on. Dead tired with my eyes closed, listening to Rhonda’s instrumentals – I was so happy. So content.
Beyond the shoulder tall, brick wall behind the stage, is the courtyard and the bathrooms. In other words, the pissing and smoking area.
People here like to just sit around and enjoy, not everyone dances, so the modest dance floor is enough. Folks just wanna make out if they get the chance. If no such luck, I did mention the well stocked beer fridge right? For picking up a beer, or a someone.
BASTARDS OF IMPERIALISM! ALSO HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS!
The lead singer was wearing a US flag on his head like a Saudi!! I liked his between songs talks, his interactions with us in the crowd and his fellow band members. The guy has social skills! To me, this was the most punk, punk band of the eve. He was shitting all over the politicians running his country, used very human gestures when acting out his lyrics and he kept the conversation very free. They were the loudest, most up beat, most political. They were amazing. To me it was really really cool to see a performance like this.
Maybe he is the right person to ask what the hell punk is???
My most precious memory from the whole evening, actually was presented by this band. They have a song about “our civic duty”, called “Fuck All Night”. This song is an aggressive interpretation of sex and a parade of things people do during it. It drove people completely mental! The crowd was humping each other like animals! Even on stage! These well dressed people turned into apes! Maybe thats what punk is?
Now I didn’t join in on that, cus I could barely understand what the damn hell I was going on! Wondering if I was hallucinating… but no. All that humping really happened and people were having so much fun. Laughing. Dancing. A short, but hella intense moment during a Punk night in Beijing.
Thank you, all of you, for making this evening. Musicians, guests, bar, everyone.