Feb 28 Bookworm Africa 2.0 Event Hopes to Celebrate and Educate About Black Lives in China

We're coming to the close of this year's Black History Month, an annual event borne in the US but slowly building traction globally, which looks to raise awareness about black lives and commemorate the achievements of black diaspora across the globe. To close out this year's celebrations, the Chinese chapter of the black advocacy organization Africa 2.0 is preparing a final discussion on Being Black in China at The Bookworm of Feb 28, 7-9pm.

The event itself will consist of a showing of the documentary Black in China and a panel discussion from a diverse cross-section of the black community in Beijing and beyond, encompassing professors, journalists, advocates, writers, and creatives. The evening will close with an open Q&A and a chance to meet the speakers.

By holding an open dialogue between a varied panel on exactly what it is exactly like to be black in China, the group hopes to raise awareness about the most pressing race issues that China is facing today as well as highlight the achievements of black people in the country through (positive and negative) personal experiences and their ongoing effort to eradicate prejudice.

Given China's growing influence on the global political stage as well in Africa, and state media's tone-deaf rebuttal and a common belief held by broader society that racism in China does not exist, such discussions are a crucial means to allow the other side a say. The recent controversy surrounding CCTV's decision to feature blackface as part of its hugely influential Spring Festival Gala is indicative that there's still a ways to go for China to represent Africa as what it is: A vast, rich, and diverse continent made up of 55 countries.

Below, we speak to the Being Black in China event organizer and board member for the Africa 2.0 China Chapter Musa Frimpong about what he hopes to achieve from the event, the issues facing black people in China today, and how you can get involved with similar events and organizations in Beijing.

What do you hope to achieve from the Africa 2.0 event on Feb 28?
The Being Black in China event by Africa 2.0 China Chapter in celebrating Black History Month in China is to help bring into light the history, experiences, and contributions of black people in China and create awareness on issues that confront black people around the world with special focus on the Chinese experience. The event will also serve as a platform to bring the black community in China together with the non-black community as well to exchange and network among themselves to promote personal, professional, and social development. In the end, we hope people will be more aware of the history, experiences, challenges, and achievements of the black community in China.

Can you tell us how you came about choosing the diverse lineup of speakers for the event?
Such an event requires people with diverse and special experiences working and staying in China for a good number of years. With this in mind, we were able to do a thorough such within our networks of people all around China who have such experiences and with the relevant speaking skills to allow them to share and engage the audience with the insights of the topic of the day. Though not very exhaustive, we are very optimistic the speakers will be able to meet the expectations of the audience and give them a good understanding of all the relevant issues related to the topic and what being black in China means.

What are some of the biggest issues facing the black community in Beijing, and China, right now?
Some of the issues that the black community in China have got to deal with is what I wouldnt call racism but rather lack of understanding of what black people are all about, leading to some regular and occasional disrespect and mistreatments at all levels in Chinese society. This also leads to other challenges in the education, professional, and business lives of the black community as well.   

With the recent controversy surrounding CCTV’s portrayal of black people during the Spring Festival gala, many would say that the country has a long way to go in terms of perpetuating stereotypes or tackling race issues. How has the African community reacted to the skit? If you could speak to the program director directly what might you say to him?
In recent times, the two public portrayals of black people and Africans, one at a museum in Wuhan and the recent one on CCTV, explains how ignorant or misinformed people are about black people and who they and who they are not. One would believe these are pardonable cases, but not in this information age, one where people can easily find the right information to help take the right line of action.

This incident was not received well by the black community and we hope these things will not repeat in future. We would like to advise CCTV and all the other media and institutions in China to ensure to crosscheck with the credible sources before putting out these advertisements, programs, and pieces of information out there so as to avoid such controversies in the future. This we believe will help build a healthy relationship at all levels and sectors between the black community and their Chinese counterparts.

Are there any other ways that people can get involved in African community events either during Black History Month or throughout the year?
There a good number of growing African and black initiatives and businesses across China which we at Africa 2.0 would like to highlight and promote at all our platforms and events. We have a lineup of activities for each month throughout the year which we invite everyone individuals, institutions, and businesses  to be part of in diverse ways. We believe the black community has a lot to contribute to the various communities and institutions they are part of and Chinas development at large. We are always ready to partner and support anyone interested to work with us in this regard.

Entry to Feb 28's Being Black in China event at The Bookworm costs RMB 70 and includes a drink. You can reserve your ticket via Yoopay here.

Images: curiousmatic.com, courtesy of the organizers

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Two Girls, a Guitar, and Plenty of Gumption: Q&A With Folk Duo Si Si Yu Fan Ahead of Feb 23 DDC Gig

Hailing from the humble town of Changde in Hunan, Sī Sī Yǔ Fān (斯斯與帆 ) is steadily gaining a reputation as one of Beijing’s sweetest sounding folk duos. Comprised of breezy singer Zhou Fan (who goes by the stage name Fafa, pictured above left) and soft-touch strummer Liu Yusi (stage name Sisi, pictured above right), the pair has a plaintive, earnest style that is deeply moving but also accessible. Below, Sisi and Fafa tell us more about being one of Beijing's most unique musical duos.

Sisi, how did you become a guitarist?
Sisi:
When I was a child I liked to listen to folk songs. In my eyes, there was nothing more elegant than playing the guitar. So I cried and cried to my parents until they finally relented and bought me an erhu. I haven't stopped playing ever since.

And Fafa, how did you get your start as a singer?
Fafa: As a child, my mother always boasted that she had a better voice than me when she was my age. But I wasn't convinced, and would sing old hits that were her favorites around the house all the time! Even if I didn't pursue singing with enough diligence to be a conventional star, I always just enjoyed performing songs that made me happy. To me, singing is just all about self-expression. Hopefully, Sisi feels the same way; I'm quite confident she does!

How did the two of you meet and form your duo?
Fafa: We grew up in the same place. In high school, Sisi founded this little independent music club. I was a year behind her in school and she said she had heard me sing in a recital and loved how I sounded, which I was very flattered by.

Sisi: Yes, early on I heard Fafa sing and was surprised by her natural, raw talent. She has such a lovely voice, it just sounds so beautiful. Our aesthetic is similar, and we make each other very happy as a duo.

So many bands in Beijing are fronted by men. How does it feel to be a female folk duo in this music scene?
Sisi: I think we once dreamed of being singing and dancing idols, but since we couldn't find the right musicians to back us up, we said to ourselves "Let's just form a duo and play ballads, for now." I've been in two all-girl bands before this, one of them with Fafa where she played bass and I played guitar. But in the end, the two of us had a stronger dynamic on our own – one crazy girl and another who is the exact opposite, super quiet!

Who are some of your key influences?
Fafa: Hui-Ting Chen (陳惠婷), the lead singer of [Taiwanese rock troupe] Tizzy Bac had a deep influence on me. I've been a fan since high school and grew up reading about her struggles with depression, and how she would listen to upbeat songs to pump her up before job interviews and other daunting challenges. She helped me realize music can give you confidence anytime you're contending with doubts.

Si Si Yu Fan will perform at DDC's post-Spring Festival reopening party on Feb 23 alongside alt-rockers No Trace, psychedelic folk rocker Dan Taylor, and blues rockers OOC. Alternatively, read about the rest of this weekend's gigs via our weekly Noise Pollution blog here.

More stories by this author here.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MulKyle
Instagram: mullin.kyle

Photos courtesy of the band, DDC

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Two Girls, a Guitar, and Plenty of Gumption: Q&A With Folk Duo Si Si Yu Fan Ahead of Feb 23 DDC Gig

Hailing from the humble town of Changde in Hunan, Sī Sī Yǔ Fān (斯斯與帆 ) is steadily gaining a reputation as one of Beijing’s sweetest sounding folk duos. Comprised of breezy singer Zhou Fan (who goes by the stage name Fafa, pictured above left) and soft-touch strummer Liu Yusi (stage name Sisi, pictured above right), the pair has a plaintive, earnest style that is deeply moving but also accessible. Below, Sisi and Fafa tell us more about being one of Beijing's most unique musical duos.

Sisi, how did you become a guitarist?
Sisi:
When I was a child I liked to listen to folk songs. In my eyes, there was nothing more elegant than playing the guitar. So I cried and cried to my parents until they finally relented and bought me an erhu. I haven't stopped playing ever since.

And Fafa, how did you get your start as a singer?
Fafa: As a child, my mother always boasted that she had a better voice than me when she was my age. But I wasn't convinced, and would sing old hits that were her favorites around the house all the time! Even if I didn't pursue singing with enough diligence to be a conventional star, I always just enjoyed performing songs that made me happy. To me, singing is just all about self-expression. Hopefully, Sisi feels the same way; I'm quite confident she does!

How did the two of you meet and form your duo?
Fafa: We grew up in the same place. In high school, Sisi founded this little independent music club. I was a year behind her in school and she said she had heard me sing in a recital and loved how I sounded, which I was very flattered by.

Sisi: Yes, early on I heard Fafa sing and was surprised by her natural, raw talent. She has such a lovely voice, it just sounds so beautiful. Our aesthetic is similar, and we make each other very happy as a duo.

So many bands in Beijing are fronted by men. How does it feel to be a female folk duo in this music scene?
Sisi: I think we once dreamed of being singing and dancing idols, but since we couldn't find the right musicians to back us up, we said to ourselves "Let's just form a duo and play ballads, for now." I've been in two all-girl bands before this, one of them with Fafa where she played bass and I played guitar. But in the end, the two of us had a stronger dynamic on our own – one crazy girl and another who is the exact opposite, super quiet!

Who are some of your key influences?
Fafa: Hui-Ting Chen (陳惠婷), the lead singer of [Taiwanese rock troupe] Tizzy Bac had a deep influence on me. I've been a fan since high school and grew up reading about her struggles with depression, and how she would listen to upbeat songs to pump her up before job interviews and other daunting challenges. She helped me realize music can give you confidence anytime you're contending with doubts.

Si Si Yu Fan will perform at DDC's post-Spring Festival reopening party on Feb 23 alongside alt-rockers No Trace, psychedelic folk rocker Dan Taylor, and blues rockers OOC. Alternatively, read about the rest of this weekend's gigs via our weekly Noise Pollution blog here.

More stories by this author here.
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MulKyle
Instagram: mullin.kyle

Photos courtesy of the band, DDC

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This Year’s Spring Festival Once Again Breaks Records for Massive Crowds

As inevitable as fireworks and the CCTV gala on the TV, this year's Spring Festival holiday has brought record-breaking massive crowds of tourists to Beijing that have since been replaced by a huge wave of returning local residents.

Beijing train stations processed some 10.6 million passengers coming back to the capital during this holiday's peak travel time on Tuesday, signifying an eight percent increase over last year's total at the same time.

Wednesday's passenger total for Beijing's top three train stations was notably less at 550,000 while the city's main airport processed 145,000 people the same day.

Crowds were so large at Beijing train stations at the tail-end of this year's Lunar New Year break that many departing travelers needed to endure a 50-minute-long wait in order to enter the station while new arrivals were faced with taxi fare hikes that jumped to RMB 80 for a 5-kilometer-long trip.

Despite their numbers, the absence left by the exodus of locals was quickly filled in.

Over 7.7 million tourists visited Beijing this Spring Festival (a year-on-year increase of five percent) and spent a total of 7.26 billion yuan, signifying an eight percent increase over last Spring Festival. With individual tourists spending a daily average RMB 942, local businesses raked in 58.285 million yuan, an increase of 13 percent over the same period last year.

Some 2.09 million tourists visited Beijing's 146 tourist attractions over the holidays, a 14 percent increase over last year. And even though it shut down its outdoor skating operations two weeks ago, Shichahai Park was easily the city's biggest attraction this past holiday, drawing 8.19 million visitors, over 57 percent more than last year.

Meanwhile, local temples proved to be very popular by attracting 572,000 visitors just as were Beijing's 11 parks, which took in a one-day total of 420,000 on Tuesday.

As of Feb 21, 17 million people have taken trains during this year's Spring Festival travel rush at Beijing train stations, making for some decidedly impressive but now increasingly familiar pictures of endless seas of people.

More stories from this author here.

Twitter: @Sinopath
E-mail: [email protected]

Images: BJ News

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Throwback Thursday: How Foreigners Used to Celebrate Spring Festival

Throwback Thursday takes a look back into Beijing's past, using our nine-year-strong blog archives as the source for a glance at the weird and wonderful of yesteryear.

The Spring Festival celebrations and days of incessant munching on the sofa are sadly (?) drawing to a close. As we know, the end of China's biggest holiday means that the hustle and bustle of Beijing is starting to return to normal with tumbleweeds in the streets making space for returning Beijingers.

One major difference this year, however, was the comparatively subtle festivities – sans smoke and fire – given that the use of fireworks were banned within the Fifth Ring Road (in comparison, fireworks were banned in CBD as far back as 2011 as a delayed response to the 2009 fire that engulfed CCTV's Television Culture Center). This year's ban has been surprisingly effective with the occasional sneaky firecracker going off every once in a while. Perhaps part of the efficacy of the ban is down to the relentless flags flying every few meters in the center of town, reminding conscientious citizens of the new restrictions.

Back in 2011, we were nodding our heads in agreement with a particularly spot-on experience chart (see below) published by The World of Chinese. The graph illustrated how the foreign community commonly reacts to Spring Festival celebrations. The clincher this year was that we didn't have fireworks to distract from the requisite family time and dumpling rolling, either quickening the inevitable encroach of insanity or reducing it, depending on your fondness for high explosives.

An expat's first Spring Festival in China is often met with fascination that slowly dips towards bewilderment. As late as last year, we could still take a trip to the one open store in the neighborhood while strafing through a scene that resembled a fervid game of Counter-Strike. All the while, your inner monologue asking questions like, "Why are these toddlers still awake at 2am?" and then, "Why do these toddlers have firecrackers in their tiny hands?" Needless to say, it used to get wild. 

All in all, the silence and clean air are the byproducts of positive change but that will still take some getting used to. The city's emptiness now coupled with the relative silence throughout the holiday now makes Beijing more akin to a yoga retreat than a war zone. Join us now in enjoying it while it lasts, as come Monday, the chaos that we know and (most of the time) love will have conspicuously returned.

More by this author here.

Email: [email protected]

Images: The World of Chinese, China Smack

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Vanda Room Moves From Shuangjing to Fuxingmen, Taking With it Possibly the Best Laska in Beijing

Dining in Fuxingmen? The idea alone might make you frown, shake your head, and say, “too far away.” We get it, but when Vanda Room shut down its Shunagjing branch and moved west, taking with it what is possibly the best rendition of Singaporean-style noodle soup aka laksa, you may not have any choice but to travel when the craving hits.

Sat on the 10th floor of Parkson Shopping Mall, Vanda Room sits among several other restaurants that have made Parkson a small food destination, including the likes of Najia Restaurant, Youma Cantonese Restaurant, Yuxiang Kitchen, Kongyiji, and Ershiwu Kuai Ban.

First opening in 2012 in Shuangjing, Vanda Room has made a name for itself with solid and authentic Singaporean fare, such as laksa, bak kut teh (pork rib soup, literally "meat bone tea"), Hainanese chicken rice, satay, and assorted curry dishes, as well as a balanced menu that favors speedier dishes to cater for the lunch crowd as well as more complicated dishes for the dinner set.

Those elements have traveled out west with the new venue, which has enough space to seat 70-plus diners among its modern and large space with wooden tables, comfortable chairs and sofas bringing to mind Singapore's penchant for all things efficient and neat.

The Teochew bak kut teh (pork rib soup, RMB 52 for a small pot) is flavored with star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, garlic, and pork ribs, boiled for hours so as to release all possible flavor. We enjoyed Vanda Room's rendition for not being quite as spicy some of the TCM-like versions found in Malaysia.

The juicy and tender Hainanese chicken (RMB 36 for a quarter chicken, RMB 70 for a half, or RMB 130 for a whole), which comes with chili sauce and soy sauce paste, was far better than the same option in Wan at U-Town Shopping Mall, and the rice was tastier than that found in Ji Kun Café.

However, it was the Katong laksa (RMB 36) that made the entire trip worth it. For those new to Malay and Singaporean cuisines, Katong is set in eastern Singapore and is influenced by its rich Peranakan culture. This specific laksa is loaded with diced rice noodles so that they can with scooped up with soup and eaten with a spoon. The soup broth is spiced with turmeric, lemon grass, pepper, ginger, coconut milk, citronella, and curry powder, giving it an unruly and rich combined flavor of sweet, spicy, savory, and umami. It also came topped with a sprinkle of chopped laksa leaf – the first time we’ve ever seen this done in Beijing – which reminded us of hot summer days spent unwinding in Singapore's unique aromas of food, tropical plants, and the sea.

To cool off, finish with Pandan Swiss roll (RMB 25), its shocking green color the result of the pandan leaves used to dye the sponge cake. Sea salt is added to the creamy center to temper the more herbal notes and palm sugar is splashed onto the plate for an addictive touch of sweetness. For an authentic experience, couple the cake with a cup of sweet teh tarik milk tea made with condensed milk and black tea, and if there’s still space, also try the bubur cha cha, a popular dessert made from sweet potatoes, taro, tapioca flour jelly, and sago in sweet coconut milk.

As a self-deemed half-Malay local, I'm often frustrated that genuine Malaysian/Singaporean dishes can often be hard to find in Beijing but thankfully the survival of Vanda Room means that we have at least one dependable option, even if it is a little further out.

Vanda Room
Daily 11am-9pm. 10/F, North Bldg, Parkson Shopping Mall, 101 Fuxingmennei Dajie, Xicheng District (6653 5120)
狮城小馆:西城区复兴门大街101号百盛购物中心北楼10

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @flyingfigure
Instagram: @flyingfigure

Photos: Tracy Wang

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Use this App to Stop Getting Ripped Off by Rental Agents

We’ve lived in three different places during our four years in Beijing and house-hunting here is up there among my most loathed pastimes. Who doesn’t love over-inflated house prices, only being shown the most ‘foreigner friendly’ compounds and being completely at the mercy of the rental agents.

READ: New Rental Policies Tip in Favor of Tenants' Interests

Here it is, the biggest secret that no house rental agent wants you to know about … the Lianjia app.

This app revolutionized my apartment-hunting journey. You are able to see exactly what apartments are available in the area you want, filter by bedroom requirements and floor size, and the price for each. You then take the app into the nearest Lianjia office and point to the apartments you want to look at, and then negotiate lower than the listed app price. No more getting ripped off!

1. Download the Lianjia app, you should be able to find it just by searching for ‘lianjia’ in the app store.

2. Tap on rentals.

3. Tap on the map.

        

4. From here you can filter using the icon in the top right ...

... or you can zoom in on the area you want using the map.

5. You can see what is available in different compounds, including compounds that your agent probably wouldn’t show you.

6. Scroll through the photos and find your dream home! Go to the nearest Lianjia office to the apartment compound you want to look at. Bargain hard! Remember that landlords will often replace furniture if it’s old or buy you things that are lacking. I have even heard of landlords buying a whole new range of furniture upon the renter's request! You can also request for the landlord to take out any furniture you don’t want. Landlords will also sometimes lower the rent if you sign an extended lease of two years. Happy house hunting!

READ: New Rental Policies Tip in Favor of Tenants' Interests

This article originally appeared on our sister site beijingkids.

Photos: Rebecca Archer, davidthornton.com.au

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Noise Pollution: DDC Re-Opening Party, Rhonda, Liu Donghong, B’Rock Orchestra, Pu Han

If you’re anything like me then you’re probably desperate for some live music. Really doesn’t matter what it is either. Anything with a tune will do. I’ll even bring my speaker box to every grannie corner if I’ve got to. And looking at this weekend’s slim pickings, as most venues won’t return until March, it may just come to that. But for those willing to explore new sounds and new surroundings, there’s just enough bubbling at the surface to save us from Chinese New Year. So have at it.
 

Friday, February 23

No Trace, OOC, Dan Taylor & Band, Sisi and Fan at DDC
DDC looks to capitalize on audiences desperate need for music with a killer re-opening party featuring a bit of something for all musical types with Celtic-inclined folk rock from Dan Taylor and friends, cozy indie folk from Sisi and Fan, bone-cracking, blues-charged hard rock from veterans OOC, and industrial alt-rock from No Trace, a band that I imagine will be making some noise in the Year of the Dog. RMB 70

Eric Allen, Rudra’s Sage at Mogu Space
In the spirit of classic folk, cowboy country, and southern blues, singer-songwriter Eric Allen brings the soulful sounds of America's heartland to the Beijing stage alongside sitar and folk musician Rudra’s Sage, evening in Xizhimen. RMB 60

Zhang Ziwei, Yu Ziqun, Wang Yang, L&Z at Jianghu Bar
Mellow out with this folk-rock lineup and catch up and coming artists like Zhang Ziwei, Yu Ziqun, Wang Yang and L&Z as Jianghu Bar continues to celebrate the Chinese New Year with a collection of free shows. FREE

Hou Kang, Kalie at 69 Café
Since touching a guitar at the ripe age of seventeen in 2014. The Beijing-based artist Kaile has performing non-stop in venues and events. He’s joined by producer and performer Hou this evening at the Wudaokou space. RMB 60

The Hunters at Modernista
One of Beijing’s best foreign cover bands, The Hunters combine ‘old-school funk, soul, and rock classics with modern hits, all mixed and served in an intoxicating and action-packed delivery.' FREE
 

Saturday, Feb 24

Rhonda, Sunn E))) at Temple
Things get epically deviant as Temple welcomes back drummer Alex Stevens for a special showcase featuring the ex-Beijing hard-edged and extremely satisfying instrumental rock outfit Rhonda, who traded in the former drummer for a new one and haven’t looked back since. A drum-off will ensue perhaps but fret not as the return of Alex means the return of Sunn E))) – the batshit crazy Sunn O))) influenced psych outfit. As with all reunions, expect hijinks and rowdiness of the highest order. FREE 

Hyph11e, Rui Ho, Dirty K, Kilo Vee, Tavi Lee at Dada
Though I’m not one to put the spotlight on Beijing’s increasingly seductive electronic scene (Beijing Beats covers that pretty dang well) perhaps use this weekend to see what all the fuss is about. One of the labels I’ve been digging as of late is the Genome crew out of Shanghai, whose dark-minded, bombastic, artistically elevating brand of electronica is downright hypnotic. They’ll be in town with members Tavi Lee, Kilo Vee, as well as Hyph11e, Rui Ho, and Dirty K from Nanjing all fresh off of stellar releases from 2017. Read up on our recent interview with Kilo Vee for more. RMB 60

Liu Donghong at 69 Café
‘China's answer to the West's spate of mysterious, minimalist classic rock troubadours like Leonard Cohen and Rodriguez’ catch the seasoned blues-ridden singer-songwriter Liu Donghong at the intimate Wudaoku space this evening. RMB 77

Siberia Cocklebur at Jianghu Bar
Indie pop outfit Siberia Cocklebur, who have been grinding away at the scene for nearly a decade bring their smooth, melodic tunes to Jianghu Bar this evening. RMB 80

The Mac Daddies at The Bricks
Get a taste of the riotous Louisiana culture as Stevie Mac & The Mac Daddies take their Mardi Gras Show on the road to Sanlitun for an ‘authentic Mardi Gras style celebration, complete with free masks & beads and New Orleans Bourbon Street Hits!’ FREE

Horse Feather, Great Buffalo Blues at Modernista
Folk alt-funksters Horse Feather play an infectious mix of classics and originals and look to keep the mood light and fun this evening on Baochao as they join the new equally funky blues-rock trio the Great Buffalo Blues. FREE
 

Sunday, Feb 25

B’Rock Orchestra at the NCPA
While rock music isn’t in abundance this weekend there’s plenty of chamber music to around including this intriguing troupe rolling through the National Center for the Performing Arts – the Ghent based B’Rock Orchestra that focuses on the renewal and rejuvenation in the world of Early Music with historically informed performance practices. They’ll appear with soloist Rodolfo Richter for a programme including Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, selections from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and much more. RMB 80-400 

Samaga at DDC
Considered by many as one of Beijing’s most underrated musical acts, world music act Samaga has been infiltrating venues across Beijing with their happy marriage of musical traditions from India, the Middle East, and more, utilizing the sitar, the oud, and other Middle Eastern percussion instruments. RMB 70

Seigo at Modernista
Japanese jazz master Seigo returns to Modernista with his drum set once again as well as his latest craze - techno fusion. Color me intrigued. FREE

Cao Qin at Snail Hostel
Toted as one of the folk scene’s best newcomers in 2012, the northwestern singer-songwriter Cao Qin has been building quite the fanbase with his melodic and soulful tunes filled with steadfast tenderness and poetic poise. RMB 80 

Yu Zeyang, Lei Feng Mao at Mogu Space
The 19-year-old singer-songwriter from the Communications University of China brings some pop flair alongside Yu Zeyang and others at this Sunday’s unplugged session at the Xizhimen space. RMB 60

Mojo Hand at Jianghu Bar
Blues supergroup made up of some of the skilled rockers of the Beijing scene, including OOC frontman Cheng Chen, bassist Wang Zheng, and guitarist Wei Wei bring their richly flavored Chicago blues to Jianghu for Sunday jam night. FREE

Pu Han at 69 Café
Pu Han, who often plays a unique blend of Kazakh and Tuva folk pays tribute to one of his biggest influences – Leonard Cohen - as he performs a set of Cohen covers and Cohen-inspired originals at 69 Café. RMB 66

Images: Live Beijing Music, courtesy of the organizers

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Noise Pollution: DDC Re-Opening Party, Rhonda, Liu Donghong, B’Rock Orchestra, Pu Han

If you’re anything like me then you’re probably desperate for some live music. Really doesn’t matter what it is either. Anything with a tune will do. I’ll even bring my speaker box to every grannie corner if I’ve got to. And looking at this weekend’s slim pickings, as most venues won’t return until March, it may just come to that. But for those willing to explore new sounds and new surroundings, there’s just enough bubbling at the surface to save us from Chinese New Year. So have at it.
 

Friday, February 23

No Trace, OOC, Dan Taylor & Band, Sisi and Fan at DDC
DDC looks to capitalize on audiences desperate need for music with a killer re-opening party featuring a bit of something for all musical types with Celtic-inclined folk rock from Dan Taylor and friends, cozy indie folk from Sisi and Fan, bone-cracking, blues-charged hard rock from veterans OOC, and industrial alt-rock from No Trace, a band that I imagine will be making some noise in the Year of the Dog. RMB 70

Eric Allen, Rudra’s Sage at Mogu Space
In the spirit of classic folk, cowboy country, and southern blues, singer-songwriter Eric Allen brings the soulful sounds of America's heartland to the Beijing stage alongside sitar and folk musician Rudra’s Sage, evening in Xizhimen. RMB 60

Zhang Ziwei, Yu Ziqun, Wang Yang, L&Z at Jianghu Bar
Mellow out with this folk-rock lineup and catch up and coming artists like Zhang Ziwei, Yu Ziqun, Wang Yang and L&Z as Jianghu Bar continues to celebrate the Chinese New Year with a collection of free shows. FREE

Hou Kang, Kalie at 69 Café
Since touching a guitar at the ripe age of seventeen in 2014. The Beijing-based artist Kaile has performing non-stop in venues and events. He’s joined by producer and performer Hou this evening at the Wudaokou space. RMB 60

The Hunters at Modernista
One of Beijing’s best foreign cover bands, The Hunters combine ‘old-school funk, soul, and rock classics with modern hits, all mixed and served in an intoxicating and action-packed delivery.' FREE
 

Saturday, Feb 24

Rhonda, Sunn E))) at Temple
Things get epically deviant as Temple welcomes back drummer Alex Stevens for a special showcase featuring the ex-Beijing hard-edged and extremely satisfying instrumental rock outfit Rhonda, who traded in the former drummer for a new one and haven’t looked back since. A drum-off will ensue perhaps but fret not as the return of Alex means the return of Sunn E))) – the batshit crazy Sunn O))) influenced psych outfit. As with all reunions, expect hijinks and rowdiness of the highest order. FREE 

Hyph11e, Rui Ho, Dirty K, Kilo Vee, Tavi Lee at Dada
Though I’m not one to put the spotlight on Beijing’s increasingly seductive electronic scene (Beijing Beats covers that pretty dang well) perhaps use this weekend to see what all the fuss is about. One of the labels I’ve been digging as of late is the Genome crew out of Shanghai, whose dark-minded, bombastic, artistically elevating brand of electronica is downright hypnotic. They’ll be in town with members Tavi Lee, Kilo Vee, as well as Hyph11e, Rui Ho, and Dirty K from Nanjing all fresh off of stellar releases from 2017. Read up on our recent interview with Kilo Vee for more. RMB 60

Liu Donghong at 69 Café
‘China's answer to the West's spate of mysterious, minimalist classic rock troubadours like Leonard Cohen and Rodriguez’ catch the seasoned blues-ridden singer-songwriter Liu Donghong at the intimate Wudaoku space this evening. RMB 77

Siberia Cocklebur at Jianghu Bar
Indie pop outfit Siberia Cocklebur, who have been grinding away at the scene for nearly a decade bring their smooth, melodic tunes to Jianghu Bar this evening. RMB 80

The Mac Daddies at The Bricks
Get a taste of the riotous Louisiana culture as Stevie Mac & The Mac Daddies take their Mardi Gras Show on the road to Sanlitun for an ‘authentic Mardi Gras style celebration, complete with free masks & beads and New Orleans Bourbon Street Hits!’ FREE

Horse Feather, Great Buffalo Blues at Modernista
Folk alt-funksters Horse Feather play an infectious mix of classics and originals and look to keep the mood light and fun this evening on Baochao as they join the new equally funky blues-rock trio the Great Buffalo Blues. FREE
 

Sunday, Feb 25

B’Rock Orchestra at the NCPA
While rock music isn’t in abundance this weekend there’s plenty of chamber music to around including this intriguing troupe rolling through the National Center for the Performing Arts – the Ghent based B’Rock Orchestra that focuses on the renewal and rejuvenation in the world of Early Music with historically informed performance practices. They’ll appear with soloist Rodolfo Richter for a programme including Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, selections from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and much more. RMB 80-400 

Samaga at DDC
Considered by many as one of Beijing’s most underrated musical acts, world music act Samaga has been infiltrating venues across Beijing with their happy marriage of musical traditions from India, the Middle East, and more, utilizing the sitar, the oud, and other Middle Eastern percussion instruments. RMB 70

Seigo at Modernista
Japanese jazz master Seigo returns to Modernista with his drum set once again as well as his latest craze - techno fusion. Color me intrigued. FREE

Cao Qin at Snail Hostel
Toted as one of the folk scene’s best newcomers in 2012, the northwestern singer-songwriter Cao Qin has been building quite the fanbase with his melodic and soulful tunes filled with steadfast tenderness and poetic poise. RMB 80 

Yu Zeyang, Lei Feng Mao at Mogu Space
The 19-year-old singer-songwriter from the Communications University of China brings some pop flair alongside Yu Zeyang and others at this Sunday’s unplugged session at the Xizhimen space. RMB 60

Mojo Hand at Jianghu Bar
Blues supergroup made up of some of the skilled rockers of the Beijing scene, including OOC frontman Cheng Chen, bassist Wang Zheng, and guitarist Wei Wei bring their richly flavored Chicago blues to Jianghu for Sunday jam night. FREE

Pu Han at 69 Café
Pu Han, who often plays a unique blend of Kazakh and Tuva folk pays tribute to one of his biggest influences – Leonard Cohen - as he performs a set of Cohen covers and Cohen-inspired originals at 69 Café. RMB 66

Images: Live Beijing Music, courtesy of the organizers

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8-Bit Pop-Up Announced in Shuangjing’s Vegan Haven Root Pop, Launches Feb 24

A mere month after 8-Bit announced that it was game over for its Beiluogu Xiang venue, news now comes that Beijing's primo video games bar will set up a pop-up location in Shuangjing's vegan restaurant Root Pop.

The 8-Bit team pitch up shop on the second floor of Root Pop for the first time this Saturday (Feb 24) at 8pm, serving RMB 20 Asahi draft, RMB 30 mixed drinks, RMB 25 glasses of wine, and of course their drink of choice, pickle backs, for RMB 20. There'll also be video games, competitions, DJ Sake Gin on the decks, and 20 percent off of the specially made vegan snack selections courtesy of the Root Pop kitchen.

Of the collaboration, Root Pop owner, manager, and chef Brandon Trowbridge told the Beijinger, "Knowing firsthand what it is like to lose a location with little notice [Nola], I am happy to help out any way I can. Not to mention, it’s super exciting to be changing the atmosphere of the bar. The two brands meld well together considering the lightheartedness of both concepts. I am looking forward to bringing something new to both of our customer bases and to Shuangjing as a whole."

Following this weekend's launch, the 8-Bit team will be at Root Pop every Thursday to Sunday, 8pm-2am, until May. Head down to Shuangjing this Saturday to wish them congratulations on their 1-up.

Images: YouTube, 8-Bit

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