The Chinese music scene – underground rock

If you are like me and have a passion for good music you will not be let down when you go to Asia. Aside from the over produced girl and boy bands with their impeccably choreographed routines, there are also some very talented musicians.

Soon after I moved to Beijing I stumbled across an underground (literally) rock bar. The bar was dark, smelt of stale beer and had by far the best collection of live music I had ever come across. I became a regular visitor and moshed with my Chinese comrades. I found that many of the artists were really genuine in their pursuit of artistic expression and not doing it for the pay. I regularly got to hang out with the bands and was delighted to see some of them eventually achieving commercial success. One of my favourite bands is called XieTianXiao (谢天笑), and a quick YouTube search will show you why.

After returning to Beijing in 2008 I got back into the music scene, this time joining a band. The band performed 1960s Chinese Communist folk songs in a grunge style. In 2009 the band went on tour and we played in bars in Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou. Unfortunately we were not very good, and apart from a few free drinks we didn’t realise our dreams of becoming mega stars.

by Simon Appleton