Save Music in Chinatown 6 photo dump with Dengue Fever, Birdstriking, Chui Wan, and Deadly Cradle Death at the Grand Star

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I’m fiinally clearing out the SD card after last Sunday’s Save Music in Chinatown 6 benefit matinee at the Grand Star, so here are some of the better photos. Unfortunately, I’m going to stick you with some words as well

The bill was unbelievable; we had two bands from China, Birdstriking and Chui Wan (above), as well as Deadly Cradle Death (a noisy side project featuring members of each band) and headliners Dengue Fever. Our new location was unbelievable, too. It was a second story spot in the heart of Chinatown with just good enough sound, a small stage, low ceiling, and bar for those who choose to drink. Right outside we were able to take photos by the Bruce Lee statue!

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Deadly Cradle Death features Liu Xinyu from Chui Wan and Hefan from Birdstriking. The duo’s music super heavy and dark and has a little bit of hip hop tucked in there. At the tail end of a month-long tour of the U.S., having their friends in Birdstriking join for a few shows must have been a kick in the ass for Chui Wan, and this set was a real bonus for us.

Also note the poster showing a rough, black and white version of the show flyer featuring cool art by Miran Kim. How cool was my friend in France to let us use her painting to help kids in Chinatown?

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In case you haven’t been paying attention, this was our sixth show. The bands have ranged from arty to punk to psychedelic with the latest lineup, but the killer bake sale has been a constant.

The shows have also become a real community, with familiar faces of friends, family, and music lovers of all kinds. Above is filmmaker Dave Travis, who runs Cafe NELA, and artist Vicki Berndt. They are among the many very cool people who attend all the shows and donate awesome stuff to our raffle, and I should have taken a dozen more photos of pals who support the cause like that. They’re the best. smic6d-chuiwanback

Sometimes it takes seeing a band two nights in a row to really get them, and I’m really glad I went out to see Chui Wan at NELA the night before. Chui Wan has a complex music vibe with a rhythm section that has a real angular post punk edge like Public Image Limited or Gang of Four. They’re really dark and heavy but also fun and the live show is mind-blowing.

The band played songs off its just-released, self-titled LP that you should track down. If you missed the tour, look for it (and other rad music from Chinese bands) at faroutdistantsounds.com.

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Birdstriking were another ripping live band. I had been intrigued by the fact that the touring unit would feature two members of one of my favorite Beijing bands, Carsick Cars, but now I like Birdstriking even more! They have similar Velvet Underground riffs and Pavement melodies but angrier, political punk rock vocals. Awesome! Birdstriking is touring the U.S. all month and into July, so you should grab a chance to see them if you can before they had back to Beijing.

Tucked between the band and the Oriental windows in the photo below is Nate Pottker. He’s an audio producer, visual artist, musician himself, and good friend, and he has been a big part of Save Music in Chinatown since the very beginning. He does whatever he can to help, and at the Grand Star he helped to tame the room’s bare-bones sound.

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Did I mention that the Grand Star is a really cool location? It is not only one building over from Madame Wong’s and the Hong Kong Cafe, but the vibe of the upstairs room with a low ceiling and loud noise recalls the punk days of old, too. I couldn’t resist taking a photo in front of the old Hong Kong Cafe with Lisa from Frontier Records and Tony from Adolescents.

That’s DJ Loud Panda (Ricky Maymi from the Brain Jonestown Massacre) in the cowboy hat. He loves Chinese music to death and is responsible for getting so many up-and-coming, out-of-their-minds underground bands from Beijing to the U.S. We couldn’t have had Birdstriking, Chui Wan, or Deadly Cradle Death play our Chinatown show without his help.

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After Birdstriking played, Liu from Chui Wan approached me with a Dengue Fever cassette and asked me to introduce him to the band. It turns out he’s a huge fan of theirs, so I dragged him around the club and got all of the members to sign it. Yet as the Dengue Fever began their set, the Chinese bands were packing up their gear and rushing off to San Francisco. What a bummer, but Liu seemed stoked just to be there.

We’ve had some badass lineups at Save Music in Chinatown shows featuring legendary bands that played the Hong Kong Cafe in the ’70s and ’80s. Having underground musicians from China in Chinatown is totally cool for a completely different reason, but still perfectly fits the idea of underdogs coming together through a subculture and building a community.

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I still can’t believe Dengue Fever played our little show. I mean, they play much bigger venues and seem to be on NPR every other week, but seeing the six-member band cram onto to our modest stage and playing without monitors was rad. It was like seeing them play a house party or basement show with a lot of feedback, sweat, and family vibe. Amazing.

Although the band had donated as signed record to raffle off at one of our previous shows, I never dared to ask if they would actually play for us. But my friend Josh, who manages Dengue Fever, brought up the idea and how could I say no? And then it actually happened.

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Before the set started, bassist Senon talked a little bit about the importance of music education and how playing music benefits people of all ages, and then added that I wrote the first piece and took the first photos of Dengue Fever when they started. How cool is it to have been friends since then, witness the band not only remain intact but evolve so far, and then see them play our show?

I also love how the Castelar kids who attend our shows not only benefit from the dough raised that goes toward music eduction, but also get to see awesome bands like Dengue Fever, Birdstriking, Chui Wan, and Deadly Cradle Death carry their own gear up the stairs, set up their stuff, and play in small rooms. They see that music isn’t just played at the Hollywood Bowl or something that pop stars do. Hopefully, they’ll be inspired by the DIY aspects too. And see that the lamest of parents can put together a cool show!

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Thanks to everyone who attended, played, donated raffle goodies, contributed to the bake sale, spread the word, and helped make the show happen in any way. Thanks to Tony Quon of the Grand Star for giving us a new home as well Human Resources for giving us a great start. We couldn’t do it without everyone’s help.

All money that came in went straight to the cause, with the venues, bands, bake sakes, raffle goods, and everything else being donated to the Friends and Alumni of Castelar Elementary School, and through this year’s shows, we have been able to pay more than $10,000 of Castelar’s annual bill of $50,000 for music education. On top of that, and just as important in my opinion, we are raising awareness, getting people together, and building a scene. It would be rad if you joined us when we start again next school year.

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Did I mention that the shows are totally fun, too? Or that you can bring your family if they can handle it? Kids under 12 are free. Follow this blog or join the Facebook group page for information on upcoming shows…

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Save Music in Chinatown 6 recap with Dengue Fever, Birdstriking, Chui Wan, and Deadly Cradle Death at the Grand Star

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Photo: Marc Walker, Not shown: Zac and Ethan

Let’s pause for a moment and consider how unlikely and awesome Sunday’s benefit was. We had Birdstriking, Chui Wan, and Deadly Cradle Death,  underground bands from Beijing playing our little show in Chinatown. Headlining was Dengue Fever, a hometown band with a huge following that typically plays way bigger stages than ours. And then we had a new venue, the Grand Star Jazz Club, located in Chinatown’s main plaza and in spitting distance of the The Hong Kong Cafe and Madame Wong’s, legendary dives that inspired and informed our series of DIY concerts. Walking up the stairs from the main bar to the top floor with its low ceilings, small stage, and Oriental windows was not unlike entering O.G. school punk shows back in the day…

http://www.imprintculturelab.com/save-music-in-chinatown-6-recap-with-dengue-fever-birdstriking-chui-wan-and-deadly-cradle-death/

Save Music in Chinatown 6 on KCHUNG’s Crystalline Morphologies

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Thanks to my longtime friend and Save Music in Chinatown supporter from the beginning Gabie Strong. She invited Nate Pottker and me onto her Crystalline Morphologies radio show on KCHUNG to talk about the cause, play some music related to the shows, and get the word out about our May 31 lineup.

For the first time, I actually tried to scribble down mini sets to play. Here’s how they went:

Anarchy Jerks – Oi! Oi! Oi!
Adolescents – Monolith of Mountlake Terrace, A Dish Best Served Cold
Mike Watt & The Black Gang – Rebel Girl
Brain Failure – Living in the City
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Dengue Fever – Glass of Wine (demo)
The Zeros – Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White
The Gears – Let’s Go To The Beach
Channel Three – Indian Summer
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Birdstriking – TV at 7PM
Carsick Cars – Ono
P.K. 14 – Voyagers (I think)
Dear Eloise – Castle
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The Bicycle Thief – Max, Jill Called (Live at Save Music In Chinatown 4)

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I tried to play a Chui Wan song after Dear Eloise, but the CDR didn’t work. Bummer. Maybe you heard them on NPR lately anyway? I’ll try again on KXLU’s Molotov Cocktail Hour next week…

In the meantime, stream or even download the show at http://archive.kchungradio.org/2015-05-21/Save_Music_In_Chinatown_6-05.21.2015.mp3.

Thanks, Gabie! Thanks, KCHUNG! Seeya May 31!

Save Music in Chinatown 6 preview: An interview with Birdstriking’s Zhou Nairen

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How amazing  is it that rad underground bands from Beijing playing will be playing the next Save Music in Chinatown benefit? Zhou Nairen, the bassist from Birdstriking, answered some questions for us as the noise punk crew prepares for its first U.S. tour which includes our May 31 all-ages matinee at the Grand Star and a warm-up gig on May 30 at Cafe NELA.

MW: The album that’s being released here is new to us in the U.S. but old to you. How has your sound evolved since then? Are you playing newer songs as well?
ZN: Yes, we will play  new songs. And we’ve had a new guitar player since last year, so our sound is definitely changing–especially in our live performances. Our music has evolved to the next period and we have a different focus for our expression.

MW: You’re going to be joining Chui Wan when you arrive in the U.S. Have you been keeping in touch with them, seeing how things are going over here, and planning the Deadly Cradle Death set?
ZN: Yeah, we’re close and keep in touch all the time. We’ve known each other since both bands’ beginnings. We used to live together and have some other projects, such as Half Heavy Korean (Yan Yulong and me) and Deadly Cradle Death (He Fan and Liu Xinyu).

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MW: I think it’s cool that you’re hitting Olympia and I saw a K Records shirt in one of your portraits. Is that a pilgrimage? 
ZN: Haha, our drummer is a huge fan of Beat Happening and K Records, but he can’t attend the tour. So we have a guest drummer who is from Carsick Cars and also had a band with me before.

MW: Is there anything that the guys from P.K. 14, Carsick Cars, or other bands that have toured here have warned you about or told you to check out in the U.S.?
ZN: Not yet, but our vocalist He Fan is also in Carsick Cars, and I believe our tour manager, Ricky, can show us some great things. Also, my brother lives in Seattle and I hope to see him.

MW: I’m stoked you’ll be playing our benefit in Chinatown. As guys from China, what’s your take on Chinatowns?
ZN: This is gonna be a special. It’s our very first time playing in another environment of Chinese culture, so it will be powerful.

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MW: Our show is an all-ages matinee, so little kids are able to attend. Do you play many shows like that? Is it weird playing during the day or without alcohol?
ZN: Yes, we’ve played some shows like that in Beijing. I think it’s cool ’cause everyone, even the kids, can come to the show. I love to enjoy the sunshine during the day. Haha, we’re okay without alcohol.

MW: There’s a Bruce Lee statue next to the bar where you’ll be playing. Is he cool in China these days? Or is he just old-fashioned?
ZN: I think he’s kind of old-fashioned but, yeah, he’s still an icon in China and cool for sure.

MW: What are you most interested in bringing back from the U.S.? Records? Photos? Recipes?
ZN: Of course records, photos, videos… But I most care about the instruments.

Catch Birdstriking with Chui Wan and Deadly Cradle Death at Save Music in Chinatown 6 on Sunday, May 31 at the Grand Star Jazz Club in Chinatown. Headlining the show will be Dengue Fever. Get info on Facebook, tickets at EventBrite.

The Clash, The Ramones, Save Music in Chinatown

showsAfter decades of going to shows, even the raddest ones can become a blur. But a few stand out for any number of reasons…

http://www.imprintculturelab.com/the-shows-that-matter/

Save Music in Chinatown 6: Dengue Fever, Birdstriking, Chui Wan, Deadly Cradle Death

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I recently posted the Facebook event page and Eventbrite ticketing link for the next Save Music in Chinatown DIY benefit for music education at Castelar Elementary on Sunday, May 31 at the Grand Star. The all-ages matinee will feature my friends Dengue Fever, who used Cambodian garage rock as a launching pad and have crafted their own mind-blowing, genre-crushing, and danceable brand of music. Joining them will be very special guests, underground, psychedelic, and experimental rockers from Beijing, Birdstriking (featuring a He Fan from Carsick Cars), Chui Wan (in the country for the Austin Psych Fest), and a special set by Deadly Cradle Death (featuring members of Birdstriking and Chui Wan). As if that weren’t enough, DJ Loud Panda (Ricky from Brian Jonestown Massacre) will be playing killer Chinese rock in between bands. Rad!

Read more about the lineup at http://www.imprintculturelab.com/announcing-save-music-in-chinatown-6-dengue-fever-birdstriking-chui-wan-deadly-cradle-death/ and then get tickets if you’re down. I fully expect it to sell out.