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Monday, November 30, 2009

Raw Chinese Punk at the Ding Dong

P.K. 14

NEW YORK, November 20 – Three Chinese bands traveled almost 7000 miles from Beijing to rock the Ding Dong Lounge on the Upper West Side. The venue was tiny sliver of a New York store front, and the stage was just a six foot wide alcove in the back. It looked like a basement with exposed brick walls and the haphazardly improvised wires and sound cables. The place was ideal for a raw punk show.

The night opened with Xiao He. He performed a one man experimental techno fusion show complete with electronic beats, commercial samples, and chanting. It was a bizarre cacophony of sounds from his laptop. The music rode a wave of orgasmic peaks and valleys. It was completely trippy.

Carsick Cars

Carsick Cars followed with a post punk set. The band managed to produce an awesome sound with dueling melodies between the guitar and bass. It was eerily reminiscent of Joy Division or early New Order. Scott Schultz, writer for the L.A. Record, said that the sound reminded him of Peter Hook’s bass work. They completely rocked the tiny bar.

The band had a huge pedal set-up for guitar and vocal effects. The venue was not set-up to handle the incredible amount of equipment with the sound cables passing thru so many devices. In one of the songs, an effects pedal completely cut off the microphone, and the band basically played the rest of the song as an instrumental rendition.

P.K. 14

The headliner of the night was P.K. 14, an older Beijing punk group. They have been pioneers in the Chinese music scene with the promotion of a harder punk influence. Their sound was more straight punk with driving beats and simple melody. Yang Haisong’s vocal range and timbre are very similar to Ian McCulloch of the Echo and the Bunnymen. Some of their more radio friendly songs reminded me of the Talking Heads. They had a strange quirkiness. However, their straight forward hard punk tunes were the biggest hits with the small local punk crowd.

It was one of the most thrilling nights of raw punk music in the city. P.K. 14 and Carsick Cars completely rock the Ding Dong Lounge with a sound reminiscent of the late 70s post-punk sound.

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