There is a catch of course, 40 RMB to get in to La Fabrique and drinks only stay cheap till 11 pm, but, that’s a better deal than just about anywhere else for those not in the city on expense accounts, and, once you’ve sunk a few cheap ones, you can get on down and enjoy one of the few nights in Shanghai where the music being played is not the usual cover band guff, commercial hip-hop or other cheesy shite pervading the scene here.
Leading the charge of minimal / glitch / microhouse / call it what you like / is Deutschlander Tootekool who goes head-to-head with leading Shanghai sonic soldier and master of electronic beats B6. The pair are well-known among those who like their music danceable but straying away from the well-trodden paths of vocal house, Cantopop and trance. They will be taking a break from their upstairs at Tang Hui parties and returning to La Fabrique to offer up a night of microhouse party dancing action under the moniker Toote6. Tootekool and B6 are both ranked 99,999 and 99,998th respectively in the Top DJ world ranking list, so put down yer Chivas and check these lads out.
Shanghaiist is a champion of the underground — we need more alternative music in this city, especially if Shanghai is to live up its dream of becoming a world destination. You can’t be a world destination without a vibrant arts community. It’s sometimes forgotten that the arts cover all the senses: theatres, galleries, concert halls, indie rock strongholds are just some of the essential ingredients.
But always overlooked, and invariably misunderstood, is electronic music, a catch-all term for a myriad of sub-genres which fundamentally changed the way people thought about music. It circumvented the traditional barriers to creativity — the need to learn to play an instrument, and unleashed the imagination of millions of minds all over the globe, changing music forever.
Go to any “world” city and you can find all manner of styles peacefully co-existing and cross-pollinating, creating the cultural cutting edges where new art forms and ideas are born for the corporate trend-spotters to steal and exploit in their advertising campaigns. But in Shanghai, the mainstream is overwhelming and the need for venue owners to pay high rents is stifling artistic freedom from commercial constraints too often.
But keeping beneath the mainstream radar musically, is a bit like being a Brazilian footballer in the face of European soccer — all skill, freestyle, free-flowing and almost reckless, thrilling flair, versus organized, disciplined, cynical and a dull but effective cookie-cutter strategy that says “fuck entertainment we just want to win”.
In Shanghai we can see abundant examples of this creativity v cynicism — the Brazillian-esque Tootekool and B6 letting loose their unfettered talents, versus the depressing presence of The Man, his obsession with profits above all, his philistine attitude to creating culture, and a “fuck entertainment we just want to make money” attitude which suffocates the dreamers of dreams who we all rely on to give us something new, to add colour to black-and-white everyday life.
B6 and Tootekool represent the new generation of Shanghai artists, a combination of Shanghainese and European influences, a perfect and almost ironic reflection of the symbiotic relationship between East and West that has shaped this city. They are inventing new traditions in a country in an unprecedented state of social flux, and in need of positive foreign influences unconnected with commercialism.
Together with the likes of Antidote, and the Phreaktion Drum and Bass nights, the scene is getting stronger, and what else can you call it but “underground”?
Toote6 is on at 9 pm Friday at La Fabrique, 8-10 Jianguo Zhong Lu, near Sinan Lu. 40 RMB entry includes 6 RMB drinks till 11 pm.
Also on Shanghaiist:
South American Micro
Micro: The all new dance sound of Shanghai