So, why do heavy bands employ the devilish double dot? To quote Spinal Tap guitarist David St. Hubbins (not to be confused with Shanghai-based English-language magazine freelancer, David Hubbins): “It’s like a pair of eyes. You’re looking at the umlaut, and it’s looking at you.” Spinal Tap, incidentally, also rocks the umlaut, but it’s over the “n” — and since that combination doesn’t exist in any language, it can’t be replicated on this page — at least not using our version of Word. (Tap fans will also be aware that there is no dot over the “i” in the group’s name).
With all this in mind, we were more than a little disappointed to discover that British five-piece Maxïmo Park, who play 4 Live (formerly Fabrique) on December 9, aren’t metal at all! They’re more like, um, “post-punk” or “new new wave”. Think Franz Ferdinand. Arctic Monkeys. That kind of stuff. And they’ve been on the end of some high praise for their debut album, A Certain Trigger, released last year. The folks over at music review website Pitchfork, generally a grumpy bunch of UK-bashers, gave the album 8.4 out of 10. (Check out Pitchfork’s review of the new Jet album, for an example of how scathing they can be …)
Why are Maxïmo Park touring China (they’re also playing Beijing)? In an interview with NME lead singer Paul Smith said:
This band has allowed us to take our music to some far-flung places, as we attempt to connect with people on a mass level. China is beyond our wildest dreams, in terms of playing songs that we wrote in our bedrooms in Newcastle! It’ll be interesting to see how people react to the new songs in our set, since no-one will have seen us play any of them before, new or old.
Shanghaiist thinks it will be interesting to see how people react to any of the songs in the set, or if, in fact, they react at all. But maybe we’re underestimating the Maxïmo Park fan base. Hope so!
Some final questions. Will Maxïmo Park actually play? Probably not — last-minute withdrawals are par for the course at the moment. Will we be buying tickets? Definitely — even if we’re a bit tired of their particular sound, Maxïmo Park are still one of the higher-profile international bands to tour recently. Will more tickets be sold than for Robin Gibb’s “return” gig a few weeks ago? Couldn’t be hard, from what we heard.
And last but not least, what about the non-metal usage of the umlaut? We’re prepared to give Maxïmo Park the benefit of the doubt, if only because one of our greatest heroes, Jim Henson, once launched a breakfast cereal called Cröonchy Stars, based on the Swedish Chef muppet.
“Der umlaut is okey-dokey!”
Maxïmo Park play 4 Live on Saturday, 9 December. 9pm-late. Tickets: 120 RMB. Tel: 6415-0700. The band plays Beijing, 7 December, at the Xingguang Live (Star Live) Music Hall (010-6417-7845).
Video: “Going Missing”, the first single from Maxïmo Park’s debut album.