We don’t feel right doing many concert reviews, mainly because of our relationships with the bands, and the realization after years of live shows that the quality depends as much on the venue, backline, PA, sound guy, etc…as it does the band. Plus we don’t like to judge people who are capable of doing things we can’t (clarification: we don’t like judging people we think are cool, we have no problem judging all you uncool bastards out there because we rely on our precious ego and sense of superiority to make waking up each day worth it). But all said n’ done, we believe that criticism is important for the growth of the music scene and would like to start a regular post of audiencegenerated reviews. This morning we got an email from Ian Louisell with a nice recap on the performances of PK-14 and 21 Grams last weekend at 4Live:
21 Grams and PK-14 or Sonic Art Machines and People Jumping Around With Guitars.
Last night 4-Live hosted Shanghai’s 21 Grams and Beijing’s PK-14 for a night of experimental rock and post-punk with solid drumming and occasional, but sparse glimmers of raw power. A decent turnout with about a 40:60 Chinese-to-laowai ratio provided some reassurance to the idea that Shanghai can support an indie scene. Some shoe gazed while others catapulted about whenever possible, the latter raising the mood when energy ran a bit dry onstage. Overall, while hardly the best of their respective genres, some rock n’ roll is always better than no rock n’ roll.
21 Grams – 5/10
At times sounding like the Japanese outfit Boris, the drummer held it down while the guitarists and bassists took a high-as-fuck road trip out to the chord wilderness for often much too long. Of course, no avant-garde troop could feel complete without a keyboardist. Placed front and centre with the affect of a suicide-watch patient, this girl stared at the keys like it was some kind of magic music machine for which she had lost the instruction manual, producing maybe twenty seconds of noise during the whole show.
Aside from the bassist, no one in the band appeared to enjoy his or her labor most of the time. While this was probably part of the quiet-storm in the modern art museum vibe they definitely tried to project, this kind of behavior does not create a quality live show. Only every third or fourth track did the crew burst out from their museum piece forms for a few rewarding minutes that almost made some of the buildup worthwhile.
PK-14 – 6.8/10
Post-punk? Perhaps. Though perhaps the bass wasn’t quite high enough in the mix for this sub-genre deeming, the drummer held it down as mechanically and brilliantly as Josef K or Joy Division. Overall, the band could have taken their sound a few steps heavier. Their excellent stage presence allowed for some forgiveness however.
If someone had never seen a rock show before, this may have really amazed, but after seeing dozens of bands do this routine harder and better, this was not the case. Much like the first band, PK-14 only reached their high-points a few times in the night, but they compensated with persistent energy and fun stage antics 21 Grams so desperately lacked.
Photo by Ian Louisell
Abe Deyo is Shanghaiist’s Music Editor. Email tips, recommendations, news and gossip about Shanghai’s music scene to music at shanghaiist.com.