Toying around with Post Rock

A close friend and Chinese rock music blogger first introduced me to Soundtoy’s music back in 2009. At the same time she also shared mp3s of other prominent Chinese rock bands such as HedgeHog, Carsick Cars and the punk rock fashionistas of The Subs.   Things were in my favor that year as all of these groups headlined the 2009 Zebra music festival.  However, among my new collection of Chinese rock music I kept coming back to Soundtoy’s album “Most Wonderful Trip”.  I was really drawn to their melancholy lyrics, complex song structures, layering of guitars and funky bass lines.  As a bass player myself I was excited to hear a Chinese band doing some melodic bass tapping on tracks such as “未来/ Future”. Soundtoy had a really original sound and I was drawn in.

I tried to catch one of their shows last summer before but upon arrival I realized it was an acoustic set.  In the absence of electric bass and drums I decided against forking over 50 kuai and drank a beer by the doorway before pedaling away.  

Enough of interlude, lets get to last Friday’s show. I did my best to get over to Little Bar by 8:15 and the place was already packed to the gills. Sandwiched in the very back row I couldn’t even drink my beerlao without bumping elbows or knocking some poor girl in the back of the head.  The first few songs had a slower more “post rock” feel and the obstructed view made it impossible to see the bass player.  Some folks holding cans of coke and cigarettes filed out so I managed to squeeze up a little closer.  Once I could finally see the whole band the set really opened up.

They started playing some more experimental music with synthesizer intros and delving into new psychedelic territory that had a bit of “Texas Western” feel.  Whammy bars and slides gave the feeling of tumbleweeds and mesquite, and I don’t think I was a lone ranger in my admiration.  The formerly stoic crowd hooted and hollered shaking their heads and waving their hands to the rhythm.   Now it surely wasn’t dancing music but good to finally see a bit of reaction from the 350 + that were in front of me at stage center. Or perhaps this is just me being jealous of not being close enough to pick out the notes on the bass’ fret board.

 

The tempo picked up with some hard rock complete with screeching guitar solos coming to a climax before the encore.  The lead singer Qu Bo introduced a striking young woman in black leather gloves to the stage, to sing a duo.  I wasn’t sure if she was shy (or maybe it was the braces?) as her stage presence was a bit cold but she had a beautiful voice and everyone in the crowd began taking videos with their iphones.

With a set over 90 minutes, Soundtoy put on one of the longest shows I’d seen at Little Bar. They covered a wide range of musical territory and although they didn’t play the “未来” I did get to hear some bass tapping!  Overall it was great concert and I’m excited to see Soundtoy play again but their diverse style and large fan base is better suited for a bigger venue.

Elias Witman 

Soundtoy played Chengdu's Little Bar on Friday 13th January 2012. For further listening and more information on Soundtoy click here. Many thanks to Little Bar's Greenwall for the video.