Closed! Shut down! Locked and dark! The MAO Livehouse is gone! That place of underground feeling that welcomed one with cheap(?) booze and rocking shows! In the years 2007 and 2008 I spent most of my rock-laden nights at this venue, in search for the kick of the night and a spirit I found mostly lost in Western music: real anger and passsion. Aggressivity and melancholy. It was here that I saw The Falling, that we started a mosh pit for Surprise, that we enjoyed a packed house for Tookoo’s A Distance for 7 Years release. It was one of the venues that opened their doors for the foreign bands that stranded in Beijing in May 2008 after the final cancellation of the Midi festival. And it was just a couple of months ago, that I sat with the folks of Painkiller and MetalCon in the shabby upper part for a beer and smoke to discuss the start of another journey in our musical life. Gone are these times and it seems that also the very location it all happened has been closed for good.
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A declaration of independence from the chains of wrongly-understood Beijing Rock
Since the founding of D-22 in 2006, the international press has started a hype around bands frequently performing in this location at WuDaoKou; the bands, the sound, the scene around D-22 and the No Beijing movement all do not justice to such a pushed hype.
Here is to the why!
Released in October 2005, the record No Beijing had its mental roots in the No Wave scene of New York and contained the early rock bands Carsick Cars, The Gar, White-2j and Snapline. Four very close bands doing similar kind of music. Four bands that sooner than later would enter the stage of D-22 and perform on a regular basis in this little venue down the students’ district of Beijing. Other bands, such as AV Okubo, Joyside, PK 14 and Queen Sea Big Sharks would soon enter the same circle and receive a memorable monument in form of a printed photograph lining up the wall of the club. It was not much later that Maybe Mars was founded by the owners of the D-22, promoting their “house” bands and releasing their debut records, e.g. “Party is over, pornostar” by Snapline or Carsick Cars self-titled debut. Later on, some of “their” bands first went to Europe on individual tours, as e.g. Carsick Cars with their Sonic Youth connection, and later were shipped out en masse by Maybe Mars via their Showcase of the Chinese Underground 2009 to the USA. Further label work was added by e.g. Michael Pettis and his review of Carsick Cars in the Esquire magazine as well as the photographing work of D-22’s “house photographer” Matthew Niederhauser, who published his book Sound Kapital with showcases in galleries all over China.
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