Greening Beijing

Last night, sodagreen took on Beijing.

Sodagreen is a pretty hot ticket at the moment, which I think it is fair to say we’ve noticed, but it turns out Beijing has noticed too. Drummer Xiao Wei, bass player Xinyi and lead singer Qingfeng all went to high school together, then they all tested into Chengchi University in Taipei, where they met electric guitarist A-kai (um… “A-kai”?) and guitarist A-fu. Last year, violist/pianist/dancer A-gong became the last to join. From their first formation as a student band in 2001 until today, sodagreen has put out five singles, four albums (ahem – three studio albums and one live album, more like), countless campus performances, and then last year at the 18th Golden Melody Awards they were named best band. Of course, they are also prominent on the nominations list for the 19th Golden Melody Awards. (Yeah, I’m not really sure why I just typed all that background. I mean, the article I started with began with it, but that doesn’t mean I have to follow… back to the concert now, really.)

Sodagreen’s fanbase on the mainland has been growing since the 2006 release of Microcosmos, and when their third album, Unparalleled Beauty, hit the mainland they caught the attention of students, professional musicians and reporters alike. (Okay, apparently I’m still in background mode, but case in point, the concert sold out without any real effort at publicity. Not a huge venue, but not bad by any means. There were reports that before the concert there were fans hanging around outside waiting for scalpers to show up with tickets, but even the scalpers couldn’t get them.) Of course, they have performed in Beijing before, just not in their own concert. Along with people like Cheer Chen, Gary Cao and Deserts Chang, sodagreen is bringing something new and refreshing to the Mandopop scene (damn right they are!). Of course, notes this report, there’s also the matter of Qingfeng’s unique and often amazing voice, which helps the band to cross genres easily. (This reviewer wishes, however, that he would use it to sing and not to talk – he calls it a fault of all Taiwanese artists that they spend waaaay too much time chatting with the audience.)

They opened the concert with “Unparalleled Beauty (無與倫比的美麗),” and as they pulled the audience into the music, before long they were all on their feet and waving their green lightsticks. Their second song, “Believe in Music (相信音樂),” was a fast number that allowed Qingfeng to cut loose. They all embraced the ridiculous, from a guitarist playing from his position prone on the stage to A-gong’s enthusiastic dancing. After a few songs, Beijing got a taste of what the reporter calls “Qingfeng’s alternative humor.” He asked that anyone taking photographs stop and simply enjoy the concert, but if they do take photographs and get pictures of unbearable expressions on the band members’ faces, then they really should not put them up on their websites, because he holds grudges, and if he sees ugly pictures of them online he’ll turn into a virus and destroy your computer. Something tells me that Qingfeng would be uniquely good at scaring small children into behaving.

Remember that a portion of the earnings from the concert is going to earthquake relief, and in honor of the victims in Sichuan, they sang Chang Yu-sheng’s “My Future Is Not a Dream (我的未來不是夢).” In all, they performed more than 20 songs. This is the first major concert to be held in Beijing since the earthquake happened.

An excited fan tried to explain to the reporter (clearly not all that familiar with the band) what was so appealing about sodagreen; said fan explained that the style suits young people’s taste – it’s not just that the music is good, but they also radiate a sort of intimacy and energy; it’s simultaneously like hearing a busker playing on an overpass and hearing an idol band on campus. A rather good description, I think… a big, shiny gold star for that fan.

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One Response to Greening Beijing

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