Shanghai Garden – indie music grown in the Far East !!


Text by Sean Hockings

Shanghai is better known as more of a champagne club and disco town these days than an epicenter of live music.

That said there are a couple of venues in the city that cater to local bands and whosoever may be coming through town: MaO House & Yuyintang, more about them later.

Shanghai has seen a number of homegrown acts do well on the Chinese national scene but the scene is still fairly insular and not helped by Bjork’s outspoken comments on Tibet

when playing in 2008. The authorities in China have long memories and we’ve noticed that most of the overseas acts coming through the city since her outburst have been more middle of the road than mid-west American FM radio – perfect for the expo audience type.

But look hard and there’s always a few rays of hope out there.



Metal Postcard’s favourite new band out of Shanghai. We first came across them when we were told about a band out of the city that sounded like Rhode Island’s infamous Lightening Bolt. On listening to some admittedly pretty basic mp3’s we’re already convinced. They also remind us of the squall that was the Jesus & Mary Chain’s first single. Reports are coming in that live they are pretty out there. Don’t be surprised if Pairs make the metal postcard catalogue fairly soon.

Duck Fight Goose

Great name and great band who describe themselves as Death Ray Rock although actually this lot are far more than that. DFG are one of the most interesting if not the most interesting band treading the boards in China at the moment. We haven’t seen them live yet but listening to their webpage it sounds as though a bunch of back hill Chinese folk musicians have fallen into a blender that contains equal parts Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, late era Blur and Sonic Youth.

Boys Climbing Ropes

To be honest they don’t do much for me but if you like your rock straight up they’ll probably be ok for you.

Streets Kill Strange Animals

What a great name! They deserve to be mentioned just for their name although their post punk rock sound needs a little jazzing up before they fall into the same trap as many Chinese bands and it disintegrates into a plodding morass reminiscent of cold porridge.


MaO House

The main live music venue in Shanghai. Their website is a waste of space except for the mildly useful map:

CNN Go has a small piece on the place when it opened (

We hear nowadays that this is where you’ll find the standard expat gig going crowd when a Beijing or overseas band is in town/


This venue is home to Shanghai’s burgeoning underground DIY music scene.

Address and contact:



Andy Best’s blog is probably the closest you’ll come to a bible for music in Shanghai. He’s lived in the city for the past decade, loves the homegrown diy music culture and updates pretty regularly on the latest shows and releases on a weekly basis. Always my first stop to see what’s happening this month in Shanghai.

We can’t leave you without mentioning hardworking local Promoters!!!

Split Works who appear to work with just about anyone to try and get live music on stages in Shanghai and they’ve even managed get Diplo into the country!

Read also: Hong Kong Garden – indie music grown in the Far East!!