New Wave

was a rock-free zone until the mid-1980s. But now, finds Alexis Petridis, local bands are winning a cult following – with the help of Pac-Man masks, corporate cash and a hatred of ‘Canto-pop’. From The Guardian:

The guitarist on stage at Beijing’s Mao Lifehouse club wears an enormous furry Pac-Man mask. He throws theatrical rock-star poses, their dramatic effect a little undercut by the fact that he’s backing a tiny girl in a flowing white dress singing the cutesy theme tune to a mid-80s Chinese children’s cartoon. The effect is bizarre, like seeing Pete Townshend playing the theme from Dogtanian and the Three Muskahounds. But the audience love it, and everyone except me seems to be word-perfect.

My whole evening has been a bit like this. For reasons I can’t quite get to the bottom of, every band performing here tonight is obliged to play a selection of 80s Chinese cartoon themes. At least it gives some sense of unity to a bill that otherwise seems to have been put together with the aid of a list of local bands, a blindfold and a pin. The tiny girl and the Pac-Man guy call themselves Milk and Coffee and sound not unlike a more winsome Saint Etienne, but they’re supported by a hardcore punk outfit, as well as a band called Too Koo, who have a bass player wearing a Newcastle United strip and a sound roughly approximate to Kasabian.

Here is a film of Beijing band New Pants (新裤子) via Youtube:

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