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Free music hits right note with audience
By Brian Offenther

There's no such thing as a free lunch. There is, however, such a thing as free music, and that was on display in recent days in Shanghai, when everybody's pocket stayed a bit more full than they otherwise would.

The most festive of these was Fete de la Musique, celebrating the solstice, though largely taking place on and around last weekend.

Fete de la Musique - also known as World Music Day - originated in France in 1982. While the format is different all over the world, the concept is the same: music events - all free.

Now celebrated in 32 countries, it has brought bunches of musical notes to Shanghai over the past three years. This year, a dozen or so venues got in on the act, hosting gigs by musicians flown in from France, plus local-based artists.

DClub (738 Changyang Rd, near Tongbei Rd) on Saturday night saw a show headlined by the 88's, a hard rock band fronted by French expat Pheel, who also owns the venue. The crowd, mainly consisting of French expats, ate up the band's swaggering attack.

Things then got even more hyped when they were joined by French singer Lola and performed a medley of popular rock songs from the 1970s through to today. It was a performance seemingly concocted in a lab to appeal to every demographic, and it succeeded.

Somewhat less calculated, T-Plus and DJ Caution, the duo who perform at the weekly old school hip hop Come Correct night on Wednesdays at Shelter (5 Yongfu Rd, near Fuxing Rd W.), are due this week to release their "Come Correct Mixtape Vol. 1." The weekly show and mixtape are both free.

A certain lack of foresight can't be overstated. Sure, the duo has been hyping to this columnist that the album would be released for months, but then announced that it will be released only one week in advance.

That's only surmounted by the fact that they won't be able to promote the release as much as they would like as DJ Caution will be spending July on tour in the US, with T-Plus holding it down in Shanghai in his absence.

But, the show must go on, and that spontaneity is part of the crew and night's charm. Because of its underground location and aesthetic, it just feels on the ledge.

It is consistent where it counts though, and the mixtape displays that, with quality hip hop linked together by DJ Caution's mixes and scratching, and T-Plus's MCing.

Music events and releases for free is great in that it invites people with a lack of resources or who don't want to commit their hard-earned money to check things out.

It is, however, an unsustainable model. Hopefully, it will be the kick-start people need to get - and stay - involved.

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