IF the music isn't making people mad," says William McKeen in his introduction to rock-writing anthology "Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay" (2000), "it isn't rock and roll." Ironically, that quote is antiquated. It feels staid. It's something a middle-aged or older guy nostalgically relieving his glory days says with a chubby grin. There's nothing wrong with this guy, per se. But it sure does contradict the sentiment of what's said.
Two Saturdays - the last and the upcoming - are bringing a bit of that spirit back, each in its own way.
Last Saturday brought Rolling Bowling from Beijing. The band plays mostly rockabilly, which is a style of twangin', country-influenced rock 'n' roll. The acoustic double-bass gives a visceral and satisfying "wack!" that electric basses replace with a synthetic sound.
The guys in Rolling Bowling have a similarly authentic feel to them: They have rough voices, tough guy duds, are covered in tattoos and range from gangly to muscular. To get right to it, Rolling Bowling is a sexy act. If you don't believe me, the female fans who come to all their shows that scream and dance while they play are a great indication.
Their show last Saturday at Yuyintang (851 Kaixuan Rd) wasn't as pulsing as their shows back in their native Beijing, but it did get the nice-sized crowd revved up. The band has grown by leaps and bounds, introducing new tricks every few months that have really given them a versatile sound, all layered with a smoky croon or fierce yell. People dance in a different way when listening to rock 'n' roll - it's less in the limbs and more in the gut - and I could tell some weren't really experienced in that.
If the previous band introduced the "roll" to the occasion, then this coming Saturday night at Yuyintang the "rock"will be brought in when The Frantic Fevers take the stage.
Previously, Trash A Go-Go, an event group I was a part of, brought this garage rock band from Tokyo over to Shanghai to play.
This time I'll be DJing at the show, but purely as an excuse to get closer to the action (I have no financial interest in it).
Presenting danger in music is a difficult task, as what seems on its surface less dangerous than art? But The Frantic Fevers break on through like few I've seen, putting their bodies on the line, diving from the stage to the ground knees-first, screaming their voices out, swinging their guitars with abandon. And, unlike some groups of that style, they make glorious if cacophonous music as they do it.
Just as interestingly during the show, watch the edges of the crowd. People will be aghast at the violence, musical or otherwise. People will walk at this show, and as they do, they'll be wondering, "What the heck is that?"