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Tis the season for cozy clubs
By Brian Offenther

THE annual cold has taken hold in Shanghai, and much of the music is hibernating in parts unknown. Music fans awake in Shanghai might find themselves a little restless for the time being.

There are, of course, the regular reasons that the arts slow down in winter. The cold weather isn't as oppressive here as in other places, but even with weather just hovering around freezing, audiences are less willing to go out. As Sammy Cahn wrote, ironically, in a song, "Well the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful."

Shanghai also has a combination of factors that make the winter slowdown worse than other areas. A major factor is that the arts community contains a sizable proportion of expats. That's a group of people who both take the holidays to visit family abroad and are prone to travel when they can grab the days off work.

Even a cursory look at the music community could make for an interesting jam at airport for the coming days. Personnel from tour booking agency Legal Grey, rock bands Pairs, Death to Giants, and Girls Like Mystery, electronic music brand STD are all heading out of town.

So what's a Shanghai music fan to do? Here are a few suggestions.

Although big venues shy away from shows, this is the perfect time to check out cozy smaller rooms. For example, fireplace-size rock club 696 Live (No. 11-8, 1727 Sichuan Road N.) in Hongkou District has a bellyfull of events coming up.

The place is far out from the usual, both literally and figuratively, but that might give a welcome reprieve from the jingle bells. For example, on Sunday at 8pm, noise rock acts including Thruoutin and White Mouse will put on a show for just 30 yuan.

Intimate jazz clubs around town are also going strong, and you can expect many of the acts to be mixing in tunes from some of the early 20th century's best composers. Many of them, like Irving Berlin and George Gershwin, are some of the most adapted writers into jazz.

If you're going to snuggle by your fireplace - or more likely heater - doing so with a book is always a good move. The often-neglected Shanghai Library (1555 Huaihai Road M.) might have what you're looking for. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has his autobiography, "My Life," not to mention older works about Billie Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Miles Davis, guitarist Slash, and many more.

Finally, if you're looking for a present, even for yourself, check out the electronic market at 58 Yejiazhai Road (near Changshou Road). They have tons of CDs and records there at cut rates.

That's a lot of stuff, so no excuses. The beat goes on. Happy holidays!

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