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Duck Fight Goose finding a new rhythm
By Brian Offenther

IN December 2011, Shanghai rock band Duck Fight Goose released their album "Sports" to great acclaim. What great acclaim, you may ask?

"I think that album is the greatest thing by anyone, anywhere in a very long time," said Enrique Maymi, veteran of venerated garage rock band The Brian Jonestown Massacre, on slinkrat.tumblr.com (a website run by Xiao Zhong of Shanghai band Pairs).

It's a good fit, as Maymi has been a vocal fan of contemporary Chinese underground music, and Duck Fight Goose - unusual for a Shanghai band - is in the vanguard.

But it will be impossible for Maymi, or anyone else for that matter, to hear those songs live for at least the next year - or perhaps ever. So says Duck Fight Goose leader Han Han (note celeb fans, not the famous blogger and racing car driver).

I spoke to Han Han recently at local rock club Yuyintang (851 Kaixuan Rd) where Duck Fight Goose had just played.

Another recent gig was supporting influential British post-punk veterans Gang of Four at Mao Livehouse (308 Chongqing Rd S.) in March. These shows were the band's first in months and both had something in common: They didn't play any of their old material.

Something else in common: There was no sign of drummer Damen. She has left the band, recently moving to Austin, Texas, with her husband, former Duck Fight Goose manager, Brad Ferguson.

Damen's distinct, sparse style left such an impression on Duck Fight Goose that with her departure they no longer feel right playing material written with her, says Han Han.

So the new-look Duck Fight Goose features drummer CJ, with a style very different from Damen. The Frenchman is a jazz music fan new to China. Not only had CJ never heard of Duck Fight Goose, many rock icons - including a certain top hat wearing Guns N' Roses legend his band are supporting next week - had also passed him by.

Still, he is finding his footing with the band, as their short recent sets suggest. CJ's active style is in stark contrast to Damen, characterized by complex time signatures and using his entire drum kit. This provides a counterbalance to Duck Fight Goose's new stylistic leanings, which feature a simpler, more direct sound.

When his band would previously layer sound over sound, people would still only latch on to one or two of them, Han Han said. So now the band will limit themselves to what the audience can hear, he explained.

How Duck Fight Goose explore these ideas will be something to watch over the next few months. But don't give up completely on their old, critically acclaimed material. Han Han said they might play it again - in a year.

Duck Fight Goose is playing tonignt at 7pm, at the Muse Mixing Room, part of the Mercedes-Benz Arena (1200 Expo Ave, Pudong). Tickets are 980 yuan (US$158).

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