Maybe Mars Presents The Chinese Underground Tour with Richmond’s Amoeba Men

by | Nov 11, 2009 | MUSIC

There is an underground music scene in China and a few of their most influential bands are touring the United States. They are coming to The Triple on Broad Street tonight for one night only. We should go out and watch the show as this might be our only chance to see Chinese underground music worth talking about. – RVA

There is an underground music scene in China and a few of their most influential bands are touring the United States. They are coming to The Triple on Broad Street tonight for one night only. We should go out and watch the show as this might be our only chance to see Chinese underground music worth talking about. – RVA


The following is from

Maybe Mars Presents: A Showcase of the Chinese Underground. A formidable new wave of musicians has taken China’s music underground by storm. Working well outside government-controlled media channels they have, in the process, turned the ears of the international music community towards Beijing.

Maybe Mars and its sister club, D-22, have found themselves at the center of the burgeoning scene. The artists signed to Maybe Mars represent a fresh, independent voice in a country renowned for creative conformity and saccharine Cantopop. For now, China remains in a tense state between the socialist idealism of old and a drive for wealth spurred by free-market reforms. These contradictions tear at the country’s social fabric, while simultaneously provoking and inspiring younger generations to greater artistic heights, especially in the realm of music.

Given the brutal industrialization, destruction and reconstruction of China’s rapidly changing urban landscapes it is probably no surprise that Beijing musicians are heavily influenced by the no-wave sounds of New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They have nonetheless reconfigured this vocabulary to fit with Chinese opera’s traditional delight with textural experimentation and a centuries-long history of infatuation with shimmering melodic structures. With the sound of broken-down machines cranking out lovely pop songs, the unique sound emerging from China’s music underground aggressively questions the moral and social basis of the fragile modernity on which it subsists.

Maybe Mars is the youngest of the two leading Chinese independent music labels. It was started by musicians who had found a home at D-22, the rock club that is credited with giving crucial exposure and support to Beijing’s exploding music scene. In its two years of existence, it has already signed 24 folk, rock, experimental and noise musicians and bands, including most of the artists at the forefront of China’s music underground.

For the first time, three Maybe Mars artists – P.K. 14, Carsick Cars, & Xiao He – will appear on American shores.

Artist descriptions:

P.K 14 – Ask any of the younger bands about their influences and it is pretty obvious that P.K.14 has had the biggest impact of any local band on the growing Beijing scene. However, their artistic intensity and the care with which they write their songs do not keep them from completely rocking out, and their shows in China and abroad regularly receive critical acclaim. Often referred to as China’s best underground band, P.K.14, more than any other band, set the stage for the Beijing musical explosion.

Carsick Cars – One of the most widely admired bands in Beijing’s underground, Carsick Cars have played major festivals and concerts in China and abroad with the likes of Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Ex Models and These Are Powers. Employing the ferocious aural attack of one of China’s most brilliant guitarists and composers, Shouwang, they tear through their beautifully crafted songs in a thrilling but almost religious orgy of violence. Carsick Cars, whose “Zhong nan hai” is considered the anthem of Chinese countercultural youth, just released their second CD this summer, which was produced by Wharton Tiers, who also produced CDs for Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca, and Dinosaur Jr.

Xiao He – In recent years Xiao He started reaching deep into the surreal folk traditions of a fast-disappearing China in much the same way Tom Waits immersed himself in the apocalyptic Christian mythologies of the American Deep South. With his combination of southern Chinese mysticism and Beijing gruff he has created a strange, stirring vision of a 19th-century China crashing violently into a 21st-century China of boiling rivers and crumbling factories. Xiao He has released many CDs over the years but continues to astonish audiences, including one recently at the Barbican in London, with his progressively eclectic sound that draws upon traditional instrumentation and vocal arrangements looped within his live performances.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

RVA culture rag since 2005. #RVA

more in music

RVA Shows You Must See This Week: December 7 – December 13

FEATURED SHOW Friday, December 9 & Saturday, December 10, 6 PM (both nights) The Final Ghost Of Pop Night One: Deli Kings, Prabir Trio, Danger Birds, Tiny Lights, The Fake Smiles, Rikki Rakki, Jonathan Brown, Alex Dimas Night Two: Zepp Repp, Madferit, 1996...

A Bit of Stasis: An Interview with Palmyra

On a cold Tuesday afternoon I found myself sitting around a poker table with the three members of one of my favorite local bands, Palmyra. Although the table was not set for us to play, I was hosting a game later that evening, the image was still rather amusing to me...

RVA Shows You Must See This Week: November 30 – December 6

FEATURED SHOW Saturday, December 3, 7 PM Alabama Thunderpussy, Suplecs, Loud Night @ Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House - $20 in advance, $25 day of show (order tickets HERE) I must admit, I never thought this day would come. Then again, I never thought I'd see...

RVA Mag’s Black Friday Richmond Music Video Roundup

We get sent a lot of music videos by local groups here at RVA Mag. And of course, since we are always trying to keep track of what’s happening in the local music scene, we stumble across a whole bunch of videos on our own time. The result is an ever-growing list of...

RVA Shows You Must See This Week November 23 – November 29

FEATURED SHOW Saturday, November 26, 8 PM Holy Roller (Photo by Joey Wharton), Chris Leggett & The Copper Line, Drew Foust @ The Camel - $12 in advance, $15 day of show (order tickets HERE) That extended end-of-year season known as "The Holidays" has officially...


Pin It on Pinterest