Article by Dave Wright
The EXPO festival has come back for a second go after a very successful debut last year. It will once again take place at the Horticultural Expo grounds, an ideal venue for an outdoor festival. With only two stages, it can’t boast the number of bands seen at Strawberry, but those coming make it well worth the 200 RMB (per day) entrance fee. And any opportunity to spend time outside before the dark descends upon us really ought to be taken.
二手玫瑰 (Secondhand Roses)
If you go for no other band, go for this one. Quite possibly the most talented band in China, 二手玫瑰 incorporate layers of sound you would never think possible all while commanding the stage with a presence worthy of the Rolling Stones. Lead singer 粱龙 may dress more conventionally than in the early days of the band when he often came out in traditional Chinese opera garb, but his voice has lost none of its effect. Their single 命运 released in July is evidence that the time since their last album has not left them rusty.
For anyone who wants to make his or her ears bleed, the Green O2 (aka ‘Heavy’) Stage will not disappoint. It’s going to be two days of nonstop double bass, screaming guitar mayhem, culminating with the talented Hatesphere. Hailing from Denmark, the band was first formed in 1998 by guitarist Peter Hansen, the only member who has stayed with the project for its duration. The current lineup has played together for the past five years, releasing three albums during that time, most recently New Hell (2015). As veterans of European metal shows like Hellfest and Wacken Open Air, expect performers who know how to command attention and get the pit rolling, a fitting end to a weekend of rock.
舌头 – 光音16 September 11
It’s difficult to define the sound that 舌头 (Tongue) creates. There are elements of funk, punk and hard rock, but it is such an eclectic mix and so effectively presented that the only band they really sound like is themselves.Their songs are often described as a blend of hypnotic driving rhythms and poetry. Their most recent album 原始人爱空调协会 (The Association of Primitive Men Who Love Air Conditioners) came out just last month, and is the first release with their new drummer. The last time they were in Xi’an was 2014 so expect a large crowd.
战斧 – Midi Livehouse September 25
战斧, or Battleaxe, formed in 1992 and was one of the first heavy metal bands in China. Their early sound had obvious grunge influences with songs like 天葬 that are reminiscent of early Melvins. As they progressed, the band moved more towards groove metal while retaining elements of their sludgy past, evidenced in rhythmic breakdowns that could come from a Pantera song. The band is famous for live shows that command the audience’s attention so expect a large, rowdy crowd. They are currently touring the country in support of their new album 深海(Deep Ocean).
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