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Local Rock 101: The Beijing Bands You Should Already Know About

Chinese music has come a long way since the East is Red. And we're not talking about screechy Mando-pop either. That few local acts have broken the international radar doesn't mean it's a total sonic wasteland here in Beijing. We've picked out ten songs that have totally rocked Beijing, past and present.

**[Check here for Beijing's hottest bands of 2011](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/articles/blogs-beijing/the-beat/the-year-in-rock-hottest-bands-of-2011/)
[Also listen to the best underground bands in the city](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/articles/blogs-beijing/the-beat/ten-chinese-band-just-under-radar/)**

**Carsick Cars | 中南海 (Zhong Nan Hai)** One of the few local acts to break the indie scene abroad. They played SXSW and opened for Sonic Youth, so it's no wonder Carsick Cars has had a huge impact on the local underground. You've probably heard them at any major festival, but then came the departure the bassist and drummer—a good two-thirds of the band. CsC is still soldiering on. [http://site.douban.com/carsickcars](http://site.douban.com/carsickcars)

**Hedgehog | 玩儿具和61儿童节 (Toy & 61 Festival)** Cute and quirky indie rock doesn't get better than this. Also known for their sugar-pop rush, they've since evolved a darker, more adult sound. Despite their change in tone, nobody can deny the adorableness of their pint-sized female drummer Atom—we especially loved her and her accordion at the 2010 Strawberry Festival. [http://site.douban.com/hedgehog/](http://site.douban.com/hedgehog/)

**Hanggai | 酒歌 (Drinking Song)** We almost thought of leaving out these Mongolian folk rockers—really, who hasn't heard of these guys by now? But then again, this is THE band where laowai start developing their taste for throat singing. And Hanggai's stage presence has only been getting better and better, thanks to their tours around the globe. [http://site.douban.com/hanggai](http://site.douban.com/hanggai)

**Re-TROS | My Great Location** In the vein of Gang of Four (and we're not referring to Madame Mao). Rebuilding the Rights of Statues has captured the angsty spirit of post-punk, and has received considerable attention from abroad, culminating in an appearance at SXSW and collaborating with Brian Eno. [http://site.douban.com/retros](http://site.douban.com/retros)

**New Pants | Bye Bye Disco** Indie electronica, with some punk, synth-pop and new wave thrown in. They've been around for fifteen years, but we probably like them for their slick look, bonkers stage performance and awesome music videos with homemade robots. All of which add up to a unique, colorful addition to the typically gritty Beijing rock scene. [http://site.douban.com/newpants](http://site.douban.com/newpants)

**P.K.14 | 燥眠夜 (Sleepless Night)** The original line-up has gone through some changes, but the quiet intensity of frontman Yang Haisong is the one thing that never changes. They don't play often, but Yang now produces lots of up-and-coming bands (including Pairs from Shanghai). And unlike many other bands, this band sings entirely in Chinese, even though they now have a laowai drummer. [http://site.douban.com/pk14](http://site.douban.com/pk14)

**Shanren | 三十年 (30 Years)** Finally. A folk band NOT from Inner Mongolia (but keep it coming, Nei Menggu). These multi-instrumentalists from Yunnan are just as likely to pick up a flute as they are a guitar--and will steal your heart with their catchy tunes. We are also totally digging the gorgeously animated music video that goes with this particular song. [http://site.douban.com/shanren/](http://site.douban.com/shanren/)

**Queen Sea Big Shark | Money F*cker** Let it be said this band has a degree of technical prowess, but the real star of the show is Fu Han, one of the first strong female vocalists in indie electronica. Her hypnotic gyrations and general bad-assery makes this band a total must-see live. [http://site.douban.com/queenseabigshark](http://site.douban.com/queenseabigshark)

**Miserable Faith | 不要停止我的音乐 (Don't Stop My Music)** These long-time rockers might sound more laid-back these days, but never doubt how hard-core these guys actually are. Their performance at Midi Music Festival 2010 was the stuff of legends: power cut due to heavy rains, other bands headed for the exit, yet Miserable Faith stayed and pulled off [an impromptu unplugged performance](http://beijingdaze.com/general/2010/05/05/heroes-of-the-day-miserable-faith-brings-midi-to-an-end-and-what-a-glorious-one-it-was/) that whipped what was left of the crowd into a frenzy. [See the video](http://www.tudou.com/v/PjYF4wrtdsY/v.swf) of that night. [http://site.douban.com/miserablefaith](http://site.douban.com/miserablefaith)

**Tang Dynasty | 太阳 (Sun)** One of China's first "metal" bands. The band has an early 90s sensibility with long, flowing locks--and we can't get enough of lead singer Ding Wu's beautiful voice and earnest looks. It's also notable for the addition of Chinese-American Kaiser Kuo back in the day.

**Cui Jian | 一无所有 (Nothing To My Name)** Dubbed the father of Chinese rock, although at this point, he probably should be known as the grandfather of said rock. Cui Jian started out as a classical trumpet player, but became seduced by the sounds coming out of the West and created a distinctive hybrid between rock and Chinese folk. He also has an obvious association with one major event in Chinese history.

TAG Beijing


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