wechat sharing

Review: Li Daiguo at Yugong Yishan

Contemporary Chinese music can often feel dramatically polarized. On the “modern” side, one could lump all of the sugary KTV Mandopop and simultaneously rebellious and conservative Western-influenced indie rock. Then on the other, more “traditional” side, one could place all the folk, revolutionary period and classical Chinese music. It’s a rough split, admittedly, but one that speaks to the dramatic schism that Opening and Reform’s ensuing influx of Western culture has created within Chinese musical culture. Li Daiguo, an Oklahoma-raised ABC who has been based in China since 2004, offers a refreshing aberration to this bifurcated environment. His music, played on a mixture of Chinese and world instruments, joyfully mines numerous folk traditions, continuously pushing the boundaries that instruments like the erhu or pipa are generally held within. On a chilly Wednesday, he held captivated what was surely one of Yugong Yishan’s quietest audiences to date. Li is based in Chengdu, though he spends considerable time touring, and while living there, I was fortunate enough to see him play a dozen or so times. This extended exposure has allowed me to get beyond his virtuosic mastery and further into the probing, open-ended themes that his music explores. The mastery tends to leave most first-timers dazzled, and often blown away: a Li performance will involve any combination of huqin, hulusi and other increasingly obscure Chinese folk instruments, violin, clarinet, mbira, beatboxing that slides from hip hop to Four Tet-like electronica to tabla-mimicking Carnatic Indian beats and finally, almost casually, over-tone throat singing (from all accounts: an extremely difficult craft to learn). If all of this musicality were strewn together in a “look-at-me” medley of instrumental ostentation, most might probably forgive him. But Li’s performances have never been about showmanship; they are explorations of consciousness and the internal life, with pieces that leap purposefully from a Bach-like contrapuntal melodic line to rapid bluesy-riffing to screeching cat-claw white noise. Through it all, motifs of existential conflict, spiritual yearning and playful non-sequitur appear. Experienced live, his music is often rapturous, while never losing its sense of modest folk tradition exploration. Dressed on Wednesday in blue worker’s uniform, a red and white striped hat and his signature over-sized owl glasses, Li cut a figure somewhere along the lines of Where’s Waldo, Taoist sage edition. His first set was split between a pipa-like instrument and violin, his beatboxing and throat singing lending rhythmic agency to the sometimes serene, sometimes unnerving mood. His second set, featuring Beijing-based musician Mi, continued along this more theatrical vein, with Mi’s childlike scat and jibberish interspersed between her gorgeously high-pitched, folk minority-styled melodies. The two have played together for years, and their comfort with one another was clear, as Li slid easily into the background, while Mi, on accordion, lifted the mood to a place of confused hysteria and searching—a sonic exploration so germane to her generation’s current situation, yet one so rarely expressed in public. **Links:** Li Daiguo's Douban (most often updated): [http://www.douban.com/artist/love.betternonsequitur.com/](http://www.douban.com/artist/love.betternonsequitur.com/) Myspace (not as regularly updated): [http://www.myspace.com/specialaffection](http://www.myspace.com/specialaffection) Musician's website: [http://love.betternonsequitur.com](http://love.betternonsequitur.com)

TAG Beijing


IMG 8380 opt

By: Servethepets -

Adopt a Pet: Momma Zoe and Puppies
The puppy power is strong this month with not one or two, but five little pups awaiting a kind and loving family. Their mother Zoe was rescued from the streets about two months ago, massively...
Read More

By: YanMina -

Readers' Choice 2017: Beijing's Favorite Restaurants
At our recent City Weekend Readers' Choice Awards, we celebrated Beijing's favorite dining hotspots. Here's who won!  Outstanding American Slow Boat BreweryJudged based on its finger lickin’ good...
Read More

By: Robbinsadam -

Lit Launch: Round 2 with Spittoon
Back in the days before bricks locked our liquored memories behind new walls, a poetry night cried out its birth song in Baochao Hutong. Two years later, Beijing is a richer place for the the works...
Read More
Sri 20Lanka 20Food 20Promotion 20at 20Kerry 203

By: Cityweekend -

Hurry to Kerry Kitchen for a Taste of the Tropics
The weather in Beijing is tropical this week—why not eat that way? Kerry's Kitchen, at the lobby level of the beautiful Kerry Hotel, offers the tastes of Sri Lanka (and the chance to win a holiday...
Read More


Download App Now
Select your device platform and get download started
Add & Promote an Event
Tell everybody what's going on. FREE.

You've reached the limit of allowed deals. For more information

Contact us

You've reached the limit of allowed housing listing. For more information

Contact us