As we approach the end of 2019, thetime is ripe to take a stepback and contextualize Beijing's ever-changing music landscape. While Gulou continues to be the epicenter for the scene, its days seem numbered, with more and more venues particularly those with larger capacities attracting wider Chinese audiences to further-flungparts of the city. Moreover, the traditionally gig-heavy weekend, while still ground zero for thecity's gigs, is slowly having to make way for weekdays asinternational bands put their money on Beijing's weekday warriors to fillseats and smaller local promoters try to drum up fervor among kids wanting tokickstart their weekend early.
No two endeavors have highlighted this shift more than Omni Space,the Temple of Heaven-adjacent venue that has slowly risen to become a stalwartfor Beijing's mid-sized gigs,and One Year,the scrappy promotion team that has turned School Bars midweek schedule into a hotbed of activity. This weekend, each celebrates their anniversaries (three and two, respectively) with an assortment of music to really dig your teeth into.
Omni Space - "If you build it, theywill come"
"We didnt think about Omni Spaces success too much, theres really no end to it. We just wanted to establish a place with high standards - in sound environment, sound quality, a good stage that could handle more than ten artists at the same time and accommodate as many kinds of music as possible," says Zuoye, founder of Omni Space. If he sounds modest, that'sprobably for good reason: while Omni had many things going for it a top-notch sound system and a decent floor spacethat could easily accommodate600-800 devoted fans its location initially seemed like a dud. Sat tothe west of the Temple of Heaven, Omni Space is hardly central Beijing territory and it was a big gamble to see whether fans would make the additional trek given it seemedhard enough to get people to gigs outside of the Gulou bubble.
But as a wise Kevin Costner once said, "If you build it, theywill come," and come they did. Go any given day of the week and dont be surprised to see a queue of eager fans snakingthe corner outside of the venue. It may have taken three years, but Omni Space has slowly become a drawcard forboth domestic heavy-hitters, established international acts, and up-and-coming bands through its monthly XIAN series.
"We can only hope to bring more and more interesting music to the Chinese market in the future," says Zuoye. With three years under his belt and a new generation of fans showing up in droves, wed say Omni Space is in good hands.
Whatto expectthis weekend
For their anniversary this Friday, Dec 6, Omni Space has whipped up a hell of a crowd-pleasing lineup. Leading the charge is a one-of-a-kind collaborative performance between indie post-rockers Glow Curve and the experimental free jazz ensemble Dreaming Julie. Joining them will be US indie-pop veterans Crocodiles, debutingtheir delirious blend of bittersweet noise rock and fuzzed-out garage rock in Beijing. Also on hand will be orchestral pop producer Li Xingyu and Whale Circus, the former's rotating and ever-expanding musical ensemble whose bread and butter islush, cinematic soundtracks. Its all rounded out by one of the summers biggest surprise: female indie-pop duo Sisi and Fan, who received a fair bit of press (and a horde of new fans) for their stint of this hit rock competition show The Big Band.
School Bar - Weekdays are the new weekend
Meanwhile, over at School Bar, Yang Yao AKA the "Little Weekend King" () under his promotional monikerOne Year has, over two years and 26 shows, earned a name for himself viaa run of riotous mid-week punk parties. Creative themes, some top-notch acts, and an opportunity to dip intoSchool Bar without the excess of the weekend crowd, One Year has in many ways redefined the weekday schedule for the Wudaoying venue.
"I became interested in what audiences really like, hanging out on the weekends to find thosebands that people would come see play onweekdays. It was clear pretty quickly that there area lot of people who prefer seeing good music on weekdays," explainsYao. That sense of curiosity soon turned into an enthusiastic wantto provide audiences with a different musical experience. Two fruitful years later and Yao admits that "There's no secret [to putting on a good show]except working hard, focusing on every detail beforehand and doing your best and of course, a well-designed poster." He'll put all that hard-earned knowledge intoatwo-night bash thisFridayand Saturday, Dec 6-7, featuring some of his favorite acts.
Whatto expectthis weekend
Night one kicks off with the rustic blues-ridden rockers Ghetto Blaster, the band that compelled Yao to start One Year in the first place: "My favorite band, Ghetto Blaster, is made up of my best friends. They werent able to get enough gigs at the time, so I figured I could arrange the shows myself to provide enough chances for the band."
Filling out Friday evening's lineup are tattooed ska outfit Underdog, rugged post-punk trio The White Papers, doo-wop veterans Candy Monster, and football fanatics-turned-punks Labour Glory. Saturday gets even more loose with a punk-heavy lineup that includes visiting Kunming punks Plastic, rambunctious XinxiangersPumpkins, local scrappers Hang Nail, kawaii core band Xiao Wang, and Wasted Laika.
Long live the Little Weekend King!
Omni and One Year are not the only ones having a ball this weekend.
New Noise is also celebrating10 years of touring some of the biggest rock bands on the planet.
Images: courtesy of the organizers