World Music

I’ve been exposed to a lot of Chinese music these days – most of it in taxis, but also cafes and restaurants. Interestingly, I discovered that the concept of ‘world music’ as cool has come to Tianjin.

There is a little underground cafe, in the XiaoBaiLou gallery. I sat there one morning for about an hour, sipping on my cup of ‘charcoal cofeee’ (which was a sort of slightly sour latte – 10 kuai).

I was reading a book, and not paying much attention to the music, but then I heard it was no longer Chinese. A woman’s voice was repeating ‘aligato, aligato’. I started listening: international selection. Japanese, Chinese, then Italian, and even a French song. All in the ‘So Frenchy so chic’ international lounge style, in line with the minimal-cute East Asian aesthetics of the place.

A few days later, I heard a man’s mobile phone ringing – a brazilian tune: ‘voce voce… cançao, cançao’. Judging on the man, there was even something slightly daggy about it…

Beijing musos

After dinner, Kenyen, Niklas and me had a walk around the bars of Houhai. With night falling, the atmosphere had suddently changed. Neon lights had taken over, and the sofas, empty during the afternoon, were beginning to fill.

Most of the bars had live music. I stopped a few times, hearing sirupy pop sung by all sorts of formations which – I felt – I could easily recognize.

Number one was the loner emo

Number two was the muso couple with matching hairdos

Number three was the band with just one girl in it

And in the end, my personal favourite, the nerd on a keyboard with an ironic t-shirt.

But as I passed, I thought – hey, what’s all this about how China’s an absolute other. Don’t we have these figures at home?