|Venue:||Nuts Livehouse, Chongqing, China|
If you understand a little bit of Chinese, or have some knowledge about ttheculture of the immense Asian country, the concept of 缘分 («yuánfèn») won’t come off as new. It generally refers to human relations, but it might be useful in order to interpret the events that seemingly at random brought me to attend Sparrow’s show in Chongqing. Let’s start from the beginning.
Note: This introduction is not strictly related to Sparrow’s show so, in case you wanted to skip directly to the performance, you could also go to the next one, but you would miss an interesting part of the backstory.
Over this long business trip to Chongqing, I have also spent some time between Chengdu, Guiyang, and Beijing for other work-related activities. As you probably know, Beijing historically also is the capital of live music in China (at least for the sort of music we like), so I hoped to stumble upon some good concerts during my five-day stay up North. Unfortunately, the calendar hasn’t exactly been a friend of mine and I didn’t find anything worth mentioning (with good reason, since I was leaving on Friday and missing out on the weekend entirely). Having acknowledged this problem soon after my arrival, I tried to kill some time walking around the Dongsi area where my hostel was located. Unexpectedly, I have found quite a nice record store (though a bit expensive) featuring quite a vast Chinese music section. While chatting with the friendly shop managers, and having noticed the latest album by the legendary Wang Wen on a shelf, I asked some tips about emerging names in the post-rock scene: by buying “看风景的人” (2015, officially and oddly translated as “The Man Who Watches Scenery”) I finally allowed 文雀 (which will be referred to as Sparrow) into my world.
This is where things get interesting, as a couple of days later my business trip inside a business trip ended and I finally got back to my base in Chongqing on Friday evening. On the following day, quite at random, I decided to surf the WeChat channel of Nuts Livehouse (where I had also seen 打玩艺儿) in order to see if there was anything cool coming up, thus discovering that Sparrow would have played that on that same evening! Confronted with such an effort by the cosmos, I couldn’t ignore the call: of course I ran there straight after dinner, flying on the endless line 1 of the metro and getting there just a few minutes after the beginning of the show.
The environment was very different from the cosy Thursday evening of a few weeks before: this time a big name of the local scene was involved, rightly welcomed by at least 150 people inside the livehouse, resulting in me having quite a hard time finding some space around the stage. The quartet is on their promotional tour for the latest EP “迷路记” (“Lost Mind”) released this year, but much time was also dedicated to previous works during the show. Each track was accompanied by screams and applauses from a diverse and involved audience. Needless to say the atmosphere quickly enthralled my and, after a couple of songs, I was following the instrumental journey by Sparrow with utter attention.
I am pretty sure that the post-rockers among you, reading the band’s name, have thought about Red Sparowes as well. Moreover, sparrows had a pretty difficult time in China in the late ’50s, an event that inspired the aforementioned American band to compose the 2006 album “Every Red Heart Shines Towards A Red Sun”, so we can say that the choice of this name is everything but random.
Compared to Wang Wen, Sparrow’s style surely is less apocalyptic and less influenced by cinematic things such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, while we can hear wide knowledge of the more meditative and melodic face of post-rock. The rhythms weaved by the Beijing-based band went on for about one hour, which went away perhaps too fast, taking Nuts Livehouse in that dimension suspended between worlds, the one where good instrumental post-rock will take you.
The band didn’t have enough time for an encore, also having to manage a crowded signing and photo session right after the end of the show. Unfortunately, seeing the really long line I had to endure in order to exchange a few words with them, I preferred trying to run and take the last metro train before 22:30 (as it takes about one hour to get back to my place by metro), with success.
If Sparrow keep on sowing so well, attracting so many people at one of their shows even in a city not exactly that interested in this field such as Chongqing, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them headlining at bigger events in the future.