Zurich, Switzerland, April 20, 2015 -- /EPR NETWORK/ -- ...when the Tom Waits-like opening to "Picking A Flower" gave way to its folksy chorus, with Liang Long's distinctively Chinese croon, I found myself singing along with everyone else; I knew the melody even though I'd heard it just once before. When the song morphed into a Pink Floyd psychedelic space riff, only to devolve into Peking opera instrumentals and, finally, to nineties-style hard rock, the appeal of this bonkers mixture became clear: it's a tour of the sounds that constitute an urban, internet-savvy, millennial Chinese youth." - The New Yorker
On April 14, Paléo Music Festival in Switzerland, one of Europe's most influential music festivals, announced that mainland China's biggest rock band Second Hand Rose (SHR) will be performing as part of the 'Extreme Orient' lineup on July 21st. Their festival appearance will be part of a world tour that will include dates in Canada and America.
Their upcoming tour is a continuation of their journey to the West, following their American debut last year at New York Modern Sky Music Festival in Central Park followed by their "Useless Rock USA" tour through New York, Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia. Combining traditional Chinese folk's self-mockery with modern Western rock's rebellion flawlessly, SHR's theatrical debut in Paléo Festival will surprise the world.
Paléo Festival was first organized in 1976, and today it becomes one of Europe's most important music events. In 2014, there were more than 600 media covered the grand occasion and the festival attracted more than 230,000 spectators. This year, Paléo dedicated its Village du Monde to the theme"Far East".
One of the biggest rock bands in Beijing, Second Hand Rose (二手玫瑰) brings a distinct mix of heavy rock ‘n' roll and traditional Chinese instrumentation to the scene. Named for the signature rose singer Liang Long wears behind his ear and the notion that rock in China is a second-hand endeavor, Second Hand Rose revels in taboos (innuendo-laced lyrics, gender-bending costumes) and tweaking the establishment: for their performance at the state-owned Workers' Gymnasium, they brought pig statues on stage to reference the line "a group of pigs fly to heaven" in their song "Allow Some Artists to Get Rich First," an allusion to Premier Deng Xiaoping's slogan, "let some people get rich first" as China started its embrace of capitalism.
The band draws on stage tradition from China's northeast called Two Taking Turns, in which a male jester and female beauty trade innuendo-filled barbs—though in the band's case Liang plays both roles. The song "Clingy" adapts a traditional Two Taking Turns tune, "Lovers Infatuation," and infuses it with Second Hand Rose's signature sound: power guitars mingle with braying suona (a Chinese horn) while Liang takes on a role that's part rock ‘n' roll troubadour, part Peking opera warbler. "'Cingy" recounts the story of a passionate young couple that sneaks out of their homes for a secret affair," says Liang. "The chorus portrays this in poetic images that are simultaneously romantic and terrifying: the nightly meetings, the ‘picking of the flower' (i.e. sex), and difficult departures."
Liang was drawn to Two Taking Turns because it's a folksy and somewhat vulgar tradition—much like rock music. And by combining the two, the band creates a truly Chinese expression of rock ‘n' roll, embracing all of the contradictions of being an artist in modern China.
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