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Concert Review: B-side Lovers at Yugong Yishan, Beijing (1/8/2010)

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The Sing for China tour, produced by Modern Sky in 17 cities across the United States, featured B-side Lovers instead of Hedgehog as advertised. The reason for the change was the sad end of Hedgehog, but what difference does it make, since B-side Lovers is made up of Atom and Zo, percussionist and singer respectively, of Hedgehog?

The answer is: a lot. As stated on B-side’s website, B-side Lovers say “hello, dark night, goodbye Pop”. It’s also hard to say if they were referring to Hedgehog, but they also make it clear that this is not a Hedgehog project, and they won’t be singing any of the past trio’s songs.

B-side Lovers opened the night of January 8 at Yugong Yishan on a bill that also featured Casino Demon and Queen Sea Big Shark. The three bands toured the US in September 2009 for a series of benefit gigs called “Sing for China,” created to raise awareness of AIDS in China and raise money for AIDS research.

The duo’s set started predictably: in times when boy/girl duos are making a lot of noise (The Ting Tings, The Do, The Raveonettes, etc)  both on stage and in the media, Atom and Zo started out with strong rhythms and distortion —sometimes too strong but overall, they justified their reputation. Fans of Hedgehog were packed in front of stage, mouths half-open, to see the two musicians' incursions over more old-schoolish punk, with Atom beating the drums furiously. Zo accompanied her with his inimitable singing style, until the song that I can only think to call “Silence,” when he almost read the lyrics.

The second part of the set was a bit more rock than noise than the beginning, every now and then making you think a bit of The Raveonettes' last album, In and Out of Control. And it was fun to see the both Atom and Zo explore – in what it looked like a very comfortable way – different styles.

The set finished with Zo packing up his stuff and leaving the stage while Atom kept the rhythm going on the drums. It was the end that Zo’s performance had to have: a sort-of shoe gazer, he was rarely focused on the audience, and maybe said one or two words the entire night.

Even if their musical genre is still the bright, fun, and easily absorbed indie rock from Hedgehog, B-sides have shown they don’t need to count on their “bigger band” for success in Beijing. With Hedgehogs' breakup, odds have been changed for B-sides: they already have a contract, their CD might be out in March this year, and they don’t need to work too much to please the audience. They've already done it.

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About Fernanda Morena