A Playlist for Wuhan
Wuhan has been at the center of the world’s news lately, as the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. But as I already said in a article on RadiiChina, Wuhan is first and foremost the birthplace of Chinese punk, and has a long tradition of dissent, rebellion and underground music. RadiiChina – again – already published an amazing playlist of Wuhan music, with a lot of excellent bands. Since half of the world is on lock-down, I decided to do the same and list my favorite Wuhan bands in this one hour and a half best-of. Of course, it features mainly Wuhan (old) punk bands. I also used part of the excellent documentary made by Wang Shuibo “Never Release My Fist” on SMZB to introduce several bands. It also features several MVs made by the bands. I also used as the cover picture a drawing made by the Taiwanese punk collective 愁城 Trapped Citizen for their event in support of the Wuhan Prison. See bellow for a description of the different bands.
Of course, it begins with SMZB. The oldest Wuhan punk band, led by the singer Wu Wei, formed in 1996. A street-punk band, whose music evolved toward a more celtic-punk sound. In the excerpt, Wu Wei explains where the name of the band – SMZB 生命之餅 – comes from. This playlist features several songs and MVs from the band, including “Chinese Music”, “No Solution”, “Ten Thousand Ways to Rebel”, “Scream for Life” and of course “Big Wuhan”.
Another important band is 死逗了, Play to Death. An old Wuhan punk band, which recorded several EPs (but very rare to find nowadays), with major members of the punk scene: the singer Zhang Hai, the guitarist Mai Dian (who will open an autonomous youth center afterwards) and the drummer Zhu Ning (who will open the VOX Livehouse, the most important live venue in Wuhan).
Shit Dog is also an important band for Wuhan punk history, it featured the guitarist Wu Hao (who will form with Kang Mao the band SUBS) and Xu Dong. They were rapidly disbanded, but each musicians pursued their career in major underground bands.
SUBS is a Beijing-based band but the two main musicians are from Wuhan – the singer Kang Mao and the guitarist Wu Hao. Kang Mao was previously in the first Wuhan all-girl band “No Pass”, and opened the bar “Boy Toy” in Wuhan, which hosted the first punk rock concerts.
Big Buns is another early punk band from Wuhan, featured in the punk compilation “Travel in Desert” which we already talked about.
Hualun 花伦 is a very talented post-rock band, one of the hope of the Wuhan music scene. They recorded the soundtrack of the critically acclaimed movie “An Elephant Sitting Still” directed by the late Hu Bo. The soundtrack is as important as the movie itself
AV Okubo (AV 大久保), one of the most famous band from Wuhan, a post-punk band blended with disco and electro, whose second album was produced by the late Andy Gill from Gang of Four. Their MVs are always witty and fun.
CMYK is another punk band from Wuhan, which I like very much. They published an EP back in 2009. Now disbanded.
Chinese Football, the other big hope for Wuhan independent music scene. The band is now famous and performs abroad. The singer Xu Bo gave a very good interview to RadiiChina about the life in Wuhan during the lockdown.
The One is a classic rock band, very much Beatles-oriented, with a strong hippie flavor. They used to play at VOX every other week.
Mean Street, another fun band from the capital of Hubei, sounds like vintage Guns’N’Roses, with members wearing leather jackets and pants. Their most famous song “Did You Get Laid” says it all.
管制 and EXTR-O, two metal bands with strong political lyrics – they’re from Wuhan indeed.
BigDog王可, a famous MC from the nascent hip-hop scene of Wuhan, winner of the Iron-Mic competition but lost at an early stage of the Rap of China competition.
Missing, another punk band now disbanded, included in the “Pepsi Punk” compilation edited by the Wuhan Prison.
花虫, a band formed in 2009 at the University of Wuhan, they present themselves as “good kids making music”.