Bluffer’s guide to the JUE Festival
This year’s JUE Festival line-up is nothing if not eclectic, with shouty synth-punk, Shakespearean tragedy, and warbling Mongolian wildmen all on show. To sound like you know what’s hot, you’re going to have to cheat. We've got just the thing...
JUE Festival genre no. 1: Quirky acts that bring indie-bloggers out in goosebumps
Best Example at JUE: Hanggai, who combine traditional Mongolian throat singing with raw punk sounds. Reliably pretentious, hard-to-please indie-bible Pitchfork described their debut album as “transcendently powerful music that anyone from anywhere can understand.”
You Know You’re Watching One When... Halfway through the set a band member starts playing an instrument you’ve never seen before. With her buttocks.
Esoteric fact to show everyone you know what you're talking about: Annie Clark, who performs as St Vincent (Pitchfork: “Her style is melodic and controlled, conjuring abrasive textures that nevertheless have a clean, meticulous quality”), took her stage name from the hospital where poet Dylan Thomas died.
JUE Festival genre no. 2: Art shows that thrive on conflict
Best Example at JUE: Miyuki Akiyama, whose Daytime Eats Night show at the Andrew James Gallery is a series of fantastical paintings all about brightness conquering the dark.
You Know You’re Watching One When… You hear a fellow gallery-goer talking assuredly about the “dramatically-demarcated distinct dichotomy” between the two kinds of olives on offer at the bar.
Esoteric fact to show everyone you know what you’re talking about: Libido/Mortido at Island6 is themed around two competing desires from the world of Freudian psychoanalysis. The missing third is Destrudo, the “death instinct.”
JUE Festival genre no. 3: The certifiably insane
Best Example at JUE: Synth-punk performance artists Trippple Nippples, whose live concept seeks to “deliver mayhem, mess and happiness worldwide,” and relies on infectious bass lines, fire-alarm vocals, and lashings of S&M paraphernalia.
You Know You’re Watching One When... You’re not sure whether you should be nodding knowingly at the existential angst of it all or screaming for help.
Esoteric fact to show everyone you know what you're talking about: Self-described “psychiatric case” Dead Elvis & His One Man Grave has a name for the imaginary world in which his alternative histories of rock take place. He calls it “Disgraceland.”
JUE Festival genre no. 4: Shameless self-promoters
Best Example at JUE: Shanghai punk outfit, The Mushrooms, whose
lead singer Pupu not only writes the lyrics and takes center-stage
live, but promotes the shows, does their artwork, and works the Douban
You Know You’re Watching One When... The chatty guy who served you a cold Coke at the start of the night turns up on stage two hours later.
Esoteric fact to show everyone you know what you're talking about: Artist Nini Sum (who posts her work on every social networking site going, as well as on her own website) designed the flyers for her very first solo show, Parallel Universes, which was held in Wuxi.
JUE Festival genre no. 5: Mellow rockers with a soft spot for the 1990s
Best Example at JUE: Julie Doiron, the fairy godmother of Canadian indie rock, who first rose to fame playing bass in early 1990s group Eric’s Trip, but hit the big time (or at least no. 1 on the Canadian campus radio charts) with last year’s solo album, "I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day."
You Know You’re Watching One When... You find yourself moshing next to Phoebe from Friends.
Esoteric fact to show everyone you know what you're talking about: Hefei outfit Omnipotent Youth Hotel are such big fans of early 1990s band Blind Melon that they originally called themselves Nico, after the daughter of lead singer (and overdose casualty) Shannon Hoon.
JUE Festival genre no. 6: DJs spinning a different tune
Best Example at JUE: JD Twitch (real name Keith McIvor), resident DJ at Glasgow’s groundbreaking Sunday-night Sub Club party Optimo, who considers any music released in the last hundred years fair game for dancing.
You Know You’re Watching One When... After a sweaty, euphoric break-down the crowd quickly starts swing dancing.
Esoteric fact to show everyone you know what you're talking about: Guangzhou electro-lites Yufeimen take their English name, NAND, from a kind of digital circuit or logic gate.