Chengdu, has a pretty good music scene. There are plenty of jam bars where budding musicians can go with friends (or strangers!) and play music until their fingers fall off. Take Jah Bar (家吧) for example. It’s not a big place, but in the centre of the bar are guitars, drums, microphones and more – all available for people to jam in the bar with… Within reason. I’m sure I’d pretty soon be kicked off the mic if I started trying to sing my best rendition of Celine Dion. It’s not a KTV bar after all!
Then there’s Walk Bar which I’ve mentioned before in a previous post. Regular small gigs and group jam sessions are held here. And, once again, the ability to freely get up and jam when and if you feel confident enough!
There’s even a much larger venue, Sichuan Gymnasium, which has seen the likes of The Backstreet Boys, Avril Lavigne and James Blunt play here during my time in Chengdu. I’ve not been lucky (if that’s the right word) enough to see any of them here though… Shame. (That sounds a little sarcastic, I would’ve loved to have seen The Backstreet Boys play, I just didn’t have enough friends that wanted to relive my 90s and 00s childhood with me at the time. All the tears.)
However, during my nearly three years in Chengdu, I was yet to go to what I would call “a proper gig”. A gig like the ones I used to go to in London every other weekend. One where you’re in a crowd full of people all loving life. This changed the other week. A little sad about leaving sunny Thailand, Harry happened to stumble across a poster for While She Sleep’s Asia tour on their Facebook page. Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of them until that moment but a few pre-listens on Youtube and China’s Baidu music soon sorted that out.
Having purchased tickets online a few days before, we were ready to head to Little Bar (小酒馆) for the gig. But not before filling up on a pre-gig meal at our local Muslim restaurant. There are plenty of these restaurants scattered across Chengdu (and I’m sure China) and they all serve the best rice and noodles. You can even watch them make the noodles before your eyes!
Chengdu has two Little Bar’s, one which caters for live bands and one which used to. I’d only been to the one without live bands before, still a good place to hang out but not so much if you’re looking to fill your ears with sounds.
Little Bar is not the largest of places (if you hadn’t already have guessed from the name) so the gig here was very intimate. It’s not the easiest place to find either, just look out for a table and chair on the wall outside of it!
I was unsure what to expect from the crowd but as soon as the band started playing I found myself in the middle of a mosh pit! I quickly escaped to the side; I don’t know how to handle myself in a mosh pit nowadays! The gig was very energetic and While She Sleeps did an awesome job of engaging with the crowd, despite a slight language barrier. There were stage dives, dives from the railings above (a lot of trust was put in the crowd there!) and walls of deaths.
Being some of the few native English speakers in the crowd did have its advantages! Harry found himself up on stage at one point to do a stage-dive (and then fall), as well as all having an opportunity to meet and chat with the band after the show.
Little Bar was a fantastic venue, and While She Sleep’s didn’t disappoint in being the first gig I’d attended in ages – even if I was left feeling very worse for wear the next day!
If you’ve also been to a gig at Chengdu’s Little Bar, want to or just want to know more, let me know in the comments below!