New licks

By Yao Minji (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-22 09:53

Tongue, a veteran rock band from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has distinctive characteristics of northern Chinese rock bands-concrete and majestic.

Forget Christmas carols, romantic melodies and anything cheery. For rockers, there's only one destination tonight-the rock bar Yuyintang for the long-awaited comeback concert by Tongue. One Shanghai critic has called the band "powerful, shocking and impressive."

The veteran rock band from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region disappeared from the scene two years ago shortly after its last performance in Beijing. Tonight's performance in the small, 300-seat venue marks the reappearance of the revered band with new guitarist Zhou Shenjun who joined two years ago.

The band last played in Shanghai four years ago. Shanghai has no rock scene to speak of, Yuyintang is one of the city's only rock venues and it is quite small, so fans are puzzled by the choice of Shanghai for the comeback.

The band members live in Beijing, the center of China's rock scene that has its roots in the north. The southern music scene, like southern art, is considered milder, more gentle and fluid by comparison.

"I have waited for two years, there is no way I will miss the live show tonight," said Cao Jun, a fan from Beijing who has lived in Shanghai for a year.

For many, Tongue is king of the underground, and it always rocks the house.

Tongue sees itself as people's musicians and would prefer to sing on the streets. It sings of China today; some songs are angry and funny, jeering at the middle class and pursuit of wealth. No love songs by Tongue - they sing of sex not love.

Tongue was founded in 1995 in Xinjiang by young Han Chinese. They moved to Beijing in 1997. In 2004, the guitarist left and the band went through a major two-year readjustment - only now are they ready for their comeback.

Now the band has Wu Tun as vocal, Wu Junde on bass, Zhu Xiaolong and Zhou Shengjun on guitar, Guo Dagang on keyboard and Wu Wei on sound control.

Since all members are from Xinjiang and the band has been based in Beijing for 10 years, Tongue has distinctive characteristics of northern Chinese rock bands - concrete and majestic, like the vast tough terrain and rough people - very different from the delicate style and sound most bands in Shanghai go for.

The Chinese rock scene is commonly divided into north and south, with bands, fans and atmosphere considered quite different.


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