Whereas indiepop is agonizing in the US we get news that in China there will be a brand new indiepop festival soon. During two days, May 20th and 21st, the festival “Up a Tree” will be happening in Shanghai of all places. A city I visited just a few years ago and couldn’t see any indications that indiepop was going to be a thing there at all!
It came as a total surprise when late last week I saw this news. There are bands from China and Japan participating as well as DJs. They will also have a flea market, they will sell fanzines and they seem very excited about having a lot of booze as well.
The organizers are Puppy Fat Records. I don’t know who they are and could only find a Tumblr with little information. Maybe it is just a name for the occasion.
The announced DJs are:
陳振超 ( The White Tulips)
小吉 (Die! ChiwawaDie!)
一盒 (Fish Tank Radio)
I’m definitely familiar with Shiyu who makes the very cool Botanic Garden fanzine. The rest, I don’t know. Will they play proper indiepop? I’ve always questioned DJs at indiepop fests. I hope they do.
On the other hand I wanted to discover some of the bands playing. The lineup for the festival has:
Pictured Resort (Japan)
Gatsby in A Daze
The Cheers Cheers
Chimo 赤莓 (ex. 蘑菇紅）
There is no venue announced yet it seems or any schedule for the bands. It is still early, but looks promising. Let’s check the bands that I haven’t talked yet on the blog, which means everyone of them but the superb Wallflower who I’ve been a fan for like forever and I covered them when they came to play NYC Popfest.
Pictured Resort: this band I already know and I like them lots! I have their releases on Miles Apart Records but I don’t own their last release, their album! I have been living under a rock? Well, they released a new album last August and I believe is on CD and LP. It is titled “All Vacation Long” and was released by Sailyard Records in Japan. Don’t know if it is available anywhere else. The band is formed by Yuki, Mari, Yutaro, Yushi and the great Koji Takagi. Definitely a band to keep an eye.
Gatsby in a Daze: a band from Hangzhou, China. I see they have 6 songs on their Bandcamp and they are described as a lo-fi jangly psych rock band that hits the sweet spot. Sadly for me it didn’t hit the spot, I’m not much of a fan of their music.
Atta Girl: I’m familiar with this band thanks to the great labour of love of the Chinese label Boring Productions that I’ve covered before in the blog. The band has a new release that I still haven’t got it (what’s happening with me?). It is titled “Everyone Loves You When You Were Still a Kid” and is available on CD and cassette. There are 10 songs on this album and they sound great (even though on a small blurb on the Bandcamp it says they are lame on stage). I should write to Jovi about getting this release! So good!
The Cheers Cheers: I think I’m missing this band’s sole release, “Carinae” as well. Also on Boring Productions it was released on CD/Cassette with 6 songs. Very nice introspective indiepop solo project by WangXiaoYu from Shenzhen, China.
Chimo: from Shanghai, the local band for the festival. I find two “releases” on Bandcamp. In reality they are just two songs that feel more like sketches. These two bedroom recordings have no vocals. And you know, instrumental songs and me we don’t get along. I wasn’t hooked here.
All in all pretty promising, at least 4 bands I would definitely want to see. And I think the dance parties should be pretty good too, don’t know Chinese indiepop fans but I’m assuming, as this will be the first time for the festival, that people will go with all the energy, in the perfect mood for having fun! Wish I could be there!
So I expected to find at least some proper information about The Magic Shop when I started digging the web. I thought that if they had been on Sha La La, at least the band members names will be available somewhere. But no. Even though their one and only release might be thought as a classic one, the band has left nothing behind it seems.
As most of you know Sha La La was the precursor label to Sarah Records. It was run by Matt Haynes and it released a string of flexi discs, most of them shared by two bands. That was the case of The Magic Shop who were to share a flexi with The Visitors. It also happens that this was the last release, the last flexi, on Sha La La. This was 1987 and Sarah was about to be born.
The flexi came along many fanzines. It was common at the time that sort of system. You were to release a flexi and a good way to sell it was through other people’s fanzines. This flexi in particular (catalog Ba Ba Ba 008) accompanied the following fanzines, “Make it In Ongar”, “Simply Thrilled (#4)”, “Hedgehogs and Porcupines (#8)” and “5,000 miles from George Square (#2)”.
The Magic Shop contributed one song, “It’s True”, and The Visitors contributed their classic “Goldmining”. I tried long ago interviewing The Visitors, sent the questions and all, but never heard back. Maybe they could have shed some light about the band they shared the flexi with.
4 60s girls dancing on the cover of The Magic Shop side of the sleeve. No information whatsoever. The Visitors instead have a photo and a contact name and names of towns, I’m assuming where they were from. Why the difference? Why didn’t The Magic Shop wanted to be contacted or leave any information? Why such a secret?
I have no clue where to look. Whereabouts in the UK they came from? Were they involved in any other bands? Did they play any gigs? I can’t recall seeing their name on fanzines, I have really no idea where to find anything else about them. That’s why I’m asking you, maybe you remember them from the time. Did they record any other songs? “It’s True” is a gem, but there must have been more from where that came from, no? Maybe the one and only demo tape they released? Who knows?
Edit: Sam on Facebook pointed me that the three girls from the cover come from another record: Bill Haley And His Comets’ “Bill Haley’s Greatest Hits!”.
The Magic Shop – It’s True