We bring you one early super rare and moving live demo of the legendary Chinese band Glamorous Pharmacy (美好药店, Meihao Yaodian) performed exclusively for us in Beijing in 2002.
by Matteo Damiani
China between the middle ’90s and early ’00s became one of the most interesting countries from a cultural point of view: the emerging contemporary Chinese art scene, the cinema of the sixth generation, the punk and alternative bands in Beijing, all of them characterized by a rebellious and experimental spirit began to emerge in the post-Mao’s death China. Glamorous Pharmacy was one interesting piece of the cultural puzzle of the early 00s’ Beijing.
Xiao He is considered one of the most creative and eclectic Chinese singers. Massimiliano Carponi recorded this demo in Beijing in 2002. The bootleg is well recorded and you can have now the opportunity to listen to the sound of one of the best alternative Chinese bands.
In 1999, the band recorded its first demo, “Happy Time“, and started playing in Beijing’s clubs. The three-year period from 1999 to 2001 has been very important for the Chinese art scene in general.
I knew them in 2000. They were an almost unknown band, but they were gaining fans inspired by their psychedelic and hypnotizing melodies. They impressed me for their absolutely personal style, completely different from all the other bands we saw around in Beijing, almost all influenced by the dominant punk spirit.
In particular, I was impressed by the powerful voice of the singer Xiao He, who reminded me of the impossible twists of Demetrio Stratos.
The band is known for a variety of names: “Glamorous Pharm”, “Glamorous Pharmacy”, “Pharmacy Glamorous”, “Beautiful Pharmacy”, “Fantastic Pharmacy” and “Glorious Pharmacy” among others.
Their performances, particularly at the beginning, were characterized by a theatrical approach. They used weird costumes, almost to emphasize the extravagant and original attitude that distinguished them. That is why, in China, they are loved or hated. They are difficult to be interpreted, sometimes they use two or three different languages in the same song, and probably also they want to confuse the Chinese audience, still new to this kind of performance.
At the time of SARS, in Beijing in complete paranoia, they presented themselves to a concert dressed up by doctors with masks, playing on stage similar to a hospital ward. On another occasion, they sat down on some stools facing the auditorium and continued to play the same accord for over an hour, shaking the audience. In recent times they have dampened the theatrical side of their performances. Xiao He, the leader of the band, recently said that such performances, though fundamental to the Glamorous, are no longer part of their expressive style.
Voice / Guitar: He Guofeng (Xiao He)
Saxophone: Li Tieqiao
Low: Ye Penggang
Percussion: Guo Zhanxiang (Guo Long)
Battery: Zheng Zhiyong
Please Enlarge My Cousin ‘Photograph – 2005, July 2nd
Glorious Pharmacy 2003-2004
Beijing Band 2001 (VA) – 2003
Ma Music – 2002
Topic: Chinese alternative music, Chinese experimental music, Chinese experimental jazz
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