The genre is often taken to mean English gloom but a robust hybrid version, taking in everything from local folklore to classic cinema, is flourishing among the art-school introverts of Shanghai, Tokyo and Taiwan
Perched at the edge of Shanghais Kaixuan Road, between Tianshan Parks leafy calm and the imposing weight of the elevated West Yanan Road metro station, sits Yuyintang Livehouse, a mainstay of the citys underground music scene. Signposted by the electric glow of a polar bear holding a guitar, this indie music destination in a city short on such venues recently hosted the fourth East Asia Shoegaze festival.
Organised by Lulu, guitarist of the Shanghai shoegaze quartet Forsaken Autumn, and Japan-based Luuv Label, this years lineup featured an eclectic range of new and known bands from the region, including rising stars RUBUR, Japanese shoegaze royalty Cruyff in the Bedroom and the diffuse Taiwanese dream-pop outfit U.TA.
Despite the genres decline over two decades ago, shoegaze a style of noisy, beautifully hazy psychedelic rock never truly disappeared. Now it is back in the spotlight due to the re-emergence of genre figureheads Slowdive. With the Reading five-piece sitting alongside such seminal bands as My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse, Swervedriver and Ride atop its family tree, the genre continues to influence musicians across the globe, often taking root in the unlikeliest of places. From Tokyo and Taipei to Shanghai and Xiamen, lush hooks, half-whispered lyrics, melodic noise and warrens of effects pedals come together as a quintessentially western musical style cross-pollinates with Asian aesthetics to form a striking hybrid.
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