Beijing art hipsters oddly deny a fascination with the “post-wave” punk band New Pants, its something like New Yorkers who won’t own up to “Gossip Girl” addictions.
Despite the fact that the band’s front men, Peng Lei, is an artist with some repute (and proprietor of a vintage toy boutique), his much more successful band receives nary a mention in Beijing’s art world. This fan was literally sneered at in 798’s “sugar jar records” when she asked if their album was available––instead I purchased a recording that was nowhere near as brilliant as “Dragon Tiger Panacea”, but still labeled itself as ‘punk new wave’. Is the “fine art” myth surrounding 798 purposefully trying to distance itself from the commercial success of Peng Lei and New Pants?
Their new video, 《野人也有爱》 [savages can love too] is a nod to Beijing’s heavy metal heritage. The video is an homage to classic metal bands of the 1990s like Tang Dynasty (or Dou Wei’s Hei Bao), and a jibe at the “primitive” nature of the grubby, long-haired metal hippies that still thrash in the Beijing night.
If you know the references, or have ever experienced an authentic Beijing metal session, you can appreciate the fine art direction: awesome nappy hair (and fine handling of it), cut off jeans, motorcycles and on-site locations featuring the National Art Gallery, Forbidden City and a sweet pile of rubble.
Its clear that Peng Lei’s’ “artistic direction” helped the band take off, and even though there are a few lapses into videos with a mass-market appeal, the lo-fi, self-depreciating absurdity of “savages can love too” convinced me that there were some more good things to come.
In the video below, see a great use of montage in 《爱带我回家》[love take me home], some unforgettable dancing moves by keyboardist Pang Kuan, unresolved Village People references and a superb “circle of slapping”.
Could you recommend any specific resources, books, or other blogs on this topic?