The soundtracks to some of the best days of your lives. From fist-pumping energy boosters to lazy summer jams. This edition of our lineup rollout features what could broadly be called “indie” and specifically called “really catchy.”
There’s also some metal and “kawaii” J-pop thrown in for good measure.
Bronze Radio Return
Odds are pretty good that you have already heard Bronze Radio Return, even if you don’t realize it.
Since 2008 the six-piece has racked up more than 26 million streams on Spotify, sneakily working their way into our collective musical unconscious by sound-tracking everything from primetime commercials to numerous TV shows.
Put on “Shake, Shake, Shake”, or “Light Me Up”, and let the déjà vu wash over you.
Along the way, their hyper-charged and buoyant stage presence has turned bystanders into believers at festivals including Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Hangout, and Firefly.
Good, nostalgic fun is their wavelength. No static, all ecstatic.
Gallops are going to be your new favourite live band.
Sputtering electronics. Elongated guitar wails. The odd gargle of concrete-tinged noise.
Gallops make soundtracks to the finest 1980s horror and sci-fi films you can imagine – a gothic-industrial orchestra that soars like post-rock, hums like dark ambient and bubbles with intricately arranged synth-wave.
Avant-rock? Post-post-rock? Experimental? Whatever. They’re glorious, they’re monstrous and they absolutely blew our minds when they were in China last time.
Post-punk’s best kept secret. Fans of Joy Division: this is essential.
From the Russian port city of Rostov-On-Don, Motorama produce a Manchester-inspired cold wave, icy and hypnotic. Icy but not frozen, hypnotic but awake.
Five albums strong, their songs are clear and assured – this is addictive, jangly pop music floating on a raft of wondrous melancholy, rocked by breathtaking lyricism, heady keyboards and a muffled but dancing bass.
Music that barrels down highways and wide-open roads. Music to explore the great outdoors to. It’s nuanced, and always a few notches above high-gear. Absolutely killer live.
“One of the most vital bands in shoegaze today.” – No Ripcord
“We tried to go without a band name. Then, in the silence came forth a word. Ringodeathstarr. We decided to make it two words.” – Ringo Deathstarr
“I want to marry their basslines” – Random Reddit User
Ringo Deathstarr claim to be from Texas. But listen to their music and watch them live, and you’ll be convinced they’re from the planet Cerubon 41-2 from the Bunoti galaxy. “Only Humans were harmed in the making of this video,” goes the disclaimer to their latest MV, ‘Stare at the Sun’.
We’re on to them.
Shoegaze has always been about mood, and the three humanoids of Ringo Deathstarr know how to craft one perfectly. Dreamy harmonies, hypnotic rhythms, playful lyrics. It’s all sultry, all sweet, all good vibes all the time. My Bloody Valentine meets The Jesus and Mary Chain, via Slowdive.
Seeing them live is like floating in a warm bath of fuzzy noise.
Perfectly pop yet delicately dark.
Led by enigmatic frontman and lyricist Fred Macpherson, Spector have been setting the internet alight and taking an irresistible live show to sold out venues around London and festivals all over the UK. Now they’ve got the rest of the world in their sights.
This is bold, chrome-burnished music – glistening synths and hypnotic beats providing a majestic backing to tender, impassioned vocals from Macpherson. The ghost of a certain Ian Curtis looms large.
It helps to understand that Toy don’t sleep.
They’re indefatigable, giving them both a searing clarity of vision and a shattered confusion of mind. Their magnificent, spiraling music is rain-drenched and mushroom-speckled – charting mystical plains and sailing uncharted oceans.
They broke with a self-titled debut in 2012 and cemented their reputation as the best alternative rock band in the UK with Join the Dots (2013) and Clear Shot (2016) – combining a headlong krautrock rush with shards of synthesizer symphonics and heart-bursting vocal harmonies.
It’s a gloriously kaleidoscopic sound. While myriad influences may have gone into the group, it is a single-minded, propulsive whole that emerges from the speakers. We’ve loved their music for a while now –and our expectations for Toy at the ‘Grass are ridiculously high.
That shouldn’t be a problem. TOY are playing when the festival reaches its apex, when magic happens. Golden hour at cruising altitude.
Wander up to the main stage late afternoon and watch Gacharic Spin ride a galactic wind to PURE ENTERTAINMENT PLEASURE. We’re talking a glorious romp through the most wondrous excesses of J-rock.
But let’s get this cleared up: Gacharic Spin aren’t some boardroom committee idol pop project. They’re a collective of insanely talented young musicians – each essential to their bouncy, high-octane pop sound.
A delightful anarchic hodgepodge built on a dynamite live show. All-singing, all-dancing fun.
One of our favourite new bands on the scene.
Endless White play guitar-driven, soundscape-heavy music with distant, hazy vocals. Music for long drives and grassy picnics – so we’d recommend taking this one in with feet on the lawn, drink in hand.
Their music evokes slices of urban life –long walks, the comfort of the familiar, and that endless craving for a life filled with interesting, exciting experiences. Watch the subway trains pass by above as you listen, and it’ll all make sense.
Boys Climbing Ropes
From Rogue Transmission and the “Rainbros” to early Duck Fight Goose and that whole Trash A-Go-Go thing, there was, for a few years, the semblance of a ‘scene’ – maybe even one worthy of our northern rival Beijing.
Top of the heap in those halcyon days: Boys Climbing Ropes. On record: just rock-solid songwriting. On stage: triumphantly sweaty and unhinged.
“BCR is not just a great Shanghai band, they are the Shanghai band.”
Their psych-folk punk infusion sounded like a distorted depressed escapee flying along a highway at dusk in a big rusted white pickup truck with a flat rear tire. With the enigmatic Xiao Punk on vocals, Devin, Morgan and Jordan conjured something truly special.
We’re hugely excited to bring them back together for a ‘Grass special.
Keep rum and cigarettes at the ready.
Get out your ZhongNanHais and pour out all that Invisible Love. Carsick Cars are back at the ‘Grass for a special, one-time-only set: playing their iconic, self-titled debut in full. With the original lineup: Shouwang, Li Qing and Li Weisi!
It’s a rare double whammy – era-defining band playing an era-defining album. Carsick Cars’ raucous noise-rock debut birthed a movement in the grimy depths of late 2000s Beijing, and songwriter Zhang Shouwang and co. remain the archetype for Chinese alternative music to this day.
‘Rock’n’Roll Hero’, ‘Zhi Yuan de Ren’, ‘Guang Chang’, ‘Xiong Mao’. Every track here is an instant classic; and that’s before we even get to Zhong Nan Hai – a true, iconoclastic anthem for doomed youth if there ever was one. Ask any young band in China today – they probably owe Carsick Cars one, for a vision of their possible futures.
This one’s going to get raucous.
Everything is beautiful and everywhere hurts.
Everyone’s a victim.
Everything is boring.
DAVID BORING love their little philosophical soliloquys. Their world is withdrawn, alienating and gloriously noisy. “We don’t set out to entertain, instead join us for a complete self-indulgent celebration of new age sufferings.”
Don’t let that worry you – their world is also hugely compelling. The band crafts a landscape of post-punk, noise, no-wave, punk and industrial, a dark mirror to the urban decadence and decay of their native Hong Kong. They’ve built a cult following with a signature dark, dirty noise-rock and destructively enigmatic live performances. You’ll recoil at the insanity, but recognize the corrupted edges of our own messed up, absurd reality.
For those of us who’ve stared into the abyss, David Boring is the sound of the abyss staring back.
There’s a restlessness to Hiperson’s music that we absolutely love. It’s a masterful tension that the band sustains in their brilliant, tight live sets.
A lot of us here at the ‘Grass have been completely bowled over by their performances. Through shaky phone footage, breathless word-of-mouth and the sheer force of a fearsome growing reputation, the call came through loud and clear: Hiperson at Concrete & Grass.
We couldn’t be happier it’s happening.
Frontwoman Chen Sijiang’s unique voice is both clarion call and siren song, punctuating the complex, precise rhythmic interplay between drums, bass and guitar. Comparisons to mainland legends P.K.14 are not unfounded, but don’t come close to the full picture.
This is a band that strains towards the future so relentlessly that they’re happy to leave the past behind.“No Need For Another History” goes the title of their debut, but it’s the unreleased live bootlegs that captivate. Songs like poetic passages, leading the listener to the edge of danger, through landscapes of cold reality, oscillating between daily life and illusion.
Sexy and unsettling.
Chaos Mind have been sludging it out for close to a decade, and they’re one of the best noise-mongers in this fine land. Some really solid metal / doom.
Irresistible force, meet immovable object.