Although many people are impressed by Shanghai's nightlife, they usually refer to the clubbing/drinking/dancing/hip-hop/electro side of the scene. Most clubs feature electro or hip-hop songs that keep the party animals moving.
While Beijing's pubs are filled with struggling singers and bands hopping from one spot to another, Shanghai has seldom had as many live houses. That's why many were sad when The Ark closed little half a year ago.
Once the only and later the best one in Shanghai, the famous veteran rock/pop live house had to move out of the huge space in the Xintiandi entertainment center due to increasing rents. Rumors have been circulating about who would take over the great venue and whether that could mark an end to Shanghai's live performances.
The secret was revealed last weekend, when crowds of foreigners gathered at the front door of the venue staring at the big Chinese characters, "Please Go to the Backdoor." Luckily, it wasn't end of live performances. Actually, it might be a new start.
Taipei's prominent jazz bar/restaurant Brown Sugar switched the front and back door of the former live house and soft-opened, featuring The Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Named after the classic jazz venue, band has taken joyful New Orleans jazz all over the world. With the reputation of both the bar and the restaurant, the soft opening was almost packed and many danced in front of the stage.
Like the original Brown Sugar in Taipei, the bar/restaurant opens at noon for business lunch, and the live band and shows start after 9:30pm. The Western style food is good, the desserts are delicious and the prices are all right for Xintiandi. But those are minor attractions.
Most soft opening guests came for the music, drawn by its reputation for great jazz music in Taipei.
It all started in a basement of only 180 square meters in Taipei in 1995, when Brown Sugar opened as a fun jazz venue. It was soon filled by jazz lovers and twice had to move to bigger space.
The original in Taipei puts on live shows daily with its resident band and jazz singers from all over the world. Moreover, famous Taiwanese singers and fresh voices from reality shows also play small live at the restaurant.
Taiwan's pub live queen Tiger Huang is one of the most frequent guest performers at Brown Sugar. And the branch at Xintiandi also plans to hold a small live of Huang next March.
Date: December 19, 7pm
Venue: Bldg 15, North Block of Xintiandi, 181 Taicang Rd
(Shanghai Daily December 18, 2008)