The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


The Infadels were the latest of the upcoming British acts flown in from London for the Bacardi Sino Sessions, the series of concerts in Beijing and Shanghai promoting the American rum with the bat logo. When we arrived at the Star Live (the 1,000-capacity venue which hosted Sonic Youth last month) for the latest installment in series support act Kela Kela, also from London, was winding down its beat-boxy set. Unfortunately much of the between-sets exodus didn’t return and the Infadels played dancey, full-hearted tunes like Love Like Semtex and Stories From the Bar to a half-empty, but lively, house. Their set and sound justified the comparisons with fellow disco rockers Primal Scream.

Overseeing the evening was Nathaniel Davis, one of the partners in China-based promotions company Spli-t. The affable American, who handpicked the London-based Infadels for the trip to China, is getting a reputation for professionalism, particularly since a well-run Sonic Youth tour. The Bacardi Sessions is one of two drinks-sponsored music events Davis has managed, the other being a Chivas DJ tour of China’s clubs. This diehard U2 fan has been spending Bacardi’s money well - he hired Beijing’s best sound-man, another relocated American music professional, Jamie Welton, to oversee sonic quality of the Infadels show. Good sound is often a rarity at Beijing gigs, hence Welton is routinely called on by major visiting acts coming to Beijing and Shanghai.

The Infadels came running on to crash into a solid set of their synth pop rock. The band was up for it so more shame the punters didn’t show. A half capacity crowd split 60-40 in expats compared to locals. That’s disappointing, considering Bacardi Sino Sessions are all about getting more Chinese to drink Bacardi. There were no queues at the numerous bars at the Star Live – punters exchanged RMB20 coupons for Bacardi-only drinks. RMB20 was a good deal for a Bacardi Breezer or the ironically named Cuba Libre – named no doubt for the flack Bacardi got for calling its rum Cuban – the company abandoned the island for America some time ago. 

Downstairs however, in the huge Tango nite-club, Bacardi seemed to be shifting a lot of volume. Throughout the building, glass display cases of Bacardi bottles, spot lit and set in copious amounts of red velvet carpet were making the point. A Porsche, a couple of mini-Coopers and plenty of BMWs by the door suggested there’s plenty of money about – so the RMB120 ticket price for the Infadels show would have been inconsequential - but the well flaunted money kicking about is apparently for venues like Tango, which play a mix of international and Mando pop hits while showy patrons alternate between the dance floor and sets of tables laden with drink and cigarettes. That’s a night out for Chinese, followed by afters at Jindingxuan, the 24-hour dim sum restaurant next door. Rock, even with cheap rum, is still a minority taste in the People’s Republic.

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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.