America, get ready for Chinese Rock-n-Roll. This is going to be the most unusual rock tour of 2014. Second Hand Rose is preparing for its Useless Rock which kicks off in Boston on October 7. The tour continues on America's East Coast with stops in New York, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.
Back in 2000, singer Liang Long and suona (a wind instrument) player Wu Zekun shook up Beijing's underground music scene with a performance style that's part cabaret, part Chinese theater, and part rock 'n' roll dance party. Second Hand Rose eventually filled out to the current six-piece and set itself apart from its peers with live shows featuring tongue-in-cheek provocation.
The name Second Hand Rose comes from the notion that rock in China is a secondhand and imported endeavor—as such, the band's song "Leading a Dabbling Life" devolves into a Chinese sing-along version of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal."
Liang is known to perform in partial drag, at times a nod to the Shanghai glamour girls of the 1930s or taking on the aspect of a People’s Liberation Army general wearing lipstick, while guitarist Yao Lan regularly strips down to his underwear before taking the stage. Performances incorporate a stage tradition from China's northeast called Two Taking Turns, a playful, sexually charged form of verbal sparring between a male jester and female beauty, though in the case of Second Hand Rose, Liang Long takes on both roles.
Earlier this year, the band played for a crowd of over 30,000 at the Strawberry Music Festival in Beijing, and last year they headlined a concert in Beijing's state-owned Workers' Gymnasium, one of the most prestigious venues in the country.
To fund their travels, the band just launched a crowdfunding campaign through PledgeMusic. Fans can buy tickets to any of the club shows or pick up items from the band's clothing line, Red & Green. The patterns are designed by Liang Long and based the classic floral prints of northeastern China, instantly recognizable throughout the country for the clashing color combinations that are considered overly garish in traditional Chinese painting.
Useless Rock Tour 2014
Saturday, October 5 Modern Sky Festival in Central Park, New York, NY
Tuesday, October 7 at Cafe 939, Boston, MA
Wednesday, October 8 Press conference, 310 E. 44th Street, New York, NY
Thursday, October 9 "Useless Rock and Chinese Communist Party Sponsorship" lecture at the China Institute, New York, NY
Friday, October 10 at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington, DC
Sunday, October 12 Fashion launch hosted by Hip Hop USA, venue TBA, New York, NY
Wednesday, October 15 at Hard Rock Cafe, Philadelphia, PA
Sunday, October 19 at Webster Hall, New York, NY