Gig of the month: Maybe Mars’s 5th

The indie label has become a PRC heavyweight in just 5 years

Seriously, only five years? It seems like an age since we first heard of Maybe Mars and, to be honest, we’re a little surprised (and reasonably impressed) by how the young upstart has grown into the heavyweight label that it is today.
In just half a decade, since the influential duo of PK14’s Yang Haisong and Wall Street veteran Michael Pettis came together to set up the label, Maybe Mars has helped usher in a new era in Chinese rock with its distinctively gritty, punky, noisy, hip aesthetic, catapulting long-cocooned Chinese indie bands beyond the Middle Kingdom and onto the international scene.
A huge slab of that success has no doubt been down to the status of its founders – but perhaps even more influential have been the outfits that they’ve astutely brought to the spotlight.
Take, for example, Carsick Cars, China’s belated answer to Sonic Youth, who released three albums that formed Maybe Mars’s triumvirate back in 2007. Or the likes of Shanghai experimental rockers Duck Fight Goose, garage-types The Gar, psychedelic newcomers Chui Wan, and freak-folkster extraordinaire Xiao He… just some of the 30-plus artists in the Maybe Mars stable.
The company’s a venerable Who’s Who of PRC indie – and many of them have marked the milestone with a country-wide tour, which is capped off on Saturday 1 by a Beijing shindig. Carsick Cars and AV Okubo will head up the show, along with Xiao He, Liu Kun, Mr Graceless, Chui Wan, and a one-off duo featuring Yang Fan (of Ourself Beside Me) and Zhan Pan (of The Gar), as well as Yang Haison rolling out his vinyl collection for a DJ set.
Yeah, it’s just a small sample of the MM machine, but enough to give you a taste of what all the fuss is about. The question is: can the next five years be anywhere near as fruitful?

The Maybe Mars 5th Anniversary party is Sat 1.
  • 4 out of 5 stars