When it comes to bars and live music in Beijing, sometimes you just have to get lucky to find the good ones. So it was that Saturday night, for a friend's birthday party, a group of us discovered Jiangjinjiu Bar (将进酒吧), located near Gulou (Drum and Bell Tower), a place that, true to its website's words, creates "a homely atmosphere... in the heart of Beijing."
Unlike Yugong Yishan, which had a 50 RMB cover charge for Pet Conspiracy on Friday, Jiangjinjiu almost never charges for its near-nightly live music. When a good band drops by on weekends -- and Hao Yunyu Band, an established local outfit, was absolutely excellent -- it makes for some tight crowds. On Saturday people were quite literally standing on tables and chairs, like our friends Joe and Daisy here:
A quick note on Hao Yunyu Band (Hao Yunyu is the lead singer): you could tell they knew what they were doing. They layered simple musical phrases from a variety of instruments (guitar, bass, drums, harmonica, Chinese lute (a qinqin, perhaps)) into a cohesive whole, all the while maintaining a flair for rhythm, humor and general fun. The crowd loved it. I stood next to two Chinese girls who not only knew all the songs but, for one in particular, brought out lighters and started waving the small flames.