You're not officially part of the hip Beijing scene until you've seen Hanggai, a band rooted in Beijing but inspired by the sounds of Mongolia. I know scant few who've not seen a Hanggai show and fewer still who've never heard of them. Indeed, this quartet makes just about everyone's short list for best band in the city.
Friday night, the foursome played its last show before embarking on a U.S. tour. If you're in the States, take my advice: go see these guys. They will put on a show unlike any other, with sounds both pure and primal, folksy and modern. "Drinking Song" will get you to raise a pint of something the first time you hear it, then get you to climb atop a table the next time (see video, below). And don't get me started on "throat singing" -- chords originate from a pit of somewhere that doesn't seem organic, and the room you occupy will seem to grow less stable amid an eerie, hallowed reverb.
Below are seven videos from their performance in front of a jam-packed crowd at Tiny Salt Coffee Club in the China Business District. Would you believe that the cover was just 40 kuai, or about six bucks?
Drinking Song, the band's biggest hit... they played it at the end of their first and second sets.