Kaiser Kuo has been one of very few foreigners witnessing and participating over the past decades in China’s rock scene.In the publication of the China Speakers Bureau, A Changing China, he uses it as a parallel of China’s development:
The rock scene has followed roughly the same trajectory as the nation at large through these exhilarating years of reform and opening; from an ungainly and tentative naïveté in its early years, it has become increasingly confident and assertive. And rock’s vicissitudes in China have a similar mix of comedy, tragedy, drama and triumph found in China’s overall story. Rock has been a great lens through which to view China’s rush towards development.
After his first trips to China, in 1981 and 1986, he gets soon entangled into the rock scene, exploring his Chinese roots and – as a student – the basic start of Beijing rock:
As luck would have it, a Russian friend of ours named Dmitri told us about a music store in the Liulichang antiques district of Beijing. We headed down there after class one October afternoon. We walked into the store, Huacai, and were actually rather surprised by the selection of guitars and other gear. We started asking the floor manager, a tall man of about 30 with tobacco stained teeth, about the possibility of renting some equipment and perhaps a rehearsal space. The manager said this was all possible, but insisted that we first plug in and jam a bit, something we were more than happy to do. We picked out instruments, tinkered with the amps a bit, and then started knocking out old rock standards from bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and AC/DC, switching off on guitar and bass. In very little time we drew a big crowd in off the street—curious onlookers, many of them obviously not from Beijing, gawking with expressions that would soon become very familiar to me.
More about this never-told story about Beijing’s rock scene in A Changing China
Apart from a Beijing-based rock musician, Kaiser Kuo is now also one of the leading voices on the internet and the media in China. You can order the book “A Changing China” online or ask for a review copy in pdf-format.